The Weiner Component #128 – The 2016 Presidential Election

If one looks at the Constitution of the United States of America one discovers that it consists of seven articles and twenty-seven amendments.  Of these the first three articles set up the organization and functioning of the Federal Government.   Article 1 deals with the legislative bodies, Article 2 with the presidency, and Article 3 with the Supreme Court.

In the first Article the two legislative bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives, are defined, organized, and their powers enumerated.   Article 2 sets up the presidency and describes the general powers of the President, and Article 3 essentially states that there shall be a Supreme Court.

According to the Constitution, Congress alone has the power to make the laws.  The President is the chief administrator; he carries out the laws that exist and that the current Congress has brought or brings into being.  The President can issue executive orders, which if they are not in contradiction of existing laws, will exist during his term in office.  But his acts can be curtailed by specific acts of Congress or, for that matter, by decisions of the Supreme Court.  He is mainly the chief administrator of the United States. He runs the country.

During Presidential Elections one gets the impression that most candidates and the general public are totally unaware of what the basic document of the United States contains.  In the current pre-election campaign for the Presidency in 2016 the overly large number of Republican candidates state what they will do if elected.  These individuals sound like they are running to be kings and explain how the country will function if one of them is elected.  What new laws they will decree.  The ignorance is pathetic.

Barak Obama was elected in 2008 on a platform of change.  When he assumed office in 2009 he inherited, from the former President, George W. Bush, a potential economic collapse that would have been greater than the Great Depression of 1929.  By using the resources of the Federal Government, he and his administration were able, over his first two years in office, to turn the economic situation around and totally avoid disaster. Even with the full use of the government for this he was able, with a Democratic Congress, to bring about Affordable Health Care (Obamacare).  In the 2010 Midterm Election a goodly number of the people who had voted for him in 2008 were disgusted with his lack of “change” and stayed at home and didn’t vote.  That combined with Voter Suppression in Republican dominated states gave control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans and the chances for change in the U.S. dropped to zero.

The probability of a Republican being elected in 2016 and both Houses of Congress maintaining their Republican majority is slim.   But even if it were to happen the possibility of a Republican president agreeing completely with a Republican Congress is even slimmer.  In fact the two Republican Houses of Congress agreeing is even slimmer than that, seeing that the current Republican House of Representatives is much farther to the right in their positions than the Republican dominated Senate.

What is needed at this time is a realistic look at elections and an understanding of the importance of voter continuing participation.  Elections are important.  Their results helps determine the direction in which the country proceeds.  Being not bothered to vote or a protest non-vote is actually a vote for the minority party, the Republicans.

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There are currently a plethora of Republican candidates vying for the Presidency in 2016.  In fact the leadership of the National Republican Party seems bankrupt of power since they don’t seem to have any control over the choice of one or a few possible candidates.

For the Republicans there are currently fifteen announced candidates and seven additional potentially pending candidates.  This makes a total of twenty-one people who are vying for the presidency from the Republican Party.

The stated candidates are:

Jeb Bush officially as of June 15, 2015

  1. Ben Carson as of May 4, 2015
  2. Ted Cruz as of March 23, 2015
  3. Carly Fiorina as of May 4, 2015
  4. Lindsey Graham as of June 1, 2015
  5. Mike Huckabee as of May 5, 2015
  6. George Pataki as of May 28, 2015
  7. Rand Paul as of April 7, 2015
  8. Rick Perry as of June 4, 2015
  9. Marco Rubio as of April 13, 2015
  10. Rick Santorum as of May 27, 2015
  11. Donald Trump as of June 16, 2015
  12. Bobby Jingle as of June 24, 2015
  13. Chris Christie as of June 30, 2015
  14. Scott Walker as of July 13, 2015

Also announced are Mark Everson & Jack Fellure

Other potential candidates are:

  1. John Kasich
  2. Bob Ehrlich
  3. Jim Gilmore
  4. Peter T. King

That makes a total of 21 potential presidential candidates

The next question is: How will they debate one another?   If they were all present in a single debate, the answers to each question would last for more than an hour and many TV viewers would forget at least half the answers before the question was answered. Fox News, the formal propaganda agency for the Republican Party, had a formula to just allow a certain number of the candidates leading in the national polls to debate but that’s been rejected by several state parties.  Whatever happens here will be colorful and interesting.

If you’re interested in any of the multitude of Republican candidates, look them up on the internet or, if you’re patient wait to see who’s left when we get to November of 2015. I suspect many of these individuals don’t and won’t have the organization, funding, or ability to mount 50 plus campaigns and will gradually fade away.

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For the Democrats there are also a host of candidates but only two or three of them seem to have the organization to hold elections in each of the 50 states and each of the Federal Territories held by the United States.  They are, in the order of national poll preference, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Lincoln Chafee.

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Of the Democratic candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the best known.  She is the wife of former President Bill Clinton, a former well-functioning U.S. Senator, and President Barak Obama’s first Secretary of State.  No one running for the Presidency for the first time has been as experienced as she.  Hillary Clinton is running on a liberal platform.  For her to bring about her agenda she will need a majority in both the House and Senate.

Bernie Sanders is 74 years old.  Politically, he is a Democratic Socialist, who caucuses with the Democratic Party.  He has served in the Senate since January 2007.  Sanders favors policy proposals similar to those of social democratic governments in Europe, particularly Scandinavia, such things as free medical care for all and free college education for all.  His basic premise is that the U.S. is the richest country that has ever existed but the bulk of this wealth is going to the one percent who are not even paying their fair share of taxes.  He is currently the voice of many frustrated Americans who feel there is an extreme need for change in the United States but don’t see any of this occurring.  Sanders is running for the presidency as a Democrat.  Like Hillary, if he is elected he will need a Democratic Congress to bring about any change or he will spend four frustrated years as President not being able to do much.

Lincoln Chafee’s father, John Chafee, was the Republican Senator from Rhode Island where he died in 1999.  His son, Lincoln, was appointed by the governor of the state to finish his term.  Lincoln Chafee had entered politics in 1985 as a delegate to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention.  The following year he was he became a member of the Warwick City Council, where he served until he was elected mayor of Warwick in 1992.  He served in that office until his father’s death in 1999 when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate to finish his father’s term.  In 2000 he won a full term to the U.S. Senate, defeating his Democratic rival.

Lincoln Chafee was a liberal Republican whose beliefs stood to the left of some conservative Democrats.  He opposed eliminating the estate tax, voted to increase the top federal income tax rate, was against allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, supported an increased minimum wage, and was the only Republican to vote against the invasion of Iraq.  He is pro-choice, supports same-sex marriage, affirmative action, gun control, and opposes the death penalty.

In 2007 Chafee left the Republican Party and became an Independent.  He supported Barak Obama in 2008.  In 2010 he became governor of Rhode Island.  Chafee was a co-chair of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.  In May of 2013 he announced that he was switching to the Democratic Party.  He formally announced his campaign for the presidency on June 3, 2015.

What are his chances of becoming the Democratic candidate?  An interesting question. He doesn’t seem as nationally well known as either Clinton or Sanders.  And both of them have wide recognition and positive reputations with Hillary, probably leading.

With the senseless murder of the nine church members in the leading Black church in South Carolina Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken on the terms of leading a Crusade across the country which the majority of the American population seems to want.  Of course, if she is elected, her success will depend upon the makeup of the two Houses of Congress.  The Democrats need not only a majority in both Houses of Congress but also a filibuster-less Senate, that is a 60 vote majority in that House. Then if the Democrats can work lock-step a Crusade to change America positively can be carried out.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

 

 

English: First page of Constitution of the Uni...

English: First page of Constitution of the United States Česky: První strana originálu Ústavy Spojených států amerických Español: La página primera de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos de América (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Weiner Component #126 – The Current American Political System

On Thursday, June 4, 2015, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 Presidential nomination, at a speech at a Texas Southern University, a historic Black college in Huston, accused the GOP (Good Old Party) of dividing Americans over voting rights by attempting to limit the vote among minorities, racial and otherwise, the elderly, and the young, generally college students. Clinton stated that a group of current and former Republican governors have and are “systematically and deliberately” have tried to prevent millions of Americans from voting.

She cited Governor Chris Christie for vetoing a bill in New Jersey to extend early voting. Clinton said that then Governor Jeb Bush had conducted, just prior to the 2,000 Presidential Election, a “deeply flawed purge of eligible voters in Florida by having the names of people who were mistakenly thought to be felons removed from the voting rolls. She accused Scott Walker of Wisconsin of cutting early voting and making it harder for college students to vote. He also passed ID laws which tend to discriminate against minorities who don’t have the required identification.   Rick Perry of Texas, she stated, approved laws that mainly discriminated against minorities.

”It was the first time a presidential candidate had named her potential Republican rivals by name and criticized Governors Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie.

She called for automatic registration for all people reaching the voting age of 18. This is similar to what presently exists in the state of Oregon, where anyone with a driver’s license from age 18 on is now automatically registered to vote and is mailed a ballot at election time. The choice to vote rests totally with the individuals.

The following day, Friday, June 5, a number of Republican governors verbally attacked Clinton for running a divisive campaign and favoring tax control on voting. Whatever that means?

The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, vociferously stated that Clinton didn’t know “the first thing about voting rights in New Jersey” and wanted to have an opportunity “to commit greater acts of voter fraud” around the country. Ohio governor John Kasich stated on Fox News that Clinton was “dividing America.”  Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker denounced her for denouncing him.

Basically the Republican argument is that they are fighting voter fraud.  Even though voter fraud is a small fraction of one percent of the millions of votes cast many Republicans know instinctively, with no other evidence, that that figure is wrong. They argue that what they are doing limits and virtually stops voter fraud.  Sometimes, I get the feeling that voter fraud, in their minds, is any vote cast that is not Republican.  It should also be noted that many Republicans have on occasion admitted publically that they are trying to suppress the vote.

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There are two major political parties in the United States that can successfully field a presidential election, since this means running fifty separate elections in each of the 50 states and separate federal elections for all the territories and the District of Columbia, with the exception of the island of American Samoa where the population consists of residents rather than citizens of the United States. These two major political parties are the Republican and Democratic Parties.  Of these the majority party is the Democratic one.

One of the major ways the Republicans have been successful in winning political elections has been by suppressing the vote of minorities, women, the aged, and college students. This has been done in numerous ways. Their object is to get certain groups, one way or another, not to vote.

Among the various dirty tricks used in suppressing the vote misinformation about voting procedures is not uncommon. In the recall election for the Wisconsin State Senate, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative organization that supported Republicans, sent many Democratic voters a mailing that gave incorrect deadlines for absentee ballots. Voters who relied on the deadline in the mailing sent their ballots in too late to be counted. The organization said that the mistake was a typographical error.

In the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal Republican officials attempted to reduce the number of Democratic voters by paying professional telemarketers in Idaho to make repeated hang-up calls to the telephone numbers used by the Democratic Party’s ride-to-the-polls phone line on election day.

In several states a private Republican group, Voters Outreach of America, which had been authorized in a number of states to register voters, collected and submitted Republican voter registration forms but discarded Democratic ones.  The Democratic voters discovered on Election Day that they were not registered and could not vote.

In the 2006 Virginia Senate Election Democratic voters received phone calls informing them that if they voted it would lead to arrest; there were numerous calls fraudulently claiming to be volunteers of the Democratic candidate falsely telling voters that their location had changed; fliers were issued in the Black communities, paid for by the Republican Party, stating, “Skip This Election.”

In the 2008 Presidential Election a review of states records by the New York Times found that there had been numerous illegal actions leading to voter purges.

In the United States there is partisan election administrations in 33 of the 50 states. The majority of the world’s democracies use independent agencies to monitor elections but not the U.S.  These party affiliations can and do create a conflict of interest.  For example, Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State served as state co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign during the Presidential Election of 2000.

In Georgia wait times of two to ten hours were reported during early voting at many locations.  In Florida this happened at multiple locations on Election Day during the 2012 Presidential Election.  Various factors, including the reduction of early voting days, reduction in the number of polling places, and an extremely long ballot that included numerous constitutional amendments all combine to add to long waiting times.  It is estimated that 201,000 potential Florida voters were unable to spend the hours needed to be able to vote and thus had their votes suppressed.

In the 2010 Maryland gubernatorial election the Republicans placed thousands of Election Day robocalls to Democratic voters telling them that the Democratic candidate had won, although the polls were still open for two more hours. The Republican phone call was worded as though it came from Democratic headquarters.  It told the Voters to relax, that everything was fine.  All they had to do was watch the victory on TV that night.  The phone calls reached 112,000 voters in the African-American areas of the state.

In 2011, the Republican campaign manager was convicted of fraud and other charges because of the calls. In 2012 he was sentenced to 30 days of home detention, a one year suspended jail sentence, and 50 hours of community service over a four year period of probation with no fine or jail time.

A Florida law, that has been repeated in a number of Republican dominated states, both reduced the number of days for early voting and barred voter-registration activities by such group as the League of Women Voters, teachers in high school and others, making it more difficult to register to vote in those states.

These constitutionally granted voting rights have been and are under nationwide attack, particularly in those states where the Republicans hold the governorship and control of the legislature. The laws lead to significant burdens for eligible voters. These measures include cuts to early voting, voter ID laws, and purges of voter rolls. It also includes dirty tricks. Democratic lawyers have filed legal challenges to voting changes, particularly in Ohio and Wisconsin.

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Among the various forms of voter suppression are photo ID laws. Supporters contend that the photo ID, such as state driver’s licenses or student IDs from state universities are nearly universal and that presenting them is a minor inconvenience, when weighed against voter fraud.  Opponents argue that these requirements disproportionally affect minority, handicapped, and elderly voters who do not normally maintain driver licenses. There is also almost no evidence of voter fraud.  Legislation to impose the restrictive IDs has been prepared by the conservative organization ALEC and sent to conservative state legislatures.

In the U.S. felons are disenfranchised.   In fact the United States is the only democracy in the world that regularly bans large numbers of felon from voting after they have served their sentence.  In 2004 5.3 million Americans were denied the right to vote because of previous felony convictions. Thirteen states permanently disenfranchise convicted felons, eighteen states restore voting rights when after completion of prison, parole, and probation time, four states re-enfranchise convicted felons after they have been released from prison and served their parole, thirteen states allow felons who have been released from prison to vote, and two states do not disenfranchise them at all. This form of voter suppression disproportionally affects minorities, particularly Blacks and Hispanics who it seems make up a good percentage of the prison population.

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In former Governor Rick Perry’s state, Texas, the voter suppression laws have wide sweeping effects. The U.S. Justice Department estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 Texans were disenfranchised of their vote by the Texas voter ID law implemented in 2014. While the law accepts seven forms of personal identification it was crafted to make sure that poor African Americans and Hispanics would have a very difficult time producing any of those forms of accepted ID.

The accepted forms of ID are: a concealed handgun license, a U.S. military identification card containing the person’s photograph, a U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph, a U.S. passport, a Texas driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a Texas Election identification certificate issued by the DPS, and a Texas personal identification card issued by the DPS. In addition college student IDs are not acceptable forms of identification.

Poor people, as a rule, do not have concealed handgun licenses.  My birth certificate was issued at my birth; it does not contain my picture. The majority of young men do not join the military.  Many poor Texans do not have cars or driver licenses.  A passport cost money to acquire.  Of the other possibilities most poor workers, mainly African Americans and Hispanics do not possess those either.

The official state offices that issue these IDs are not located in every town, and those that exist do not operate every day of the week. None of them are open on weekends when people are off work.

Poor Texans living in a rural area need to take a day off work to go to a town or city where the Department of Public Safety offices exist and they have to pick a day when the office will be open.  If they can find or afford transportation it will take them at least three hours to get to a government office that will issue an ID if it is open and then after they finish it will take them at least three more hours to get home.  They will have lost at least a day’s pay.

The Federal Court in Corpus Christi declared the ID law unconstitutional, in 2014 a Federal judge struck down this law finding that the law was “an unconstitutional poll tax” that had “an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans;” but on appeal the more conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this decision.

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Voter disenfranchisement in the 2014 election was apparent; it will certainly be an issue in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Wherever possible various Democratic organizations will be and are bringing law suites to limit or stop this practice; but many of the federal judges were appointed by Republican presidents and are partial to Republican demands.  Such, obviously was the case in Texas.

In a number of 2014 races, like North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia, and Florida, the margin of victory was very close to the margin of disenfranchisement.  With an honest election the results might have been the opposite.

A joint report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the Southern Elections Foundation found that four out of five states that had introduced at least one new restrictive voting measure in 2014 “experienced sharp decreases in voter turnout from the 2010 midterm election, likely due, at least in part, to these laws that made it harder to vote in 2014.  33 states have recently introduced bills that would restrict access to voter registration.

Republican officials have admitted that their efforts are aimed at disenfranchising Democratic voters. In the spring of 2012 the Pennsylvania House Majority Leader, Mike Turzai, told a gathering of Republicans that their voter identification law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”  There have been numerous statements by Republicans before and since the above statement was made indicating that the voter identification laws are mainly a way to suppress the vote of Democratic voters.

Republican generally argue that restrictions on registering and voting are about the integrity of elections; but they have never been able to prove that any American election has been stolen by voter fraud, (at least by the Democrats).

There is an interesting note of irony here. The Caucasian or White population in the United States no longer makes up the majority of the population.  It is a large minority among other large minorities.  And every year its number shrinks in comparison to the other large minorities. How long can the Republican successfully play their games? Even with several million voters across the United States deprived of their vote Barak Obama won in 2012.  The same is true for a lot of local, state, and federal elections. The Republicans may feel they’re riding high at present but every year there are less and less of them in the overall population.  It would seem that compared to the rest of the population they are largely sterile.

 

November 4: Barack Obama elected President
November 4: Barack Obama elected President (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)