2016 Campaign

This crazy campaign season makes me feel like this:

 

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Voter Psychology

Sigmund Freud

Ever wonder why some people vote against their best interests?  Why some believe campaign propaganda even when fact checkers point out misleading statements, half-truths and outright lies?  Why some go to extreme lengths to cherry pick opposition statements to make some minor point?  Why they are willing to propagate a campaign’s nonsense?  Why otherwise ethical people are willing to do or say anything to support their candidate because, in this case, the ends justify the means?  You are not alone.

Psychologists have been studying voter preference for decades.  Scholarly articles and books have been written on the subject.  Campaigns hire these experts to craft their message, target supporters and deflate opposition supporters.  There are a gazillion of factors that effect voter preferences, but basically it boils down to the fact that decisions are made in the unconscious mind.  The personality dimensions you were born with color the way you think about candidates and issues.  They give campaign consultants precise information on how to do that.

The bottom line is that we all vote with our hearts instead of our heads.  We may think otherwise, or at least think that’s what everybody else does, but it’s a fact.  We use our heads only to rationalize our decisions.

The same is true of our religious beliefs.  This is why your mom told you never to discuss religion or politics in polite company.

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they’ve been fooled.

— Mark Twain

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Qualified?

When Hillary implied that Bernie may not be qualified to be president and Bernie suggested that those that who do what Hillary has done are not qualified all hell broke loose in the political media looking for anything snarky to boost ratings.  Policy positions are too boring to get eyeballs.  But it brings to light about the qualifications to be president.

Technically, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states:

  • No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.

All the candidates claim to be the most qualified.  Their experience in government, business or something regarding the “establishment” means they’ve got the stuff.  However noted presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin points out that qualifications don’t translate to a great presidency.  She notes that James Buchanan was probably the most qualified ever, but is regarded by most historians as the worst.  He was succeeded by a tall skinny guy from Illinois whose detractors said he didn’t have any qualifications yet turned out to be one of our greatest presidents.  It is left as an exercise to the reader to make any comparisons to Bush 43 and Obama.

One could argue that Nixon had excellent qualifications and we all know how that turned out.  Harry Truman, not really qualified but did some great things, like end WWII.  Ike had no qualifications but kept us out of war with the Soviet Union.  Ditto Kennedy.

I could go on and on but the point is that qualifications don’t indicate greatness.  Ms Goodwin points out that it is temperament not qualifications that make a great president.  So again it is left as an exercise to the reader to determine which candidate has the best temperament to be president.

President Roosevelt possessed a second class intellect, but a first class temperament.

—  Oliver Wendell Holmes

The image is of Mt. Buchanan and Kootenay lake near Kaslo BC.

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Trump Über Alles!

The rise of Trump, and to a lesser extent Ted Cruz, is remarkably similar to the rise of Hitler and Mussolini.  An authoritarian, racist, autocratic, totalitarian, religious bigot, fascist appealing to an angry electorate.  Trumps over-the-top behavior resembles Silvio Berlusconi.  So do his “policies.”

This begs the question:  “What are these people so angry about that they’d support someone like Trump or Cruz?”  The answer is simple: they don’t know.  They just like being pissed.  It gives them a convenient excuse for blaming all their problems on others rather than facing up to the fact that it is they themselves who are to blame.

Problem is, no one ever makes good decisions when angry.

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

Sinclair Lewis

 

 

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Know Nothing Party

The Whig party fell apart in the 1850’s due to factionalism and dissent.  This led to the rise of the Know Nothing party (officially the American party),  characterized by their belief in nativism and opposition to immigration.  Their goal was to “purify” America.

Sound familiar?  This year’s Republican campaign may be a tipping point for problems that began eight years ago with the factionalism stemming from the Tea Party movement.  The term “Know Nothing” may be apropos as their demographic tends to characterized by their limited education and disdain for those who they feel think they are smarter.  The “country club” Republicans all have college educations, but the teabaggers not so much.

If Trump and/or Cruz are denied at the Republican convention by the “establishment” we may possibly see the creation of a third significant party.

“I love the poorly educated!”

— Donald Trump

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The Case for Tuition-Free Higher Education

President Obama got the ball rolling by suggesting tuition-free public community colleges and technical/vocational schools.  Sen. Sanders has taken it one step further by promoting the idea of tuition-free public college.

There are at least three compelling arguments for these proposals:

  1. Filling jobs that need an educated workforce.  There was a time when a high school education was sufficient for most of the occupations in the U.S.  Not any more.  Many blue collar jobs require post high school education.  The December 2015 jobs report stated there were 5.6 million unfilled jobs because of the lack of qualified applicants.  5.6 million!
  2. We need to be able to compete with countries that do provide tuition-free college.  Many European countries offer tuition-free education and at least seven offer it to foreigners, much as we give free K-12 education to foreigners who live here.  America is the hot-bed of innovation.  It’d be a shame to lose that status and economic benefit to others.
  3. It would invigorate and maintain a healthy economy.  An  educated workforce creates new products and new consumers.

How are we going to pay for it?  Same way the countries that offer it do: tax revenue. Stronger economies result in increased tax revenues.

This is an idea whose time has come.

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Happy Birthday Honest Abe

February 12th is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.  He was the first Republican president.  He unified the nation following the brutal Civil War.  He freed the slaves in the most sweeping executive order in American history.  Many feel he was out greatest president.  On the occasion of his birthday, one wonders what he would think of today’s Republican party.

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