November 8, 2016

by / Nov. 7, 2016 11am EST

I began blogging in September 2003 to promote the local effort of Democratic Presidential candidate General Wesley Clark. At the time, I was still a registered Republican. I was always a moderate Republican — I had moved here from Massachusetts, and I think Bill Weld made a Great governor. In 2000, I had campaigned for John McCain. The beginning of the end of my time as a Republican came during a debate in 1999 when the candidates were asked,

What political philosopher or thinker…do you most identify with and why?

Frontrunner George W. Bush picked Jesus, and almost the entire chorus line followed suit, except one. John McCain responded that Teddy Roosevelt had inspired him, and went on to discuss trust busting and environmental conservation. Along the way, I switched my party affiliation, because Jesus was a lot of things, but not a political philosopher. I rejected this overt pandering to one subset of the Republican base. 

I always paid attention to politics, and considered it to be the only sport I watched. I blogged about the elections of 2004, 2008, and 2012 and found them to be fun if not infuriating. My writing took me through, to Artvoice, and now here at the Public. But my writing hasn’t come as easily this year, mostly because there is nothing fun going on. None of this has been like years past, and that’s not a good thing. It’s not that the rhetoric has been uglier or more contentious than in other years — political fisticuffs are myriad and frequent. It’s not that we have two ostensibly unlikeable candidates — a lot of people like their choices quite a bit. 

Commentators and the media have talked a lot this year about divides — class, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and geography have all come up. None of that, too, is necessarily new. But this year, the Republican Party and its nominee have made the final transformation into a party of racial identity — white nationalism — based on prejudice and lies. This didn’t happen in a vacuum. This is the net result of an effort that has taken many years, as the American right has transformed its every day into a parallel universe filled with people spouting things that are not true, hateful, or both. One need not go much further than to remind oneself that the Republican nominee is the man who most loudly doubted that America’s first African-American President could be qualified for the office because of his obvious foreign-ness. The only example you need is to remind yourself that the Republican Party nominated a guy whose biggest foray into politics was the racist birther lie, then kicked off his campaign by demeaning and defaming Mexicans, refugees, Muslims, and whatever other group caught his short attention. 

This is all a very roundabout way of saying that politics is broken, America is broken, the media are broken, and the election of 2016 makes me hate not just our politics, but our political process itself. It’s not fun anymore. 

Our country asks little of us by way of patriotism or participation. There’s no draft — just a registration. We have our rote pageants and proclamations. Our country has weathered slavery, civil war, corruption, the depression, World Wars, impeachments, and scandals. We can weather a lot, so while I don’t know whether the victory of the Republican nominee would pose this country some existential threat, here are a couple of things to consider: 

1. The Republican Party is dead; self-inflicted. Suicide by extremism. In a country that has long been governed through compromise and moderation, the Republican Party has finally rejected essentially every inch of hard-fought social progress that has been made since the 1960s. It rejects the Civil Rights act and what it stands for. It seeks to weaken public education, to spend trillions on militarist adventures while starving funding for food, shelter, and housing for our most vulnerable. It rejects immigration in general, and refugees in particular — refugees whether they be economic or political. It rejects integration and the separation of church and state. It demeans women and considers LGBT Americans to be mental defectives. This list could go on ad infinitum. Now, the Republicans in Washington effectively refuse to do their jobs, and have spent the last twelve years trying to thwart the President’s agenda, and to undo the practical effects of a couple of elections. It famously underwent some sort of post-mortem after the 2012 election that was supposed to inform its transition into the 21st century, then ignored it. 

2. My vote for Hillary Clinton is not begrudging, but enthusiastic. I cannot wait to vote for Hillary Clinton for President. Put another way, I am not just voting against her opponent, I am voting for her. Her entire life has been devoted to public service and helping the least fortunate. To me, the most revealing thing that the Wikileaks theft showed was that Hillary Clinton in private is as compassionate as she says she is in public. That is significant to me. Obviously, there was no conspiracy to steal and reveal Trump’s emails, but we know about Trump’s private communications how he talks about — and what he does to — women whom he finds attractive. Literally almost everything you think you know about how corrupt Hillary Clinton is, has been a lie. The caricature of her that has been built by the right-wing and media is a falsity. No one has been investigated more, and literally nothing has come from any of it. She is fundamentally as ethical and honest as any politician. Consider this: only one candidate this year would speak right to you in this way: 

What I’m trying to convey is that this year the Republican nominee has sucked all of the fun and joy out of our political system. I am now even more strongly convinced that we need to fundamentally change the way we select our President. At a bare minimum, we should adopt a process that takes a matter of weeks, not years. We should adopt a process that doesn’t merely relegate a small handful of states to November relevancy. I don’t know what this all should look like, but the system — the process — is broken, like our politics, our media, and the ways in which we obtain and analyze information. 24 hour cable news helped to break America, by relying now on shows where paid shills scream at each other — this is not a valid substitute for information, nor is the emphasis on the horse race as opposed to actual policy proposals. In other countries — the ones where general elections take 6 weeks — the parties put out a manifesto, laying out their proposed program. While our parties lay out a platform at their conventions, no one pays attention and they mean nothing. With all that said, I enthusiastically endorse,


Downballot, here are the races that I’ve paid attention to, and my preferences in each: 


You like Collins because he’s a business owner? So is Diana Kastenbaum. The reasons why I oppose the incumbent are many and varied, but this year he has especially disgraced himself — and us — by so willingly and vocally supporting the Republican Presidential nominee, indeed paving the way for others in Congress to do the same. Diana will work on behalf of the region’s most vulnerable, including our veterans and women. She would be a welcome change for the 27th, where the incumbent deserves to be rebuked, rather than rewarded. 


WNY will vote for WNY’s Congressman because he’s great, and everything he does for his constituents in particular — and our region in general — is great. You know it, I know it. 


The Republicans think Flynn is vulnerable, and a lot of Democrats are wringing their hands, worrying that the race is tight. It, however, bears mentioning that the Republican candidate for D.A. has never handled — much less tried — a civilian criminal prosecution, nor one in New York State. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy or a bad lawyer, but it means he’s less qualified to be D.A. Flynn all the way


Monica is exceedingly bright, an extremely hard worker, and very smart. She will go to Albany and work to restore ethics and accountability to that cesspool while doing right by her constituents. The 143th deserves an ethical representative in the Assembly — Monica is that person. This is an easy pick, because Monica’s experience as a legal thinker and an educator will serve her — and the region — exceptionally well. 


Amber has devoted the last several years to improving her neighborhood, and she wants to do the same thing now in Albany. Not only might her election flip the Senate to the Democrats on a macro level, but she will bring a breath of fresh air to a stagnant Albany sewer. Her opponent, while a nice guy, has been a political insider now for over a decade. We don’t need more Pataki appointees in the Senate, but frankly we need more females in any form of elected office. She is smart and reform-oriented, while her opponent is just another perennial candidate looking out for the wealthy local elites. 


Finally, if you live in the town of Clarence, you must vote for Tim Tryjankowski for town council. Our town government has been a one-party dictatorship for too long. There is zero accountability, except insofar as there isn’t some form of backstabbing within the local Republican committee. And there’s definitely plenty of that. It’s high time there was someone there to ensure that the viewpoints of all Clarence residents had a voice, and Tim is that person. An educator and scientist at UB, Tim is smart, hard-working, and honest. He’s well-liked in town, and will do an excellent job. 

Please be sure to vote, and look up your polling place here. If you have problems voting, call your local board of elections or party committee and seek immediate guidance. 

The foregoing endorsements are mine and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Public, its owners, editors, writers, etc. Have a great November 9th. We’ll all deserve it.