Some Election Year Thoughts

Both major party conventions are over. Yea! While both parties said this would be the most important election in our lifetimes (or in the history of this nation, or of this planet, or of the universe), I say:

  • This will be the most important presidential election since the last one.
  • This will be the most important presidential election until the next one.
  • Every presidential election is important.

It would be refreshing if the candidates campaigned primarily on what they offer to us: their vision for our country, their values, convictions, and experiences.

Voting should be made easy and convenient for every American citizen. That should include in-person voting at sites close to the voters, located and staffed so that there will not be lengthy waits. That should also include mail-in voting, whatever the reason, and early voting. Days of presidential elections should be national holidays, making voting readily accessible to all persons. Our economy can handle that every four years.

Every vote cast should count the same as every other vote cast. One person equals one vote. Because one lives in a large state or a small state, in an urban area or a rural area, in a Democrat-leaning state or Republican-leaning state, should make no difference. One person gets one vote, with all votes carrying the same weight.

To get an accurate vote count, it is acceptable that we not know on the night of the election which candidate wins. But (except in extraordinary circumstances, like the 2000 election) we should know the outcome in a few days. In the matter of the 2000 election, a Supreme Court ruling of 5 to 4 was unfair to a democratic system of government. That meant that one Supreme Court justice effectively decided which candidate would be president. We can do better than that.

The debates should have a fact-checking report in a closing 10-minute section, done by a non-partisan group including media representatives and one advisor to each candidate (this was someone else’s idea—Thomas Freidman’s, I think). Debates should help us see where candidates disagree and why, and how they intend to govern. They should also show us where candidates agree.

When debate moderators give a time limit for answers, it should be enforced. At the very least, the mic of the candidate speaking too long should be turned off at the time allotted. If the candidate keeps talking, audio and video coverage should stop and time be deducted from that candidate’s next response. Candidates should be allowed to challenge and question each other, with the moderator(s) moderating.

Most police officers are doing a good job. Some police officers, probably a small percentage, are not doing a good job, showing racist and brutal tendencies; they should be identified and removed from duty. Then they should receive due process. If found guilty of crimes, they should lose their jobs as police officers for life, as well as face other punishments commensurate to their crimes.

Most protesters are protesting in peaceful ways. Some protesters, probably a small percentage, are not protesting in peaceful ways. If they are harming other people or property, they should be identified and arrested, but not violently (violence breeds violence). Then they should receive due process. If found guilty of crimes, they should face punishments commensurate to their crimes.

Most protest marches are peaceful and respectful (I have been in several; family members of mine have been in more). People should be allowed to march for their causes. People should be allowed to make public protests. This is a constitutional right. This nation was founded on political protest.

There are both right-wing extremists and left-wing extremists. Always. There are both right-wing zealots and left-wing zealots doing harm to our common causes and concerns. There are both right-wing hate-mongers and left-wing hate-mongers. Every political party and every political viewpoint has some extremists. I believe that the majority of Republicans and Democrats agree on much, perhaps more than they know.

Patriotism is not blind loyalty or uncritical allegiance to one’s country. Patriotism is a critical love of and appreciation for one’s country, with a desire to see its flaws, past and present, honestly named and addressed. Patriots press us on to be a “more perfect union.” Patriots don’t say things like, “America, love it or leave it.” Patriots say things like, “Let’s make our country better than it has ever been.”

Most Republicans and most Democrats share a love for our country and a desire to help it become a better country. Most conservatives and most liberals share a love for our country and a desire to help it become a better country. Most independents love our country and desire it to be a better country. Let’s find ways to hold our political convictions and advocate for our causes with respect for those holding different political convictions.

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