My Election Blog
Jose Antonio Ponce
This blog is merely observation. I’m fairly apolitical. I’m using the tools that everyone has their disposal to figure out who might be the best presidential candidate in 2020. (Not that I’d endorse anybody. Personally, I think they exist only to keep their jobs).
I’m a typical voter; not as informed as I should be, but informed. I watch the mainstream news media including network news, I listen to both NPR and conservative talk radio. I’ve watched the debates. I browse friends comments and meme posts on social media to gauge what people are thinking, but most of that is REALLY partisan. All of the information contained herein is easily available and fact-checkable (if that’s a word) by anyone with a computer. Most Americans don’t bother, and there’s the folly in the entire election process. My hope is to put an ordinary guy spin on what is going on this year and maybe inject a bit of humor. I’m also not above cancelling the blog if people get too serious about my observations. So far, this election season has been entertaining as hell.
The two words that best describe Joe Biden are “career politician.” He might choose the words “public servant,” as would any career politician, but when it’s your job for over 47 years, it’s what you are. Nobody identifies themselves with a pseudonym except maybe teachers, (educators) musicians, actors and writers. Bookkeepers are bookkeepers; Construction workers don’t identify as “city builders,” lawyers don’t identify themselves as “peoples advocates,” and doctors don’t call themselves “miracle workers.” (Okay, maybe some of them do.)
Biden struggled in his early life. His dad had money, but lost it and the family had to move in with Biden’s maternal grandparents. He eventually went on to be a car salesman, clawing his way back to the middle class.
A poor student but pretty good athlete in high school, Biden became class president and it was on. He went on to law school, which he found boring, and was accused of plagiarism, a charge that would re-surface when he was accused of plagiarism in a 1987 political speech. His draft deferments kept him out of the Vietnam conflict and he was not part of the anti-war movement, claiming to be a suit-and-tie, not tie-dye guy.
Biden initially had Republican leanings, opposing Delaware’s liberal democratic governor’s policies in 1968, but registered instead as a Democrat because of his dislike for Richard Nixon. He ran as a Democrat for and won a seat on the New Castle, DE city council and immediately began planning his run for US Senate. A stroke of luck landed him in that seat.
Incumbent Republican Senator JC Boggs, was considering retirement, which was going to leave the field wide open. President Nixon convinced Boggs to run for another term and the Democrats did not think that they could win the seat, and so, when Biden offered to run, it was without the support of the Democratic Party. With almost no money, a campaign staff of mostly family and a little help from the unions, he pulled a stunning upset over Republicans. At age 30, he was elected to the US Senate, one of the youngest senators in US history.
He began to portray himself as a conservative on nearly everything except civil rights and civil liberties. In an early speech, he referred to black people using the word “negro” and has, throughout his career, employed dog whistle keywords like “mongrelization,” and “chains,” although not always in the context of race. As a young senator, he aligned himself with veteran segregationist politicians that he later distanced himself from. He opposed de-segregated bussing after agreeing with the supreme court decision in 1971. He supported anti-immigration bills as well in his early years, siding with the Dixiecrats most of the time. He was only 30 and most 30-year-old men don’t know their ass from a burnt biscuit, to use an old southern term.
Throughout his career, you would find him, always hanging back waiting to see which was the wind was blowing before siding with the populist wing of his party, never rocking the boat. He voted against gay marriage, but has since changed his mind. He voted with the banks on credit card issues and for the Iraq war, which he now opposes. He grilled Anita Hill and eulogized Strom Thumond. He has praised Mike Pence, but has distanced himself from President Obama during this campaign.
In his defense, many bills are loaded with pork and other provisions that require compromise. If you want this, you have to accept that and there’s not a politician in the US who hasn’t made the same compromises. Unfortunately, the votes are usually made so the politician will get the votes to keep her or him in office. It is one of the reasons that groups like big pharma, the NRA and Wall St hold the congress and senate in their pockets.
Joe Biden has played this game for 40 years.
Next up-Donald Trump
2-Meet Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders is a true believer. I think that’s what people like about him. He’s not just saying things to get himself elected, although as a politician I’m sure he’s not above doing that. He has been a socialist for all of his adult life, joining socialist groups in college and gaining the ideas that shaped his thinking for the next six decades. Mind you, socialists were at the core of things like the civil rights movement and Sanders was heavily involved with groups like the Congress for Racial Equality, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Student Peace Union.
Sanders had experienced, first hand, the results of a bad political system. Most of his extended family died during the Holocaust.
Sanders was arrested during protests against segregation, attended the March for Jobs and Freedom and was involved in the anti-war movement during Vietnam. Nothing about Bernie’s commitment to these ideals has changed. He believes as he has always believed. After college, he drifted a bit, working at a variety of jobs and remaining active in the politics of racial inequality and war. He moved to Vermont to get away from it all and decided he would work as a simple carpenter and produce what were called “radical film strips” for schools.
Sanders ran as an independent candidate for Governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976 as the Liberty Union candidate, an offshoot of the socialist People’s Party. He garnered enough votes to prevent the democrat and republican candidates from having a clear majority, thus forcing a runoff election. With a taste for the power disruption can bring, he ran for the senate, finishing third and bankrupting his party. With no money behind him, he resigned from the party and registered as an independent.
He ran for and defeated the incumbent mayor of Burlington, Vermont, winning by just 10 votes and remained mayor for eight years, retiring from politics to teach political science at the Kennedy School of Government. But not for long.
When incumbent Vermont congressman Jim Jeffords ran for the senate, Sanders dove back in, running as an independent. His political leanings had not changed and he won that race, the first socialist to do so since who knows when. He often castigated his colleagues for introducing legislation that he believed benefited the wealthy, chipping away at the legislation by piling on amendments. He was, however, receiving monies from some very wealthy donors including some of the companies he rallied against.
In 2007, he was elected to the senate and remains there to this day. I’ve never really understood the reason that every congressperson wants to move from congress to the senate. More money? More prestige? Being one of a hundred instead of being one of 435? Congress proposes. The senate confirms. I think it’s that simple.
The bottom line is that Bernie Sanders is who he has always been. He has held a unique position.
When the democrats needed him, he voted with them and when the republicans needed him, he voted with them, but always with a caveat. He always got something in return. He filibustered against the Tax Relief act which he believed favored the wealthy. “How many homes you own?” (Three is apparently the answer. The number he owns.)
Usually, he votes with the democrats, but can be swayed. He voted against the Brady Bill which would have put stricter controls on firearms sales. He favored stricter prison terms for felons, but speaks about the racial unfairness of the prison system. He agreed to tougher sanctions on Russia but opposed sanctions on Iran. He loves free healthcare, more money for the middle class, not through tax cuts but through subsidies. He hates war but loves veterans. He continues to rail against the super wealthy. He recently introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies act. (BEZOS) Cleary a shot at the wealthiest man on earth.
The only problem with Bernie Sanders is that the democrats don’t think he can win. They think he scares people and the republicans are more than happy to exploit that fear. Many Believe that he was screwed out of the nomination in 2016. If it happens again……?
Next up: Donald Trump
1-How did we get here?
In November of 2016 Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. This, of course, was a huge surprise to everyone on the planet. As much as I distrusted Hillary Clinton, there was just no way that a blowhard like Trump could ever be elected president. He was (and is) a loose cannon, making fun of war heroes, the developmentally disabled, women, ethnic groups and on and on and on. I remember telling my friend, a staunch conservative, that she had better be prepared for a Hillary Rodham Clinton administration, her worst nightmare.
And then it happened. I woke up on Wednesday morning to discover that Ms. Clinton had conceded and that our new president was this mouth, this blowhard. The media was completely unprepared. They had put together a complete history of Hillary Clinton’s rise to power, from her days as a progressive student activist through first lady of Arkansas and as an equal to her president husband, Bill. The media was scrambling to learn about our newly elected president. I remember many of the pundits sitting around in disbelief bordering on shock. Some of these impartial media types were, it seemed, ready to cry. (There’s some great audio and video of this.) They had been ready to celebrate this nation’s first woman president. They were to be a part of history. That dream was now crushed beneath the wheels of the presidential limo.
So, what happened? Some say it was the Russian interference. They did steal Hillary’s e-mails, handing them over to Julian Assange to distribute. Hillary, however, refused to use a secure server during her time as Secretary of State, making it easy for anyone (substitute the phrase “reasonably intelligent teenager”) with the skills to steal her e-mails. The e-mails, didn’t really have much impact on the campaign trail. As a matter of fact, Bernie Sanders said during one debate, “Can we please stop talking about these e-mails?”
Russians didn’t break into the voting machines and change the results. They didn’t hire people to stand in line and vote for trump. They didn’t corrupt voter rolls. They, along with lots of other bad actors around the world, simply spread bad info on social media and people believed it. Some of this was directed at the Trump campaign as well. I think that some governments like Iran and Iraq believed that Trump might just go nuclear on them and frankly, who could blame them.
With Hillary and Bernie running neck and neck, the Democratic National Committee had to make a decision. Who should be the nominee? Hillary was young. Bernie was old. Hillary had panache, youth and the most important women’s vote. Bernie was old. Hillary had experience on a global scale. Bernie was old. Hillary would make history. Bernie….well, you get the idea. Despite his popularity among the progressive democrats, Bernie was ousted in some sort of backroom deal. There is speculation that Hillary had been promised the nomination when she was running neck and neck against Barack Obama in 2008, but there’s no proof of this, or at least, nobody’s talking.
So, what happened? Americans happened. Between 55% and 61% of Americans of voting age voted in 2016, depending on whose numbers you believe. (I LOVE Google!) The vote was pretty evenly split, with Hillary winning the popular vote and Trump taking the Electoral College vote, which is how our presidential elections are determined. This isn’t the first time this has happened. George W. Bush was the latest to pull this off and we got to watch the results of that Florida fiasco for a month after the election.
Bernie’s supporters were upset by their guy getting screwed by the democratic party. I think that most people didn’t realize that Bernie is not a democrat, but an Independent. Either way, Bernie’s supporters couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump, but some did cast write-in protest votes for Bernie or stayed home despite Bernie advising that “Now is not the time for a protest vote.” He might change his tune this time around if he’s ousted again.
Hillary should have won. Percentage-wise, she beat Trump in the women’s vote, among younger people, minorities and both college-educated and non-educated. She won the popular vote. But……
Nobody thought Trump could possibly win. Nobody liked him. Really, nobody. Not the republican party, not women, not minorities, not any of the coveted swing votes all candidates court. Some people who disliked Trump voted for him because they liked Hillary less. They didn’t trust her and the Bernie supporters were sure she had played her trump card (pun intended) to get the nomination. Most of all, people stayed home. What was the point? It was a foregone conclusion. America was ready to make history again. Trump was a politician from the 1800s; racist, misogynistic, corrupt and privileged.
So here we are. There are two women, one gay man, two really seasoned politicians and two millionaires running on the democratic ticket in 2020. (Did I miss anybody?) If you thought things were weird in 2016, just wait till you see what happens in the next few weeks.
Next. Meet the candidates.
This blog is merely observation. I’m fairly apolitical. I’m using the tools that everyone has their disposal to figure out who might be the best presidential candidate in 2020. (Not that I’d endorse anybody. Personally, I think they are all crooks and exist only to keep their jobs).