Tag Archives: Vote

Don’t Vote For A Jackass

8 Nov

In years past, I’ve written about local and national elections several times.  However, I’ve always tried to keep my personal beliefs to the side.  I’m guessing it would not be very hard to figure out which way I lean on the political spectrum, but I’ve tried to stop short of saying “vote for _____” or “you’d be a fool to support X”.

 

But that needs to change.

 

I cannot imagine how anybody with half of a brain could vote for Donald Trump.

 

Let’s set aside the primary reason (“he’s not Hillary”) for a moment, and try to understand why.

 

Throughout this grueling death march of a campaign, Trump has shown himself – over and over and over and over again – to be:

  • An habitual liar who invents his own reality, and refuses to own his past words and actions.
  • A creepy (and possibly dirty) old man who struggles to show basic respect to women – especially if they do not meet his ridiculous standards of beauty.
  • Someone with zero patience for dissent, debate, or diplomacy.
  • A vain, pompous blowhard whose apparent motivation for getting out of bed is the continual gratification of his own ego.
  • Somebody easily manipulated into flying off the handle and saying inappropriate things.  When a grown man has his Twitter account taken away from him – for his own good – that should be a sign.
  • A man incapable of accepting any setback without claiming conspiracies, bias, or the system being “rigged” against him.*

 

*The irony, of course, is as a white male born into extreme wealth, the it would be very hard to rig the system any more in his favor.

 

  • A person who has built much of his campaign on fear of those who are not white Christians.
  • A businessman who has had some shady business dealings, lost over a billion dollars, and bragged about not paying taxes for years.
  • A candidate who won’t denounce the support he receives from the KKK.
  • Somebody wholly unfit – by nearly every measure – to be Commander-in-Chief
  • Sadly, there are probably a half-dozen more examples that I’m forgetting.

 

Seriously, if you look solely at who Donald Trump is (and completely ignore any of the other candidates), I cannot fathom how anybody could support him in good conscience.

 

I honestly believe that if Trump was running against anybody other than Hillary Clinton, this would be the greatest landslide in US history.  In my lifetime, nobody has gotten stomped worse than Walter Mondale.  I’d wager that he’d kick Trump’s ass.  But, the reality is that Hillary is the other main candidate.  And she has more than enough warts, flaws, and character issues to keep the race as competitive as it has been.

 

I get it:  you dislike Hillary Clinton.  You don’t trust her.  You believe that she is corrupt, dishonest, and represents everything wrong with Washington D.C. politics.  You contend that so many things she is connected to (emails, Benghazi, her husband, etc.) stink to high heaven.  For the sake of time, I won’t argue any of that.

 

But seriously?  She will do more damage to our country than Trump?  How can you possibly believe that?  Even if she forwards every email for the next four years to every email account in the world, I’ll still take my chances that we still come out ahead with her versus a Trump presidency.

 

The primary system is seriously flawed.  It favors candidates who pander to the extremes of their party instead of those who will be moderate, can compromise, and get results.  This broken system is how we got to Trump, Clinton, and some third-party jokers barely worthy of a mention.  So here is what I propose:  let’s spend the next four years fixing the primary system, locating better, more competent candidates and getting them more in tune with what the majority of Americans actually want.  Make Hillary a one-term President, especially if she’s not getting the job done.

 

But please, pretty please, for the sake of our country, our children, ourselves, do not vote for Donald Trump.  He needs to be defeated so soundly, so thoroughly that no other candidate tries to emulate his path to the nomination.

 

Voting Lines.  When I go vote today, I’ll have to travel all of five blocks to my precinct.  I probably will arrive around 5:20, when many of my neighbors will be getting home from work.  If I have to wait to vote – which has rarely, if ever happened in my 24 years of voting – I expect that wait to be less than 10 minutes.

 

Sadly, that will not be the case for many of our fellow Americans.  Take a look at this video explaining why we vote on Tuesday.  https://youtu.be/e0bMfS-_pjM   When I watched it, I could not help but notice the vast majority of people in line were African-American.  Maybe I notice it because Nebraska is not a very diverse state.  Or maybe I notice it because in some parts of our country – intentionally or not – it is needlessly hard for people to exercise their right to vote.

 

Nebraska’s Death Penalty.  Last year, the Nebraska Legislature voted to repeal the death penalty.  Governor Pete Ricketts vetoed that bill, but the Unicameral overrode his veto.  Death penalty supporters then started a petition drive to bring it back.  Governor Ricketts has supported this initiative with several hundred thousand of his own dollars.*

 

*This is a good place to note two key things:  1) Under Nebraska law, Governor Ricketts can spend his money however he damn well pleases.  If he wants to spend a small fortune to restore the State’s ability to kill capital offenders, that is his right.  2) The comments and opinions shared on this site do not necessarily reflect those of my employer (who does work with several state agencies).

 

I bring up this referendum for two reasons:  First off, the language is very counter-intuitive.  When Nebraskans go to the polls, their options will be to Retain or Repeal.  Repeal gets rid of the law (LB268) that eliminated the death penalty, thus bring it back.  Retain keeps the law in place, therefore ending the death penalty.

 

Secondly, there are a multitude of reasons to RETAIN the law (and get rid of the death penalty):

 

  • Capital punishment has been shown to have a systemic bias against minorities.
  • There have been many instances where an innocent person was sentenced to death, or killed.
  • The multitude of appeals (needed to prevent wrongfully convicted people from being killed) costs more than life in prison.  For a fiscally conservative state, this should be reason enough to RETAIN.
  • Capital punishment is not proven to be a deterrent to violent crime.
  • Currently, Nebraska is unable to legally procure the drugs necessary to perform an execution.
  • Capital punishment is rarely used.  Nebraska has only executed three people in the last 40 years, and no one since 1997.

 

There’s also the inherent irony of an overwhelmingly pro-life state being so eager to kill people, but that’s beside the point.

 

LD25 .  Closer to (my) home, there is a hotly contested race for the Nebraska Legislature.  I learn just how contested it is every time I go to my mailbox.  For the last few weeks, I’m averaging a couple of campaign flyers a day.  With few exceptions, they bash the other candidate and focus little on what the candidate will do.  Very few of these flyers were purchased by the candidates – instead, they come from the political parties and faceless PACs.  And all of this for a (supposedly) non-partisan office that pays $12,000 a year.  Tonight, one of the candidates will be elected.  But frankly, the only winners will be printing companies and US Postal Service.

 

Finally – as always, be sure to use your right to vote – or be willing to waive your right to complain.

Thought of the Day – 11/4/2014 – You Get What They Paid For

4 Nov

If I paid $50,000 for the opportunity to get hired as a minimum wage cashier at McDonald’s, you’d either think I was a moron or I had some shady plan in place to make my money back.

Yet, we don’t think anything of candidates who spend tens of thousands of dollars for an office that pays $12,000, plus per diem (Nebraska legislature) or millions for an office that pays $174,000 (U.S. House and Senate).

So are we electing morons or are these elected officials recouping their losses?

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Elect This!

4 Nov

With today’s midterm elections, here are some random election thoughts:

  • As I’ve previously noted, the worst part of living in a cable-free household is the lack of sports on TV.  However, the best part is zero campaign ads.  Seriously, the last one I saw was on YouTube, and I only watched that for blog material.
  • You remember how ticked off you were at the partisan gridlock and petty maneuvering that shut down the government?  Remember how you said at the next election you were going to vote out all of the incumbents?  Are you going to stick with that, or vote for the incumbent (who happens to represent your party)?  Um-hmm.  I thought so.  Next time, just shut it and realize that you continue to play a part in keeping Congress ineffective.
  • A Facebook friend shared a picture of a political mailer she received from a candidate.  This candidate touted his strong Catholic faith and reminded you that a vote for him is a Pro-Life vote.  In theory, no big deal.  Nebraska is a conservative state that values religion, and as any politico can tell you, “pro-life” is the highest level of endorsement a Nebraska politician can hope to achieve, ahead of a personal recommendation from legendary football coach Tom Osborne.  But here’s the kicker:  this candidate is not running for Congress, Senate, or the state legislature.  He’s not running for governor, mayor, or the University Board of Regents (we’ll get to that race next).  This candidate is running for the board of the Omaha Public Power District – the electric utility in Omaha.  I don’t follow a lot of the issues facing the OPPD board, but I’m guessing none of them deal with abortion or moral issues where one’s faith would be a deciding factor.  To base a vote on a single issue that is so far outside the jurisdiction of the office is asinine.  As another friend commented:  ” I personally have always felt that I could never turn off my electricity, but others should have the choice to do so if they wanted to.

    Seriously. Do it.

  • In a similar vein, the race for the University of Nebraska Board of Regents has also been impacted by issues that are way outside of the jurisdiction of the office.  Allegedly, after Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini lost his mind during last year’s home loss to Iowa, Lincoln businessman (and former Husker) Steve Glenn called the regent representing him and demanded that Pelini be fired.  When informed that the Board of Regents did not have the authority to fire football coaches, Glenn allegedly told incumbent Rob Schafer that he would “run for your position“.  Since then, mailings have come out saying that Glenn wants Pelini fired – thereby implying that if you support the coach (and hey, they’re 8-1 right now), you had better vote for the incumbent.  Even if Glenn is only running because he wants Pelini ousted (something I’m not sure I believe) I resent dragging sports into the political mud.  Unfortunately, Pelini is already enough of a polarizing figure in this state without making him an unwilling pawn in a race within the confines of the 402 area code.
  • One other amusing side note from this Board of Regents race:  during the primary, Glenn ran a radio ad featuring Larry the Cable Guy talking him up.  (Both Glenn and Larry’s alter ego Dan Whitney are from Pawnee City, Nebraska).  In the ad, Larry mentions something to the effect that “anything that comes out of Pawnee City has got to be good.”.  It turns out that Glenn’s opponent (incumbent Rob Schafer) is also from Pawnee City.  Whoops, that’s not the best way to git ‘er done.
  • Nebraskans will vote on a proposal to raise the minimum wage.  I’m not going to tell you how to vote, as there are definite economic impacts either way.  But when I hear about efforts to raise the minimum wage, I think of an early episode of the documentary series 30 Days, where host Morgan Spurlock and his fiancée spent 30 days trying to live on minimum wage.  They did it, but it looked absolutely miserable.  I wonder if the most vocal opponents of raising the wage have any exposure to what life is like at $7.25 an hour.
  • I’ll close with a reminder of my favorite reason why you should vote today:  it gives you the unalienable right to bitch about politics, politicians, and partisan bull for the next two years.  Plus, many polling places will give you an “I Voted Today” sticker.

Incomplete – VOTE (I)

10 Apr

One of the big challenges of undertaking this monthly A to Z Challenge is finding content that is (remotely) relevant to the letter of the day.  Before I decided to take on the challenge, I did some planning and put together a rough calendar of topics.

For that list, I relied very heavily on my backlog of drafts.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve amassed a sizable collection of drafts.  Some of them are things that I keep tinkering with until I get it just right, or things where my best intentions have fallen by the wayside (a.k.a. my Husker countdown series).  But usually, these drafts are snippets. A few sentences  or paragraphs that I’ll type mainly to prevent the idea from being lost forever.

And yet, most of these drafts do just that – sit there lost, unable to find their way out of the bowels of this blog.  At the end of 2013, I put about 25 drafts out of their misery.  I lost interest in some, a few had no promise, and some where hopelessly out of date – such as a partial post about Kansas City Royals fans mercilessly booing Robinson Cano at the 2012 Home Run Derby.  There was some decent stuff there, but the moment has long since passed.

*   *   *

That preface leads us into today’s entry.  Letter I.  My original plan was to grab one of my random drafts, work it up a little bit, and purposefully leave it incomplete, chopped off right in the middle of a sentence, or maybe even mid-word.  At the time, I thought that was pretty clever.  I could slyly play to the “Incomplete” theme while getting some draft (preferably one that had a good beginning, but was lacking a good conclusion) out the door.

But the more I’ve thought about that, the less I like that approach.  I’m afraid folks would think the truncated post was due to technical difficulties, and not get the joke.  My clever idea isn’t so neat if I have to explain it a dozen times.  Therefore, I’m putting that idea back on the shelf.

Instead, I’m going to share snippets from a handful of long-lost drafts.  A few sentences that I like and that (hopefully) show there is some potential for a readable post.  Then, you, faithful reader will get to choose which one I complete by voting* in the poll at the bottom.

*Plus, I can then claim both “Incomplete” and “Interactive” as my theme for “I”, which hopefully offsets the contortionist-caliber stretching I did for “E“.

At the end of the month, I’ll take the draft with the most votes and complete/publish it.

Let’s me our contenders:

Contestant #1 is the adoption story of our oldest daughter, tentatively titled “The Good Kind of Gotcha”.  Your sample sentences:

We spent the next few days discussing and deciding.  Since this little girl (Jamie, we learned) was 6 months old, there were lots of medical records and other documents for us to review, which we poured over.

During this same time, a disk in my lower back became herniated, requiring immediate surgery.  With me fresh out of the hospital, we decided to go forward and have our profile shown.  We were chosen the next day.

We were parents.

Contestant #2 uses Mrs. Feit Can Write’s favorite Mexican place as a vehicle to explore gender roles assigned by society.  A taste from “I Always Get The Spicy Salsa”:

Like every other Mexican restaurant, they bring out chips and salsa when you sit down.  This joint has two salsas – a mild and a spicy.  Even though the salsas are served in identical bowls, there are two unmistakable ways to tell them apart:

1)  The spicy has red pepper flake in it.

2)  The spicy bowl is always the one placed in front of me.

Why is that?

Next up is my personal love letter to a processed pork sandwich.  Contestant #3:  “McMinistry of the McRib”

Today, my goal is to preach to the True Believers as well as convert some of you non-practicers of the pig to the gospel of goodness, the parish of pork, the ministry of mouth-watering.

We are in the middle of the McRib Holy Month.  Every year, McDonald’s opens the McRib vault for “a limited time only”.  Why?  When the water turned into wine, did you ask questions or did you enjoy a sip?  Skeptics will say it is because the pent-up demand creates a rush of sales (and free press) that would not occur if the sandwich was offered year-round.  I say the skeptics will be on the outside looking in when the day of judgment comes.

Contestant #4 was inspired in part by little braille stickers identifying each of the 100 cubicles in my former office building.  From “Appreciation for the Blind”:

Think about many of the other things we consider “disabilities”:  being deaf, paralyzed, missing a limb, or having some other debilitating disease.  Without getting in to deep, philosophical questions (Would you rather see or hear something truly amazing*?) they would all suck, and I honestly would not want to experience any of those long term.  Yet, given the choice, I’d gladly take any of those disabilities (and possibly even two of them) over the prospect of being blind.

*Don’t get me wrong, given the choice of listening to, say, Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed A Dream” or watching it without sound, I’m choosing audio every single time.  But even if I were deaf, there are enough visual clues to know that something magical is happening.

Think about all of the beautiful things you have seen in your life:  a young child’s toothy grin,  the brilliant blue and white of a Caribean beach, the reds and yellows of autumn leaves, a gravity-defying Michael Jordan dunk, that one YouTube video with the cat – I cannot help but think my life is better for having seen all of these with my own two eyes.

Contestant #5 takes me to unchartered territory – writing extensively about my dad.  From the roughly named “Adoption and my Dad”:

This is where it gets tricky for me.  Because I want to talk about what those milestone moments would have been like if he were alive for them – the announcement that we were adopting, the phone call after we were matched, our homecoming with our beautiful daughter – but I find it tough to be objective.  The tendency I have is to romanticize my dad; to accentuate the positive and ignore any of the negative.

Of course he would have been 100% on board with our decision and supported us every step of the way, in any way that he could.  Researching, networking, offering us financial support, watching our dog when we were out of state doing placement, whatever was necessary, I know he would have done it in a heartbeat.

I truly believe that.  Period.

But if I’m going to take the time to explore this topic, I owe it to myself (and to my kiddos for when they read this many years from now) to not type a bunch of fluff with my rose-colored glasses on.

Finally, for you lovers of the bullet point list, I offer for your voting consideration, contestant #6, “Parential Rights of Passage”.  To do a large snippet would steal from some of the impact, but the post seeks to fill in the blank of

“You know you’re a real parent when you’ve had to deal with  _____”.

 *   *   *

Using the poll below, vote for your favorite.  Also, I encourage you to use the comments to a) explain your rationale and b) encourage others to support your candidate.

The polls close May 15, 2014.

 

*   *   *

(Author’s note:  Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post?  Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge?  Like clicking on links?  These questions are all answered here.)

Wasting Your Vote

10 Apr

Apparently, I was supposed to vote today.  The City of Lincoln held a primary election.

Frankly, I had no idea that my primary democratic responsibility was being called into action today.  I don’t read the local paper very often, and when the wife and I watch TV at night, she’ll always pick a Law & Order rerun over the 10 o’clock news*.

*My wife finds many of the news stories (murders, violent crimes, etc) depressing, so I can appreciate that you might think choosing Law & Order or Law & Order: SVU local news is curious – given the amount on violence on many of those shows.  Yet, I think that on some level she prefers L & O because we always know that in the end, Detectives Benson & Stabler (or District Attorney Jack McCoy) will always get the bad guy.

Anyway, I’m not going to lose any sleep about sitting this election out.

Why?  Because it was a complete and utter waste of time and resources.

Had I bothered to vote, I could have voted in the following city races:

  • Lincoln Airport Authority.  Nicholas J. Cusick ran unopposed.
  • Lincoln School Board.  I don’t live in one of the four districts where the seat was up for election, so I wouldn’t have been able to vote.  Regardless, all four candidates ran unopposed.
  • Lincoln City Council.  There are three at-large seats up for election.  In this primary, voters picked up to three from the seven initial candidates, with the top six advancing to the general election on May 7.

That’s it.

Seriously.

Three races, a total of nine candidates, and only one went home a loser*.

I’m not sure if the candidates cared about this election.

*My sincere condolences to Norman L. Dority, whose 4% of the City Council vote wasn’t nearly enough to extend his campaign.  If it helps, your vote total would have won three of the four school board races. 

What a waste.  The Lincoln Journal-Star estimated this election will cost around $135,000.  I haven’t seen any voter turnout numbers yet, but the election commissioner was expecting around 20,000 citizens to vote.  Judging by the airport authority vote, at least 15,742 people bothered to show up.

I’d love to know who the people are that intentionally showed up for this vote.  I can understand the candidates, as well as their family and friends.  I can understand the folks who work at the polling places taking 45 seconds to vote.  I suspect a number of retired people with nothing better to do might feel obligated to vote (especially in some of the retirement communities that doubled as polling places).  But other than that, why bother?  Other than crushing poor Norm’s dreams of civic duty, not a damn thing was decided today.  We get to do it all over again in four weeks.

Lincoln needs to move away from holding city elections on odd-numbered years, and pair up all local elections with the state and federal elections in even-numbered years.  Yes that might mean some years there is a ballot full of candidates, which could mean some voters aren’t properly educated on their City Council candidates.  But the trade-off is a much better voter turnout when there is an election, and a general public that is not apathetic about a fundamental freedom that millions of people have died for.

Give me something to vote for and I’ll be there to vote (and I’ll take my young daughter with me so she learns the importance of voting).  But I’m not going to waste my time to rubber stamp a bunch of people running unopposed.

Exercising My Right to Complain (and other random election thoughts)

7 Nov

Today, I voted over the lunch hour, guaranteeing my right to complain for another four years.  I would like to exercise that right, as well as share some of my thoughts and feelings on other national and local issues.

Let’s start it off with the main event:  the presidential race.

President Obama reelected.  Despite this and my last two posts, I do want to keep this space largely free of politics so I’ll withhold my thoughts on the reelection itself.  But I will say this:  I have two (adopted) children under the age of four.  My daughter has an African-American birth father, and both my son’s birth parents are African-American.  Having an African-American President isn’t going to erase (or likely reduce) the racial challenges they will face in their lives – especially in an overwhelmingly caucasian state like Nebraska – but it will make it easier for me to tell them that anything is possible.  And that is a huge victory in our household.

Poor timing.  For the majority of the night, we kept our coverage on ABC – mainly because I prefer their Lincoln affiliate for local coverage.  Unfortunately, when Obama got the necessary 270 electoral votes, we missed out on the moment as we were watching a local reporter stumble through an interview with a reelected Congressman.  Talk about anti-climatic.

Popular vote vs. Electoral College.  As I write this, President Obama has a very slight lead in the popular vote* (around 200,000 – less than the population of Lincoln, NE), but he is absolutely crushing Romney in the all-important Electoral College (303-203 at the moment).  This is bringing up the same debate we have every four years on if the best way to elect our President is to continue the Electoral College or put it simply to a popular vote where the candidate with the most votes wins.

*Currently, I’m mixing up my election coverage with some Fox News.  The nice blonde lady is struggling to figure out why Romney lost even though he is doing well in the popular vote.  I’m guessing this anchor was hired more for her looks than her political savvy, but surely somebody there can explain the Electoral College to her, right?

Without getting into that debate, I think the thing we must recognize is how well – in this election and in 2008 – Barack Obama and his campaign team did in a) understanding exactly how the system worked and b) creating a winning game plan to win under the system in place.  Frankly, I think if the goal was to win the national popular vote, Obama’s team would have emphasized that instead of focusing on the critical swing states.

For what it’s worth, I’d love to see how the election would have played out if every state used the system in place in Nebraska and Maine:  the electoral votes are not winner-take-all, but are divided by Congressional district.  That could be a fair compromise to the issue.

Long lines to vote.  Throughout the day, I heard stories of folks having to wait for hours on end to vote at their local polling place.  And I don’t understand it.  This is my sixth presidential election, and I have never waited more than five minutes to cast my ballot – and for most of them (including today) I simply walk in, sign the thing and vote.  So what is the deal?  Are there not enough polling places?  Not enough workers staffing them? Whatever it is, it needs to be fixed.

Moving closer to home, there were a handful of local races and amendments that I felt strongly about.  Looking back, I probably should have shared my thoughts before the election, but given the large margins by which they were defeated, it probably would not have mattered.

Bob Kerrey loses his bid for the U.S. Senate.  Despite some late polls that showed Kerrey (a former Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senator) had closed the gap on state senator Deb Fischer, this was never really in much doubt.  Kerrey never had much of a chance, and the simple fact that he – somebody who has not lived in the state since 2000 – represented the Nebraska Democrats’ best (and only) hope for retaining Ben Nelson’s Senate seat should tell you everything you need to know about the strength of the democratic party in Nebraska.  But to be clear – it stinks.  Yes, there are some bright, young, and talented democratic senators in the Unicameral, but blowout losses in the elections for  three congressional districts, both Senate seats, and the Governor’s mansion over the past few years demonstrates the failure of the democratic party to recruit, develop, and support talented candidates.

I can certainly understand that few people in this vastly Republican state care about the stumbles and fumbles within the Democratic Party, but, having both parties being viable and competitive is in the best interest of all Nebraskans.  The GOP is more than holding up their end fo the bargain.  Let’s see if the Democrats can do the same.

During his acceptance speech, Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry forgets one of his children.  It is a standard part of the post-election speech.  Candidate thanks his wife, his kids, and everyone who supported him.  Fortenberry was doing the same thing; he recognized his wife, named three or four kinds, and was moving on when his wife interrupted him to point out that he had forgotten about one of his daughters – who was standing four feet away from him.

An amendment to extend term limits is rejected.  The amendment would have kept term limits on the Nebraska legislature, but would have changed the maximum number of terms from two to three.  Personally, I liked the idea as the Unicameral is seeing good senators forced out and replaced with inexperienced newbies, who spend most of their first term getting familiar with the ropes.  A part of me thinks this was defeated for the same reason term limits were initially enacted – to keep argumentative and contrarian senator Ernie Chambers out of office.

Speaking of which….

Ernie Chambers reelected to the Nebraska Legislature.  He’s baaack!  His WikiPedia page refers to him as “‘Defender of the Downtrodden’, the ‘Maverick of Omaha’ and the ‘Angriest Black Man in Nebraska.'”  He was forced out by term limits, sat out for four years, and is back and ready to use his mastery of the political process to block bills that he does not support.  Ernie adds much-needed life to the Unicameral, and he does a good job of thinning out some of the junk bills that get pushed every year.

No pay raise for the Legislature.  An amendment to give Nebraska’s state senators a $10,500 pay raise (from $12,000 to $22,500 a year) is soundly rejected.  I know that my fellow Nebraskans are a fiscally conservative bunch, but I wonder a) why anybody would spend thousands of dollars campaigning for a full-time “part-time” job that likely pays less than minimum wage per hour worked. and b) if there is any way that a person like me (i.e. married, kids, car payment, job that pays considerably less than six figures) could ever survive as a Senator without starving (or getting cozy with a lobbyist).  As the old cliché goes – you get what you pay for.

Campaign Workers and Volunteers.  As I was driving my kids to daycare this morning, I recognized a former co-worker (Phil Montag) holding a alarge campaign sign at an intersection.  Ten hours later, as I was taking my daughter to her gymnastics class, Phil was still on the street corner still holding that sign.  I assume that Phil did not spend his entire day holding a sign up for motorists to ignore, but I have a ton of respect for the folks – on both sides – who freely give their time, talents, and energies to help their candidates get elected.  Some really believe in their candidate(s).  Some – like Phil – are political junkies who enjoy the nuts and bolts of elections.  Regardless, I applaud those who do the little things to help make our democratic elections work, from the presidential elections down to a humble race for County Commissioner, such as the one Phil was holding a sign for.

Why I Vote

6 Nov

Nebraska is a big red state – both in football and in politics.  It’s been said that the only thing that outnumbers Republicans in Nebraska is cattle – and most of those cows would vote GOP if they could.

There are definitely pros and cons to living in a state where one party dominates all of the state and national offices.  For example, I don’t think the Lincoln TV stations have shown a single Obama or Romney ad (or super PAC attack ads bashing one of the candidates)*.  The campaigns know that Nebraska’s miniscule amount of electoral votes are going to Romney, and no amount of soft focus ads with ominous voice-overs will change that.

*This isn’t quite the case in for folks who watch the Omaha channels, as a) neighboring Iowa is a swing state, and b) because Nebraska is one of two states who splits their electoral vote by congressional district, there is a (slight) chance that Obama could steal an electoral vote in Nebraska, as he did in 2008.

And I’m okay with that.  I have a degree in Advertising and I’ll be first to tell you that political ads (from both sides) are entirely composed of lies, half-truths, and slanderous evil.  So the lack of wall-to-wall ads is a positive.

But there is one big negative:  pretty much any vote I cast in a state or national election – regardless of party – is purely symbolic.

Since I live in Lincoln, a vote for Obama isn’t going to help him win an electoral vote.  I could still vote for him as a show of support (or dissent from my Republican neighbors).  I could also write-in my own name*.  Both have the same impact.

*Nebraska residents, for the first time I am elgible to be elected President of the United States.  Feel free to (FeitCan) write me in.  I’m willing to release my birth certificate, tax returns, helium balloons, whatever it takes.

If I vote for Romney, I’m a single snowflake in a GOP avalanche.  In 2008, John McCain won Nebraska by approximately 120,000 votes, which is more than the number of registered voters in Nebraska’s third, fourth, and five largest cities.  Combined.  I feel safe in saying that Mitt will do just fine in Nebraska without my vote.

But I will still vote today.

Why?  I’ll spare you the 8th Grade social studies response about it being my civic duty, or any other clichéd answer.  Instead, I’ll give you the primary reason I vote – and the reason you should vote today too:

By exercising your right to vote, you gain one of the most fundamental American rights.  It may not be in the Constitution, but all Americans hold this right dear.

The right to complain.

That is why I’ve been tolerating the barrage of politically charged Facebook posts this year – I know the people posting that stuff have voted in the past, and will vote today.

But if you don’t vote, I don’t want to hear it for another four years.

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