Tag Archives: presidential campaigns

Two Chances

The American people are confused, frustrated, and angry. They should be! The American political party system has failed them miserably, and the candidates for the Presidency have given them little reason for hope. Many Americans are throwing up their hands in disgust and turning away, saying they will vote for neither side. Their loathing of what they see in the election campaigns is understandable, but walking away resolves nothing. My father once told me that voting is an important, although sometimes feeble attempt at democracy, that should not be cast aside lightly. He was a firm believer in the right to vote even though he believed a vote or non-vote always resulted in the same two chances. That may sound paradoxical, but I can assure you, he knew what he was talking about.

I remember when I turned eighteen and registered to vote. That was the first and last time, my father asked me who I was voting for in an upcoming election. I tried to play cool and shoot the question back to him, “Who are you voting for?” He was not amused, and pressed me for an answer.  I tried my best, but I was so thoroughly uninformed and ignorant of the candidates and the issues that after about thirty seconds of incoherent rambling, he stopped me.  “You don’t gave a clue do you?” he said.  To him voting was a very serious matter, and for a voter, especially his son, not to take time to familiarize himself with the candidates and the issues severely pissed him off.   Dropping my head, I affirmed his suspicions, and steadied myself for a severe scolding. To my surprise, he didn’t say a word, but turned and walked into the house. My heart sank; I knew I had really messed up. However, a moment later he returned with a copy of The Hattiesburg American, which had recently run a special section on the candidates and the issues. He handed me the newspaper.

In those days, there was no internet, CNN, Fox News, talk radio, or Facebook with its political hearsay and conspiracies to fuel a person’s knowledge about elections. Everything a person knew about an election was learned by reading the newspaper, listening to the black and white television broadcast of the evening news with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, listening in on barber shop conversations, and occasionally being pointed in the right direction by the preacher on Sunday morning. Although my father paid attention to the politics he heard at the barber shop and in Church, he placed very little value on any of it unless it could be confirmed in the newspaper. Other than an occasional Louis L’Amour novel, my father was not an avid reader, but if it was printed in the newspaper, he read it and committed the gist of the story to memory. So, when he handed the newspaper to me, I knew he meant for me to read it and be prepared to continue the conversation in a more knowledgeable fashion at a later time.  I knew the next time he asked who I was voting for I had better know as well as why I was voting for that person.  If I couldn’t do both, he would not be as calm and forgiving.

The next afternoon we were sitting in the den watching an old movie, which we often did when he came home from work, when he asked if I had read the newspaper. On the screen of our 1969 RCA black and white television, Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan was wrestling a lion as his chimpanzee sidekick, Cheetah, threw twigs and pebbles at the beast presumably to help, but more likely to slyly agitate the lion. More interested in watching the movie than listening to what I expected to be a stern lecture on my responsibilities as a new voter, I mumbled I had, and he nodded his approval. “I still don’t know who I want to vote for though,” I said honestly, knowing he expected me to pick up the conversation. He didn’t say a word. “But,” I added, “I am leaning toward . . . .”

“Who you vote for is your business,” he interrupted.

“I thought you wanted to know?”

“All that matters is that you know,” he said.

“But, I don’t really know,” I said truthfully.

“That’s why I gave you the paper to read, so you can make a decision.”

“Yeah, but I’m more confused now.” From the corner of my eye, I saw Tarzan embrace Jane. A flash of female flesh momentarily stopped my breathing as the thin animal skin wrapped around her waist rode up her thigh revealing a purity and whiteness that rivaled the snows of Kilimanjaro that stood at attention above the steaming jungle around them. I don’t know if I would have said it if I had not been so distracted, but I did. I said the unthinkable. “I may not vote.”

“That’s stupid,” he said with unbelievable calmness. Maybe, it was his own orectic thoughts about Jane that kept him unruffled, I don’t know. I expected him to explode from his seat, dig his claws into the ceiling, and hurl crumbling plaster down on my irreverent head. He didn’t move except to sit up slightly and pump his fist when Tarzan released Jane and let fly his famous, distinctive, ululating yell of the victorious bull ape. That yell and Andy Griffith whistling the fishing hole song were two of my father’s favorite TV moments that always solicited a nostalgic “atta boy” sigh or “ATTA BOY!” fist pump. “Why wouldn’t you vote?” he asked, never taking his eyes off Tarzan swinging triumphantly into the distance from tree to tree.

“Because . . . I don’t want to make a mistake,” I said.

“The only mistake you can make is not voting,” he said and sipped his coffee.

“I don’t know,” I began hesitatingly. “I just don’t want to waste my vote.”

“I’m glad to hear that, but the only wasted vote is not voting.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“Son,” he said, “it’s like this. Take Tarzan for example. He has two chances. Either the vine he is swinging on is going to break, or it isn’t, but even if it breaks, he still has two chances. Either he breaks his neck, or he doesn’t. But, if he hangs on to the vine and yells loud enough, he increases his chances of making it to the next tree, but if he doesn’t do either, he doesn’t have a chance in hell of making it. He can even decide the vine is too risky, and that is okay because he still has two chances. Maybe, he can yell loud enough to make it to the next tree, and maybe, he can’t. Voting and politics are the same way. When it comes to politics and elections, you have two chances. You have two chances with your vote, and you have exactly the same two chances if you don’t vote. The only difference is by voting you slightly increase the odds things will turn out your way.”

“And, if they don’t,” I asked.

“You still have two chances,” he said. “I might vote for the right one and I might not. And, if I don’t vote right, I still have two chances. Things might turn out okay, and they might not. And, if things don’t turn out okay, I still have two chances. The country may go to hell in a hand basket, and it might not. And, if it does go to hell in a hand basket, I still have two chances. I might lose everything, and I might not. And, if I lose everything, I’ve still got two chances. I have my family and my friends. And, if I lose my family and friends, I still have two chances. I might die, and I might not. And, if I die, I still have two chances. So, what’s the big deal, vote for what you believe is right, and the odds are 50/50 you’ll get it right, and if you don’t, you still have two chances.”

“But, what if I’m wrong,” I asked.

“Then you have two chances,” he shrugged, and kicked back in his recliner as the movie end credits rolled over Johnny Weissmuller playing with Cheetah while Maureen O’Sullivan laughed happily at his side.

So, if there is anybody out there thinking about not voting because of all the political mess and shenanigans, please vote! As my father said, “The odds are 50/50 you’ll get it right, and if you don’t, you still have two chances.”

See you at the polls!

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD     March 12, 2016

A Political Shipwreck: The Scoop on the Presidential Candidates

I cannot remember a time when our choices for President of the United States have been more interesting or sadder.  What makes these candidates so sad is that none of them have the aptitude, desire, courage, or ability to unite America.  It is sad when the good of a political party outweighs the good of the people.  It is sad when a candidate runs for the Presidency without the experience or credentials to lead any nation much less the the most powerful nation on earth.  It is sad when a candidate runs for the Presidency out of a sense of entitlement and historical first.  It is sad when a candidate runs for the Presidency to impose his vision of conservatism and the agenda of one party on the people rather than representing all people equally.  It is sad when a candidate for the Presidency has nothing to offer the people other than a temporary outlet for their frustrations with a bankrupt political system.  It is sad when high school student council elections have more substance and dignity than a Presidential  campaign.  It is sad when the deck of Presidential candidates is filled with nothing but jokers.  It is sad when candidates are reduced to school boy name calling because they have nothing better to say.  It is sad The United States of America has come to this!

I don’t mean to offend, but this is how I see the campaigns for the Presidency:

Observation #1:          So far, the Presidential campaigns have been little more than a study of egomaniacs with more interest in being The President of the United States of American than being The President of the people of the United States of America.

Observation #2:         If the Presidential debates are an indicator of what is to come, we are in for either four more years of unwavering disconnect, or at best a self-promoting president running the country by the seat of his pants.

Observation #3:          A short synopsis of presidential campaigns:

  1. Hillary Clinton runs a campaign based on entitlement;
  2. Bernie Sanders’ runs a campaign based on eliminating the 1% greedy and creating the 99% greedy;
  3. Donald Trump runs a campaign based on how marvelous and rich he is as well as how tall he will build a wall between the United States and Mexico;
  4. Ted Cruz runs a campaign based on a vision of conservatism built in his image; he has yet to understand that America is comprised of both conservatives and liberals with the vast majority falling somewhere in between;
  5. Marco Rubio runs a campaign based on inexperience and school boy good looks;
  6. Ben Carson runs a campaign based on the legend of “these hands,” which is more suited for a USA feel good movie than practical application to running a nation; and
  7. John Kasich runs a campaign based on some solid ideas that no one will give the time of day.

Observation #4:          Democrats seem confident they cannot lose the election as long as they look and act more civilized and presidential than the Republicans, which is not hard to do.

Observation #5:          It is time someone told Hillary Clinton to unsaddle Barack Obama and leave that dead horse in the ditch, or face the possibility of an elephant squatting on her face come January 2017.

Observation #6:          People continue to fall in love with Donald Trump as their choice for the Republican nomination because he has brought new energy to an otherwise bland and broken political machine. If the Democrats don’t find a way to counter that enthusiasm with some gusto of their own, the Republican, Common Joe, love-in for Trump could very well sweep into the White House in 2017.

Observation #7:          The media frenzy and public enthusiasm generated by Republican showboating, excursions into self-love, and the ridiculous seem to play perfectly into the mindset of today’s society.

Observation #8:          The Democrats have two viable candidates for the Presidency – one that might win and one that most likely can’t win.

Observation #9:          The Republicans have five candidates for the Presidency – all card carrying members of the circus sideshow.

Observation #10:          At some point, the Democratic Party may have to decide if the writing is on the wall for Hillary or for the Democratic Party;

Observation #11:        So far, in the Presidential campaigns the more a candidate confirms his love for himself, the higher his ratings soar, which simply proves that Americans struggle to tell the difference between arrogance and substance

Observation #12:        People dismiss Bernie Sanders as  Socialist, but at least he stands for something.  What do any of the others truly stand for?  The only other candidate who is even close to being steadfast in what he believes is Ted Cruz, and he speaks almost solely for conservatism molded in his image.  Hillary Clinton is riding on the coat tails of her husband and Brack Obama; she has probably never had an original thought in her life.  Donald Trump talks out both sides of his mouth and reverses himself more often than the wind.  Marco Rubio can’t get out of a rut whether it is repetitive talking points or name calling; how far will either get him when he is sitting across the table from Putin or North Korea.  There is no doubt Ben Carson is a smart man, but how much respect can a man who struggles to keep his eyes open,  constantly wrings his hands, and speaks with little authority command in the nation and around world.  Finally, John Kasich may make the best sense of all the candidates, but unfortunately, he doesn’t have the Presudential look and swagger to carry him to the White House.

Of course, these are simply my observations, but I honestly believe most people will agree that the current political climate in the United States reeks of mental disorder and a bad television sitcom.  The dribble the Democrat and Republican candidates are presently feeding the American people is a disgrace to all Americans.  To date, the candidates for the Presidency of the United States have run campaigns that are self-serving at best.  They have effectively turned their parties and the Presidential election into a world wide spectacle of what is wrong with America.  I am sad to think the Presidency has become a joke for late night television and the world.  If that offends anyone, please encourage your favorite candidate to prove me and more likely millions of other Americans who feel the same way, wrong.  Forgive me, if I do not hold my breath while waiting.  I don’t mean to offend, but . . . .

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD     February 24, 2017