Donald Trump’s GOP Is Built On Sand

By William F. B. O’Reilly

This column can be found on Newsday website dated July 20, 2016

It’s bizarre watching the Republican National Convention on TV and rooting for the podium to break free of its moorings or for the lights to go out or — can you imagine? — for a speaker to get caught plagiarizing in a prime-time address.

Typically in a presidential year, I’d be on the convention floor working. I’d be the guy knuckling back tears at the veterans’ speeches, nodding at talk of “one America” and listening for perspicacious new themes to take home to clients.

Thursday night, I’ll be praying for Donald Trump to go off teleprompter, to start talking about his hands again — about bosoms or germs or Vladimir Putin — anything to remind Americans how unfit he is to be president.

It won’t happen. Trump will give an expertly crafted populist speech that will likely put him ahead in the battleground states.

The speech writes itself: Defense of police officers, Islamic terrorism, Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, greedy Washington insiders and the forgotten working-class American. A hundred bucks says it includes Benghazi and Clinton’s 2008 “3 a.m.” TV spot, as it should.

Unless Trump completely breaks character — he hasn’t in 30 years — there will be no humility and no contrition. Not even for his belittling of Sen. John McCain being shot down over Hanoi.

It stings to see faces at the convention who should know better than to be there. But there is solace in the rows of empty chairs. In them lies hope for eventual Republican Party renewal and survival. I see a future leader in every vacant seat.

This new GOP doesn’t see it that way. There are murmurs of a party purge.

Ivanka Trump told ABC News that no-shows “don’t want to be part of the future.” Trump, 34, couldn’t vote for her father in April’s New York primary. She wasn’t a registered Republican.

It’s excruciating to listen to the intermingling in Cleveland of sound conservative principles with the shifting sands of populism. They are being carelessly mixed in a bucket as the foundation of a new party that cannot last.

“A man’s house which is built on a foundation of rock will endure, but a man’s house which is built on a foundation of sand will be destroyed,” Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount. Even then it was a reminder.

A party founded on the principle of equal rights under the law cannot bind with a nativist movement and survive.

A party that claims to believe in economic freedom, personal responsibility and constitutional limits on power cannot long sustain a standard-bearer who thinks nothing of walking away from debts, who favors trade barriers and who boasts that he’ll make U.S. military leaders commit crimes.

That’s what I’ll be reminding myself of during Thursday’s balloon drop. It’s why I won’t be taking home a balloon for my youngest daughter this year.

Republicans and conservatives who refuse to rationalize Trump’s candidacy are a lonely lot right now. But wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it, as Tolstoy put it. And two wrongs still don’t make a right. The looming and disagreeable prospect of a President Hillary Clinton makes Trump no less reckless and unfit for the presidency.

Millions of Americans can no more bear the prospect of voting for Clinton than they can of pulling the lever for Trump. They aren’t wrong. Neither candidate feels right for the presidency because neither candidate is right for the presidency.

That presents a giant opening for former governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, the Libertarian Party candidates for president and vice president.

It’s a place where millions of us can go after the conventions, and not hate ourselves in the morning.

William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.

 

Love This Op-Ed On What Really Makes The U.S. Great!

Here’s an op-ed I noticed in the New York Post by John Podhoretz with a very important message to Americans – a message too many people fail to understand – but the perfect message during this week we celebrate our independence. This column gives me hope at a time we are forced to watch a negative and embarrassing presidential campaign that troubles millions of Americans – from Democrats to Republicans – as we ask, “Aren’t we better than this?”

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator in New York)

It’s not our leaders who make America great

New York Post – July 3, 2016

President Gerald Ford sat aboard the USS Forrestal as the watercraft paraded before him along with more than half a million people.

And everywhere you looked, there was an American flag.

This was no small thing. It is almost unimaginable today, but in 1976 in many quarters, the flag had gone out of fashion except as an ironic fashion statement — something you sewed onto the rear pocket of your jeans, so that it was sat upon.

At my tony Manhattan private school, the bicentennial was celebrated with a day-long symposium titled “The American Dream: Has It Turned Into a Nightmare?”

The country was in a bad mood for good reason. Fifty-eight thousand Americans died in a war that ended with our countrymen scurrying onto helicopters from the roof of the Saigon embassy as the city fell to the Communists.

A president re-elected with 61 percent of the vote was compelled to resign because he and his people tried to bug the rival party’s headquarters.

Crime and inflation were on the rise everywhere. Arab potentates forced us into endless gas lines through an illegal embargo — an act of economic warfare — and we did nothing about it.

New York City, the world’s financial capital, went broke.

America felt like it was in decline because it was in decline. America felt bad about itself because the leading figures of its culture and its politics had lost confidence in the American experiment of its culture and its politics, and there was no one speaking up for it.

But our collective self-abasement in the 1970s did not reflect the deeper truth about the United States, even with the United States at a low ebb. On that day of the tall ships, we saw our country again as it was and is — the shining city on a hill, the last best hope of Earth.

On the cusp of Independence Day 2016, America remains what it has always been — the greatest and most far-reaching political experiment in human history. But as it enters its 241st year, there are few of us who really feel it.

The spirit of the left was captured over the past year by Bernie Sanders, who has almost nothing good to say about the current condition of the United States and claims the country is being destroyed by inequality.

The spirit of the anti-left has been captured by Donald Trump, who claims the country is no longer great and needs him to make it great again. The Republican Party has spent the years of Barack Obama’s presidency characterizing them as a cataclysm from which we may never recover.

In so doing, they followed the Democrats, who spent the Bush years characterizing them as a cataclysm from which we would never recover.

Obama came into office belittling the idea of American “exceptionalism,” but now would wish people thought the country great because he’s led it for the past 7½ years.

Hillary Clinton wants people to think America was great when her husband was president, stopped being great when he stopped being president, got pretty great when her party took over again, but still needs her either to restore Clintonian greatness or reach new greatness or whatever you want just so long as she can be in the White House again.

The point here is that America has been getting it from all sides for the past 15 years. At different times and for different reasons, everyone has had an interest in painting things black.

And it’s an enormous wrong that’s being done here, an offense against the truth.

America is not great because of its leaders, who change, or because of the ideology they espouse, because that changes too as the views of the electorate change. America’s greatness has to do with the way it is organized. The central figure in the United States is the person. The central figure in the United States is you.

In the United States, according to the astounding document that was signed in Philadelphia 240 years ago tomorrow, it is “self evident” that “all men are created equal,” and that they have “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The adjective “unalienable” has tripped up schoolchildren forever, but it is the core word of the United States of America. It means that these are rights that cannot be taken away. They are part of what it means to be human. Efforts to take them away or abuse them are acts of tyranny.

It is impossible to grasp just how radical an idea this was in 1776 — and how radical an idea it is now, in 2016. Indeed, it was so radical in 1776 that it could not be fully implemented, with African-Americans remaining enslaved for another 87 years and women remaining without the franchise until 1920.

And it remains so radical now that we continue to fight political battles daily over efforts by government to abridge our unalienable rights at home, while abroad billions still live without rudimentary versions of the freedoms we enjoy.

Perhaps the most important freedom we enjoy is to practice our faiths. Outside the US, Christians are facing near-systematic elimination in Muslim lands while in China, the world’s largest country, believers of all kinds (Tibetan Buddhists especially) “continue to face arrests, fines, denials of justice, lengthy prison sentences and, in some cases, the closing or bulldozing of places of worship,” according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Because the United States is made up of human beings, and human beings are flawed, it is a flawed country and always has been. But due to another flaw in human nature — our strange desire to concentrate on the negative and avoid counting our blessings — American politics, culture and our education system have come to dwell on the dark side as much today as they did in 1976.

The history we teach our kids is a history of injustices and infamies — without the corresponding understanding that to a degree unknown anywhere in the world, America is self-correcting.

Indeed, self-correction is woven into its DNA. That is why the Constitution itself allows the amending of the constitution — to fix the document’s flaws and extend the nation’s blessings (and obligations) to those denied them at the time of the founding.

The preamble to the US Constitution explains its purpose is to “secure these blessings for ourselves and our posterity.” Since the Constitution is not fixed in amber and can be amended, the act of securing these blessings for ourselves and those who follow us has remained an obligation for every American from that day forward to this.

It’s not just the Constitution. We self-correct every year, through elections at the local, state and national levels that give us the power to change the country’s direction when that direction leads us so terribly astray. In 1976, four months after the tall ships, the country sought to purify its corrupted politics by electing Jimmy Carter, a former Georgia governor untainted by Washington scandals who promised, “I will never lie to you” as president.

When Carter proved to be alternately hapless and feckless in addressing the country’s financial and international ailments, we changed direction again four years later by electing Ronald Reagan, who vowed to attempt radically different cures for our ailments. Within a decade, the US economy had exploded and the Berlin Wall had fallen.

Our freedoms reside within us. That is the message of America. They are a part of us. Indeed, according to the philosophy that created this country, they reside within every living person on Earth.

But exercising our freedoms — now, that’s a different story. We have the precious gift in this country of exercising them pretty much at will. And that means too many of us have come to take them for granted.

We do so in part because we are human, and we are flawed. But we are also seduced into thinking our birthright as Americans is not what it truly is — the most precious gift any group of people has ever enjoyed. We are told that unless we get this, or get that, or get the other thing, the country is failing us.

We are seduced in this way by political and cultural leaders who seek either to harness our anger or generate it to use as a weapon against their rivals.

The luckiest people on Earth are the people who are born Americans, or who become Americans.

That’s what we all instinctively understood, 40 years ago, when we saw the masts of those tall ships sail into the harbor as they passed by Lady Liberty — her lamp lifted, as it has been since she was placed there in 1886, beside the golden door.

 

I can’t vote for Trump

I think of myself as a pro-freedom Republican. This means I seek to expand freedom and liberty in forming public policy positions. I support capitalism and wish to advance free markets and free trade; lower taxes, controlled government spending and reformed tax code that roots out corporate welfare; strong national defense and support of our military; protection of the personal liberties enshrined in the Constitution (in particular the First Amendment which is under assault); people living their lives free from discrimination; immigration reform that provides a path to legality or citizenship; healthy environment with clean air and clean water; and protection of private property rights (including opposing eminent domain abuse). I’m concerned about our privacy rights being trampled by government security efforts. Bernie Sanders is correct that the system is rigged for elites, but he’s incorrect on the cause – it’s the massive growth of the federal and some state governments (like New York) that lead to policies that greatly favor wealthy and powerful elites.

Because of these views, I cannot vote for Donald Trump in the primary or general election. On top of being rude and vulgar, Trump is wrong on immigration, civil rights, civil liberties, trade, economics, foreign policy, entitlement reform and other issues. His mean and dumb comments about people I respect like John McCain and Megyn Kelly are way beyond the acceptable give and take by candidates in campaigns.

To explain further, I will rely on the paragraph below (with excellent links) from a recent post on The Volokh Conspiracy blog by Ilya Somin entitled “Time to Unite Against Trump.”

“I will only highlight a few of The Donald’s lowlights. Trump openly advocates massacring innocent civilians. He wants to use bogus lawsuits and FCC censorship to suppress the speech of his critics, and recently pined for the “old days” when his supporters would have been allowed to beat protesters to the point where they have to [be] “carried out on a stretcher.” He has lobbied for the government to condemn a widow’s home so he could use it to build a casino parking lot. He has utter contempt for constitutional property rights, and other constitutional limitations on government power. He wants to deport millions of people to lives of Third World poverty and oppression, including hundreds of thousands of children born in the United States, who have never known any other home. And he would engage in massive discrimination on the basis of religion.”

The polls show I’m not alone, as a significant percent of Republicans will not vote for Trump in the general election. Because of Trump’s professed views and bullying personality, I can’t be part of helping him obtain the powers of the presidency – it’s a frightening proposition. I will be watching closely over the next few months to see if my fellow Republicans are wise enough to select a better candidate than Donald Trump (while watching Trump nemesis Megyn Kelly each night on Fox News).

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator)

Cruz Robocall Reaches New Low

confed flagThere’s been shameful moments for candidates from both parties in the presidential campaign, but Thursday night’s Ted Cruz robocall attacking Donald Trump & Gov. Nikki Haley for taking down the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina is a disgrace. We can expect that Cruz campaign hacks will say they can’t control their friendly Super PACs, but that’s hard to believe. This incident proves that Cruz is not president material. Let’s be clear – South Carolina elected officials debated this sensitive issue and decided to take down the flag in a democratic and legislative manner. The issue is resolved. With Cruz making it an issue again, it just proves once again how divisive and extremist he truly is. The Cruz campaign is now manipulating the racial aspects of this issue and should be ashamed. See link on more about robocall.  http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/pro-cruz-robocall-attacks-trump-over-south-carolina-confederate-flag-n522131

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator)

It’s Election Day – Please Vote – Let Your Voice Be Heard!

ballotboxI’m always shocked at how few voters show up at the polls on Election Day in odd years. In today’s elections here in New York, it’s doubtful whether 30% of the registered voters will turnout. In my county, we’ll be electing county legislators and elected officials for cities, towns and villages. We’re electing the representatives who are closest to the people. They will decide important matters like annual budgets, tax increases, zoning, economic development and services like road repairs, garbage pickup and leaf removal. These local officials regularly make real decisions that affect our everyday lives, but sadly, a large majority of voters just don’t seem to care. And on top of the low voting rate, there will be many voters today that have not studied the candidates and are not informed about the issues they are debating, so they will just vote the party line. There are places in my county where only one party has won every election for every position for decades (usually the Democrats). If we don’t all play an active and informed role in picking our leaders, we will have governments that are less responsive to our needs and hopes for what our communities can and should be.

We started this blog with the hope of increasing voter information through nonpartisan posts about the issues. While we hoped to post more regularly, we’re pleased about our “hits” and more than 4,000 Twitter followers (Link: https://twitter.com/FreeVoterBlog). We recognize that our little blog cannot fix the voting problems discussed above, but we’re going to keep trying.

Most importantly, please vote today, and beginning tomorrow, try to become more informed about the issues being debated in our local, county, state and federal governments. Our communities will be better served by a genuine participatory democracy.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator)

Do both political parties have a libertarian streak?

I enjoyed this post on Reason.com by Nick Gillespie:

https://reason.com/blog/2015/10/13/the-demdebate-clarified-that-many-libert

LibertariansGillespie points out how the Democrat candidates for president agreed on several issues that could be deemed libertarian: “When it came to endless wars and constant buildup of defense spending, for instance, or the need to end awful criminal-justice policies, or to be more humane and welcoming to immigrants.” He contrasted these positions with the Republican candidates, which are very weak from a libertarian perspective.

However, Gillespie still cannot bring himself to vote for any of the Democrats because the “economic plans of everyone up there tonight ranged from terrible to truly awful.” He discusses how the Republicans were more libertarian on economic issues.

Gillespie is pleased that “each party is espousing an increasing number of positions that fit within a consistent libertarian approach to the role of government.”

I certainly appreciate Gillespie’s viewpoint and continue to believe that if a libertarian leaning candidate could ever emerge from the Democrat or Republican presidential primaries, he or she would be unbeatable in the general election. However, with the frustrating status quo of American politics being left-wing voters dominating Democrat primaries and right-wing voters dominating Republican primaries, we don’t appear too close to electing a libertarian president any time soon.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

Who’s Running for President in 2016?

Believe it or not, now that we hit 2015, serious candidates for president in 2016 will need to get their campaigns rolling. Who’s running you ask? Well, since it’s an open seat, all I can say is a whole bunch of people. Thanks to the website www.politics1.com, below is a list of potential candidates for both parties with social media links.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

 

DEMOCRATIC PARTY:

Joe Biden Vice President Joe Biden (Delaware)
Government Site: Office of Vice President Joe Biden
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoeBiden
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JoeBiden

Hillary Clinton Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (New York)
Campaign Site: HillaryClinton.com
Independent PAC Site: ReadyForHillary.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/HillaryClinton

Joe Manchin US Senator Joe Manchin (West Virginia)
Campaign Site: JoeManchinWV.com
Government Site: Office of US Senator Joe Manchin
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoeManchinIII
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JoeManchinWV

Martin O'Malley Governor Martin O’Malley (Maryland)
PAC Site: O’Say Can You See PAC
Government Site: Office of Governor Martin O’Malley
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MartinOMalley
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovernorOMalley

Bernie Sanders US Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont)
Campaign Site: Bernie.org
Government Site: Office of US Senator Bernie Sanders
Facebook (Campaign): www.facebook.com/FriendsOfBernie
Facebook (Official): www.facebook.com/SenatorSanders
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenSanders

Elizabeth Warren US Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts)
Campaign Site: ElizabethWarren.com
Government Site: Office of US Senator Elizabeth Warren
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElizabethWarren
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ElizabethForMA

Jim Webb Former US Senator Jim Webb (Virginia)
Campaign Site: Webb2016.com
Official Site: JamesWebb.com
PAC Site: Born Fighting PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/IHeardMyCountryCalling
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JimWebbUSA

REPUBLICAN PARTY:

Marsha Blackburn Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee)
Campaign Site: MarshaBlackburn.com
Government Site: Office of Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MarshaBlackburnForCongress
Twitter: www.twitter.com/VoteMarsha

John Bolton Former UN Ambassador John Bolton (Maryland)
PAC Site: Bolton PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmbBolton
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmbJohnBolton

Jan Brewer Former Governor Jan Brewer (Arizona)
PAC Site: Jan PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovJanBrewer
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovBrewer

Jeb Bush Former Governor Jeb Bush (Florida)
Organization: Foundation for Excellence in Education
Organization: Foundation for Florida’s Future
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JebBush
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JebBush

Ben Carson Dr. Ben Carson (Maryland)
Official Site: RealBenCarson.com
PAC Site: American Legacy PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DrBenjaminCarson
Twitter: www.twitter.com/RealBenCarson

Chris Christie Governor Chris Christie (New Jersey)
Government Site: Office of Governor Chris Christie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovChrisChristie
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovChristie

Bob Corker US Senator Bob Corker (Tennessee)
Political Site: BobCorker.com
Government Site: Office of US Senator Bob Corker
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BobCorker
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenBobCorker

Ted Cruz US Senator Ted Cruz (Texas)
Campaign Site: TedCruz.org
Government Site: Office of US Senator Ted Cruz
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TedCruzPage
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TedCruz

Carly Fiorina Businesswoman Carly Fiorina (Virginia)
Official Site: CarlyFiorina.com
PAC Site: Unlocking Potential PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CarlyFiorina
Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarlyFiorina

Jim Gilmore Former Governor Jim Gilmore (Virginia)
PAC Site: Growth PAC
Think Tank: American Opportunity
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JimGilmore
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovernorGilmore

Lindsey Graham US Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
Political Site: LindseyGraham.com
Government Site: Office of US Senator Lindsey Graham
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LindseyGrahamSC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LindseyGrahamSC

Mike Huckabee Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (Florida)
Official Site: MikeHuckabee.com
PAC Site: HuckPAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MikeHuckabee
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovMikeHuckabee

Bobby Jindal Governor Bobby Jindal (Louisiana)
Campaign Site: BobbyJindal.com
PAC Site: Stand Up To Washington PAC
Government Site: Office of Governor Bobby Jindal
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BobbyJindal
Twitter: www.twitter.com/BobbyJindal

John Kasich Governor John Kasich (Ohio)
Campaign Site: JohnKasich.com
Government Site: Office of Governor John Kasich
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JohnRKasich
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnKasich

Pete King Congressman Pete King (New York)
Campaign Site: PeteKing.com
PAC Site: American Leadership Now PAC
Government Site: Office of Congressman Pete King
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RepPeteKing
Twitter: www.twitter.com/RepPeteKing

George Pataki Former Governor George Pataki (New York)
Think Tank: George Pataki Center
Business Site: Pataki-Cahill Group
Facebook: www.facebook.com/George.E.Pataki

Rand Paul US Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky)
Campaign Site: RandPaul2016.com
PAC Site: Rand PAC
Government Site: Office of US Senator Rand Paul
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SenatorRandPaul
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenRandPaul

Mike Pence Governor Mike Pence (Indiana)
Campaign Site: MikePence.com
Government Site: Office of Governor Mike Pence
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MikePence
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovPenceIN

Rick Perry Governor Rick Perry (Texas)
Campaign Site: RickPerry.org
PAC Site: RickPAC
Government Site: Office of Governor Rick Perry
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorPerry
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovernorPerry

Mitt Romney Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (California)
Campaign Site: MittRomney.com
PAC Site: Restore Our Future PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MittRomney
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MittRomney

Marco Rubio US Senator Marco Rubio (Florida)
Campaign Site: MarcoRubio.com
PAC Site: Reclaim America PAC
Government Site: Office of US Senator Marco Rubio
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MarcoRubio
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarcoRubio

Paul Ryan Congressman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin)
Campaign Site: RyanForCongress.com
PAC Site: Prosperity PAC
Government Site: Office of Congressman Paul Ryan
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Ryan4Congress
Twitter: www.twitter.com/PRyan

Rick Scott Governor Rick Scott (Florida)
Campaign Site: RickScottForFlorida.com
Government Site: Office of Governor Rick Scott
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ScottForFlorida
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ScottforFlorida

Rick Santorum Former US Senator Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania)
Campaign Site: RickSantorum.com
PAC Site: Patriot Voices PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RickSantorum
Twitter: www.twitter.com/RickSantorum

Rick Snyder Governor Rick Snyder (Michigan)
Campaign Site: RickForMichigan.com
Government Site: Office of Governor Rick Snyder
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorRickSnyder
Twitter: www.twitter.com/OneToughNerd

Scott Walker Governor Scott Walker (Wisconsin)
Campaign Site: ScottWalker.org
Government Site: Office of Governor Scott Walker
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ScottWalkerForGovernor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ScottKWalker

Too Many People Only Checking News Sources They Agree With

Sources News Pew

We started the Free Voter Blog because we are troubled by too many people getting their news only from sources promoting their political views – liberals only checking liberal websites and conservatives only checking conservative websites. Too many Americans are not speaking to each other about the issues of the day and are not even open to debate. We believe this is bad for our democracy. It’s absurd to think that either the left wing or right wing is correct on every issue. That’s why the goal of the Free Voter Blog is to help stimulate a free and independent electorate. When people tell us they only vote straight Democrat or Republican, we believe this is an admission that they didn’t put much effort into following the issues and evaluating the candidates on the ballot. We can teach a four-year-old to just fill in the circles across only one party’s line on Election Day.

That’s why we found the above chart in the USA Today so interesting. It demonstrates how people are only following the news they politically agree with. The data comes from a thoughtful study conducted by the Pew Research Center, which found that, “When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds.” Here’s the link to this excellent Pew Research Center study:  www.journalism.org/2014/10/21/political-polarization-media-habits

Therefore, the Free Voter Blog, which discusses issues in an open-minded and nonpartisan way, certainly fills an important need in our nation’s political discourse. Please join us for a more independent debate of the issues we face – everyone is invited!

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

New York’s Disappearing Voters

download

During my lifetime, for the even years when we are not voting for president but voting for such important officials like Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, US Senate, Congress, State Senate and State Assembly, New York State’s voter turnout of registered voters has been cut in half. Yes, when I was a little 3-year-old back in 1966, the voter turnout for those that chose a Governor in an exciting four-way race between Nelson Rockefeller (Republican), Frank O’Connor (Democrat), Paul Adams (Conservative) and Franklin Deleno Roosevelt Jr. (Liberal) was over 60%. Our recent race between Andrew Cuomo (Democrat), Rob Astorino (Republican) and Howie Hawkins (Green) had the lowest turnout election watchers can remember – about 31% of registered voters. See chart above for voter turnout in Governor election years since 1966. (Note: it’s possible turnout from 1966 to 1990 was a bit higher as it was difficult to track down the exact data, but I believe my percents are good estimates).

It’s shocking that so many New Yorkers are failing to respect their civic duty to let their voices be heard on Election Day. We can all speculate about the reasons for this massive drop in voting: negative campaigns, people turned off by modern day politics or working too hard/no time to vote, so many uncontested races, or New York’s embarrassing political corruption. But frankly, as a very busy person who always finds time to study the candidates and make it to the polls, there is just no excuse for failing to vote.  Less than one-third of New York’s registered voters just picked our federal and state elected representatives. As a comparison, North Carolina, which did have massive amounts of money spent on one of the featured US Senate races, had a 44% turnout. I worked on Governor George Pataki’s exciting victory in 1994 and that campaign had a much more respectable turnout of 53%. Election Day 2014 was not a victory for democracy in New York State.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

What Mid-Term Elections Tell Us

republican-democrat

What the mid-term elections tell us this year (as well as during past years) is that the electorate as a whole does not like policies on either extreme of the political spectrum.  When the President’s party over-reaches or pushes policies too far to the left or right, the mid-term elections have a way of pulling back towards the middle.  This is an example of democracy at work.  The elected officials in Congress and President Obama would be wise to try to reach compromise where they can and enact policies in a united manner for the good of the country.  Hopefully, both sides realize this as the country needs the President and Congress to work together at this critical time for our country.

BG@FreeVoter.com

Some Advice To President and Congress

republican-democrat

The press events by President Obama and congressional leaders this week after Election Day demonstrate the tension between Democrats and Republicans in DC, not that this is any surprise, yet it was troubling the President still claims he will bypass Congress by using his alleged executive authority to reform our flawed immigration system. While there is little doubt that immigration reform has been delayed too long – including both a path to citizenship for the tens of millions of illegal residents and better border security – serious legal, political and policy questions exist as to whether this is a thoughtful action by the President. He appears inconsistent after speaking throughout the week about the need for cooperation and bipartisanship. President Obama needs to be more respectful of Tuesday’s election results as a New York Times analysis of the exit polls found:

“Just two years after Mr. Obama’s re-election, the midterm results underscored just how far he has fallen in the public mind. Nearly six out of 10 voters on Tuesday expressed negative feelings about his administration, according to exit polls. For every two voters who said they had cast ballots to support Mr. Obama, three said they were voting to express their opposition to him. The electorate was deeply pessimistic about the country, with seven out of 10 describing the economy as not so good or poor and eight out of 10 expressing worry about the direction of the economy in the next year.”

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans should end the victory lap and roll up their sleeves for serious governing over the next two years. Despite the GOP’s success in the 2010 midterm elections, the 2012 elections brought major losses, and they may face similar losses in 2016 if they are deemed to be the cause of further gridlock and partisanship. There is only one path to 2016 GOP election success and that is governing in a bipartisan and cooperative manner, and the GOP must work better with President Obama. Yes, it will be difficult as the President’s record on bipartisan governance is weak. In watching the President over the last 6 years, it often appears that his definition of bipartisanship is that he proposes a law and the Republicans should just vote for it – see Obamacare. Regardless, if the Republicans want 2016 success, GOP congressional leaders MUST govern in an open, inclusive and bipartisan way for two important reasons:

1)  The US Senate map is much more difficult for the GOP in 2016. Republicans will be defending 24 Senate seats in 2016 (and the Democrats just 10), and those states include Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Florida – all won by President Obama twice.

2) The 2016 presidential election will be tough for the GOP.  A CNN article explains how both parties now have a “wall” of states that are reliable in presidential elections. The Democrat “Blue Wall” is 18 states and DC equaling 242 electoral votes. The Republican “Red Wall” is 22 states equaling 179 electoral votes. This, of course, is an enormous edge for the Democrat candidate since it takes 270 to win. Republicans will need an impressive record of results and bipartisan governing over the next two years to have any hope of competing in the states included in the Democrat’s “Blue Wall.”

So here’s my advice to the President and Congress – Tuesday’s election results clearly demonstrate that the country wants you to govern together in a cooperative and bipartisan manner. If Republicans or Democrats fail to accept this advice, you will be punished at the polls by the voters in 2016 – they are giving you a two year test, so good luck!

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

Nate Silver’s Blog’s Final US Senate Predictions

US-CAPITOLAt 12:01 on Election Day morning, Nate Silver and his election prognosticators at the FIVETHIRTYEIGHT Blog posted, “Republicans have a 76.2% chance of winning a majority” of the US Senate (the blog predicted all 50 states correctly in the 2012 presidential election). See link for its 2014 Senate Forecast.

You will notice that 7 races are still close – here are the ones to watch:

  • Kansas – Roberts (R) vs Orman (I) – dead even!
  • North Carolina – Hagan (D) +1% over Tillis (R)
  • Iowa – Ernst (R) +2% over Braley (D)
  • Colorado – Gardner (R) +2% over Udall (D)
  • Alaska – Sullivan (R) +2% over Begich (D)
  • Georgia – Perdue (R) +2% over Nunn (D)
  • New Hampshire – Shaheen (D) +2% over Brown (R)

In both Louisiana and Arkansas the Republican candidates are favored by 5%, so let’s figure they go that way. So it looks like the Republicans go into Election Day leading the Democrats in senate seats 48 to 45. Therefore, Republicans need to win 3 of the 7 swing races to get to 51 and take control of the senate. The Democrats need to win 5 of the 7 swing seats to get to 50 and control the senate because the Vice President breaks tie votes.

I hope this analysis is helpful as you watch the returns when the polls close. Most importantly, PLEASE VOTE!

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

Bramson’s Election Musings – Viewer Guide

By Noam BramsonVoting 2014

I don’t watch much TV — Game of Thrones, Top Chef on DVR.  That’s about it.  So I’ve been pretty disconnected from the ongoing campaign, which is playing out primarily in 30 second advertisements.  Then the other day, I turned on the box for a few minutes.

Whoa!

Heated charges, ominous voice-overs, dire warnings that the end cometh if Candidate X somehow attains public office.

There’s nothing new about this.  We get it every election nowadays, and I was up to my ears in it myself when I ran for County office last year.  But it gets worse with each cycle, as more money gets poured into the process.

It’s easy to understand why so many people feel disgusted by it all and swear off politics entirely.  But if you want to be a responsible citizen in a democracy, that’s not a good option, so I got to thinking about how to sort through these ads and determine which are worth our attention.

First, step back for a moment and consider how, in an idealized world, we would cast our votes.  In this fantasy scenario, every one of us would have perfect knowledge of how the election of one candidate or another would shape the actions of our government, we would be able to predict with perfect accuracy the consequences of our vote, and then we would cast ballots in order to best advance our own interests and values.  In other words, we’d behave like rational actors in classic economics theory.

Well, even if such perfect knowledge were attainable (and it’s not), who has the time?  So, in the real world, we use short-cuts.  We vote for the candidate who belongs to our party, or the candidate who was more cogent in a debate, or the candidate we met at the supermarket, or the candidate who seems like less of a jerk.  All those 30-second ads are aimed at influencing our shorthand, sometimes emotional, impulses.

And the more I reflected on those ads, the more I concluded that the usual standards for judging them — whether they are positive or negative, whether they are nasty or polite, even whether they are 100% truthful or cut some corners with the facts — kind of miss the point.

The better standard is whether an ad moves us closer to or farther away from that ideal, perfect understanding.  Does it connect our vote to future actions and consequences, or does it draw our attention away from future actions and consequences.  In short, does the ad clarify our real choice, or does it insteadobscure our real choice?

How can you tell one from the other?  There’s no foolproof method, but there are a couple of tests that make sense to me.

One, is the ad mainly about who a candidate is or mainly about what a candidate has done and will do?  Anyone can make claims about character, pro or con, and such claims rarely have much to do with the responsibilities of an office-holder.  Give more weight to ads that focus on deeds and plans.

And, two, is the ad about consequential topics or about minor side subjects?   If you’re on the wrong side of the big issues, you try to make the election a referendum on the trivial.  So beware of ads that focus on second or third rank nonsense with short-term emotional punch and no long-term relevance.

Apply these tests, and ads can start to look very different.  A nasty commercial that goes after Candidate X for positions on important public policy may be unpleasant, but it can help clarify our choices.  A gauzy, upbeat commercial featuring the testimonials of Candidate Y’s family may be nice, but it can obscure our choices.

Of course, a lot of this is a matter of opinion.  It would be hard, for example, for a media outlet to subject political ads to an objective clarity-meter, like the more familiar (and largely ineffectual) truth-meters.  But I still find this to be a helpful framework for my own use, and maybe it will be helpful for you, too.

So next time you see an ad for or against a politician, before deciding whether you agree or disagree with the position expressed, before deciding whether the ad leads you to think better or worse of the candidates, ask yourself a more basic question: does the topic of the ad even matter in the first place.  Does it matter to your life, to your family’s life, or the life of your community and country.

If the answer is no, then tune it out.  And if enough of us do just that, it won’t necessarily make our politics less nasty or less polarized, but it might make our politics more relevant, and that would be a step forward.

Guest Blogger Noam Bramson is the Mayor of New Rochelle

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Vote on Nov. 4!

A friend sent me a text today, “If it weren’t for Facebook, I’d have no idea we were having an election this year.”

At first, I thought she was kidding or making a statement about her feed being overrun by political posts.

But she went on to explain that she doesn’t watch a lot of television or get the local paper and most of her day is spent transferring kids from school to activities (read the Monster of Youth Sports here on Free Voter). Checking Facebook on her iPhone is an easy way to spend her waiting time. And, apparently, it’s where she’s learning about these off-year elections.

A few things interested me about this:

1. As a female voter living in a highly contested seat for NY State Senate, she said that she didn’t receive  mailings or phone calls. This is odd because many other people have stated just the opposite – too many calls and too much mail.

2. She also said that she likes the mailings and always reads them. Hmm. Go figure. So many people tend to complain about the mailings, not only the sheer volume of them, but also the content.  Maybe the whole world isn’t as cynical as I thought. Maybe people really do still read….

3. ….just not any local papers. This is a huge issue not just for political campaigns, but for everything that impacts our community.  The local paper used to be the hub. The source. The thing that bound the neighborhoods and created a sense of community.  It’s harder and harder to get the word out about issues or events (not just those of a political nature). So many wonderful community initiatives and resources go under-used and under-funded because the local paper is dying.  And no single online website is “the definitive” source the way the local paper used to be.

So, where does this leave us? Let’s go back to her original statement about Facebook. Can social media really be the new source?  It’s sort of terrifying, but it very well may be true. As someone who often posts or shares political information on Facebook, I have to admit that around election time, I become highly annoyed by the number of political posts as well as the tone of them. Don’t get me wrong: if you want to share facts and information, I’m good with that; I’m not good with the petty or mean posts that seem rampant.

Just today, I saw a post: “Vote Democrat. It’s better than the alternative.” What does that even mean? How is that a thoughtful commentary on what is really one of the most awesome and overwhelming rights we carry as Americans?  Should anyone blindly vote strictly for a party and not spend even a minute doing research on the issues? Let’s face it, each party has its own share of less-than-stellar candidates. Having a party affiliation doesn’t necessarily mean that the candidate subscribes to each and every doctrine of the party (but I suppose we are all naive enough to believe that if THE PARTY nominated the person, they must be good. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you). In the past elections of my husband, if people voted for his opponents strictly based on party affiliation they chose: a pedophile, a Democrat that was a hard-line right-to-lifer, and a man who, if you did a Google search on his name, would promptly direct you to mugshots.com.  Vote only for the party? I don’t think that’s always the wisest thing to do.  Actually, I can probably train my dogs to just fill in the circles across only one party line – it doesn’t take much intelligence.

That kind of only-one-way-is-right post is irresponsible, narrow-minded and shows that there’s no reasonable perspective left in American politics. It’s part of the concern about the connection between social media and politics. People will click and share a witty but thoughtless, utterly meaningless and most likely vastly untrue status update because it’s easier than actually spending the time to learn what’s going on.  Raise the bar. Have a debate. Talk issues, not parties or personalities.

Remember: you get the kind of government you deserve. The vote is in your hands. Use it wisely.

Jean Maisano
Jean@FreeVoter.com

Arrogance In Albany: The State of Corruption in New York

By John Verni

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NYS Capitol

British historian Lord Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Unfortunately, such is the state of affairs in our state capitol. Our Empire State is governed by a group of corrupt career politicians that have become so self-serving and arrogant that they believe they are above the law. Nothing is beyond the reach of corruption in Albany, and as recent events have shown, that includes the very commission set up to root out corruption.
A Corrupt Game of Musical Chairs
The corruption in Albany is so rampant and commonplace that most of our statewide officials owe their positions to the corruption of others. The Albany insiders seem to be playing a game of corrupt musical chairs where one member loses his seat in shame only to be replaced by another Albany insider. The music never changes, the chairs get rearranged, but the players remain the same. So here is a primer on Albany’s Corruption Musical Chairs – your very own “Cheat Sheet”.
The three top jobs in Albany are Governor, the guy running the State; the Comptroller, the guy watching our money; and the Attorney General, the guy making sure it is all legal.
Our present Governor is Andrew Cuomo who came to power on a promise of “cleaning up Albany”. At the time of Andrew Cuomo’s election, several members of the legislature were already under investigation, indicted or convicted. Former Governor David Paterson himself was seen as so ineffective and ethically challenged that he could not be re-elected. Paterson had admitted to personal ethical lapses involving cocaine use and having an extra-marital affair with a state worker. At the end of his time as Governor, Paterson was embroiled in a scandal in which he called the victim of sexual abuse by one of his key staffers and coaxed her not to proceed in court against the staffer – hardly the actions of a Democratic Governor supposedly sensitive to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Former Governor David Paterson, who is the son of former State Senator Basil Paterson from Manhattan, became a State Senator in his own right from Manhattan, then became the Lieutenant Governor, and then became the Governor himself when Governor Eliot Spitzer had to resign due to a corruption scandal involving the hiring of prostitutes.
Former Governor Eliot Spitzer was the former Attorney General who made a name for himself cleaning up Wall Street as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” and became Governor on the promise of cleaning up Albany, only to be found breaking the law himself by hiring high-priced prostitutes.
Our present Comptroller, the guy who is supposed to be watching our money, is Thomas DiNapoli, who is a former Assemblyman from Long Island, who became Comptroller when former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who himself was a former Assemblyman, was caught accepting bribes from people who wanted to be paid to help him watch our money. Alan Hevesi was prosecuted by Andrew Cuomo, who was the Attorney General at the time and used that conviction as proof that he would end the “pay-to-play” mentality in Albany.
Our present Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was a State Senator from Manhattan who became Attorney General when Andrew Cuomo, who was the Attorney General at the time, decided to run for Governor on the promise of cleaning up Albany, when Eliot Spitzer, who ran for and won as Governor on the same promise of cleaning up Albany got caught breaking the law, and his ethically challenged Lieutenant Governor, David Paterson, became Governor, and then got caught in his own scandal and decided not to run.
And the drum beat of corruption has not stopped.
Corrupting the Corruption Commission
Now Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo, is accused of corrupting the anti-corruption commission he set up to clean up Albany by telling the commission who it could and could not investigate.
Governor Cuomo had set up the Committee to Investigate Public Corruption to great fanfare and expectation with the promise of “cleaning up Albany”. The Governor asked several district attorneys, the top law enforcement officials in their respective counties of New York, to serve on the Commission.
The Commission had as two of its three co-chairs, William Fitzpatrick, the District Attorney of Syracuse, and Kathleen Rice, the District Attorney of Nassau County. Fitzpatrick and Rice were appointed by Governor Cuomo and deputized by Attorney General Schneiderman to look into any wrongdoing by the State Senators, of which Schneiderman had been one, or by the Assembly members, of which Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and his predecessor Alan Hevesi had been members. There had been many recent corruption scandals in the state legislature, the State Senate and Assembly, involving all kinds of criminality ranging from members of the legislature embezzling public funds for their own benefit ; to the paying of hush money to cover-up sexual harassment of legislative staffers by members of the legislature ; to domestic violence by members of the legislature; to outright attempts to buy elections.
In setting up the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, Governor Cuomo promised that the Commission would be “totally independent”. At the time, Governor Cuomo stated, the Commission could investigate anyone – “me [the Governor], the Lieutenant Governor, the Comptroller, the Attorney General, any State Senator, any Assemblyman”. In order to give this Moreland Commission more teeth, the Governor had the commissioners deputized by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as Assistant Attorney Generals. Governor Cuomo knew the importance of deputizing the commissioners under the Attorney General’s Office because he had been the Attorney General himself – the guy in charge of making sure it is all legal – the guy who had prosecuted others in the past for public corruption.
Now it has come to light that Governor Cuomo’s Commission to Investigate Public Corruption was not so independent at all. After a three month investigation by the New York Times they reported that they “found that the governor’s office deeply compromised the panel’s work, objecting whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to Mr. Cuomo or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.” When questioned by the New York Times, the Governor’s office released a 13 page statement that took the position that despite his earlier assurances that even he could be investigated, “a commission appointed by and staffed by the executive cannot investigate the executive. It is a pure conflict of interest and would not pass the laugh test.” The only laugh is the statement itself, which belies the arrogance that pervades Albany.
Immediately after the revelations in the Times article, Governor Cuomo cancelled his public appearances for a few days as he pondered how he would respond to this expose’. Rather than the expected announcement that his chief aide, Larry Schwartz, the instrument of the interference, had “resigned” and had acted beyond the authority granted to him by his boss, Governor Cuomo extended his arrogant flourish with a pronouncement that the anti-corruption commission had been a “phenomenal success.” Only in Albany can you get caught red-handed and then claim victory for having a red hand.
The revelations that the Governor interfered with his own corruption-fighting commission seems to confirm what many Albany observers had expected from the very start of this Commission – that the Governor had set up the Commission to pressure the legislature to allow him to push his social agenda; pass an on-time budget to demonstrate his effectiveness; promote fiscally conservative measures to solidify a perception as a tax-fighting crusader; and allow him to paint a narrative of working with both Democrats and Republicans to become the type of transcendent “uniter” that we need as our President down in Washington. So after the passage of his fourth straight on-time budget, several liberal-endearing legislative triumphs, and the passage of some lukewarm “ethics reforms”, Governor Cuomo declared victory and closed the Commission. The legislature was happy because the Commission would stop prying around in their personal transgressions and financial shenanigans and they could get back home and campaign for re-election – a cycle that conveniently has returned close to 100% of the incumbents to office every two years for the last 50 years.

John Verni is the host of “Stuck in the Middle”, a local radio show on WVOX discussing politics from a “middle of the road”, moderate perspective. John is an attorney, a former assistant district attorney in Westchester County, and a senior legal correspondent for WVOX. He hopes this article helped you keep track of the corrupt state of New York politics and shed some light on the upcoming elections.