Tag Archives: Presidential Election

Electoral Meanderings

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As a Catholic, I have a lot of thoughts about the Electoral College vs. Popular vote, etc.

OK, so being Catholic has little or nothing to do with that, but since this is called Catholic Diatribes I figured I’d remind everyone that I’m Catholic.

In no particular order of points, here we go:

  • The debate about whether or not the Popular Vote should be the determining factor in deciding the winner of the Presidential Election is understandable if viewed from a high-level perspective without a lot of deeper thought. Sure, it’s simple enough to think in terms of the democratic process – one person, one vote, most votes win.    But actually, this is not at all how our country is constructed.    And to view it in this way completely dismantles the way our citizens are represented, and the way our country actually operates.   We are not simply one country as a singular unit.   We never have been.    We are a country formed of fifty states plus the District of Columbia, joined together to form a country, but with each of those units having a say.   As I discuss some of the other points, this is the underlying issue that must be considered.    We are not, never have been, and barring a rewrite of the Constitution never will be a pure democracy.   We are a Republic.    Each unit in that Republic engages in a democratic process, but only to elect those who will then represent us.    We don’t vote on every law or regulation or issue – we elect someone who will on our behalf.   So we are not a pure democracy.
  • Making the argument that the Electoral College is unfair because it doesn’t amount to perfectly proportional weight of each individual’s vote can be extended to representation. Right now, every state, no matter how big or small, gets equal representation in the Senate.    Because of this, the folks who live in the least populous state actually have the largest voice in Congress on a per capita basis.    And even though the House of Representatives is proportional representation, there is still a minimum of 1 representative for the smallest states.    So, even in the House, the smallest state has the weightiest representation per person.   Our entire system is designed to make sure that the most populous states have a lower overall weight so that a small area of the country that has a high population density is less able to dictate policy to the rest of the country, potentially extending to large geographical regions.
  • Making the argument that the Electoral College is unfair is arguing that the states do not matter, and that – for this exercise, anyway – the country is a singular entity. This is simply not how we operate on anything.    Yes, there are federal laws and regulations, but those layer on top of state laws and regulation.    In this case, we are saying that we need to replace state elections with a federal one.    Maybe this is reasonable, maybe it isn’t, but it is a very fundamental difference from how we operate today.
  • There are some fun facts around the latest results that help demonstrate the wisdom of the Electoral College. Probably the most amazing statistic is this:   There are 3,151 counties in the United States.   Donald Trump won 3,084 of those counties.    And yet, Hillary Clinton is going to win the official Popular Vote.     That is actually really amazing.    And while I can sort of understand this whole “popular vote” argument, I simply cannot fathom how someone can’t see the wisdom in having a system that allows for the case where the candidate that wins 97.9% of the counties really deserves to be the President, even if he/she loses the total popular vote.
  • Another thing that needs to be considered as well is whether or not the actual results of the Popular Vote would have been the actual result if the winner was determined by Popular Vote. People are suggesting – either correctly or incorrectly – that the results of the election would be the same regardless of how the winner is determined.    This is far from certain.    Think about the fact that Donald Trump spent ALL of his time campaigning in the swing states.   California?   New York?    Almost no time at all, even though they have the highest two populations.    Illinois?    Since that state is driven by the results of Chicago, very little time was spent there.     The reason is simple strategy and resources.    Donald Trump may well have been able to get an extra million votes or two had he needed to spend money and time in those popular areas.    But he didn’t.   Why?    Because it made no sense with the Electoral College.    Losing California by 100 votes is no different than losing California by 3 million votes.     While this may not seem fair, because it means the candidates don’t go to fight for votes in those states, that’s just the flip side of what would happen if elections were driven by popular vote.    In that case, it wouldn’t just be a particular state getting ignored, it would be most of the United States.    The vast majority of campaigning would be in all the most populous areas.   Not necessarily the states, but just those zip codes or counties.    There are 45 counties in the United States that have 1.0 million or more people living in them.    Those 45 counties represent about 25% of the total population of the US.    County #100 has over 600,000 residents.    The top 100 counties represent just over 3% of total counties in the US, but you can bet that the majority of campaigning would be in those counties.    If ALL campaigning was centered on urban areas, the President would end up being even more out of touch with ordinary Americans than they already are.
  • Another fun map to look at is a red/blue map of who won which counties and overlay that with a red/blue map of highest crime rates. Just sayin’.
  • If you still need to be convinced about this, suppose we don’t talk about counties but we talk about a single state that has 51% of the population and all other states having an equal 1% share of the remaining population (for this exercise ignore Washington DC). Theoretically speaking, that one state could dictate who the President would be for the remaining 49 states.    While it may be a stretch to think that everyone in that state would vote similarly, it certainly isn’t a stretch that the difference in popular vote could be gigantic – all one need to do is look at the fact that 4 counties in NYC contributed over a 1.5 million vote advantage for Hillary Clinton – nearly 75% of the total popular vote gap.    California alone is going to have a 3 million vote difference.
  • The reason the Electoral College works is because it is a balance of Popular Vote and equal representation of the states in selecting the President of the entire U.S. – not just a few counties. The Electoral College count is 538, which is the total of Representatives and Senators (plus 3 for Washington DC, which in my opinion was unnecessarily overstated – I’m not sure why they felt it was necessary to treat that like a full state – but whatever).  The House generally represents the states in proportion to population, while the Senate does not.   So, the Electoral College lands in between the two – balancing geography and population.    Quite frankly, it’s genius.

 

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All Hail the Wisconsin Recount

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Diatribe time.

This Wisconsin Presidential recount is the most stupid, pointless, time-wasting, money-wasting, asinine, desperate,politically irrelevant and inane thing I’ve seen in some time.

I live in Wisconsin.   The recount started today.   Even here, it’s not really news.    Nobody expects anything to change, and everyone is rolling their their eyes.   It’s remarkably idiotic.

Anyone who got scammed out of any money by contributing to this epic fail deserves to have had that money scammed.    Thank you for sending your funds to Wisconsin.   We appreciate it.   All the vote-counters will have a little extra money to spend on Christmas presents.   Maybe pro-Trump items will fly off the shelves after he wins here a second time.   Everyone loves a winner.

Jill Stein is probably going to clear a million by the time she’s done.   You guys who sent her money are morons.

 

Under Chastisement (Part 2 of a YUUUGE series)

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Forget the title.   I couldn’t help myself.   This isn’t really a series, this is more of a follow-up from my previous post on considering what the nature of chastisement is.

Basically, the prior post says that, yeah, we’re being chastised, and lays out Romans 1 to indicate why.

I won’t rehash that all here, since you can move that thing on your desk called a mouse, click on the previous post, and read it.

For this post, I just want to muse a bit about the general nature of chastisement and the current indicators that this is, in fact, what is happening.   While I believe there are things happening all around the globe that indicates this is a global in scale, I’ll focus on The U.S. because that’s where I am and it’s my immediate perspective.   Others can fill in from around the globe.

I think most everyone thinks of Chastisement as fire and brimstone, wars, plagues, death, destruction…   you know, all the stuff that makes Hi-tech movies with mundane plots otherwise entertaining.   And sure, ultimately the pinnacle of chastisement probably does play out that way when it’s one of the “biggies.”    But even then, it’s usually us giving it to ourselves…   maybe not in the plague area, but certainly in the war area.

Anyway, whatever you might believe about what constitutes a divinely guided day of wrath as opposed to the natural consequence of our own stupidity in a world that has pushed God aside while pursuing a utopia engineered by human brains, the one thing that seems to be clear is that when God decides to pull away, all sorts of weird stuff happens.   Sexual immorality, homosexuality, greed, hate, lack of respect for family and parents, and so on.

I think one can see that we’ve checked most, if not all, the boxes on the list in Romans 1.   What Romans doesn’t talk about is an election cycle that leads to division, confusion, and despair.

Let’s face it – this whole Presidential election is embarrassing.   The stuff released on Donald Trump is unsettling, crude, and unpresidential.   The stuff dropped regarding Hillary is infuriating, criminal, and corrupt.   And with every passing day, more and more and more is released and another shoe drops.

Our political system is broken and corrupt.   It is my belief that this election cycle is a chastisement of sorts.   Layering on top of the cycle is all the division it is causing.   This is not simply differences of opinion between friends – there are very raw beliefs and emotions in play.   This election is driving divisions between family and friends.   One only wonders what will happen after the election in this country, regardless of who wins.

 

This also happens as gang violence soars in certain cities, as high-profile police shootings in turn led to violence against police, concerns about increasing drug use and angst over terrorism threats continues.

 

We don’t need a comet or an asteroid.   We’re doing fine all by ourselves.

We Are Watching A Movie We Already Know the Ending To

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Those of you who have followed my blog know that I have followed Charlie Johnston.   I think I’ve been balanced in my assessment of his message and the prophetic aspect of what he says.  I trust, but verify (as Ronald Reagan once said).   In other words, he seems legit to me, I’m willing to trust, but if what he says doesn’t pan out I am not going to make excuses for him.   But as we move along this year, I must say that all he has warned that is coming is looking like it is coming to pass.   So it’s not all a slam dunk, but we’re working our way into a good scoring opportunity.

I’m going to write this post under the assumption that Charlie is absolutely correct in what he says is coming:   that the next stable leader of this country will not come from the election process.     Some have taken this to mean that the elections won’t happen.   Charlie hasn’t said that – he has said that the election might happen, but on inauguration day we will not see Obama peaceably hand the reins over to Donald or Hillary.   To be honest, I think this may even be too restrictive.    I could see a scenario in which chaos is erupting around us and we attempt to continue the government in normalcy, but it is not stable and is short-lived.

In any case, this all seemed like crazy talk just a year ago.   If you would have polled Americans as to whether or not it is likely that on Obama’s last day our country may be in a precarious situation and there would be a serious question about the future of the structure of government itself, I am guess the poll numbers would have registered near zero.     If you polled Americans on that now, I’m sure that most would still answer that the government will survive, but the difference is they’d actually consider the question a relevant and valid one.    And a lot can happen in the next three months that might change the answer.

I am not guaranteeing that Charlie is correct.   I am not rooting for chaos.   What I am rooting for is that America wakes up and reverses its current course.    And all of us prefer that this happen the right way.   But sometimes we humans cannot see the direction we’re going, and if God wants to save us, He’ll have to do it in a way that really sucks for us, because it’s the last remaining option.  If you abuse your body with drugs, alcohol, diet, lack of exercise, and so on then some day you may need to take unpleasant and drastic corrective action.   That action will always be unpleasant, but can also give you a brand new shot at life.    You can then go forward having learned a serious lesson.   The same is true of an entire culture’s spiritual state.   If you pile abuse upon abuse, at some point unpleasant correction is necessary.    If God is merciful to us he will correct us.   But it will not be pleasant.

So, let’s look ahead assuming Charlie’s correct:   the next stable leader won’t come from the election process.   Between now and the end of 2017, things will get so bad that we will all lose hope.   By the end of 2017 the Rescue comes in a Marian way.

Crazy?   Maybe, maybe not.   But I’ve been working under the assumption that his accuracy is likely.    I’ve actually been feeling that way for a number of months now.     And I must say, once I developed that mindset I have watched the world around me through a different lens.   It’s almost remarkable to see everything happening that is happening.   I actually don’t think most of us are even able to process how out of control everything is.   We’ve accepted escalating wackiness as a new normal and we now shrug at things and pay little attention to things that used to be major news items of the day.   As all of life devolves, we just seem to accept it and try to live a life of normalcy to the extent possible.   Not that I have an issue with that – it’s a defense mechanism of sorts.   Keep hoeing the row that is yours to hoe.

So, suppose you go to a movie and someone told you the ending.   As you watch the movie, you are watching it with an eye towards what you know is coming, and you look for signs throughout that helps you understand how the story line is getting you to that conclusion.    You watch it differently than if you have no clue.    In the first case, you know what ultimately happens, you just don’t know how.   So you watch to tune yourself into the how.   In some ways, you likely pick up on things you otherwise would have missed or not thought that much of.   In the latter case, you are less engaged and you’re just taking it in and not particularly concerned with the ending.

Even if you are not a complete buyer on Charlie, keep his predictions in mind as you watch the world unfolding around us.   You just may see things in a different light.   And at the very least, if it does come to pass, then you’ll know he was right and 2017 will be a rough year.   But you’ll also know that there’s a Rescue coming.   And that’s good to know.

Paul Ryan’s Conscience and Politics

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I’ve spent a lot of time on Politics here lately, for a blog called “Catholic Diatribes.”   In my opinion, everything in life can be, and indeed should be, viewed from a lens of faith.   It need not be the only lens, but it should be part of the equation.   In our world, but in particular the country of the United States, we are overly consumed with politics.

Politics can be very difficult to be viewed through a lens of faith.   And even when attempted, two people can come to startlingly different conclusions.   I won’t re-hash the debate about how a good Catholic can vote for Hillary, but I’ve discussed it before.   I never have, and will never understand, how a person of faith can ever support a pro-abortion candidate, among other problematic moral issues.

I do think there is a legitimate struggle with Catholic and other Christian voters who do not plan to vote for Hillary, but who also cannot move all the way to the idea of voting for Trump.    While I’ve argued here that no matter how much it may stink, we have no other reasonable option.    It might be different if there were a viable third party candidate who extols the virtue we all seek in our public servants from  a Christian worldview.    That candidate does not exist, at least not in any of the four top candidates who are picked up by the polls.    And if you aren’t even registering, the you realistically do not exist and casting a vote there is no different than a no-vote.

So, ignoring the Christians (I exhibited great restraint not putting quotes around that, but still couldn’t not mention that I had great restraint, so I guess it’s only a bit of restraint) who are voting Hillary, we have those who are voting Trump, not voting at all, or voting for a Third party candidate.    I’ve heard some people say they are voting Gary Johnson “just to send a message.”   Egad.   This is stupid if you are a social conservative.   Because the only message that says is that you want social issues removed as issues from the GOP platform.   People need to think a little bit about the message they are actually sending before they do it.

Things get trickier when you move to Catholic politicians who actually are Catholic.  Take Paul Ryan.    As a bit of an aside, one of the things that really bothers me is how personal everyone seems to take things that politicians say, do, and how they vote.    Paul Ryan is a good man.   He is a man of faith, and he is a man of character.   Now, he ticks me off sometimes because I think he tries to find a viable political solution while maintaining certain principles, and I think he’s doing what he thinks is right.   But I don’t always agree with him that he’s right.   In fact, there are many times I don’t agree with him.    But is he the kind of person I want in Congress?   Absolutely.

Paul Ryan is a man of legit faith, in my opinion.   We Christians should not demonize him over budgetary policy and tax policy.   We Christians should push back with issue-oriented arguments, but still muster respect for him.   As Speaker of the House, he has a lot of responsibility, and I trust that he does things that he believes are in the best interests of the country.   I don’t always agree that it actually is, and I am sick of compromise in many areas.    And I’l get angry with him from a logistical level.   But I don’t hate the man, and neither should anyone else.

Most recently, Paul Ryan has attempted to walk the tightrope between not supporting Trump while not unendorsing Trump.   I think if we look at this from the Christian perspective, we can be honest and understand the desire to do this.   Despite my continued call to vote for Trump, it is not because of anything particularly favorable towards the man.   It is entirely due to the worse alternative, and the fact that I must judge my choice at this point not on character but on a presumption that the probability he will do certain things I align with far outweighs the probability that the other will do anything at all that I align with.   And, in my opinion, a man like Paul Ryan should have the clarity of mind to say exactly that.    I understand not wanting to campaign with Trump.    But most certainly he is smart enough to find a way to make this situation work.

Politically speaking, it is my belief that his attempt to navigate this situation is, at best, not helpful to his cause (which is keeping the House Republican) and is at worst an unmitigated disaster.    There are very few people who are going to vote for down line GOP candidates because Paul Ryan has told people to distance themselves from Trump.   It’s just not a realistic expectation.    However, there is a great possibility that anyone who distances themselves from Trump will get a bunch of “kiss my you-know-what’s” from his ardent supporters and jeopardize their races.    Paul Ryan’s move here, which may have been both principled and a political strategy, is simply a horrible mistake and could prove costly.

If it’s costly, I suppose they’ll blame Trump.   It’s not as though Trump is helping matters and he could certainly handle this better.   But Ryan had to know going in that Trump doesn’t care who he chastises.   This may be an immature response, but it is not unexpected, which still places the ultimate culpability on Ryan for kicking the dog in the first place.

I empathize with Ryan.   I am sure it is difficult being asked to not only support verbally, but to also campaign with someone who you find distasteful.   It is a moral dilemma.    But there had to be a better way of navigating this.   That horse has left the barn, which is regrettable.

 

The Hypocrisy of Feigned Shock

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It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the problematic moral issues completely flooding the Presidential campaign.   And with each issue, there are multiple facets to what is being discussed.    It is not only about the shocking sin of the day, and who did it, it’s also about who’s casting the stones and who is “shocked and disturbed” by the new revelation of the day.

Today I’d like to address a different aspect of the lewd Trump/Bush tape from 2005 that was unveiled to the world last Friday.   You know, because we need to be fully informed on every piece of dirt on everyone.

While there is rightful disgust at the words of Trump on the recently released video, let’s also contemplate the fact that this information was known and purposefully held for maximum political benefit.  The self-righteous indignation from those complicit in NOT making this available a year or more ago is pathetic.  These people wanted Trump to win the Republican nod, not for good of country or process, but for their own gain.   If they truly believe he is dangerous and would bring harm as President, then they had a duty to inform well before a month before the election.

Secondly, this was clearly held until the Wikileaks drop, which is damning to Hillary on her dishonesty regarding private versus public beliefs and illegal coordination between her campaign and Super PACs.

And we all play along and allow the manipulation.   It’s all a game.   Hillary doesn’t care one iota about what’s best for the country, or you, or me.  She cares about Hillary.

And Trump is demeaning and obnoxious.  Agreed.  I’m still mad at my fellow Republicans for making him the guy I need to compare to Hillary (who is demonstrating how horrible of a candidate she is by not running away with this).  But enough of the hand-wringing sanctimonious BS.

We get the leaders we deserve.  And quite frankly,  we deserve it.

New Release: Election 2016 (Rated R)

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OK, in honor of the politics of 2016, I’ll start my entry today in a crass manner:  Anyone who has previously questioned whether or not our entire culture is a floater in the toilet has since just thrown up their hands and accepted it by now.

I find it difficult to believe anyone witnessing the debacle of today’s politics and the morally bankrupt candidates we’ve selected to run for the highest office in the land to be emblematic of anything other than a complete reduction of all standards to the basest of levels.

So, I won’t really get into the contents of the Trump Video from 2005, and whether or not he’s said other disturbing things during the off-TV moments of The Apprentice.   I mean, if we’re all being honest, does it actually really surprise anyone?   It’s shocking and disgusting, but is there really anyone out there that didn’t already know the guy we’re talking about wasn’t an f-bomb dropper and more than willing to engage in the crudest of what has now been labeled “locker room talk?”   (And, unfortunately having been a jock in my younger years, I can attest to the fact that he’s not wrong.   Yes, the words are about what is legally assault, which is horrible, and is still plenty of what you might hear in a locker room on any given day.   It’s not excusing it and it doesn’t speak well of anyone speaking that way, but it is reality.)

I won’t list the litany of counter-examples of Hillary being a completely disgusting human being in her own right, by dropping every curse word in the book at those charged to protect her, in talking about the American flag, in talking about mentally disabled children.   Again, if anyone is really honest does any of this really surprise us?   It’s always shocking to actually read and hear, but we long accepted that our two nominees are morally bankrupt human beings.

Mainly, the whole thing is just sad.   As a coworker of mine phrased it, “I think we all can agree that this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.”   He will vote Hillary.   I will vote Trump.   But on that statement, we have agreement.    And neither of us will vote for our selected candidates because we like them.    We just dislike the other one more.

I have written of my intent to vote Trump, and I have stated that, in my opinion, it is the clear moral choice to vote Trump.   I do not retract these words, I still feel strongly about that, and I will have no issue with voting Trump.    None of that means I like the man, and none of that means that I don’t wish I had another reasonable option.    The fact is, there is no viable alternative for me.   Even if I embraced the fantasy that voting for the next best viable option (Gary Johnson) I cannot do it anyway, because on the issues where I am hopeful that Trump will actually handle correctly Gary Johnson is as bad – if not worse – than Hillary.   Even the fourth best option, Jill Stein, is left of left on moral and cultural issues.    In order to find any person that remotely appeases my conscience I need to find someone that 99.99% of the population has not even heard of.   And that means it is an utterly wasted vote.   No, I need to settle on Trump.    I don’t think I even need to point out why it can never be Hillary, but briefly stated:  she’s every bit as morally bankrupt (and I even think more so) than Trump is.   And even if some disagree with me on that, it’s like arguing whether the mold on the side of the cheese is more edible than the mold on the top of the cheese.   So, we’ve long moved past the character issue as something us Christians can rely on.   I don’t say this glibly.   It really sucks to not be able to respect either candidate in any way.    But that’s the reality we’re in.     So, I simply need to find any light I can to separate the two of them.    And in the end, there was one question at the second debate that provides that separation.  When questioned on the Supreme Court Appointments, Clinton proudly said she would appoint justices that upheld Roe vs. Wade,  Marriage Equality, and a litany of other litmus tests.    She even claimed Trump would appoint justices that would not uphold these rulings (which she presented negatively).   Trump did not argue with her, and instead doubled down on appointing justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Now, many have claimed that Trump is liberal on social issues and is not a “real” pro-lifer.  And it’s true he doesn’t often openly address the issue if not asked about it.   He has responded in a pro-life manner when asked, and I agree that it’s a bit iffy just how committed to the cause he personally is.    But here’s the thing:   even if the impetus for appointing justices in the mold of Scalia are because of 2nd Amendment Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc.  then the byproduct of that is that those justices are FAR MORE likely to also favor freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and challenge Roe vs. Wade, among other things.    They will be FAR MORE willing to rule in favor of state’s rights than to allow federal government infringement when unnecessary.

If there is no other issue that separates them, this is still a clear moral choice.   Perhaps not with respect to the person, but with respect to how that person will govern.

As I have stated elsewhere, “I know with certainty the evil the one will do.   I hope with uncertainty the good that the other will do.   And to me, that makes it an obvious choice.”

Really, I can’t say it enough:  This election sucks.

If Charlie Johnson is correct about things to come, the whole thing actually doesn’t even matter.   But I still feel called to fight and care anyway.   Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, but I think it behooves us all to fight the fight until there is no more fight to win or lose, either way.

Us Catholics – and all Christians – seem to be in a bit of a tight spot be being forced to support a guy who has said the things he’s said.   I don’t think we need to feel that way if we keep our wits about us.   There really can be nobody of any repute that can call us hypocritical of voting for Trump.   Anyone who claims that is being disingenuous.   I think the balancing act we need to work out is making it clear why we “support” him, and also making it clear why we’re not necessarily thrilled with it.   There is no reason to defend his wrongdoings, and yet we can also support his election based on everything I wrote about here.  Also, it’s important to note that regardless of what happens, we ultimately must accept that God’s plan is playing itself out.   God’s plan may seem either obvious or utterly ridiculous, but we really have nobody to blame but ourselves for Him doing what He needs to do.   Had we stood up against the cultural rot we’re soaking in long ago, we wouldn’t have the choice between these two candidates, who are not just flawed but grossly so.

One wonders, though…  if THIS is the Year of Mercy, what in the world is in store for us when the year ends on November 20?    Egad.