Ennui will Destroy America

I checked the calendar today, twice, to make sure it really was the year 2020. Turns out, it is. No matter how hard that is to believe.

This is the most modern age in America so far. But despite all our technology, all our vast capabilities, all these attempts at either recovering or finding American greatness, we still cannot run an election. We fail at the most fundamental aspect of self-government; wherein the people determine the course of government.

This should happen without lengthy delays in counting votes, serious doubts over integrity, or an embarrassing level of non-participation.

We have little faith in our fellow Americans—seeing them all (or at least the ones who hold different beliefs or political philosophies) as willing to commit voter fraud—and we have no faith in our government. A government installed by VOTERS. We don’t trust the system and we see little benefit in making the effort to vote.

We are trapped between an irresistible force and an immovable object. Our own intransigence and inertia will be our demise.

A country that once challenged the greatest military power in the world on the sheer courage of our citizen-soldiers runs elections like a kindergarten class in North Korea.

A country that once put a man on the moon cannot guarantee every citizen the opportunity to vote and instill in them the obligation to exercise that right as a sacred duty.

We should be a country certain that the outcome of elections represents the will of the people. All the people.

But, alas, as the latest debacle out of Kentucky demonstrates, we may be a world leader in some things, yet we are barely competent in the most critical—supporting and fostering our Democracy.

Kentucky, in a preview of the coming national elections, reduced polling locations. One location covered almost 800,000 voters. This was ostensibly to manage exposure to COVID-19. It defies logic.  Wouldn’t MORE sites reduce numbers and the risk of exposure?  They also either failed to anticipate or exhibited just plain ‘ole stupidity in their plan for dealing with mail-in ballots.

I know the pressures on poll workers is enormous. They have to spend an entire DAY at the polls. Would it be too much to ask if we made them work, for the sake of argument, an entire week to increase opportunities for voting?  These elections only happen every two years. I would think one week of work and two years off, even if they have to add two extra days to prepare, isn’t an unreasonable request.

Perhaps working at polling sites should be akin to jury duty. Everybody required to participate. Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes. Jury duty! How awful a comparison. But jury duty, no matter how inconvenient, is the foundation of the justice system. As is staffing election operations to allow all to vote.

Perhaps we should demand that the position of Secretary of State be more than just a launch pad for the politically ambitious. As Draconian as this may sound, we should insist they actually deal with making voting accessible for all.

Of all the ills facing this country, sometimes we need to triage the most critical and put aside the others.  And I can think of nothing more important than making sure every eligible American votes. It is something we should instill as part of our education system. Not only do you have the Right to Vote, but you have a civic obligation to do so.

A truly representative government, populated with responsible individuals elected by open voter participation, is the best way to address all the other issues facing America.

Here’s another incentive for those of you who distrust government, incumbents fear large voter turnout. They understand if circumstances can drive the normally oblivious to the polls, change is in the air.

If you are serious about Making America Great Again, then vote. And demand those who manage our elections work to support that goal.

If you don’t think it matters, you have only to look at what happened in 2016. The time for Americans to reclaim our destiny, self-respect, and standing as a beacon of Democracy is upon us.


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Competing Disappointments: Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump

One of the biggest criticisms early in the Obama administration was his blaming of George Bush for the many problems he faced. It would seem Mr. Trump doesn’t remember this criticism.

Mr. Trump is leveling blame on Mr. Obama for failing to take decisive action when the evidence of Russian interference in the election first came to light. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/us/trump-russia-cia-john-brennan.html)

In this, I must concede, Mr. Trump has a point. When President Obama received this most startling memo from the CIA, he had almost eight full years experience (and the gray hair to prove it) of dealing with the difficult decisions facing a President.

When his advisers split on giving the go-ahead on launching the raid which killed Osama Bin Laden, when the odds were about even the information was accurate, President Obama put the political risks aside and decided to go.

An easy decision in hindsight, gut-wrenching in the moment.

Yet, when faced with direct evidence of Russian interference in our election process, President Obama let the potential appearance of partisan interference affect his decision. Worried that unveiling such information might appear he was using the office of the Presidency to sway the election, he kept the information from the American people and took symbolic action against the Russians.

It was a valid concern, but not one that rose to the level of preventing him from doing what was necessary.

It is easy for those of us who’ve never faced such decision to criticize, but in this case, the political consideration should not have affected the decision.

The sad part about this is that the Russians outsmarted us. Say what you like about Putin, he is not stupid.

By manipulating the election they diminished our standing in the world. They feared a Clinton Presidency, with all the experience her background brought (leaving aside the negative baggage of which the Russians couldn’t care less), the continuity of a strong America was likely.

In Trump, they saw an inexperienced and naïve megalomaniac with a god delusion riding on the backs of an angry, but in many cases uninformed, populist trend. They could take advantage of the learning curve of a neophyte on the world stage. Or even better, take advantage of his “I’m always the smartest one in the room” attitude.

Yes, there is plenty of disappointment to go around.

My descent into disillusionment began long before Mr. Trump’s election. It began with the national nominating conventions. Out of three hundred million people, the best we offered was Hillary Rodham Clinton, a career politician who believed she had a divine right to the office of the Presidency and the aforementioned Donald J. Trump who seemed to run on a whim.

But I am an optimist at heart. Despite the trend of many to disparage any source with whom they disagree and to blindly embrace those they agree with, there is hope.

I have unqualified faith in Robert Mueller. His reputation, job performance, and history speak to the highest level of integrity. When he completes his investigation, whatever the results, I believe the findings will be trustworthy.

Despite my disagreement with much of Donald Trump’s policies, he is the President of the United States. Until the evidence and the law demand his removal from office, it is a fact we must accept.

Disappointment is a fact of life. Let’s hope we can also reclaim the pride in our government and the election process despite these past disappointments.