Voting Rights & Responsibilities

At the very root of democracy is VOTING. Why, therefore, do we tolerate the incredible fact that only about one half of Americans vote regularly?

In addition, Republican politicians at the state and federal levels are actively striving to make it difficult, for many minority groups to exercise this core constitutional right.

It is true that in many places – like most of New York and California — one vote really does not matter because both those States are so overwhelming one sided that, regardless of your side, your vote lacks the import of those cast by voters in more competitive states.

Our Constitution requires an Electoral College to elect our President, which probably does not make sense in the modern world, but as a practical matter can only be eliminated by a Constitutional Amendment – a virtual impossibility in today’s political environment.

Still, if anything like 80 percent of eligible citizens voted, the possibility that a candidate could win the electoral college WITHOUT a majority of the popular vote would likely approach zero.

Therefore, if I were a candidate for President today, I would promise to incentivize every citizen to vote in every federal elections by (a) making election day a federal holiday; and (b) giving every person who casts a ballot a federal tax credit of $100.  

Such a proposal would likely enjoy wide popular support, being both simple and right. It could even spur increased voter turnout in the 2020 election [before taking effect] —which would also increase the likelihood that Congress would achieve that goal in 2021.

That one simple change would side step the obstacles of a Constitutional Amendment, most likely secure a Democratic Presidential victory in 2020, and at the same time RESTORE DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA.

See previous posts at https://fawideas.com

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Presidential Election 2020

We already know a lot more right now than we typically know more than a year before a Presidential election.

We know (health aside) that Trump is the Republican candidate. And we probably know who the top four Democrats are likely be: Biden, Harris, Sanders, and Warren.

It’s less certain, but we can wisely surmise that the Democrat ticket will include two of those top four possibilities.

We do not know when and how the Democratic field will shake out, and Trump’s head start on fundraising is a cause for concern. At some point, party leaders will try to stop whoever remains of the long-shot candidates from continuing to syphon off precious campaign funds to a lost cause. We also do not know how far those ‘out of it’ candidates might go to improve their standing. At some point, tossing grenades at the likelier nominees becomes counterproductive, and the imperative of beating Trump must win out.

Still, reasons for hope abound. Trump himself, while perhaps continuing to solidify his support from roughly 40 percent of the country, has yet to show how he might draw support from the other 60 percent next year.

Even the incumbent’s best friend, a strong economy, is failing to lift Trump’s prospects. Now, the economy is showing signs of slowing and trade wars are taking a toll. Financial markets will soon begin to reflect that as well.

It is possible, but highly unlikely, that Trump might pull off one or more foreign policy victories. But, a public weary of the belligerence and braggadocio of Trump’s transparent negotiating style isn’t likely to swallow his exaggerated claims of triumph. No, the North Korean nuclear threat is not “gone.” Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon than ever, with no real reason to turn back. And, while Trump continues to tout the billions of dollars “pouring in” to the American treasury from tariffs wantonly slapped on friend and foe alike, most people – even Trump supporters – know that money is coming from American pockets.

Despite these seeming advantages – and an electorate that seems largely “baked in” for a Trump defeat in 2020 — wherever I go people keep repeating that they fear that Trump will be reelected.

It’s an understandable worry. Trump was such a fringe candidate in 2016 – one part celebrity scold mixed with hucksterism and a healthy dose of racism – no one took him seriously, except those tens of millions who voted for him.

There can be only one thing that would allow that to happen: lack of turn out resulting from lack of belief in prospect for change.

It is important to talk about health care, income inequality, taxes, and more. It’s valuable to have bushels of 10-point plans.

What is still missing is a gut-stirring message of change.

If it were not already taken ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’ would be fine. Many would settle for ‘Let’s Make America, America Again.’

I like ‘A World Safe for All Americans.’ It speaks to the fears of groups seeing their rights diminished by the Trump administration and allies in red states (reproductive freedom, voting, and immigration) and touches on the broader responsibilities America has in the whole world.

Spouses v Husbands And Wives

SPOUSES v HUSBANDS AND WIVES

The word ‘spouse’, according to the dictionary, means either the husband or wife of a married couple.

As modern society finally has grown more accepting of the obvious realities of the natural distribution of sexuality and gender among humans, it’s become clear that our language hasn’t kept up with our understanding.

There are a significant number of people whose gender identities conflict with physical anatomy; similarly, a person’s sexual orientation may differ from “traditional” expectations.

It is certain that it has always been so, and only as modern society ‘grew up’ was it feasible for people to come out and declare themselves, with at least some expectation that society would treat them the way ALL humans are supposed to be properly treated.

And, happily, most people in America today are clearly comfortable with the new landscape, and discrimination, while still quite present, is diminishing.

One of the remaining issues has been nomenclature. In the not-very-distant past, “husbands” were always men and “wives” were always women. The trend toward cohabitation without marriage added the term “partner” to the mix (“life partner” if you enjoy being insufferable), and “spouse” allowed us to skirt the issue altogether.  Now, when same-sex couples marry, they may or may not assign themselves “husband” or “wife” roles, but those are, obviously, decoupled from gender, and may or may not be publicly declared.

 Compounding the matter: some couples eagerly embrace the traditional nomenclature, while others find it a stifling symbol of oppression from which they are desperate to have new choices emerge. Both are valid viewpoints, and most couples, whatever mix of gender and orientation they bring to the table, can readily agree on such things.

The bigger problem is the people around them who insist on applying old terms to new realities, much the way people still “dial” a phone number. I grew up in a world where most people fit neatly into boxes, and the few who didn’t were outcasts.  But in our brave new world, the boxes are of infinite variety, and which one(s) you fit in is for you to decide and declare. We keep hoping for new words and new pronouns, but what we really need is a new understanding; our job is simply to accept people for who they are. If they’ve declared a label for who they are, honor it. If they haven’t, don’t try to give them one, or many.

Today, couples may declare one another “husband” or “wife,” but many choose to not lend credence to what they perceive as gender stereotypes. We’ve easily settled on “spouses” or “partners.” No doubt new words will come along – consider “rom,” a play on romance that is also an acronym for the “rest of me.” It speaks to the essence of a relationship, where “husband” and “wife” speak to either the genders of the relationship or the roles each person assumes within that relationship.

Today, we ask people what gender pronouns they prefer (he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs). In the future, all gender references will likely disappear from the language – problematic vestiges of a bygone era. And while grammarians will cringe at the thought of a world in which everyone is a “they”, it will also be a world in which everyone is “us.” That seems worth the tradeoff.

Until that day, perhaps modern language could be clarified and the words husband and wife consigned to the trash bin, and ALL married people would become simply spouses!