A Wedge Too Far

Last year wrecked us. Election obsession eclipsed our decency, and there’s no indication we can recover.

Among my friends on Facebook, I count a Reverend and several educators. They’re trained, called even, to open closed minds. The rest of us aren’t. So we took the tactics of fanaticism (Cowboys vs Eagles, Marvel vs DC) and translated it into political discourse. We taunted our opponents, buried them in virtual information that supported our opinions or refuted theirs. We painted our souls in the colors of our team and hurled insults at the opposition.

What I learned: You can’t change someone’s mind by sharing blog posts, articles and memes. You can’t change someone’s opinions by degrading them. You can neither change the world nor be changed by it by belonging to groups of like minded people. Civil face to face discussions, meeting people who hold beliefs contradictory to your own, listening to another’s testimony with an open heart; these are how world views change.

I have deeply held opinions that are political, social, cultural and religious. My opinions have evolved dramatically over the years. I’ve been on both sides of the political and cultural issues that separate us, and my beliefs were unwavering… until they wavered. Want to know how that happened? Come have a drink with me and find out.

My advice: Quit purging your friends list. Don’t burn down the neighboring village. Visit it. You might find it’s your own mind that gets changed. If you insist on being a social warrior, please remember the golden rule. If you sincerely want to change the world, join a campaign, join a church, volunteer, or run for office. Get involved in the real world not the virtual one. If you just want to yell into the canyon to hear your echo, go to Arizona.

America Loses When Everyone Chooses

So many mentions of Federalist 68 in the news this week. So I read it. (Well, re-read it, as I’m sure this was suggested, if not required, reading in Mr. Strother’s History class.)

Federalist 68 is the argument made for adoption of the 12th Amendment by Alexander Hamilton. The 12th Amendment provides the procedure for electing the President and Vice President, which is through the electoral college.  Each state gets one elector for each member of congress (both houses). This is to provide fair representation for small states. In modern elections it’s been argued that it causes under representation of larger states, since even the smallest state gets two Senators and one member of the House, even if their population isn’t really big enough for a House member. Larger states get two Senators as well and House members portioned by population.

What stands out to me isn’t what the news keeps telling us, that the electoral college exists to protect us from ourselves. We weren’t meant to have a say. Hamilton never thought the general public would or should be allowed to pick the President at all. The voters were to select electors, who themselves were to be “men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.” (I know… Hamilton was suuuuper wordy, and he seems to have never spoken in rhyme. Try to stay awake. This will be over soon.) In other words, electors were supposed to be wise men capable of deliberating and making the correct choice for President.

The electors represent the “sense of the people” not the will of the people. The voters in no way select a Presidential candidate. They select someone they trust to pick the best person to serve as President. It’s democracy once removed (or indirect democracy if we’re being pedantic). As an extra safeguard, in order to win the Presidency, the victor has to receive more than half of the votes from the electoral college. Anyone who can’t do that, can’t win. If no candidate gets a majority of the votes, the House of Representatives gets the names of the top five candidates and they choose “the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.” It’s not clear that the ultimate winner has to be chosen from the top five finalists. There’s nothing there about all the electors from a state being required to all vote the same way. Each state is supposed to convene its electors, and they debate and deliberate and then each casts a vote. The votes from all of the states’ electors are then tallied.

Despite what the news today says, Hamilton didn’t worry at all about an unfit person becoming president. He literally says, “It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.” The problem is over the years we’ve lost sight of what the founding fathers had in mind. They didn’t want us picking the president. (Some of them did, but the compromise was that we shouldn’t.) They were totally okay with the occasional demagogue making it to Congress. Hamilton says “talent for low intrigue and the little arts” might charm a State, but with this electoral process in place no one like that could ever be President.

Prior to 1820 a limited number of states held popular votes to give direction to electors. Most simply chose electors and trusted them to do the job. By 1824 all states were holding popular votes, and of course, it immediately all went to hell. There were four candidates in the 1824 election. Andrew Jackson received the most popular and electoral votes, but he did not receive the majority of electoral votes. So the four names were sent to the House of Representatives, and they chose the most qualified man, John Q. Adams, to be president. Andrew Jackson was probably illiterate, and certainly irrational. John Quincy Adams was worldly, dignified and intelligent. No brainer. Four years later Jackson trounced Adams and we had our first potentially crazy person in the white house. (Yes, he was a war hero and a decorated general, but he was more George Custer than George Washington.)

In the intervening years, we’ve moved completely away from Hamiltonian democracy and toward the Jeffersonian ideal of a more direct-democratic model. In modern elections, each state’s electors are required to vote for whoever wins their state’s popular vote. The actual vote casting of the electoral college is ceremonial.

Based on state by state popular votes in 2016, Donald Trump should receive 306 electoral votes. Next Monday, the electoral college will convene in 50 state capitals and duplicate the state level popular votes in direct contradiction of Federalist 68. Barring a revolt of 37 Republican electors, and despite Hamilton’s prediction “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,” an absurd cartoon villain will win the presidency.

If 37 Republican electors cast their votes for someone other than Trump, the House of Representatives will convene to select our next president. I can say with 98% certainty that won’t happen, and with 100% certainty that a Republican would still win in that scenario. That Republican probably wouldn’t be Donald Trump, but would more likely be Mike Pence or Paul Ryan. Ryan is going to be President eventually. Now’s as good a time as any.

Thanksgiving in 2016

Generations from now, when historians look back on 2016, they’ll agree that it can eat a bag of dicks. This year’s harvest was a steaming pile of crap. Regardless, we’ll give thanks tomorrow and celebrate with a feast.

As a nation, we normally gather on Thanksgiving in large diverse groups of friends and family. We smile and nod at racist uncles and Fox News repeaters, indulge vegan cousins and ignore goth nieces. A large enough dose of tryptophan makes everything a little more tolerable. This year, however, many will gather in smaller like minded groups. Some won’t join any gathering at all. The weeks’ old wounds of election day are still too raw for tolerance to be allowed back in our homes.

I often wonder about Thanksgiving in 1963. President Kennedy was killed on the Friday before Thanksgiving. He’d already pardoned a turkey. Right before Thanksgiving is a shit time to die. What’s worse is he was on his way to lunch. I’m very structured about meal times. I would have been thinking about what I was having for lunch at that time of day, and at that time of November, I’d have been daydreaming of the coming feast. Maybe presidents have more to worry about, but maybe they don’t. Maybe the personal tragedy of November 22, 1963 is that a man was robbed of life, lunch and Thanksgiving feast. I’ve heard stories of some pretty horrible things said in the immediate aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. That must have been an uncomfortable year to share a table with people who had wicked words in their mouths.

There’s no moral to this stream of consciousness. If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that you don’t need to make a point. Also a bag of dicks is a lot uglier than anyone could have dreamed.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Final Forecast

This is my final map prediction for 2016. I just went and double checked. It’s identical to the first map I made on Oct. 26. I should have stuck with my gut.
Just as a reminder… This is strictly electoral math nerdery and not a political opinion. I promise I’d be just as geeky about the map regardless of the outcome. My goal is to be right, not rosy.
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Forecast 2

It’s new map day. A lot has happened since I shared my last prediction a few weeks ago. I’m hesitant to share this now, knowing that news tends to blow up on Friday afternoon.
A few notes…
1) This is not a political opinion post. It’s purely electoral nerdery. I geek out for the math of electoral politics.
2) The following red states may turn blue before I make my final prediction in the coming weeks:
     – GA (16)
     – UT (6)
     – IA (6)
     – though unlikely, it’s in the margin of error, TX (38)
3) The following blue states may turn red before I make my final prediction:
     – ME (4)
     – AZ (11)
new-map

Forecast

This is not a political post. It’s a forecast.

For reference on my Electoral College street cred, I called the 2012 number accurately on the morning of election day (Scroll my timeline if you doubt me. It was 11/6/2012.), I spiked the ball at bed time and gloated the next day. TV pundits missed that call. I got it right.

For 2016, I’m still on the fence with Georgia and Pennsylvania, and Maine could split it’s 4 electors, but it’s close enough for me to make my prediction. I may still revise this as we get closer to Nov. 8.

Also, for the record, Clinton wins this race even if she loses Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That’s unprecedented in modern elections.

If the Democrat were anyone else, TX would have been in play. Speaking as a Texan, that’s kind of exciting. If the Democrat were anyone else, the Democratic electoral count would be closer to 400. That’s landslide territory.

If the Republican were any other candidate, FL, NC, and VA would have given the win over to the GOP. If the Republican were Paul Ryan, WI would be red and MN would be in play. Something to consider for 2020.capture

Don’t Vote; Won’t Matter

I am and have always been obsessed with American politics, American presidential politics, doubly so. I’ve read dozens of presidential biographies and autobiographies. I could pick all 44 of them out of a line up and tell you a few interesting facts about each. I’m properly obsessed with the personalities of each and every one of them. I even have a set of presidents made by the Marx toy company in the 60’s. My personal hero is Calvin Coolidge, who is literally the only man Will Rogers ever met and didn’t like.

In past cycles, I’ve posted political blog posts here including my manifesto. However, this election cycle has left me so disgusted that I haven’t said or shared anything outside of the safety of my living room. It’s one of those “if you don’t have anything nice to say” situations. I know sharing my opinions on Facebook won’t change yours and is likely to either hurt your feelings or cause you to say something to hurt mine.

People who drag out the old “lesser of two evils” gripe have always pissed me off. In most election cycles, there are two, or more, extremely qualified candidates who survive the trial by fire of their party’s nominating process. I bitched openly and often about a recent president, but my complaints were about his policies, not his ability or his pedigree. I have had the great fortune, as most of you have, of standing in a voting booth and knowing either option would be a good steward of the presidency and of the country. This year, though, is the first time I’ve had a concern that one of the “two evils” might actually be evil.

This all got me to thinking about why it doesn’t really matter.

The founding fathers will protect us. One of the great things about our constitution is that it created a government that can’t be dominated by a single person or even a single party. We’re built for dysfunction. There are three branches of government with three very separate functions. The primary purpose of each is to either validate the others or prevent the others from growing too powerful. One of the branches, the Congress, is itself divided into two houses made up of elected representatives from all over the country each with their own agenda. The only way Congress can accomplish its one function (to create laws) is for a majority of representatives from each house to agree and then for both houses to agree with each other. What’s even more dysfunctional is that right now, the majority party in control of both houses of Congress, believes most governance should not be done at the federal level.

Your vote is worthless. In case you didn’t already know, you live in a voting district that was created to ensure the victory of a single party in every election. That sentence is true no matter where you live in the country. Yes, your red district used to be blue, and will one day be blue again. By that time, the lines will have been redrawn at least two more times to try and keep it red. Unless you’re drawing out congressional districts, you are powerless in choosing your Congressman. Senators are chosen at a statewide level. State political allegiances change very gradually over decades from red to blue to red to blue. If you’re over forty and live in the South, you’ve watched an entire region of the country go from blue to red, and some of it is now beginning the gradual move back to blue. Unless you live in a state with a small and gullible population, I’m looking at you Montana, your one vote and your opinion won’t accomplish anything. Finally, despite what you may think, Presidents are not elected through popular votes. They are elected by the electoral college. When you vote, you are technically helping select the electors from your Congressional district and state (see above for why that doesn’t matter), and those electors can vote for whomever they darn well please.

Make America The Same Again.  The state of American politics has always, always been just as ugly, dirty and loathsome as it is today. The parties have always vilified each other. Every president has been openly despised and ridiculed by the “other” party. Only during times of national crisis do the branches work together. And even then it’s only ever long enough to start a war. Once fighting commences, they go back to hating each other, unless one party has the decency to secede entirely from the union. Many of our leaders have been deplorable human beings. Our founding fathers sat in a hot room and did the math on the value of a human being who is owned by another human being (spoiler, the solution is 3/4 of a human being). Once, for 140 years, women couldn’t vote at all because men said so. Many of our presidents cheated on their wives, but Warren Harding went so far as to write his mistress letters about his penis and probably fathered a child with her. Richard Nixon’s long national nightmare ended in resignation. The things Bill Clinton did should be restricted to the realm of presidential fan-fic. There were no good old days. This is literally as good as it gets. And nothing you do will change that.

Let’s go back to pretending our differences don’t matter. I have friends… Well, I have Facebook friends, who support Trump or who support Sanders or who support Clinton or who don’t care at all. I like those people. All of them. That’s why, despite my passion, I haven’t ranted long and hard about this disaster of an election year. Do I wish we had better candidates? Yes. Do I wish I could explain why I disagree with your choice and maybe even change your mind with my wicked logic? Of course I do. Do I wish Donald Trump would go away and let someone more experienced, presidential and less divisive take his place? Duh. Do I wish we could cede all governmental power to IBM’s Watson? Yes, yes I do. But it’s not going to happen.

What i’m saying is it’s okay to be passionate, but don’t expect to change the world… and don’t be a dick.

 

Fools’ Names and Fools’ Faces

Jimmy Kimmel is trending on the interwebs because he cried while talking about the killing of Cecil the Lion. (Take a minute to Google Cecil if you need to catch up. I’ll be here when you get back.)

I read an angry thread on Facebook from someone who was super pissed that Jimmy Kimmel cried about a lion, but didn’t cry for… then proceeded to list all the sad things in the world that Jimmy Kimmel must also now be required to cry about. (Side note, some of the items on the list weren’t sad but just political things the poster finds offensive.) The argument is that if Jimmy Kimmel cries about a lion, he must also be required to cry about everything everyone else finds important.

This sort of thing comes up any time the President does ANYTHING. The White House was lit in rainbow colors after the Obergefell v Hodges (marriage equality) ruling from the Supreme Court on June 25. This was followed several days later by angry posts decrying that the White House wasn’t lit in Red, White and Blue for Independence Day. Really? It’s the White House. It’s very existence is a celebration of our Independence. The President doesn’t need to shoot bottle rockets from the roof for us to know he’s not the Queen of England.

The argument here is that you can’t cry about one thing unless you cry about everything. You can’t celebrate one thing unless you celebrate everything. Unless you believe all the things I believe, you mustn’t share your beliefs at all. No!

The world where 7.3 billion people cry in unison because of an undercover Planned Parenthood video isn’t a world I’d want to live in. The world where 196 capitol buildings are lit in the colors of what we all agree to celebrate (bad news Christians, but Christmas probably wouldn’t make the list if we ALL have to agree) isn’t a world I’d want to be part of. The world where we can only discuss the small list of items we all agree to be inoffensive sounds to me like a most offensive world.

I say be passionate about the things your passionate about, don’t care about the things you don’t care about, and stop pretending to be mad all the time about things that probably don’t really bother you at all. Yes, your trumped up (Trumped?) anger got you noticed. Yes, your stupid rant trended. But in the grand scheme, what of value did you bring into the world? Was your opinion worth sharing or did you simply shine a light on your ignorance in a public place?

I’ve been hesitant to share my opinions via Facebook on a range of topics because the commentary that follows is always such a beating. I’ve concealed my passion to avoid your judgement. But you know what? Screw that! Here’s some stuff I’m thinking about:

  • I drove around with a broken turn signal for three months. I changed lanes without signaling dozens of times a day, more than once in full view of a DPS officer. I never got pulled over. For the same offense, Sandra Bland got threatened with a taser, removed from her car and imprisoned for three days. It’s possible to pissed off about that and also support the police.
  • The Confederate battle flag was kept in storage for 90 years after the end of the Civil War. Southern Governors started flying them again in the late 1950s to late 1960s to show their opposition to the Civil Rights movement that was gaining support in the US government. I’m a son of the Confederacy. I’m a rebel. I would drive an orange charger through a “bridge out” sign without hesitation. And I’m telling you that flag doesn’t represent southern pride or rebel spirit. It symbolizes racism. It needed to go away. Suck it.

    general-lee-jumps
    Yeeeeee-haaaa
  • More good guys with guns does not equal fewer bad guys with guns. Open carry does not make for a more peaceful society. We tried that already, it was called the wild west. Am I willing to test your theory? Yes, let’s test it somewhere I don’t live.
  • Your gender identity is your concern. Who you love is no one else’s business. Be who you are. To hell with what anyone else thinks about it. If your neighbor tries to tell you who you’re allowed to love, burn their house down. That’s probably in the Bible. *citation needed
  • Yes, the rich are getting richer at the expense of everyone else. There’s a 90 percent chance this will result in a bloody rebellion, and I’m cool with that.
  • Yes, the planet is getting warmer and ocean levels are rising due in part to man-made climate change. By the time we realize we don’t have to agree about science, it’ll be too late to do anything about it. I’m not cool with that.
  • Okay Republicans, if you’re still with me, this one is important. Donald Trump is a jack ass. Your best bet, if you want to win is Chris Christie. Jeb Bush is your second choice. Jeb would be first if he wasn’t the 3rd of his name, as they say on Game of Thrones. Here’s what’s actually going to happen; Scott Walker will get the GOP nomination and he’ll lose to Hillary Clinton with a final electoral college count of 303 to 235. Walker won’t carry his home state of Wisconsin. Bookmark this and check back in 16 months. I’m almost always right on this stuff.

Baby Steps Back to the Dark Ages

Jacob’s band instructor insists on using Christian religious music for competitions and performances. This really rubs me the wrong way. They even lost points at UIL because religious music and iconography aren’t allowed. They marched this season to “O Come O Come, Emmanuel” and “Ode To Joy”, and they had a stained glass prop to reinforce the point for anyone who didn’t recognize the tunes. Monday night is their first formal concert, and they’re performing “Ave Marie”.

We’re talking about a public school, as in tax payer funded, secular place of learning. It’s also a pretty diverse school, with Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Atheist students. Heck, the church closest to the school is a mosque.

I’m not bothered because the band instructor is religious, and I understand why he loves spiritual music. It’s beautiful music that I would love to hear… in a church or a mall or on the street corner, but not in a school or at a school sponsored event. My objection to the music is purely political. I believe religion in every form should be strictly separated from government run institutions. I believe that doubly so when we’re talking about schools. I want my son to go there and get educated, not indoctrinated.

The separation of church and state is one of the great things about the American system. I celebrate our Constitutionally guaranteed freedom to worship or not worship as we please. I’m on the fence on churches not being taxed, but I’m okay with it if it keeps religious leaders from exerting control over our legislatures, courts and schools.

Jacob gets really upset and Lisa gets very quiet when I complain about this. I know this topic makes people uncomfortable. I recognize that there are people who want their children to have their faiths reinforced at school. For those people, there are private schools.

I realize we’re just talking about music. To my knowledge no one is preaching at school. Also, Jacob is a religious kid. He goes to church twice a week, and he’s super involved in his youth group. It’s not Jacob I’m worried for. It’s allowing a specific religion to slip a toe in the door. It’s that it’s only ever a single faith that sneaks in, and the fact that it’s our faith doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

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I am usually the first to object to a “slippery slope” argument. I know it’s unlikely that “Ave Marie” in Band will lead to creationism in Science or the virgin birth in History. But I am comfortable saying that any educator who turns a blind eye to one will be more likely to turn a blind eye to the other. The celebration of a single faith, even through song, in a public school, to me represents the first little baby steps toward acceptance of religion in the public schools, which itself represents the first little baby steps toward acceptance of religion in government. If you wonder how it turns out when churches take on political power, Google Dark Ages or Islamic Revolution in Iran. Science suffers. Art suffers. Progress stops.

Alright, I’ll step off my soap box and wait for the hateful comments from the good shepherd’s sheep. But someday, when your grandchildren tell you to wear a veil before leaving the house, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Political Blog 3: Manifesto

This is the one where I explain what I believe and why I believe it. It’ll have a few links for anyone interested in reading more. Also, as before, I will be sharing my political opinions. So if you are easily offended by the opinions of others, turn back now.

In my first post in this series I talked about how two generations ago a bunch of Democrats became Republicans. Ronald Reagan was the most prominent of these. He said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party. The party left me.” My journey has gone the other direction. I started as a young Republican in the Reagan era, but in the last five Presidential elections, I have voted for the Democratic candidate. I won’t go into detail as to why I voted for each, but I do want to take a few paragraphs to explain how I got here.
First, just to clarify, I don’t consider myself to be a Democrat. If I had to classify my political leanings, I’d say I am a moderate progressive. A lot of misplaced Republicans reclassified themselves as Libertarians. There are several Libertarian surveys that ask a bunch of loaded questions about your beliefs in the limits of government power. Once you take the survey, it tells you that you’re a Libertarian. Because most modern Republicans believe in a limited government, it’s easy to fall for this one. The problem is that even those who believe in limited government, in reality, still think the government should collect taxes and pay for things like education, roads, and defense. A true Libertarian believes the government should scale back defense to protect our borders only, scale back education to the point of privatizing education, and scale back infrastructure support until private industry fills the gaps. So for the sake of keeping this discussion centered around realistic governing principles, I am going to dismiss Libertarianism outright, except that I reserve the right to come back to it when discussing the Tea Party movement.

Speaking of the Tea Party, let’s go ahead and get this out the way. The Tea Party movement grew out of Republican resistance to President Bush’s TARP program. I won’t go into much detail. I’ll just say that the economy killed over, and President Bush signed legislation that allowed the Federal Government to spend a butt ton of money trying to resuscitate it. This was the right thing to do. If you don’t believe me, check out what happened when President Hoover faced the same scenario and did nothing. However a bunch of the far right wing base disagreed, mostly because they were already living close to the poverty line and didn’t feel the impact of the crash. This specific niche of Republicans is far removed from the Rockefeller Republicans. This is the guns, god and hate branch of the Republican party. These are people who have been in an economic recession for thirty years. Nothing changed for them when the recession happened. They are literally opposed to everything. This movement has been bankrolled by some very rich, very powerful people who have an actual stake in what the government does. And they’re using the movement to send people to Washington who are completely unqualified to be there. In 2010, the Tea Party took over the House of Representatives. How? House elections are quick, happening every two years, and they take place on a small scale. The average House district is barely larger than a city. It’s easy to mobilize an angry undereducated mob on a small scale. So the newly bank rolled Tea Party swept into office a group of Congressmen who are barely qualified to be dog catchers, and also beholden to the movement. Because these people don’t believe in government spending in any form, they stopped passing bills. Because they were elected as Republicans, the Republican party took over control of the House, and the new majority stopped governing. Hence, the party of Hell No. Why would a bunch of rich guys want these yahoos in government? Because the rich guys oppose President Obama, and they’re willing to bring the government to it’s knees to prevent him from passing a single piece of legislation.

What I’ve described above is the modern Republican party. A once great party now dominated by an angry mob of undereducated, economically depressed bible thumpers. I don’t want to offend my religious friends here. When I say bible thumpers, I’m talking about people whose politics is informed by their religion. Not normal religion. These aren’t the Baptists and Methodists we all know. I’m talking about hands in the air Evangelists who honestly believe that God and Michelle Bachman have two sided conversations. I guarantee you Michelle Bachman and  Rick Santorum aren’t religious zealots. They know that act wins votes from the Tea Party. And while we’re on it, the Tea Party’s love of guns is tied to a mistrust of government and a blatant desire to see it overthrown forcefully. Bloody revolution made America, but it didn’t make us great. America was made great by the peaceful transfer of power provided by our Constitution. If we disagree with our elected officials, we vote them out of office. We don’t storm the Capitol, guns a blazing. I didn’t leave the Republican Party. The party left me.

So now you know what I don’t believe in. Time to tell you what I do believe in. It’s called the Third Way.  It’s a modern progressive set of ideas that came about in the early nineties. It supports the pursuit of equality in society through the distribution of skills while rejecting the redistribution of wealth. The very most basic broad brush distinction would be: Conservatives believe that if we provide economic opportunities through tax breaks, etc to the wealthiest in our country, they will build businesses and spend in such a way that provides economic opportunity to the middle and bottom wage earners. This is trickle down theory… a rising tide raises all boats. Liberals believe that if we take from the wealthiest through increased taxes and give it to the middle and bottom wage earners, then everyone will be better off. This is an old fashioned redistribution of wealth. The third way suggests that if we provide opportunity through education and training to the middle and bottom wage earners, they will take advantage and improve their station in life. It involves a large government investment in education and infrastructure. This is all way over simplified, but it’ll do. The third way is liberal. It was embraced by Bill Clinton in the US and Tony Blair in the UK. It’s also dominant in Australia and Canada.

To fully flesh out my political philosophy, this is what I believe. I believe in extravagant government investment in education, infrastructure and R&D. I believe in marriage equality. I believe in a woman’s right to choose (and yes that means I support her right to choose to have an abortion. Not because I hate babies, but because I firmly believe this is not in the government’s wheelhouse). I believe in equal access to health care. I don’t think the ACA (Obamacare) got it right, but I think it was a good first step. We live in the richest country in the world, no one should be going without health care or going hungry, even if they’ve made horrible life decisions. I did not support the invasion of Iraq, the establishment of the Guantanamo prison, or the use of water boarding on terror suspects. I accept man made global warming as a scientific fact that requires immediate action to reverse. While we’re talking about scientific facts, I also believe in evolution and think creationism has no place in a science classroom. I believe in stem cell research. I strongly support the separation of church and state. While I think we should allow our morality to influence our decisions, we should never allow one theology to dominate our public discourse. Allowing a radical theology to take over a single party and then allowing that party to take power is what happened in Iran in 1979, and it wasn’t pretty. I believe a well regulated free market will be the secret to reestablishing order from the current economic chaos. I do not support the new movement toward voter ID. There have been less than five documented cases of voter fraud in the past twenty years. Anyone who is telling you voter fraud is a problem is using scare tactics to convince you it’s okay to restrict access to the voter booth. The people who will not get an ID and thus be unable to vote are the elderly and minorities, people who traditional vote Democratic. This same strategy was used for years in the South as a poll tax. They had to pay to vote. This kept the poor, mostly the black poor out of the voter booths for a hundred years. We can’t go back there. Almost everyone I know will vote for Mitt Romney in November, but I would never do anything to prevent them from doing so. We can’t win by cheating.

I will be voting for Barack Obama for the second time in November. Do I think he’s the ideal representation of what I believe? No, but he is the closest representation of my political beliefs. Do I expect you to do the same? Of course not. I expect you to vote your conscience. I just wanted to use this platform to explain what I believe and why?