Why I’m not voting for either Trump or Clinton

I protest the 2016 presidential election
I protest the 2016 presidential election

My dilemma

Most people I talk to are agreed — this is the worst presidential election that they ever remember. People aren’t for a candidate, they just hate one less than the other or think one less dangerous than the other. How is a person to decide what to do in this sorry election? Personally, I have decided to protest by not voting for either one. Here is why.

My reasons

1. I recall John Maxwell saying, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Conservative Christians like me are being urged to vote for Trump because the Republican platform is more to our liking, etc. But if the leader cannot be relied upon to carry out the agenda, the platform is useless. Trump reminds me of a salesman with empty words. He says himself that he tells people what they want to hear. I can’t vote for a man like that.
2. It is time America returned to an emphasis on character in leadership. Neither Clinton nor Trump are people of high character. They are the most distrusted candidates I ever remember. From the moment Trump opened his mouth in debate 1 with a modus operandi of slander, I knew his character was suspect. Normally I am a pragmatist, able to go for the better of two choices. But in this case, neither leader meets the minimum standard of good character.
3. I am not inclined to vote for Clinton to begin with because the strong pro-abortion values she espouses [among others] are not my values. I have great sympathy for immigrant rights, traditionally seen as a Democratic value, and also with the value of helping the poor, but I’m not convinced Clinton would actually work on either one.
4. It is time the parties received a protest vote. It is a protest against the lack of a viable political middle ground in 2016 American politics. It is a protest against the idea that a party can put up some reality show star who has name recognition and expect thinking people to vote for him. It is a protest that says, there is not a candidate offered that I respect enough to vote for them. As a voter, my vote has to have some integrity—some correspondence, some kinship between the values I espouse, the vision I have for my country, and the candidate I vote for.

My protest vote

So what will I do? To not vote, to not participate in the election at all, I consider irresponsible. As a citizen it is my duty to vote. So I will be at the polls, God willing and cast a vote of some kind. I will vote in all the races too. But for the presidential race, I will be writing in the name of a candidate that I consider qualified and of high character. It will be an act of protest against the quality of the two candidates we are offered by the major parties this year.

Amend the debate process

The fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the two least trusted candidates in the primary season, are running as candidates of the major parties shows that the American primary system is not working.   No doubt one of the chief causes is the debate system.  The linked article proposes some good solutions for amending the debate process.   This is the kind of discussion our country needs to be having.   Unfortunately, it looks like we are going to be stuck with one of these two undesirables in 2016.  But if we plan, perhaps we can have a better outcome in 2020.

http://theweek.com/articles/646203/americas-presidential-debates-are-broken-heres-how-fix

 

The Sad State of Republican Politics

elephant slipping

My least favorite candidates are winning

At the start of the political process leading up to the primaries, I ranked the candidates according to my own ideas about who was the best qualified and most preferable for me.   Unfortunately, and from news reports I am far from alone,  the two people who were at the bottom of my original list are at this point the likely candidates of the two major parties.  And Trump who was at the absolute bottom of the list is the presumed candidate of the party of which I am a registered voter.  Yuck, ten times ugly yuck, gag and puke.  Can you tell yet that I am not a fan of his slander sideshow?

Neither Clinton nor Trump are the person I think should be President

I greatly dislike Clinton’s positions and there are ethical shadows following her too.  Am I alone in such opinions?  Absolutely not.   “Clinton is rich, and morally and ethically corrupt. So is Trump,” writes Jonah Goldberg (http://digitaledition.courant.com/launch.aspx?pbid=e1bdb9a0-d9e0-4569-842b-54331efd8091).

As for Trump, I like Jeb Bush’s reported comment.  Is Trump the kind of person who should be President?    “Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character,” Jeb Bush said. “And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy” (http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-36234318).   I totally agree.  Trump says what he finds convenient at the moment and has no principles about sticking to his word.

How did we elect Trump to represent Republicans?

I have been reflecting on this.  How does it happen that the grand old party is set to nominate someone that has the highest negative ratings in history, someone with no qualifications for the office, and someone who does not fit the mold of previous candidates morally or culturally in any way?

  1. The primary system was skewed by Trump’s media sideshow.  Stats show that from the beginning, Trump received way more mentions on media that any other candidate of either party did.  He has received interview privileges that even the President does not get.  In the Sunday edition of the Hartford Courant that I referenced, Bill Press on the left and Jonah Goldberg on the right come at the same idea from different angles; the media loves Trump for the show and the attention it gets the media and the public like something exciting and out of the ordinary.  If memory serves, John Kasich in the first debate opined something like, “Come on people, we need someone who knows how to run a government.”  It was what I was thinking as I watched.  Such a common-sense idea was too levelheaded for the media so they quickly dismissed Kasich as petulant and uninteresting.    Never mind that he was right.  Duh!
  2. Americans have been taught in recent years to base their opinions on performance first, rather than character first.  Many years ago colleges washed their hands of any responsibility for the moral and spiritual welfare of their students and focused only on subjects.  One result is we have many graduates with great skills who crash on the job because of ethical failures.   In hiring, interviewers are forbidden to ask questions that might get to the issue of character so companies widely use probational employment periods to see whether an employee  is honest, shows up for work regularly, etc.   The upshot of this downplaying of character is that we apparently now evaluate our political candidates sans character, I guess.  It would be sad if it weren’t actually dangerous.
  3. Many voters are fed up with Congress and career politicians.  The inability of Congress to get things done, the lack of viable compromise, the perpetual national budget mess, and the low moral tone in DC all have led to voters looking toward outsiders like Trump and Carson.  The last Congress had one of the lowest confidence ratings on record.   Part of Sander’s appeal is also his perceived greater independence from the Washington circle.    When career politicians are found to be morally or ethically corrupt, it reduces respect for others, even those who have integrity.
  4. Trump channeled the fear and anger of people in our country in true demagogue style.  Even people who are not racist are worried about the sheer numbers of immigrants.   Since 9/11 Americans find it hard not to be a little suspicious of Muslims.  So Trump’s tactic is working big-time.  But a true leader has an inner moral framework and a long view of history that guide how they approach subjects that divide people like discussions about the US southern border or racism in our country, subjects that evoke fear like immigration from Syria.    I have observed no evidence of such a framework in what Trump says, only a crass trading on the fears and distrusts of the populace for his own benefit.   He shows no long historical view, for example, no sense of the impression of the Republican Party that he is leaving for the future; he seems only to look out for his immediate political windfall.    Never mind that the country is fast becoming a much more multi-cultural place and that the birth rates of immigrants will probably only accelerate that trend.   So if the Republican Party wants to remain viable, it cannot be primarily a party of angry white males and must learn to appeal to the people he is alienating.

What do we do now?

  1. As a Christian, the first thing I am doing is praying for my country.   We believe in the sovereignty of God who rules and overrules, who puts rulers in place and removes them.   So I am praying for my country in this election cycle as never before.
  2. As a voter I am among those who cannot see themselves voting with a clear conscience for either Trump or Clinton.  And I really don’t see that opinion being altered by vice-presidential picks either.
  3. Yet I believe that as a citizen I need to use my vote to express myself.   I, along with others who feel as I do, will be exploring ways to do this.

 

 

Like the New York Times, I like John Kasich as the GOP choice

The New York Times editorial endorsing John Kasich is well written, timely and to the point.  He is the best choice for the GOP nomination and the most positive and issue-oriented of the GOP candidates.   His record shows concern for the poor.  He has experience both in Washington and as a Governor.  My second choice is Jeb Bush.  While he does not seem to have what it takes as a campaigner, his positions and his record are good.   Trump and Cruz have two things in common, neither of them good.  1. They say whatever  they need to say to get their faithful to cheer; never mind what moderates and independents might think.  2.  By personality types, neither shows compassion or understanding for the poor, the immigrant, or the marginalized in America.    In addition, I cannot imagine either of them in charge of the foreign policy of  this great land.   Either of them would make Obama look like a foreign policy genius.

Here is the link to the New York Times editorial endorsing Kasich as the best option in the field for the GOP.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/opinion/sunday/a-chance-to-reset-the-republican-race.html?_r=0

Democratic Debate

I must be a fan of underdogs.  As I watched parts of the Democratic Party Debate this evening, I again was most impressed with Governor O’Malley.   Part of it is his record of achievements as Governor of Maryland but part of it is also his leadership ability and the way his words are usually well measured.

Tonight Secretary Clinton seemed to tie herself to President Obama in a way I don’t think she would have done a few months ago.  The apparent success of Iran diplomacy and the current positive employment situation have probably led to that.   She is probably hoping that the old wisdom will hold true.   If the economy is good they say it bodes well for the party in power in the Presidential election and if it is not, they are in trouble.    Personally, I think it unwise for her to tie herself closely to Obama as she heads for the general election as there are many people in the middle who do not like Obama’s record.

Bernie Sanders reminds me of the angry right in the Republican Party.   He is the angry left in the Democratic party raging against Wall Street, the big banks, the 1% and the Super PACS.    His words make for good political rhetoric among the left even as the tirades of Trump and Cruz ignite the far right.

I observed unfortunately that the extreme positions of Republican candidates like Trump create an easy and effective target for the Democrats.   In addition, the tone set by the slanderous in-house bickering and disrespect for the President at the Republican debate compared very unfavorably with the comparatively friendly tone at the Democratic debate.

Disgusting Debate Dialogue

presidential debate image

Last night’s Republican debate was hard to watch.  It was a steady diet of slander and mudslinging.  If a dirty campaign for President is the goal, Republicans have only to nominate Trump, Cruz or Rubio.  If last night was any indication, they will operate mostly by slam, slander, innuendo and disrespect.  I hate that kind of politics myself.  I already could not stand Trump and he didn’t say anything to change my mind. But the negative argumentative and disrespectful verbiage of Cruz and Rubio directed both toward the President and other debate participants  lowered them both in my opinion.   If you can’t raise yourself by lifting up positive ideas and showing a character that can be admired, I will not respect you.

Governor Kasich continues as my favorite candidate, growing with each debate.  He did not stoop to the mudslinging.   He addressed issues specifically, something Trump has never thought of doing.  Trump can identify issues, which is his strength, but he has yet to propose any solutions.   Governor Christie, while not my favorite candidate, rose in my estimation in this debate.  I especially liked his comment regarding the relative worth of Governors’ records versus Senators’ hot air.   Dr. Carson continued to be a likable bulwark of high values.   I could support him though I don’t think he is sufficiently experienced in economic and national affairs to be President.  He does, however, appear to be able to summon good “experts” as he calls them, something that President Obama has not done well.   Making people choices is one of the chief and most important roles of any leader.

 

 

Migrating left without moving

Observing politics today is disconcerting

It is interesting and very disconcerting to me to observe what has happened in politics over the last ten years or so and what is happening this year.   I used to call myself a conservative Republican, and even voted on the Conservative line often to reflect that leaning.   But in this political cycle I find myself to the left of nearly all the Republican candidates.   I don’t think I have changed much, but in my perception, they have moved decidedly right, becoming more isolationist, out of touch with the poor and more libertarian.

Where am I

I’m still pro-life and pro-traditional family.  I distrust bigger government and prefer conservative constitutional interpretation, all of which are traditional Republican positions.

But I am also pro-immigrant, pro prison reform, pro traditional progressive income tax, pro-minimum wage increase, and concerned about racial justice.  I also supported increasing those included in health care but along with many feel that the result has been disappointing. Today these kind of positions are more often found among Democrats.

Currently, I believe I am somewhere in the middle of the American political spectrum and the current divide between very leftist Democrats and extreme right Republicans is leaving me and many others in the middle without a good political home.

To compound the matter, the poll-leading Republican candidates (Trump, Cruz, and Carson) are my least favorite candidates of the bunch.  Trump is so scary that I would vote for Hillary or Sanders before him.

What is needed

What is needed this year is a bridge-the-gap, common-sense party.  Neither Democrats nor Republicans seem qualified for that right now.

Comments on Fox Business Republican debate

Fox journalists did much better keeping the debate on topic and they did not use the questions to attempt to make the candidates squirm as CNBC journalists did in the previous debate.

I may be in a minority, but I still like John Kasich the best by far.   Kasich shows that he knows what he is doing in government and as a leader.  He is the only one with experience in government to match Hillary.  He might be prone to an occasional gaff from a political point of view like tonight’s one about finding “those who could afford it.”    However, it is clear that Kasich, more than any other candidate knows the executive role of weighing competing options in a political and government situation.  One of his best lines was, “On the job training for President of the United States has not worked.”   I also like his appreciation for good values.

Rubio has some fresh ideas that sound wise.   He is very eloquent, but Rubio could be wiser in his words.  He attacks Democrats more than I like and disrespects Putin.  One should not call a man a “gangster” that you might be in a position to have to negotiate with someday.  I like Rubio’s appreciation for traditional values.   I like Rubio for VP.    He would appeal to the Hispanic vote and perhaps help the party have a strong unifying candidate in the future, something they need.

I don’t see Rand Paul as a viable candidate but I like him in the debate as he is not afraid to be politically incorrect.   He is very knowledgeable about money; it appears to be his focus.  His debating keeps the others more honest, and he does not back down.  But his libertarian views are too far off center to be electable.

Carson is a great guy but is trading on being a great guy and very likeable. Personally, I do not like flat tax ideas.   I believe they are a way to put a greater burden on the middle class.  His ideas do not seem to be specific enough in many areas and on foreign policy he is naïve.    I admire his Christian faith.  However, I continue to feel that he does not have the right experience to be President and to me it shows.

Trump says all the things that appeal to the most reactive part of the Republican base.  But some of his positions are not doable – sending all illegal immigrants back for one.    He plays on all our fears.     He also has a huge ego, which is not a good thing in a leader. Some of what he says on economics is correct such as the imbalance of trade being a problem and the need to bring jobs and money back to our country.    But he would be a terror to foreign policy.   Other world leaders would distrust him and hate him.  He would be the worst foreign policy president in history.  Trump would also be offensive to Hispanic voters at election time.  Trump is just not the most electable candidate.   Trump could not get along with Congress either.  Government is not like business; you have to work through people with independent agendas whose salaries you do not control.  You can’t just fire them and put in a more cooperate puppet.

Cruz is very well-spoken but I think abolishing the IRS is a ridiculous idea.  Such a wild tax overhaul as he suggests has no chance of success in Congress.  However, he is one of the best debaters every time.  He is another one who wastes no opportunity to attack Democrats.   I do not like Cruz’s position on immigration.   Brandishing the “amnesty” word is meaningless political posturing.  He would be offensive to Hispanic voters.  Cruz is the one who seems to least understand the concept that the next leader of an organization must seek to build on what has been done before.   Planning to step in and make a clean sweep of everything your predecessor has done is usually stupid.  In most organizations, there is too much inertia to do such a thing anyway.  This is especially true in the US government.

Jeb Bush’s economics, unfortunately, sounded like traditional Republican friendliness to the wealthy.   Bush does well on immigration and on foreign policy.  He and Carson come across as the gentle ones in a field of aggressive types.   Carson seems to be liked for it, Bush does not.

Forina is a good debater but has no government experience.   In politics and foreign policy, she is naïve, for sure.  She also spends way too much energy attacking Democrats rather than enunciating her positions.   However, she could be right that if she were on the ticket, say in the VP spot, she might help the ticket run well against Hillary.

A well-written and thoughtful article on religion and politics

It isn’t every day that you run into one of those.  But this definitely is one.  The distinctions it draws between separatism, fusion, and critical engagement are well thought out and wise.  If only more Christians understood the need to be critically engaged in the current debates in our country!

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/inquirer/123701709.html

Continue reading “A well-written and thoughtful article on religion and politics”

The Budget Cutting Debate

http://blog.sojo.net/2011/02/24/this-is-not-fiscal-conservatism-its-just-politics/

http://www.optimum.net/News/AP/Article?fmId=51779945

It is revealing to observe the budget cutting debates.   As Jim Wallis of Sojourners rightly affirms, “A budget is a moral document.”   So budget cutting reveals moral priorities.  Where leaders are willing to cut and where they are not willing to cut is indicative of what interests they are willing to sacrifice and what they are seeking to protect. 

As a citizen and a pastor, I am very concerned about this process for many reasons.  Some are just common sense, some are very Scriptural, and some may be my own politics too.   I read a recent thought-provoking editorial by Jim Wallis of Sojourners.  For those of you who are looking for a Christian voice that is very concerned about the poor, this organization may be your choice. I am adding them to my blog roll.   After reading Jim’s comments, I decided to make some of my own budget debate observations.

My Observations  Continue reading “The Budget Cutting Debate”