Electing a US President: 3 Things to Remember While the Chips Fall

The possibility of a contested presidential election result this year makes it even more important to understand our process for electing a President of the United States. Add threats of widespread violence and long-standing assertions by both sides that the other side is planning and executing skulduggery. Mix in a predictable avalanche of reporting and commentary, little of which will be objective. I’m betting you’ll want to remember three things — and two of them are dates.

Knowing these things will at least provide some benchmarks for judging how much trouble we’re in, if any, and whether the unfolding process is legitimate.

My November 2020 Election Ballot

I often title this annual post “David’s Handy Little Election Guide.” I thought about swapping “tardy” for “handy” this time, since I hear that more than half of you have voted already. But then I thought, this year’s offering doesn’t rise to the level of a “guide” anyway, because I’m coming late and underinformed to a number of items on the ballot. However, I have my 2020 election ballot in front of me, I’m about to fill it out, and you’re welcome to look over my shoulder for a few minutes, if you like.

Two caveats: I’m only commenting on races and issues I see on my ballot. And I’m not bothering to comment on the races which are (quite regrettably) uncontested. I’m excluding yes/no judicial retention votes too, because I don’t have much of an opinion one way or the other about any of the judges.

What I Read Last Week About Myself (and Other Trump Voters)

In the past few weeks I spent more hours than I want to count, writing a blog post about why I’m one of those Trump voters in 2020, after voting otherwise in 2016. I never imagined my position or explanations would please every reader, and they haven’t.

But most of the people who’ve disagreed with me in their posted comments or back-channel responses have been gentle, saying things like, “You’re overreacting” (won’t that be nice, if true!) and “I’m disappointed; I expected better.” The word “batty” came up. Propaganda was mentioned, and the phrase, “living in another universe” (not that I should, just that I do).

All in all, my friends and readers are far more civil than some folks. The contrast is quite striking just now. Last week, for three days, as I did my usual hour of daily reading, from Left to Right and back again, and scrolled through social media, I kept a list of negative things people said about me — well, me and everyone else who’s voting for President Trump.

Some of the writers are prominent voices in major publications; others are from small publications or simply my acquaintances on social media. I’m democratic that way.

By the way, that blog post I mentioned went live this week, so responses to it didn’t make the list, not that most of them would have anyway.

Ten Commandments and the Revolution

The Ten Commandments are ancient and the Russian Revolution is old news, but this is about contemporary America: our politics, economics, culture, and more — things we often see as two-sided. Many people with strong political or cultural opinions see themselves either trying to make substantial, structural changes in American government and society, or trying to prevent others from doing so. Whatever passions, philosophies, and intentions may exist behind the rhetoric, each side accuses the other of tearing down our values and institutions.

You may have examples from your own perspective. I’ll give you a few of mine, in discussing the Bible’s Ten Commandments — key pillars of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which incubated the American political tradition — after we’ve talked about Russia. Soviet Russia, to be precise.

Let’s do that now.


Why I’m Voting for President Trump

I recently urged those of us who can to tell others how we’re voting for president this year. I promised to do the same. I’ll be voting for President Trump.

I’m not saying you should cast the same vote. I’ve made the choice I think is best for the long-term freedom and welfare of our nation and my family. You could do the same, and vote differently.

If your vote differs from mine, I’ll still respect you as a person, and I won’t accuse you of being more loyal to your ideology than to your loved ones, or valuing politics more than you value truth itself.

If we vote differently and your guy wins, I’ll pray with all my American heart that you were right. If my guy wins, I’ll pray I wasn’t wrong.

I wonder what we’ll think of this moment two years from now, or five or ten.

Meanwhile, I’m not here to convince undecided voters or change anyone’s mind. So I won’t be explaining every point to my own satisfaction — or yours, probably. My first draft included what felt like a bare minimum of explanation. Then I cut it in half.

More Things Americans Can Do in October

I recently listed 16 things Americans can do in October 2020, in advance of our November election — because we fare better mentally, emotionally, and politically when we do things, not just wring our hands. Here are 16 more things Americans can do in October. (One’s a rerun.) These include remembering things that will give us a more stable, reasonable perspective as hysteria swirls around us; engaging with others in difficult but civil ways; and preparing our minds for some things that may happen.

[Photo credit for the feature image: Wolfgang Hasselmann at Unsplash.com. The elephants are not here as partisan symbols, but because they have thick skins (see #27 below) and a reputation for remembering.]

Think Reasonably About Politics and Government

17. Remember that George Washington isn’t running. Nor is Mother Teresa or Mohandas Gandhi.

Saints rarely run for high political office. Perfect people never do — because there aren’t any. And normally only the living run, no matter how faithfully the dead may vote in some jurisdictions.

Some years’ ballots are worse than others, and we have to make the best of a bad choice. Instead of deciding which of two or more good candidates for high office is better, we end up wondering which one is the smaller or less immediate threat to American liberty and the Constitution which protects that liberty; which is more likely to have his or her excesses restrained by Congress or a mostly-partisan media; which is less likely to cower before the world’s tyrants; and so forth.

Instead of wondering which candidate for school bus driver will start the students’ day better, contributing to their education by delivering them to the front steps of the school in the best mindset to learn and explore, we have to ask which of the unkempt, odd-smelling, foul-mouthed applicants is least likely to get a fully-loaded bus stuck across the railroad tracks in front of an oncoming train.

I’m afraid (as in 2020) it’s often too much to expect that the major party candidates for president have always been faithful to their own and others’ marriage vows, and have always treated the opposite sex with proper manners and respect. This is much to be regretted.

I’d like to see a day when it’s the rule, not the exception, that a major candidate will reliably and articulately tell us the truth in context, unvarnished, and unembellished. I don’t expect to see it soon. I’d like to see the day when — if that ever happens — it would be reported accurately, in context, and unspun.

We want to elect good, wise, and honest men and women to political office. As best we can, we should. But in our goodheartedness, misanthropy, or partisan loyalty, we shouldn’t be blind to any candidate’s real faults or virtues. Everyone I’ve ever seen on a ballot is a fairly fraught mix of both.

16 Things Americans Can Do in October

We’ve made it to October — but many Americans worry about November. I’m one of them. Which of the things that aren’t supposed to happen will happen on or after Election Day this year? Will the inevitable legal and political wrangling pass quickly or completely overwhelm the country for weeks? How much violence will there be?

But my point today is not what may happen. It’s the worry and fear with which we anticipate both the election results and the aftermath.

When we’re worried or afraid, it helps to have things to do. Actually doing them helps even more. So here are 16 things Americans can do in October 2020. I have more for you in a few days.

Some of my suggestions are directly political, but I’m trying to be mostly nonpartisan here. Most of the following can cut both ways; they’re things at least some people on all sides can do in their own way. See what you think.

I’ve divided this set into two categories, “The Overtly Political” and “Feed Your Soul More Than Politics.”

Visions of America in 2020 Convention Acceptance Speeches

I watched Joe Biden’s acceptance speech at the Democrats’ convention. It was unusually and pleasantly brief, and because there was no live audience, it wasn’t interrupted dozens of times by applause. So it was watchable for me. Later I went back and read it for this blog post.

I read but didn’t watch President Trump’s acceptance speech. I mostly avoid watching and listening to him, and I usually prefer to read such speeches anyway. His was long-ish, with many interruptions for applause. Life’s too short.

I thought it might be interesting to compare what the two rivals said about the United States of America — specifically our heritage and our historical and current place in the world.

Everything You Like Is (Not!) Socialism

A small fraction of conservatives view almost any taxpayer-funded service provided by government as socialism, and anything that smacks of community as communism.

It’s not just the obviously redistributive programs like progressive income tax, earned income credit, housing subsidies, etc. They denounce the basics too: public roads, public libraries, water and sewer systems. You can hear just about anything government proposes denounced as socialism, if it involves spending, hiring, or making new law or regulations.

This faction has its own wing nut fringe. We heard from them in 2018, when Hurricane Florence hit. A Chick-fil-A in North Carolina opened on Sunday (which they almost never do) to provide free food to refugees in three local refugee shelters. Crazy as it sounds, these fringe conservatives said a business’s voluntary donation of free chicken sandwiches to hungry travelers was socialism. (Some on the left were unhappy for other reasons.)

Strange Bedfellows

In a bizarre turn worthy of 2020, now some on the left make the same claim: any service government provides is socialism.

Cloth Masks and the Death of Nuance – Part 2 of 2

This is the second half of an essay on cloth masks — on their own merits and as a symbol of our loss of nuance in the public square. If you haven’t read Part 1, it’s a good place to start. It focuses mostly on masks and their effectiveness. Here I’ll summarize several facets of mask-related nuance, then turn to more general questions: why losing our sense of nuance matters, how it may have happened, and a few things we might do about it.

I Wear a Cloth Mask, But …

For me, wearing a cloth mask to slow the spread of COVID-19 is not a one-sided question. There’s nuance here. Allow me to illustrate.

I wear a cloth mask at church, at stores, and at work right now, even sometimes when it’s not required. I don’t mind that my mask protects you a lot more than it protects me. And I can accept a cloth mask’s usefulness even when I know it’s far less than 100% effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. (See Part 1.)

I wear a mask, but I agree that elected and unelected officials have confused the issue by saying one thing, then another. I agree that their recommendations may be influenced by their own goals, especially as regards the November 2020 election.

I wear a mask, but I acknowledge that the pandemic itself has been politicized, with deadly effect. Even the science has been politicized — corrupted — also with deadly effect. Yet I don’t simply reject science or politics; each has its place.