Random Thoughts on Election Day 2015

Ringworm has taken up residence at my house.  Well, technically, ringworm has only taken up residence on Luna and me (at least so far), but major steps must be taken to prevent any of the other creatures who share my home from contracting the nasty bugger, which is not only a rampant, itchy annoyance but also an absurdly designated fungal infection that is neither a ring (although it sometimes does appear as a round shape) nor a worm and which also goes by the more familiar – and “sporty” – names of athlete’s foot and jock itch.  According to our vet, ringworm is transmitted by infected hair follicles that can live up to a month even detached from the host, so I’ve had to do a massive clean-up.  I bought a moderately expensive new vacuum cleaner that actually works (unlike my wimpy cheapo cordless), but even with the new vacuum it took an awful lot of elbow grease to make a dent in the layers of hair on my living room sofa and chair and the dust bunny colonies in every hidden corner of the house.

As part of this cleaning process, I also took all the dog and cat beds to a nearby Laundromat (which the guy who fixed my broken washer on two separate occasions told me to do so as not to gum up my plumbing with fur).  I managed to squeeze in some errands – including voting at the elementary school a couple of blocks away – but while I was waiting for the dryer to finish, I overheard some of the locals talking about the present election, which, admittedly, is a particularly un-sexy one.  Only some judges, state and county legislators and, significantly for Long Beach residents, city council members were up for consideration.  One guy was saying he never votes, and questioned who the candidates were, and wondered if they even lived in Long Beach.  The Laundromat attendant said she only votes for the president.  I cringed a little at this exchange and almost opened my mouth to comment but thought better of it.  These folks are just indicative of a larger problem:  The reason why our elected officials are such jokes is because John and Joan Q. Public (who, it must be said, are very good at complaining about nefarious and yet nebulous “politicians”) don’t make their preferences known when given the opportunity.  True, a lot of people don’t bother to vote because they feel like they don’t have much of a choice (i.e., between bad and worse), they don’t know the candidates, or they have no clue what legislators and local executives or city councils even do.  So the people who get elected are the ones who have been most successful at mobilizing their cronies to vote for them on Election Day while everyone else stays home.

This year’s election was even more of a “throwaway” for a lot of people because they are focused (and have been for some time) on the circus that is the 2016 presidential and congressional elections.  I’ve previously discussed my political leanings in this blog (see “OK POLITICS”, 6/30/15).  I remain a fan of Bernie Sanders (I like Elizabeth Warren even more and believe her time will come), but I would be satisfied to support Hillary Clinton for president, which is exciting from the perspective of knocking down yet another barrier to American public service at the highest level – first an African-American as president, and now a woman.

I am curious to see how the Republican bozos shake out, because they’re all so insane.  The best that can be hoped is that they’ll split the vote,  because the Republican Party as currently configured is hopelessly fractured, and none – NOT A SINGLE ONE – of the GOP candidates has said anything worth listening to.

On the other hand, Bernie speaks such common sense, it’s inconceivable to me how anyone could choose not to be on the Bernie bandwagon.  But no, opponents of Bernie’s common sense platform fall back on the juvenile tactic of calling him a communist and saying he’s unelectable.  Why is Bernie unelectable, even among Democrats?  Because he’s too old, too “East Coast intellectual”, too progressive, too Jewish?  Just consider Bernie’s 11-step economic plan:

  1. Invest in schools, roads, bridges and airports
  2. Transition from fossil fuels to renewables
  3. Make it easier for workers to join a union
  4. Raise the minimum wage
  5. Equal pay regardless of sex or gender
  6. Reform trade policies that send jobs overseas
  7. Make college affordable
  8. Break up the big banks
  9. Make healthcare available to all
  10. Expand Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps
  11. Reform the tax code and close corporate loopholes

Other than the ridiculously rich (who are seemingly never satisfied with their excess of money but instead do everything in their power to get more), and with the possible exception of items #3 and 10 (which are legitimately debatable but only in so far as the scope), who in their right mind could argue against any of those points?  No, please, don’t make college affordable!  And whatever you do, DON’T INVEST IN ROADS, SCHOOLS, BRIDGES AND AIRPORTS!!  Doesn’t everyone love potholes and crumbling bridges and children who can’t read?  It’s mind-boggling to me, especially when I hear middle-class folks clamoring for Republican candidates (especially Donald Trump).  What will Trump or any Republican do for YOU, dear fellow middle-class person?? Not a whole hell of a lot.

I’m exceedingly frustrated with the whole electoral process, from the campaign finance juggernaut, to gerrymandering districts to ensure desired results to the electoral college system itself, which might have made sense in the time of the forefathers but ignores the fact that the popular vote – and ONLY the popular vote – should be the deciding factor in a presidential election.  (Just ask Al Gore what he thinks about that.)

I still consider voting a privilege and a responsibility, and I will never NOT vote, even if my choices are between terrible and not-quite-as-terrible, and even if it’s just a local city council election.  After all, it’s those local elections where the man on the street has the loudest voice.  These are our neighbors, our colleagues, the parents of our children’s classmates (although the Laundromat guy might have had his doubts about that).  We should all vote in these elections, because it’s the actions of the city council or the county legislators or the town supervisors that will impact us the most in ways we can see, at the local level, with tax hikes (or reductions), rules and regulations for property use, and funding for pet projects in their own towns, such as playgrounds, roads, transportation, services for seniors, libraries and, most importantly, schools.  But isn’t it often the case that it’s in those local elected offices that we see the most corruption?  Maybe it’s because everyone stays home on Election Day in the odd-numbered years except for those people who have a vested interest in seeing their chosen (and paid for?) candidates elected.

What about the people who run for office?  Are they in it for the fame, the potential windfalls or future patronage?  Local politicians should be in this game because they believe in making their communities better places for themselves, their friends and neighbors and their children.  It seems so simple, doesn’t it?  But sadly, I think trying to get the populace more invested in local elections is fighting a losing battle, like trying to stay one step ahead of ringworm.

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