Anyone who knew my grandfather and his kids know that it was customary to argue about something, actually almost anything. There were the big three subjects that dominated most of the arguments. First was politics, which included religion and philosophy, second was football and third was baseball. Anytime there was any sort of family gathering an argument would come about and it would be a loud argument as each of my uncles, my mom and aunt June tried to talk over each other as the argument continued.
I was born in mid-October of 1956, less than a month before the election between Ike and Stevenson. I arrived in this world at about 9:20 on a Saturday morning and I can almost guarantee that by 9:00 that night, I was ready to vote for Stevenson. As I grew up I would listen to these debates and so when I was four I was a Kennedy man. When I was eight I was ready to cast my vote for Johnson. But it was when I turned twelve, in that historic violent year of 1968 that I truly became aware of what politics was about. For the first time I listened to the candidates and tried to understand what was going on. Perhaps it was the turmoil in the country that year that pushed me into paying close attention to what was going on. I remember my city having the Missouri National Guard in the streets and a city wide curfew after Martin Luther King, Jr was gunned down in Memphis. I was up watching Senator Kennedy claim victory in the California primary from Los Angeles and sat there watching as he was assassinated. There was a lot going on that year and the Presidential election was just as messed up. Vice President Humphrey was running against Vice President Nixon and as if that wasn't exciting enough, Governor Wallace from Alabama was making a huge third party run for the nation's highest office. The governor was running such a strong campaign that he actually won enough states to make a close election into a Nixon win. From listening to my grandfather I was hoping for Humphrey and I stayed up most of the night watching the returns come in only to arrive at school the next day extremely tired, but with a little more knowledge than I had the day before.
Over the next four years as I grew into my mid-teens, my schoolwork required me to keep up on current events, learn how the government works both on the State as well as Federal level, and I had to pass a test on the Constitution of the United States. During this time of studying I found my own philosophy of politics and discovered I had a conservative streak embedded with in it. I found myself moving from the left wing to becoming politically centered with a slight leaning to the right. Over the years I have more or less held that position as far as philosophy and politics go. I am a centrist who is not opposed to crossing party lines to vote. I consider myself as a member of no political party.
Since that time I have followed politics closely. I have been able to make decisions based on issues, not on where a political party stands. I have voted for Democrats as well as Republicans. I watched the Watergate hearings, the Iran Contra scandal and into what I still consider the worse presidential scandal and administration as President Clinton was impeached and then let off the hook by a partisan vote in the Senate. To me it was the beginning of the grid lock in Washington and has made me very leery of Washington politics.
Over the years, I have felt that the Presidential elections were running okay. I did not necessarily love all the candidates running but I have seen a certain amount of respect between the two parties for each other as well as the American people. Even the Bush/Gore Election was civil, if not smoothly run, by either side as the election ended up in the Supreme Court. I did not agree with the election being decided by the court, but it seemed like it would be the only way the election would be decided in time to get a new administration in place in January.
Now we come to 2016. This election is going to be a nightmare. No matter how this election turns out, all I can see is that the country will be deeply troubled and divided for at least the next four years. Somehow the two major parties in the United States have chosen two of the worse possible candidates they could possibly choose to be President. My purpose here is not to try to sway the reader one way or the other, just to give my thoughts and how I see things that are happening.
I think it is important that you understand how I look at government and the roles that different branches should play. Firstly I think that the closer a government is to my home, the more influence it should have on my life. For example, the City Council of Kansas City should have more influence on me personally and my community. These people on the council live here and know what is going on here. Although the laws may be smaller in nature, they should be laws that directly effect Kansas City. My state representatives in Jefferson City should have laws that may be a little broader and still effect my area of the state in which I live but not as much as the council. When we get to the federal level of government the effect should be even less direct on my life and my community. I feel the laws that the United States Congress put into place should be broad enough to cover all fifty States in the Union.
Now, that being said I want to zero in on the role of the Federal Government as Congress in relation the the executive, or President. I feel that Congresses main concern should be domestic policy. Congress can not really do foreign policy as they are restricted by the constitution. If Congress does want to implement domestic laws, it has to go through the President for signing or veto. On the other side, I feel the main work of the President is foreign policy. Congress can not implement foreign policy very well but the President can. But any foreign policy that the President wants to enact has to be approved, for the most part, by the Congress through advice and consent. So that being said, when I look to a possible President to vote for, the most important thing to me is what his foreign policy will be, what he believes in concerning other nations, the armed forces, and countries that he may negotiate treaties with. The most important thing to look at when choosing a President ... foreign policy so that is where I will begin my thought process on these two people who want to lead this country.
Unfortunately, foreign policy does not rear its head during the primary season. Candidates tell the people what they want to hear, and what they want to hear is "What will you do for ME?" and so the vast majority of choosing candidates is based on what they think should be done domestically. We end up therefore, with two candidates who make wild domestic promises without revealing what kind of foreign policy they may have and that is where this years election becomes one of the must troubling, ugliest, no win election in my lifetime.
The Republicans started out with over fifteen candidates. Nearly all of them had some sort of government experience either on the State or Federal level. Most had a lot of domestic policy experience and quite a few had been involved in foreign affairs issues. The vast majority of them were untouched by any scandal of anything that would impede their ability to be President. Out of all of these people, somehow the Republicans came to nominate Donald Trump as their candidate. I have no idea how this happened. Mr. Trump has absolutely no experience with the internal workings of our government. He has absolutely no experience with a nationwide domestic policy and has had no experience whatever in foreign policy. He talks good for the most part. He is able to read people and tell them what they want to hear. He does have ideas that could or could not work. He is smart. He is very intelligent. The problem is that he is somewhat too honest in what he says and the bigger problem is that a lot of times he says something without thinking it through. An idea or thought pops in his head and it comes out of his mouth causing him to back track on a lot of things he has said. I have noticed that most times he is being sarcastic, but in politics there is no such thing as sarcasm. Every word muttered is taken seriously and this becomes a problem for Mr. Trump.
The Democrats did not start out with that many candidates. It was generally assumed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be the nominee without hardly any competition. She did start out strong but it soon became clear that Independent Senator Bernie Sanders was going to push her to the finish line. As we have come to find out recently, the Democratic Nation Committee saw this happening and set up rules that would guarantee the nomination for Mrs. Clinton. The Democrats did indeed nominate Mrs. Clinton but the party is divided because of the unethical ways in which the primaries were set up to give her that position. Mrs. Clinton has a vast knowledge of how the government works with a strong comprehension of domestic as well as foreign policies. The problem with Mrs. Clinton is that she is terribly untrustworthy. In a recent poll the majority of Americas do not trust her. She has proven time and again that she is almost an habitual liar (I will refrain from calling her a thief because the jury is still out on that). She will lie about anything, be it a major mistake on her part down to matters that don't really matter if she were to tell the truth. She is a master at working the system and comes off, to me anyway, as being the only person who knows what is best for the country. As Secretary of State, she carried out President Obama's foreign policy, advising him to make some very poor decisions. Between her and the President, the last eight years of foreign policy has been a total disaster. I don't have the time or the energy to go through all of the mishaps that she and President Obama had in the field with our allies but it has been bad. Very bad. The American people need a President they can trust. Looking back over the years, the people of this nation could trust President Nixon to be honest with them ten times over what they can trust Mrs. Clinton to be. Our Allies have to be able to trust her and they don't. She is such a compulsive liar with a poor foreign policy philosophy that another eight years of this will have our country knocked out of the spot that we have held for so many years.
So it comes down to these two and how it happened, I will never know. There is an option of a third party crashing in but it would have to have a good showing and even the chance of a third party is split. Libertarian Johnson and Green Party Stein both have developed fairly good followings after the conventions took place. There is only room for one third party though and still have a long shot at keeping either of these two out of the White House. Based on the past, when John Anderson ran his third party run, he polled about 16% of the vote and did not win any states. When George Wallace ran his third party he polled about 23% of the vote and took enough states to give the election to Nixon. I figure for a third party to be successful at making a real run and sending the election to the House of Representatives, they would have to poll at least 30% of the vote and that does not seem likely.
My thinking for my personal vote has come to this. If Johnson or Stein can poll at least 30% before election day, they will get my vote, and hopefully many others. If enough people get fed up with the Republicans or Democrats, a third party could possibly, not probably, win the the election without going through the House of Representatives. I don't think this will happen though.
Plan two for me is that I will vote for Donald Trump. The Republican Party will advise strongly to him on who to put in his cabinet as advisors, and there will be plenty of good Republicans available for those positions for example, Senator Jeff Session of Alabama will be available as he is retiring from the Senate and has gained the confidence and friendship of Mr. Trump. For a Trump Presidency to work, Mr Trump will have to learn to listen before talking. He will have to set aside his ego and his rapid fire tongue and listen to advisors seriously and keep the country running in a good direction. I think he can do this and to be honest, I really think he will do this if he is elected.
I can not vote for Mrs. Clinton however. Listening to her lies and watching her help President Obama totally tear down a middle east that was more stable than it had been in decades does not allow me to do this. She will surround herself with good advisors, that is a given. However if her advisors act like people in the Obama administration and become just "yes men" to her, it will not do any good. She is smart. VERY smart and she knows it. She comes off as thinking that she has the best idea in every situation and if things don't work out the way she thinks they should, well just lie about what went on and move on ("What difference does it make at this point?"). I want someone I can trust at least to tell the truth once in awhile and she is not that person.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is overly honest when saying what he thinks or what he did. I would much rather have Mr. Trump surrounded by advisors that he may at least listen to once in a while then Mrs. Clinton who listens to no one.
Either way this election promises to be the absolute worse election in my lifetime and probably for longer than that. It will be dirty. It will be nasty. As a matter of fact it already is. Personal attack ads from both sides are already hitting the airwaves and it has just begun. This attack ads are brutal with the promise to get worse as November gets closer.
How bad is it already? On social media, people are posting extremely mean spirited, ugly memes and ads against each other. I have witnessed people who have been friends for years become so impassioned with on or the other party that friendships have ended or they are not even talking about everyday things anymore. They aren't talking to each other at all. That is just on social media. What about real people in neighborhoods. What will happen there? will neighbors become enemies with each other instead of helping each other keep their neighborhoods clean and safe? We have citizens calling for the murdering of police officers. We have police officers offended by how the public perceives them. Will they get offended enough to walk off the job, just retire?
What we have, over all, is American against American, each thinking that those that oppose them are stupid or unpatriotic and making it know that they feel that way. We have demonstrations that turn violent between Republicans and Democrats, and between Democrats and Democrats. These are the kind of demonstrations that use to only be seen when the Nazis would march through Skokie, Illinois..
We are all turning on each other and the damage that will have been brought about by November will not be able to be fixed by either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton.
America use to stand for a peaceful transfer of power every four to eight years. Right now these two candidates have the country more divided than I can ever remember and it sickens me. This is not the America that I grew up in, not anymore. What will it take to get us back to that place? All I can say is that it will take time after this election. We will need a press that is truly ethical in its own right. Walter Cronkite said once, and I am paraphrasing because I can't remember exactly how he said it but in essence it was "If everyone is upset with me, then I have done my job". We need a Walter Cronkite in this country badly and we don't have one. It will mean that this country will have to come together under a strong President who truly believes in this great country and the people who make this country up, The people will have to have a government that they can trust and believe in. Personally, I think between the two choices presented to us, that Mr. Trump is more likely to at least get us up to the road where there might be a glimmer of trust and hope far off on the horizon.