So, since 2016, who and what have we been voting for and why? Who are the political protagonists? What is their record as to maturity, intelligence, experience, honesty, credibility, trust and telling the American people the truth regardless of how uncomfortable, inconvenient and non-partisan it needs to be?
What are our choices? Democrat, Independent, Republican Trumpism, Democracy, Autocracy, Authoritarianism, Domestic Terrorism, White Supremacy? They are all on the ballot in 2024. They go by the names of candidates and political party.
Now shift to the question as to what are the multifaceted complex issues to be solved?
What legislation has been passed or obstructed since 2016? Who have been the mature and sensible legislators – the problem solvers?
Who have been the “the court jesters” – the charlatans – just satisfied with holding on to power? What political party has demonstrated itself to be dysfunctional, chaotic, abnormal, untrustworthy and extreme?
We live in the harsh reality of the present of the 21st century. We can deny and deflect such a reality and wish otherwise, but we, as American citizens and global citizens of humanity, face clearly defined consequential traumatic issues that will not go away. These issues are challenging us and our children as 21st century realities.
I posit that “Politics as Usual“, particularly since 2016, is no longer an option or a choice. It is not a game – never was. Americans need to wake up from a casual approach to citizenship.
I have listened to social media and cable news pundits simply focus on defining politics ad nauseam through polls. Polls continually focused on “The big three” – the economy, gas prices and taxes.
Such polls are an insult to our intelligence, and perhaps well deserved. We not only participate in polls, but believe them with blind faith without dealing with their context.
“The problem with the polls is simple and is a known issue in the insights and opinion research industry. Over the past decade, the number of fictitious accounts, bots, and click farms employing large-scale automation to answer surveys and polls has rapidly grown.” Brandy Ellison, “Are we facing another big polling miss? Probably”, The Hill, 09/12/2022. Aside from this, it’s a monstrous business.
Increasingly, we are being conditioned by Pavlovian opinion surveys and polls rather than doing the hard work and making the time with due diligence to determine what the real issues are and who is qualified to deal with them. Dedicating time and effort before each election is crucial.
Let’s take a deeper dive into issues and problems requiring some context that will be waiting at the voting booth in the 21st century:
- Protecting democracy locally, nationally and globally
- Affirming, validating and protecting The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Rule of Law, Inalienable Rights
- Protecting voting rights/access – Deconstructing gerrymandering
- The threat of Authoritarianism and Autocracy by political extremists, insurrectionists
- Affirming and protecting the four branches of democratic government – Executive, Legislative, Judicial and Fourth Estate (Free Press) – plus election results
- Make Election Day a national holiday
- Anti-corruption and transparency of political candidates, political parties and Supreme Court ethics oversight
- Gun violence – mass shootings – gun regulations
- Human caused climate / environmental changes causing an increase in extreme weather/climate disasters
- Immigration reforms
- Veterans (general health care, mental health (therapy/counseling), timely intervention, family support, available and easy access to facilities – rehabilitation – access to appointments and communication
- Public Education Reform and Advocacy (teacher recruitment – salary – retention – competence – Curriculum mapping of diversity, inclusivity, equity and democracy – counseling – teaching methods – class size – updating facilities – materials – response to banning books, censorship, revision of history – college tuition assistance – student loan debt relief)
- Early Childhood Education
- Police Reforms – Police chiefs leadership training – Police Unions – Recruitment (ongoing mentoring/modeling) – Retention (ongoing professional development) – Officer mental wellness and morale – Community Outreach (awareness and professional development on diversity) – gun violence / assault weapons – domestic violence calls – community crime prevention and protection
- Combating illegal drugs, opioid epidemic, foreign/domestic trafficking
- Countering foreign & domestic extremism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, hate groups (recruiting, politicization and radicalization) – Monitoring, analyzing, investigating and prosecuting domestic terrorists by FBI, DOJ and DHS
- Cyber Terrorism – Distribution of social media misinformation, “Well Crafted Big Lies”, “Retweeting False Information” – “Conspiracy theories media diet” – Establishing fact-checking platforms –
- Research, management and regulation on Artificial Intelligence
- Economic disparity – discrepancies – inequalities
- Future Pandemics (Prevention – Readiness – Vaccines) – Biotechnological Threats
- Universal Health Care – Pro-active wellness
- Women’s Health Care, Reproductive Rights – Pre/Post Natal Care
- Global wars – invasions – insurrections – Crimes against Humanity
- Oh yes . . . Gas Prices, The Economy, Taxes
Recently I had two acquaintances provide examples of what I feel is a major problem regarding our casual approach to citizenship, especially when it comes to voting.
The first example was by way of a call asking what candidates to vote for. It was the day before the election. No homework had been done on the candidates or the issues – none. My answer was to try to do some research on each candidate ASAP. The disappointment was that months had passed without any due diligence.
I made the matter worse by adding the proviso – whomever you vote for should have a history of being honest, credible, trustworthy, experienced and will tell the truth.
I also asked what problems needed to be solved? Again, I just made things worse. That is, to ask for time consuming critical inquiry and thinking the day before the choice and decision.
The second example was another acquaintance that focused on three specific problems that had been polled and are favorite topics every two/four years – the economy, gas prices and taxes. These were the “big three” that were on the news as being major problems that everyone was echoing. I was asked who had answers to the big three?
I explained that the three problems mentioned were not new – never were – and that they will continue to be significant problems with highly complicated answers. Wall Street, Banks, Global Oil Supplies, Dependence on Fossil Fuel, Tax Cuts Legislation, Special Interest Lobbyist Groups and post-pandemic realities all played a role regarding such issues.
I emphasized that each issue can’t be defined in a single word. Each has a plethora of intersecting and intertwining circumstances. Each has a history and legacy requiring knowledge and context.
Therefore, why not first ask, why do these problems continue to exist and linger election after election?
Who has the power of influence in solving such problems? Can any one man, woman, or political party solve them? Why were these problems not solved in the past – let’s say 50-75 years ago?
Therefore, I challenged – who is deserving of your vote? Who has earned it? Who will honor and respect it once in office? Who will continue to work and fight to find solutions after you hand over the power?
Will it be those who diligently and genuinely try to provide answers or those who consistently obstruct solutions?
Should a vote be cast for those who only echo the problems and blame others without solutions – or candidates that explain the reasons behind the problems, provide short and long-term solutions and challenge each of us to do our part, even when the truth and reality is uncomfortable and inconvenient?
I also added my standby proviso that whomever earned your vote should have a history of being credible, trustworthy, experienced and will tell the truth.
Again, what I was suggesting was to make time for due diligence as a citizen – not seek quick answers the day before an election. Ignorance before elections have devastating consequences leaving the question – “What the hell happened?!”
I found seriousness and diligent attitudes lacking with both acquaintances, belittling the meaning of their vote and for that matter, how they viewed their citizenship. It was a dismissive attitude – a kind of nonchalantness that I found insulting and dangerous to our republic and democracy.
Both are highly educated, articulate, intelligent professionals. They are defined as “suburban high middle class.” These are not “low information” or “low educated” voters. They had no excuses to be defined as either. I would surmise that both think of themselves as well-intended, law abiding moderates, connected to modernity – millennial parents of Gen Z and Alpha children.
Regardless, these were two votes that would be cast without taking the time to do the homework required and expected.
So I had to ponder, how many such voters are there in America who just don’t take the time or make the effort to do basic elementary homework on issues, candidates and party? How many wait until the day before? How many are just hooked on polls and vote accordingly?
All of the issues mentioned in this essay will be on the ballot – if not today then surely tomorrow. This is the reality and significance of each vote, because each vote resonates far into the future.
Lest we forget . . .
- Tax Cuts for the rich and corporations did not just happen in 2017 but began in 2016.
- Denial, misinformation, politicization and polarization about the pandemic did not just begin in 2020 but began in 2016.
- Overturning Roe vs. Wade did not just happen in 2022 but began in 2016.
- The insurrection on our Capitol did not just happen on January 6, 2021 but began in 2016.
- Some 30,573 (and counting) misleading claims and Big Lies did not just happen in 2023 but began in 2016.
It all begins before casting our ballot by scrutinizing candidates and issues with due dilligence, knowledge, intelligence, advocacy and moral clarity. Each vote resonating far beyond – so do the consequences.