Final Presidential Debate 2016 – The Choice

Thirty-six years ago I saw a U.S. Presidential campaign on TV for the first time. I was much too young to know what I was looking at. I saw what appeared to me to be a young guy talking fast and with considerable energy. I do not know who that slick-haired man was coming across the black and white TV set, but his presentation was captivating even for the very young. My mother turned the channel.

Over the years, I would see parts of the campaigns of George H.W. Bush, Dan Qualye and many others. I have seen quite a few people run for President of the United States and other high political offices. Given the last 9 or so major election cycles since the 1980s, you’d think much would have been learned.

Presidents set a tone on policy. They have tremendous power and influence. Less the absolute power of traditional monarchies but a significant responsibility nonetheless. The power of the office is balanced by the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Congress and the governors of the 50 U.S. States. Ironically, most of what goes on day-to-day in the lives of most people is a consequence of the power of the governor, legislature and judiciary of the each state.

Laws and new regulations can be advanced by the U.S. President and the U.S. Congress, but the states have the capacity to delay, alter, or otherwise clarify the execution and implementation of such. State-level governance is often has more direct impact in terms of jobs programs, economic development, and the advancement of education. Over the years, I’ve seen various governors and state legislatures enact sound policies that have improved the plight of more citizens.

Nine years ago, a friend of mine asked me about the possibility of an Obama Presidency. At the time, I remember instinctively saying to him that if Obama was elected, that there is a strong possibility that he would be blamed in a disproportionate way if things went wrong. That was merely an instinctive remark without basis. As his campaign progressed, I began to see positive possibilities. Oprah was a huge confidence boost in the prospects of Obama’s candidacy. Later, I voted for Obama. Twice. I admire the person though the campaign promises did not work out the way most hoped would occur. Still, I would vote for him again.

I am not a Democrat nor a Republican as I’ve voted for candidates in both parties without consideration of their party affiliation. At least today. Traditionally, I’ve voted Republican in general. Moreover, I’ve seen excellent policies enacted by Republican Governors. Often, Republicans do very well at a state level while having limited success nationally. Part of that may have to do with the larger states being more suited to national politics and the platform generally advanced by the Democrats. Particularly in large metropolitan areas.

Throughout the years, watching election coverage on TV (this year somewhat of an exception), no coverage was as interesting as George W. Bush vs. Al Gore. That election remains questionable, but that is now ancient history when viewed through the lens of modern standards of relevance. This election has similar attributes to the Bush v. Gore election as to how it may turn out.

The controversy of four election cycles ago was “chads” and electoral certification of the vote. You had the intense scrutiny and pressure applied to Florida AG Kathleen Harris as well as the final announcement in the Congress. Despite the care that went into the process, not everyone came away pleased (as could be expected).

Hopefully, no one is disappointed when I say there has been 5 U.S. Presidents across 9 election cycles and the social structure and conversations are largely the same. For example, these are a few of the recurring themes of most national elections:

  • Global intervention and national building abroad vs. internal investment
  • Jobs, economic inequality, wages, and the balance between workers and companies
  • Entitlements, social safety net, and obligations to retirees
  • Rights – Guns, life, health care, identity, and practice of faith

Generally, these are the 4 same conversations the U.S. society has had for decades. If you are still having the conversation with very small steps forward or backwards, does the problem rest elsewhere in terms of politics? If every president of the past several generations has engaged the nation on the 4 same conversations, is there a deeper problem than what politics can solve, or any one person who holds the highest office?

Imagine that, the same conversation for the past 50 years with some gains but little to show in terms of income inequality, acceptance, tolerance of differences, and the rights of those with less material resources. No wonder people kind of tune out leaving only a highly motivated minority of eager participants in the political process to choose our leaders and governing policies.

Experienced generations of voters living through the same conversation without end. New generations of voters initiated into the conversation … without the genuine prospect of resolution. Makes you wonder if the process is little more than a highly refined ballet of nuanced exhibition of skills of rhetoric and persuasion adapted to contemporary sensibilities as a channeling of the public catharsis. A blind control test for the public’s appetite and leading indicators of varying approaches to governing. Messaging suited to the maintenance of the societal condition at large.

What difference does the U.S. Presidential election make? A few things to consider based on observations. Presidents have strong impact in a few areas. Their most direct impact is over the military and law enforcement community as well as the execution of diplomacy (by way of embassies and diplomats for example). Action on humanitarian efforts. Subsequent to this, they can influence the economy through the reallocation of taxed income through deals involving Federal contracts, entitlements policy clarification, grants to commercial and non-commercial enterprises, and approach to Federal positions. All can have a stimulating effect on local and national economies and social structure.

The way each president pulls off these economic stimulus mechanisms is a secret to most people. It is not something you can see directly. A tsunami of paperwork, policy documents, legislation, agreements in triplicate and many other devices of policy enactment separates most of us from the clear knowledge of what has happened, how it happened, and who specifically was involved. You will never know if the person elected to be the U.S. President has produced a body of work that is fully agreeable with your existence, partially agreeable or simply a temporary elevation of condition. That visibility into the process is mainly the province of think-tanks staffed with Phds adapted to swimming through the morass of information. The rest of us are at the mercy of interpreters in the media.

The first U.S. Presidential debate I remember watching involved Ross Perot, George H.W. Bush, and maybe Bill Clinton. I definitely remember Ross Perot. He was unforgettable. While I seemed to have explored the election situation in general, the art of the election, and the typical outcome in the enactment of policy, there are wild cards. Ralph Nader was one, as was Ross Perot. Today, you have Gary Johnson.

The third Presidential debate of 2016 was interesting. Less so on a substantive level but there were golden nuggets. The economic vision outlined by the Democratic candidate had some appeal. At least the description of it. Enough details are there to make an intuitive assessment. The plan sounds good.

The Republican candidate came off as a strong leader with a decisive and focused approach to resolving the issues of the times. The persona of the Republican candidate is as a strong leader in the traditional sense. A strong presence, this individual probably has the force of will to change the course of society if elected. Consider that the Republican candidate for 2016 probably represents the last living embodiment of traditional American Exceptionalism. This person could turn America back to the way it was but it is a question for each person as to whether or not that is a good thing.

The Democrat candidate represents a path to a futuristic society. Perhaps not as thrilling as portrayals of future societies in the latter half of the 20th century, but a futuristic society nonetheless. New directions and unforeseen consequences. Some will find that exciting (I find it cautiously interesting). Unfortunately, it will be an experiment if the plans of the Democrat candidate is followed. Like the plans of the Republican candidate, it could turn out bad and grossly undesirable for many.

I like the clarity, though not some of the content and inferences of the 2016 Republican candidate. This individual has brought many things to the surface that are useful points to consider however jarringly expressed at times. Unfortunately, the momentum (in progress) towards a future society is far enough along that broad forces beyond the scope of the Republican candidate works at odds with their candidacy.

I am 100% against abortion, yet I see more in the Democrat’s platform. How do you reconcile that? The answer is in the situation itself. Everyday, by our own existence, we enable a society that may function contrary to our beliefs. I didn’t choose Roe v. Wade, yet undoing it seems implausible. Does the fact that a large population of people of Faith live alongside such regulation signify agreement with it? No. Rather, it is now a fact of life and we move on to what we can impact. The legal decision on abortion is done and selecting a candidate who see no issue with it is not the same as advancing that position. Besides, even if a given candidate as the U.S. President selects Supreme Court judges, the judges are neither guaranteed to be selected or to decide in alignment with the candidate’s views. Rather, between two candidate’s what is the overall balance of possibilities that can do the most good?

After taking it all in, I can see that the Democrat platform, some of it I find absolutely horrendous is still generally more favorable given the circumstances. Is there a better choice, conceptually, than what the Democrats and Republicans offer? Yes, but just not in the current political and governing structure of the United States. Therefore, rather than abstain and increase the chances that alternative, yet less optimal views advance, the Democrat position looks strong. Say people go this way and along comes all the bad (and really bad End of Days level things) that people sense may be the case, then you simply deal with it at that time. Otherwise, the forecasts of doom could be wrong (either way, Republican and Democrat) and society just inches along as have been the case at worse or we all actually see some real change after much waiting.


Why can’t people vote for Gary Johnson instead of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? by Robert Frost


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