Hillary Should Not Have Run

Hillary should not have run. On Facebook, someone posted:

Not all Trump supporters are racist.
But all of them decided racism isn’t a deal breaker.

This isn’t true. There are many claims that Hillary is racist, too. (Google: Hillary anti-black) These claims are false, but many people believe them. A lot of them simply weren’t given a decent choice.

For many, Hillary was not an option

Many of these Trump supporters are ignorant people who’ve been filled with hatred for Hillary by the Republican machine, including Fox News, over many years. Yes, they’re believing lies, but they hate her.

Plus, she kept side-stepping the criticisms instead of addressing them- Hillary haters had little help getting past their hate. I recall some “undecideds” being interviewed after a debate. A couple of people were struggling with whether Trump was too bad to vote for. But they were clear they couldn’t vote for Hillary.

Hillary should not have run

From the beginning, it seemed wrong for Hillary to run against these odds. The Republicans had a huge head-start against her. It was not just poor strategy, it was selfish. I don’t think Hillary was any more egocentric than any other candidate, but it still was egocentric. It didn’t put the country first.

Yes, it was a close race. But due to the hatred, she wouldn’t have been able to bring the country together. The right would have staged more years of obstruction. 

We saw the corruption at the DNC. Their staff was strategizing on how to ensure Hillary won the primary, plus they laundered money to her campaign. This corruption with the DNC might have been the fatal blow. All these things added up to more negativity than she could handle.

The Democrats are also not accountable

Politicians in the US are simply not accountable. Many try hard, but they can’t be. The same is true for the parties.

My congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, is pretty accountable. She goes to great lengths to read and answer every letter.

But the Democrats, Hillary and Bernie are not accountable. I’ve never had a letter to them answered, and I reached out many times. Similarly, Obama’s not accountable. He, too, is unreachable.

How to be accountable?

To me, the real question is: How can our officials be accountable? Currently they can’t be.

This is why PeopleCount was created:

  • To craft a way for government to be accountable.
  • To create support for it.
  • To deliver it.

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Will the First Presidential Debate Make a Difference?

We want a better dialogue. We want an honest conversation. After months of posturing and squabbling between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, we want decisiveness. Can the first presidential debate deliver that?

The planned September 26 debate holds tremendous weight for both candidates. Clinton experienced a strong post-convention bump in the polls after the Democratic Convention. She maintained that lead for almost a month before Trump started to eat away at her credibility again. In mid-July, Trump’s chances of winning the general election were down to single digits. Now, he’s back to being a major contender. Statistician Nate Silver predicts Trump has a 31.2% chance of claiming victory in November. That’s a double digit jump in the odds in less than a month’s time.

A strong performance in the debate could help Trump seal the deal on a historic comeback. For Clinton, this could be an opportunity to prove once and for all why she’s more qualified to do the job.

The Debate Could Be A Rebound From NBC’s Forum

Our first glimpse at a potentially productive conversation came in the form of NBC’s Thursday night forum. Those results weren’t promising. Matt Lauer, co-host of the TODAY show, played up controversy without comprehensive follow up questions. Trump stayed calm and collected thanks to arguably lighter questions than what he typically receives. Lauer had the chance to fact check Trump on issues, such as Trump’s support for the Iraq War, he fumbled.

With Clinton, he grilled her about her use of a private email server. She was visibly frustrated and stayed on the defensive for most of the night. Overall, the forum wasn’t a great showing for either candidate. CNN took a deep dive into learnings about both potential leaders as did the New York Times. Viewers who tuned in walked away with no new information or impressions of either politician.

First Debate Needs New Challenges

At this point, the narratives of Trump and Clinton are overly familiar. Among the undecided, Clinton is battling an unsavory public image comprised of negligence, untrustworthiness, and lack of personality. Trump is battling his lack of experience, knowledge and knack for controversial statements.

To me, Hillary has been held accountable for her actions and policies. She has been been grilled time and time again by congressional investigations as well as by reporters and during the Democratic debates. She answers questions.

Trump has not been accountable. He has avoided hard questions, sometimes even treating them as attacks. While this doesn’t seem to matter to his followers, it might make a difference with the undecided.

In order for this debate to achieve something useful for voters, new territory needs to be explored. Both candidates need to be challenged on policy. More decisive for voters, however, will be how they deal with the ultimate opposition: each other.

How Hillary Clinton Turns Skeptics To Supporters

I have certainly doubted Hillary Clinton at times. When I read about Elizabeth Warren’s indictment of Hillary about the 2003 bankruptcy bill, I turned anti-Hillary. But as I read more about it, I realized it wasn’t so clear. And then I read Hillary’s excellent account of the amendments that were added to the bill to turn it from bad to tolerable. And the bill was supported by many, so Hillary gave it her vote. Even Elizabeth Warren now endorses Hillary.

How Does Clinton Change Their Minds?

The Bernie or Bust supporters took their rage all the way to the Democratic National Convention. They constantly interrupted pro-Hillary speakers– basically everyone. Their contempt for Hillary was so strong that comedian Sarah Silverman told them to stop being ridiculous. After Clinton clinched the nomination, the Bernie or Bust movement has lost some steam. Even this group has chosen to endorse Hillary.

What is it? Is it a tale of two evils? Are voters slowly giving in simply to avoid a Trump presidency? Probably. For those who don’t support Trump, Clinton is the only viable alternative. Sure, there’s Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.  But the odds of either of them beating Trump in November are slim.

False allegations and true leadership and ability

But there’s more to it than just saving us from Trump. Clinton was able to win over Elizabeth Warren with her diplomacy and accountability. Time and time again, she has proven that she has what it takes to lead the nation. She’s often been the subject of investigations and accusations. But she was never found guilty of any wrongdoing. From Benghazi to her private email server, she has shown that she’s either doing the right thing or making small mistakes while otherwise performing admirably.

As people both inside and outside the Democratic party try to bring her down, she perseveres. Though the internet is awash in allegations, they’re false. She’s able to win new allies because she knows what she’s doing. Clinton keeps rising way above the corrupt narrative that’s being written for her.

In the process, she’s winning our support. She may not be the most liked candidate ever. But she is the by far the most qualified.

Hillary Clinton is a Pragmatist, not a Capitalist

Hillary Clinton is a pragmatist, not a capitalist. I’m writing this in response to some comments on Facebook. Those comments accuse her of spearheading America’s problem with unrestrained capitalism. They point to her support for Obama’s TPP and her highly-paid speeches to the banking industry as evidence that she’s part of America’s addiction to money and willingness to have it control nearly everything.

Note: I don’t know Hillary personally. For those who have negative thoughts about her and capitalism, I’m suggesting a different way of looking at her that still seems accurate, but has less problems .

Hillary opposed gay marriage, and then she was for it. She was for the Iraq war, and then was against it. She has compromised with Bernie on lots of issues. She has worked closely with President Obama, even though she wants changes.

Hillary is NOT an idealist. She’s a good woman and a politician. I use the term “woman” intentionally. Studies indicate that these feminine leadership virtues are desired by people:

  • Expressive
  • Plans for future
  • Reasonable
  • Loyal
  • Flexible
  • Patient
  • Intuitive
  • Collaborative
  • Empathetic
  • Vulnerable

Hillary Clinton changes with the times

Some accuse Hillary of flip-flopping. The three issues I’ve heard about are: The Iraq War, Gay Marriage, and Consumer Credit Protection. But in each of these issues, she changed her tune along with, or just ahead of, the American people and the prevailing ethos of the time. She learns and adapts, and these are good things.

Like Hillary, I was for gay unions, and wanted gay partners to have the same rights as spouses. I was only against gay marriage because it seemed unnecessarily upsetting to a majority of Americans. And I figured after 10-20 years of allowing civil unions and rights for gays, society would more easily take the next step.

Then America changed. More people realized their prejudice was based on superstition. Television and movies seemed to show more and more gays. And gays started being more vocal about their wanting to be married just like everyone else. We began accepting it. I realized my solution might not be as attractive as I thought. And then the courts weighed in on the side of allowing gay marriage. Most of America was ready, or almost ready.

Hillary and the Iraq War

Unlike Hillary, I was always against the Iraq War. But my closest advisor, my wife, is an accomplished student of history. She knew that Iraq was a powder keg. When Bush asked Congress for funds for a military build-up, I was conflicted. While it was a stupid idea to plunge Iraq into war, it was a brilliant idea to force Saddam to allow the inspectors full access to the country. And it worked! Soon after Congress granted the money, Saddam agreed.

But that wasn’t enough for Bush. He went to war anyway. The mistake was not in declaring war. The mistake was in trusting Bush. Even the war could have been successful. Saddam could have been deposed without disturbing his government. We could have worked with the Sunnis to keep their government running more openly and more peacefully with the West. Plus we could have worked to create a 10-20-year plan to create a true democracy. But Bush was committed to acting without thinking.

Still, Bush was supported hugely by the conservative half of American voters. And the Iraq War vote passed the House with 69% voting for it and the Senate with 77% support.

Hillary will do what’s right

Hillary Clinton wants what’s best for America. If America wants many of Bernie’s solutions, Hillary will not just deliver them, but she’ll do it in a way that reflects what America wants. We’ll make progress, but not as radically as Bernie might give us. That’s okay.

Hillary will be a great president. She’ll be an empathetic leader advocating for what The People want, plus a pragmatic and effective administrator. But only if we let her. If the right continues to demonize her, the next 4-8 years could easily continue today’s mess.

Mainly, we need to improve Congress. We need the Democrats and Republicans to represent their citizens, not just their parties. For that, we’ll need you to participate in PeopleCount.org. Please add your name to our announcement list.

What are Moral Politicians?

Let’s look at what “moral politicians” are like. In a previous post, we looked at immoral politicians. People like Gingrich, Livingston, Hastert and Trump who are self-righteous and critical, all the while harboring deep sins of their own.

What Are Moral Politicians, Anyway?

A moral politician is someone who demonstrates a clear understanding of right and wrong. They show this understanding in their own lives as well as in their professional dealings with others.

Too often, the general public defines a moral politician as a perfect person. If this is the standard definition, then moral politicians don’t exist. The Republican Party proudly touts a family-values political platform but has chosen Trump as their candidate, though he’s on his third wife and cheated on his first two. Plus, he and they avoid the topic. They pretend he’s “great”, dishonestly hiding his foibles. Meanwhile, they exaggerate Hillary’s few mistakes, demonize her, and support a hugely dishonest smear campaign.

On the issues, I have preferences, but put them aside for PeopleCount. On the political spectrum, I tend to lean left, but I like a lot of the conservative principles. On the presidential candidates, I want competence and workability. I like what NoLabels.org says, I want problem-solvers.

The Kind Of Politician We Really Need

There are no perfect people to run our country, contrary to what hollywood sometimes shows us. One of the most important qualities for a politician to have is humility. Sure, I’d love to think we have a great leader. And I like feeling that they’ll deliver great results. But it never happens. The best leaders are the ones who are humble.

If a candidate is focused on painting a glorious image, they’re forced to hide the imperfect truth. They’re forced to lie. Reporters then have a duty to challenge them and they end up being defensive and combative instead of forthcoming. They end up being secretive and manipulative, weakening the ability for others to help them succeed, not our citizens, not the press, nor the other branches of government.

We need politicians in office who admit their flaws- early and often.  I don’t want them to proudly flaunt those flaws as if they’re desirable qualities. Owning up to past mistakes is a lot different than justifying them.

What’s needed from citizens

We shouldn’t hold our lawmakers to impossible moral standards.  But we should demand honesty. Especially after an election, we should accept errors so our leaders aren’t motivated to hide the truth, defend poor decisions, or stick resolutely to failing policies.

We should let go of our unrealistic expectations of politicians. Or we’ll find ourselves repeatedly voting for the wrong ones, like Bush whose failed policies cost America and the world dearly. And then we demonize those who are willing to compromise and work with others, like Obama. I’m tired of leaders who promise everything, then fight others and make no progress, like those in the Republican congress who shut down the government. I’m tired of politicians justifying lousy results and blaming others.

What I want

I want leaders who have lofty goals but promise to find realistic solutions. I want honesty, not bragging. I want them to work with others to move the country forward. I want them to quickly admit mistakes, so they can end or change programs that aren’t working.

And on issues, I want them to be accountable to us, the people. I want them to know what we want, and to tell us. And to tell us how their solutions fit what we want. I want openness not just in attitude, but in action.

My View on the Presidential Race

This year’s presidential race has revealed two political parties and their candidates at odds. Both sides are using wildly different approaches in their quest for power. Both sides have a lot at stake.

When it comes to Hillary Clinton, Republicans and Bernie bros alike have called for us all to judge her. The Republicans want us to judge her on lies some of them have circulated for years, plus a few imperfections. Bernie just asked us to fault her participation in standard, big-money politics.

Let’s judge on accomplishments, commitments, ability to speak and reason

There’s an alternative to judging based on disproved accusations and implications. We could judge candidates on their accomplishments, commitments and ability to speak and reason. On these, Hillary gets high marks.

Obama did pretty well in these areas, I think. Especially given how the Republican party opposed and slandered him from the day he won the Democratic election to today. Those same Republicans won’t even do their constitutional duty to consider his Supreme Court nominee now. Instead of working with him to improve his policies and decisions, they simply demonized him.

Trump is doing poorly

In these areas, Trumps not doing well. Of these, his highest marks are a C, and they’re for his ability to speak glibly, if not articulately, and his commitment to a “great” America. When I look for details on his website, there are some. But most don’t seem workable. Perhaps they’re like his businesses- grandiose ideas, but poorly thought out. A significant fraction fail.

To me, the Republican choice to support Trump shows their willingness to sacrifice morality. They seem to be willing to win at any cost. Many have opposed him, but now many are willing to back him- anything to gain power. It’s not about discourse. It’s not about good governance. It’s not about morality. It’s certainly not about what the people want.

What’s strangest to me is that this immoral Republican leadership is leading a party of people who believe they are, by and large, committed to morality. 

There Could Be Another Bush

My take on Trump’s success thus far is that the other candidates failed. It’s not that Trump was good. He rallied the most emotive people of the party with empty promises.

This is the same party that gave us George Bush, a guy who failed school and couldn’t make it on his own. He ended up being absent on 9/11 after ignoring the signs because of his people’s beliefs. Then he erred and lied our country into Iraq. That move has caused trillions of dollars of debt, torn apart millions of lives, and destabilized a region. Trump would probably be just as bad if not worse. But like Bush, people are opting for hype and emotion over substance.

To me, Hillary seems a bit ill at ease. Yes, she fibbed about being fired upon as she stepped out of a plane. And she opted for questionable practices with her email server. But she’s competent and, especially with our support, she’ll be a wise and careful leader.

Without our support, just like Obama without Republican support, she’ll have a hard time. But she’s infinitely more suited for the presidency than Trump.

A Puzzle: What if Trump is Good for America

To me, Trump is a puzzle. Disparaging him as a dangerous idiot seems presumptuous. I’m not saying it’s false, but it might be. We react strongly to him. Those strong feelings make us feel certain.

Strong emotions, especially negative ones, rarely lead to true ideas about what’s real. Can you set aside the certainty? What other explanations fit the facts?

What theories fit ALL the facts we know,
without demonizing Trump or his followers?

Supposedly, Trump didn’t really think he would win the nomination. Why would he play a game he probably wouldn’t win? What was his motivation?

What if the effect he’s having, not just the energy and anger of his followers, but the supposed gaffes or too-extreme remarks followed by disapproval and needing to backtrack– what if they are all part of his plan? Not that he’s doing it purposely, but that he sees it, maybe even expects it, and accepts it. What would he do this in public?

We see a character that we disapprove of. Yet his family says that he’s a good, kind and loving person. It seems to be an apparent contradiction. So many dismiss what his family says. That suggests we’re unable to hold the two thoughts in our head. It’s not evidence that they’re really contradictory.

A thought experiment

As a thought experiment, assume he’s a kind and loving person, and he’s really saying and doing all the mean, bullying things we’ve heard, and he’s okay with his tendency to go too far at times. Why is he doing this?

When I internalized this, when I saw some reasoning that allowed all these facts to coexist without demonizing anyone, I realized I had had a breakthrough. I had overcome my simple, emotional reaction to not making sense of the world.

To me, the world is sensible. And when the world seems crazy, I say that it’s not the world’s fault. After all, we’re human. We err. When it seems that “God works in mysterious ways,” it really just points to me not yet understanding.

What good can come out of it?

What good can come out of it? It could be a lot.

And how can I help? I think Michelle Obama had a great answer- “When they go low, we go high.” For me, “going high” could mean letting go of my anger and my judgements both of him and his followers.

I’m not suggesting you vote for him. I’m not saying tolerate him. I’m just saying to use this strange situation to challenge yourself to be the best you’ve ever been. I try to be patiently disapproving.
"When they go low, we go high," Michelle Obama

Let it be a puzzle- mull it over

Sorry if this is doesn’t make sense. Let it be a puzzle. I could tell you my answer, but I didn’t get a breakthrough by being told the answer.

Assume Trump’s a good person. Assume he has the personality and social skills we see. Assume he means, at least emotionally, though perhaps shallowly, the things that he says. Assume this is a benefit to America, and he intends his efforts to benefit America. What’s his goal?

(Originally I thought I’d continue this. But I think this is enough…)