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New Place For Commentary

Hey guys, I’m moving my dumb political commentary to a different site. Maybe someday I’ll tell you what it is!

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but have been too lazy. It just doesn’t seem wise to put too many opinions online under one’s real name anymore. In the old days, nobody knew how to do anything on the Internet, and the only people who would ever find you were people you’d never, ever see in real life. Now real people in real life know how to Google people’s names (no doubt thinking that they’re “computer hacking”), not to mention every potential employer is going to Google your name.

I’m still going to leave all the old stuff here, though. But I’ll probably limit posting to things related to computers, which is unfortunately the most boring thing to write about, unless you’re actually getting paid for it.

A Slight Correction

I was thinking about this and I want to issue a slight correction to what I wrote in my last post:

On those Electoral College hopes: Again, I understand. Nobody in your circles wanted Trump to be president. You’re seeing some bad things spreading like wildfire all across social media, and you’re panicking. The nightmare might be coming true. Trying to convince electoral college voters to change their votes before it’s too late sounds like a great plan. But it’s illegal. It’s unethical. It’s sinister. And I’m sorry to say this, but it’s UN-AMERICAN.

After I woke up this morning, way too early, it suddenly popped into my head that what I’d written was incorrect. (These days I like to be obsessively precise in my Internet writings.) It’s okay to call or write or email the electors and ask them politely to change their votes. It’s desperate and I believe it’s an unhealthy way of thinking, but it’s not “illegal,” “unethical,” “sinister,” or “un-American.” Deepest apologies to anyone who might have read that. (Ha! I know nobody read that.)

But.

I do believe it’s illegal, unethical, sinister, and UN-AMERICAN for the electors themselves to change their votes. So it is now incumbent upon those electors to stand up to the pressure they are facing, explain why they cannot change their votes, and proceed with their civic duty. I don’t envy them right now.

I do believe it’s irresponsible and a little bit subversive for someone to try to start a movement of people to call state electors. It’s not illegal, and I don’t believe it should be, but that someone or someones is an Internet influencer trying to influence American democracy, which is the very thing I’m now afraid of (see my remarks here). Those subversives are capitalizing on fear and the echo chamber effect to gather an army of social media pawns to do their bidding, and that’s wrong. (I actually don’t know who started it, but I’m sure whoever it was had a lot of followers.)

But I don’t blame the pawns making the phone calls. I might urge them, however, to try not to be a pawn in life. Maybe aspire to be a knight or a rook.

Incidentally, I do happen to follow one of the Virginia electors on Twitter who will be casting a vote on December 19th. I might follow others too but she’s the only one I know about. I don’t know her personally, but I’ve watched her political work in Virginia over the years and I highly respect it. I know her as a person of utmost integrity when it comes to these things. I am confident that she views her civic duty as sacred. If she is a representative sample of electors around the country (and I think she might be), they are not going to change their votes. If you put a gun to their head on the 19th and told them to change their vote, I imagine they would take their duty so seriously that they would choose death as the best option for the republic, and in this case, they would be right, and I would view them as national heroes and honor their sacrifice however I could.

(Don’t get excited, I’m not going to reveal who it is. Maybe it’s already public knowledge, I don’t know. Anyway Virginia electors are voting for Clinton anyway. I’ve found it amusing to see lists of phone numbers including Virginia when there’s no need to call Virginia. That, to me, is a measure of how panicked people are.)

Deep Breaths Please

I’ve been watching Trump *very* closely since election night. He hasn’t said more than a handful of words since his victory speech. He hasn’t gloated. He hasn’t blustered. Everything is going very well. Extremely well. Shockingly well. Everything is proceeding exactly like the peaceful transfer of power should go. Everyone in Washington appears to be conscious of the nation’s fears and taking deliberate steps to calm things, despite all the reporters trying their best to rile things up again. Frankly this transition so far appears to be going better than the one from Bush to Obama, which I also thought went very well.

There’s been NO indication that Trump will be anything but a run-of-the-mill, ordinary, mundane president. Our system of government was created for the express purpose of enforcing that.

Trump supporters, on the other hand… “those” Trump supporters, that is… Well, two of my Facebook friends have declared they are leaving Facebook already, so that’s fun. I don’t use Facebook, but still. It’s nice to know people are there. Or were.

I’m not surprised though. Emotions run high after elections. Anyway, to “those” Trump supporters: I get it, you’ve been waiting eight years to be that total dick nobody wants to be around. You’ve earned your place in the sun I guess.

To the Trump supporters who are actual monsters (Nazis, KKK, etc.): Wait, why are you even here? I don’t want to talk to you. Thankfully there aren’t many of you. But this is America, so I guess go ahead and feel free to be a monster. Just don’t break any laws or hurt anyone, okay? Thanks. Also, stop being a monster. Or maybe go to Syria and be a monster. Those ISIS or ISIL or IS or whatever-they’re-calleds really seem to enjoy being monsters over there, and they get to shoot people with impunity. Any people. Women, children. It doesn’t even matter. Actually, come to think of it, you Nazi monsters might actually enjoy shooting the ISIS monsters. It could even save some American soldiers’ lives down the road. Do something useful with your life for a change.

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Twitter looks like a different world now. The feeds that used to be talking about my hobbies (games and books and general geek stuff) are now talking about panic attacks, fear, depression, retweeting suicide hotline numbers, or even worse–far, far worse–are eerily silent. Occasionally there are some attempts to get back to normal, article links and so forth, half-hearted humor, but they seem tentative, even fearful.

I’m scared myself. Scared I’m going to say something that might accidentally escalate fears, instead of calming them down.

On those protests: I support your right to protest. It’s healthy for a democracy. If nothing else, it sends a message to the incoming president that people are watching and he should be careful, because he has to lead everyone. I’m sure there would have been protests if Clinton had won, too. I have no doubt of that whatsoever.

But take a few deep breaths. Many of the fears that people are reacting to were created in echo chambers on social media. (That would have applied to the other protesters if Clinton had won, too.) Watch what is actually happening. Don’t keep re-watching and re-sharing what happened during the campaigns. That’s over.

On #Calexit: I live on the other side of the country from California, so I don’t think it would affect me personally if that state “exited” (whatever that means), but it would still suck, ya know? I don’t want to live in a dystopian young adult novel. I like having 50 states. It’s a nice, round number. I like oranges. I like movies. I like Gmail. Also, some of the people I follow live there, and I’d hate to see them, or anyone, have to go through that madness.

(Apparently #Calexit has been a thing since even before the elections, and Californians will vote in 2018 on whether they get to vote on it in 2019.)

On those Electoral College hopes: Again, I understand. Nobody in your circles wanted Trump to be president. You’re seeing some bad things spreading like wildfire all across social media, and you’re panicking. The nightmare might be coming true. Trying to convince electoral college voters to change their votes before it’s too late sounds like a great plan. But it’s illegal. It’s unethical. It’s sinister. And I’m sorry to say this, but it’s UN-AMERICAN.

And to be brutally honest, what exactly do you think is going to happen when half the nation hears that the president they elected isn’t there? You think they’re going to say, “Oh, good show! Bravo! Well played, sir!” Think about these things a little bit, please.

I feel like what we’re seeing right now is a variation of dancing mania. I’ve read about that phenomenon before but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. But I think this is what it must have looked like. I saw a protester interviewed live on CNN. The person was out-of-breath, talking a mile a minute, almost passing out from lack of oxygen, apparently experiencing a panic attack right there on live television. Most of the fears this person quoted sounded completely out-of-context and without basis to me, too. Like they were quoting something they’d seen on Facebook, quite frankly.

So everybody take some deep breaths.

Post-Election 2016

This post has taken days to work on, and it’s not finished, but I gave up and you’re just going to have to deal with it because I’m ready to move on now.

I’m aware that people feel very passionately about this election, so I will warn folks on both the left and the right that there might be some triggers below.

I’m still a centrist, and I view this election and this country through a fairly dispassionate moderate filter. Still, even *I’m* feeling overwhelmed by all the anger and fear and disappointment I’ve seen after the election. Most of my Internet circles experienced this election result quite like another 9/11. So it might be better if you wait a while to read this. I don’t want to throw gasoline on any fires here.

But it helps me to write it while it’s fresh in my mind.

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I can’t really prove this, but I wrote the words below as an epilogue for my Election Day Tale, but removed it because I didn’t want anything resembling partisanship in that post:

“I don’t know how this election will turn out. But I’m inclined to agree with something I saw on another blog, which is that it won’t be a close Clinton win like the polls suggest. It will either be a *huge* Clinton win, or a close Trump win. I’ll be watching the results of my state (Virginia) to get a better idea of who might win. Polls close in Virginia at 6 7 PM (Eastern time), and I hope to post this before then. If Trump wins Virginia, I’m pretty sure he’ll win the nation. If Clinton wins Virginia as predicted, but it’s closer than expected (say less than 3-4 points), Trump could win a close election. Otherwise it will almost certainly be Clinton all the way.

“Also, despite the long line at *my* polling place, I predict very low voter turnout overall. I’ve heard a disproportionate number of non-millennial people say they weren’t going to vote.

“Please note, though, that I don’t know anything about anything.

“Regardless of how it turns out, 2020 is going to be a nightmare. This [year] has been nothing. In 2020, we’ll look back at the good old days of 2016 when elections were sane. If Trump wins, can you even imagine what Democrats will say in their [2020] campaigns? If Clinton wins, can you even imagine what Republicans and whatever-other-alt-right-party-develops will say in their [2020] campaigns?”

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That last paragraph really worries me. I still believe it. I’m not looking forward to 2020 and 2024.

I feel like I need to disclose that yes, I’m a white male, and I voted for Clinton. I don’t *like* feeling the need to disclose that, for reasons that I will get to down below somewhere, but I know that matters to some people.

I’m not afraid for myself or America. I still believe Trump is fairly moderate on the political scale. I don’t believe he will start World War 3, or deport Latinos, or build any walls. I don’t believe he will be able to reverse everything or possibly even anything that Obama or Bush or Clinton has done. I understand and sympathize with the reasons that people are afraid of Trump, but I believe those fears have been amplified out of control in the echo chambers of social media.

Still, I fervently hope Trump stays in office for his entire term. I’ve already seen #ImpeachTrump on Twitter. For me, the *real* nightmare scenario is a Mike Pence presidency.

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So what have we learned from this 2016 election?

I can’t speak for you, but here’s some things that *I* learned. They aren’t good things.

2016 is the year that I began to fear the power of the Internet to influence the democratic process negatively.

(When I say “the Internet” I am referring to the largely leftward-leaning Internet, controlled by leftward-leaning corporations such as Facebook and Google. The rightward-leaning Internet is still in its infancy. It’s basically the alt-right.)

I should leave it at that, because I’m on the Internet, therefore I fear what could happen to me if I express the “wrong” opinion. There’s no Bill of Rights on the Internet, you know. There’s no “freedom of speech” giving me a legal shield to speak up against the governors of the Internet. (And yes, I view the Internet as a new kind of lawless nation state.)

I know that might sound like something a Sad Puppy or GamerGate supporter would say. “The elites are oppressing me!” I don’t support those guys, but they have some valid criticisms and I understand their arguments.

Since I’m afraid of getting beat up by the Internet, I need to say that I’m a white male and I voted for Clinton. Truly. I probably didn’t do so for the “right” reasons though. I was not advancing progressivism (neither am I necessarily opposed to that). I think Clinton is a very capable public servant and politician, but I didn’t want a Clinton presidency. I’m not with her. I didn’t and don’t endorse her.

I voted for Clinton because my dislike of Mike Pence was greater than my dislike of Hillary Clinton. That’s basically it.

My main opposition to another Clinton being in the White House, by the way, is a purely philosophical one. I don’t believe any relatives or spouses of presidents should be eligible to become future presidents. I didn’t like that Bush Jr. followed Bush Sr. I don’t believe Jeb Bush should be president. I don’t believe Michelle Obama should be president. It feels too much like an aristocracy or a monarchy to me.

I briefly considered voting for Jill Stein, because I respected her conduct as a presidential candidate and I fully support the struggle to get more third parties on ballots. But I don’t agree with much of the Green party platform.

I might have supported the Libertarian party, but I can’t support Gary Johnson.

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Okay, so what makes me worry that the Internet is turning bad all of a sudden? Hold on, I’ll explain. I’m trying to be very cautious and non-inflammatory in the way I phrase things, so it takes a while.

The very fact that I feel like I need to be so careful is part of the problem. All it takes is one wrong word and people will ban, block, disengage, and retreat into their bubbles. When I write about politics, I prefer to write in a way that will engage with everyone. Or at least try to.

I’ve observed some disturbing trends in the tone of Internet advocacy. Since the Internet is mostly liberal, that means liberal advocacy. There’s a right way and a wrong way to try to convince people to vote for your candidate. By which I mean there’s an inoffensive way and an offensive way.

The right, inoffensive way is to list the reasons why you like your candidate’s platform. Maybe even point out things you disagree with in the other candidate’s platform.

The wrong, offensive, *divisive* way is to make fun of the opposing candidate, or make fun of the opposing candidate’s supporters.

The Internet made fun of Trump and Trump supporters all the way from beginning to end.

I’m not saying there’s no cause for it. I’m just saying it undeniably happened.

Again, I’m a centrist. I look at the pros and cons of all candidates. When I examined the Trump message and the Trump platform, I found plenty of cons, but I also found pros. In some way, that made me a Trump supporter, or at least a *potential* Trump supporter.

So when the Internet made fun of Trump, it was also making fun of me, a moderate, a centrist. I didn’t like that.

The Internet has developed into a snarkocracy where the snarkiest rise to the top. It’s a fairly simple process. Surviving in the top echelons of the Internet requires staying popular. Staying popular requires hits, and correspondingly, hits also generate revenue. The most effective way to generate hits is to create controversy.

Controversy—snark—generates hits, which generates money. I can’t stress enough that when we fight on the Internet, people or corporations are making money. It’s like digital war profiteering, a concept I just thought of and should probably trademark immediately. Unless somebody already thought of it.

There’s very little that’s more infuriating—more controversial—than challenging someone’s beliefs using snark. It’s impossible to remain calm when someone is making you feel dumb. It’s impossible to be receptive to changing your mind when you’re being attacked. Nobody in the history of the world has ever changed their mind about their core beliefs because somebody made fun of them.

I understand what it must have felt like to be a solid Trump supporter and be subjected to the torrent of snark from the Internet. Since I considered Trump to be at least worthy of consideration, the Internet was effectively making fun of *me*. At least it felt that way.

I’ve gotten angry at the Internet a lot in the last few months, for its complete lack of open-mindedness on the Trump front. Closed-mindedness generally makes me angry. I had to bite my tongue a lot because I was afraid—literally afraid—to make any kind of stand against the anti-Trump momentum on the Internet. Even just a quiet remark here or there felt like I would be exposing myself to an Internet death blow.

I could also lump the entire entertainment industry (including the news media) in with the Internet here, by the way. But I’m not in the entertainment industry, I’m just on the Internet.

Snarkiness has always been particularly bad during election years. That’s nothing new. I’m sure it was bad on Usenet and Fidonet in the early days, but my memory of this phenomenon started in 2006-2008. It intensified in 2012, and it’s never been so bad as it has been in 2016.

I can’t wait to see how bad it’s going to be in 2020, because I *know* it’s going to get worse. The backlash from the election has already started. “Trump supporters were bastards to us, so we’re going fight harder and be twice as bastard-y to them next time!” That’s the mantra of all political activists. It always gets worse. It’s all over Twitter and Facebook right now. The social media echo chamber turns it into a deafening cacophony. Voices calling for calm are completely drowned out. The Internet is getting out of control, and it’s going to bite us one day. We’re living in the Cyber Old West, where cell phones are our six guns, and eventually we’re going to need some lawmen to come in and clean up this town.

Sorry about that terrible analogy.

Look, I didn’t vote for Trump. But this is still a democracy and he was legitimately nominated by legitimate elections by legitimate Americans with legitimate thoughts and feelings, which makes him a legitimate option for thoughtful voters to consider. It really annoys and frightens me that the entire Internet might come down on me for saying something as fundamentally American as that. Or even worse, that the entire Internet might consider me a racist, misogynist, whateverist for saying that.

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I’ll admit I’m a bit contrarian at times. There’s a part of me that *wanted* to vote for Trump, because the Internet consistently made me angry about this. I wanted to vote for him just to prove that the world wouldn’t explode if he were elected. Just to prove that American democracy can and will survive the most ridiculous president ever.

Unfortunately, thanks to confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance and all those fancy logical fallacy arguments we know and love, rabid Trump opposition will still find a way to believe he is the new Hitler, no matter what he does.

Eventually everyone will forget that Trump is just Trump, while Hitler was motherfucking Hitler, and that makes me angry.

(The comparison of Trump to Hitler makes me particularly angry because that argument is such an incredible insult to one’s intelligence, one’s knowledge of history, and the memory of 60 million dead people.)

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As I said I’m a white male. I understand what white privilege is. I understand what male privilege is. I try to be conscious of it, for whatever good that might do. I try to follow Wheaton’s Law, and not be a dick. I fully acknowledge all of the advantages that I’ve had in my life by pure genetic luck.

But I’m not going to apologize for being a white male. I’m not going to feel ashamed about it.

I feel like a lot of people on the Internet think I should. I feel pressure to accept and acknowledge that everything is my fault, and that I should atone for it. I feel like I hear that message every day, from every direction, all the time. In some circles I feel like I’m hit over the head by a sledgehammer with it.

I understand that it’s a natural response from the plight of people who are less privileged. But it sucks. It sucks for them, and it sucks for me. It wears on a person. I don’t *want* to be responsible for the suffering of vast swathes of the planet. I just want to do my thing, ya know?

The point is that I’m not surprised some of that feeling filtered into the election results. I’d like to think we can work out a happy medium someday.

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In real life, for some reason I don’t fully understand, I often find myself in the unfortunate position of trying to mediate between people who have opposing views on things. Work things, usually. Most of the time, I find myself interpreting what one side says to the other side, because for whatever reason they can’t understand each other. Sometimes, I have to tell people that they are both saying the same thing, in different ways. It’s weird to me that people can’t tell that. In my personal opinion it usually boils down to the fact that people love to talk, but they hate to listen and learn.

So I think I have a pathological need to remain neutral. I don’t like it when people fight, especially when they are both saying the same thing. It wastes time. It doesn’t get anything done. The clock is ticking, we’re all going to die someday, so sitting around bickering pointlessly seems dumb.

So it’s been painful to watch people in my networks express how personally betrayed they feel about the election results. I wish I could say something to make them feel better. I want to explain all the reasons why things turned out this why, and why everything will be all right, and why this election should not be viewed as a referendum against any individuals or minorities. But I know people need time to grieve. Some people may never be ready to listen. The only thing I can do is keep saying that I don’t believe a Trump presidency will destroy America. It’s been only a single day and there are already hopeful signs.

I *do* believe that divisive politics and a constant need to seek vengeance against the opposing party will destroy America. Eventually, it will cause a dissolution of the United States, similar to the fall of the Soviet Union. It might happen in my lifetime at this rate. Maybe in 2020 or 2024.

I guess I should acknowledge that there are people in the world who *enjoy* fighting. There are a lot of people like that, in my opinion. A lot of them can be found on the Internet, in the wake of this election result. A lot of people think political bickering is the most fun game ever. I can’t do anything about them. I have to accept that they will never change. No matter how much middle ground you show those people, they will find a way to fight, because they are defined by fighting opposition.

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I can’t support blaming third party voters for the Trump win. The blame (if it can be called that) for the Trump win rests 100% on the shoulders of Washington’s elected officials. Collectively, they’ve failed. I feel like Paul Ryan acknowledged that in his remarks, which is good.

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I’ve been horrified by the way the Internet has consistently rejected any attempt at understanding the reasons why somebody like Trump could gather support in America.

The *real* reasons, not the throw-away Internet meme reasons. Not the reasons we tell ourselves after we’ve covered our eyes, believing we understand everything we need to know already.

America is now geographically split between rural citizens and urban citizens. Those are the two different countries we Americans live in.

I saw a tweet imploring us to stay friends because we have to live with each other.

We *don’t* live with each other though. Look at the electoral map, broken down by county. The tiny blue spots are the population centers. The red sea between—the huge swath of red that sprawls all the way from one coast to the other—is the rural area. Rural voters never see or interact with urban voters, and vice versa.

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One huge issue that needs to be addressed is why Trump won the nomination. And I don’t mean how he was able to “cheat the system.” I’ve already seen discussions about changing the nomination process so that someone like Trump can never win again. That is wrong, wrong, wrong, and more wrong. Not least because it will further inflame his base.

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There needs to be a discussion of why a large percentage of the country prefers an unqualified outsider to an established politician. It has nothing to do with grabbing women or racism or emails. It has to do with the fact that rural America doesn’t believe the government cares about them, and they have a lot of valid reasons to think that. That is the main conflict I see within America right now, and possibly everywhere in the world: Rural lifestyle versus urban lifestyle. Somebody needs to address that pretty soon.

(I have no idea how to address that.)

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Another problem to be addressed is the rapidly developing Cold War 2.0 happening over there in Syria. Remember when Russia used to be scary? Well, they never really stopped being scary. Now they’re shooting at people. And Putin apparently doesn’t have to step down after eight years.

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Other thoughts: I didn’t and wouldn’t ever vote for the Green party, but Jill Stein was the best candidate in terms of acting presidential. At least on Twitter. (I hardly ever saw her on television.) I wish *she* had been the Democractic candidate. Almost all of her tweets made me think about issues, and made me lament that there are only two parties to choose from. Kudos to her. It’s too bad Green policies are wackadoodle. (See, I made fun of them and now you’re mad, right?)

The Libertarian Party really, really needs to nominate somebody else in 2020. Somebody in Gary Johnson’s position in 2016 should have done a lot better. He was a non-factor on Twitter. If I saw one tweet from him in a day, it was a miracle.

On third parties in general, if anyone is going to take them seriously, they need to moderate their positions more than they do. It won’t be long before legalization of marijuana isn’t controversial for a Libertarian candidate, but Gary Johnson trying to defend closing down half of government agencies is still going to be a deal-breaker for most reasonable people. Even people who hate the government know you can’t just *close* it.

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In other news, Scott Adams is a genius. A little sociopathic, but a genius. It’s very fascinating to read his blog. I’ve been reading it off and on for, I don’t know, five years? Ten years? If nothing else, he gave a master class in how to recognize when someone is social engineering you. Everyone should learn that. He’s also kind of a dick sometimes, so buyer beware. But you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs yada yada.

Seriously, every high school should teach classes in basic skepticism, critical thinking, social engineering, and how to lie to pollsters.

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I feel dumb saying this, but I honestly do not understand why LGBTs feel they might be persecuted under a Trump presidency. Latinos, I understand. Muslims, I understand. (I disagree, but I at least know what Trump said to cause the fear.) But I cannot recall ever seeing or hearing anything from Trump about LGBTs.

LGBT fear of Mike Pence, though, I fully understand. However, I do not believe he will be in a position to change any policies.

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Other brief thoughts from election night:

I loved the disbelief I saw on the faces of the election night pundits (I mostly watched CNN). I am not immune to feeling a smug sense of satisfaction when the mainstream media is wrong. I love it when polls are wrong. I hope everybody who ever answers a poll question lies.

I have never accepted the premise that Trump is dangerous. I wish I could think of a way to convince the rest of the Internet of that, but even if I could, I don’t think anyone is ready to listen.

What makes me saddest for the future is knowing that a lot of people are never going to know or even try to understand why this happened. They will blame third-party voters or racists or voter suppression and that will be the end of it for them.

What this election says is that people on the Internet (essentially, people in urban areas) do not know or understand people in rural areas.

I felt it at the time, and I now I definitely believe, it was a big mistake for Clinton to rely so much on that Access Hollywood tape.

I would like to see the electoral map laid over a map of Broadband penetration. Just out of curiosity. I suspect broadband penetration has a correlation with Democratic voting results.

What will happen when Trump *doesn’t* “lock her up?” Because he won’t. Oh, he might appoint somebody to push some papers around and make it look like there’s an investigation. But it will go away. There’s no doubt in my mind. How long will Trump supporters wait before they turn on him?

Trump’s victory speech was exactly the right tone.

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Brief thoughts from the day after the election:

European folks woke up on 11/9 (in their weird backwards date format) to the news of a Trump victory. Comparisons to 9/11 immediately ensued. It occurred to me that I was staring at cable news exactly the same way that I had been staring at cable news on 9/11. I haven’t done that at any other time between.

When I remove all emotion from the equation, I find this to be a very fascinating election result. It’s a very “interesting” time in history. I read about other interesting times and sometimes wonder what it would have been like to live through them, and now I’m apparently living through one myself. It doesn’t really feel that special, to be honest. :)

“Political correctness” is no longer necessary to run for office. I’m a little relieved. The days of filming candidates 24/7 to catch them in a “gotcha” moment might be over.

I suspect Clinton was “late” on her concession speech because her team simply did not prepare for it. And when they finally realized they needed to make one, they realized they needed to make a *really really great* one to address all of the people (half of the country) who are terrified.

Result: I thought Clinton’s concession speech was really good.

I was encouraged by Trump’s acceptance speech on election night. I was encouraged by Paul Ryan’s brief speech the day after. I was very encouraged by Clinton’s concession speech. I was further encouraged by Obama’s followup speech. And finally I was very, very pleased to see that the market didn’t crash the day after the election. All of those things together are signs that the apocalypse is still some distance into the future, and we can expect a plain old four-year presidential term.

When Clinton said someone would break the glass ceiling “sooner than we might think” in her concession speech I was pretty sure she was referring to Michelle Obama. I like Mrs. Obama and all but I do not believe spouses of previous presidents should be eligible to run. Can’t we get people to run for president without any baggage?

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Here’s a dumb joke I didn’t share on Twitter because I thought it was too soon:

The real question here is what will happen to Trump’s hair over the course of his presidency?

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I’m disabling comments because I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with them.

Update: Then I went and forgot to disable comments. Now they’re really disabled. :)

“Revolution”

This is exactly what I’m worried about:

Good on Mike Pence for challenging it. Kind of.

Using divisive rhetoric to win support is kind of double-edged sword. Pence can’t exactly say to the crowd, “I know we’ve been *saying* that demons will erupt from the earth to devour your children if Hillary is elected, but you guys know we’re only saying that so you’ll vote for us, right? We don’t actually *mean* it.”

On The Second Debate

Trump did better than expected in the second debate, better than the first debate, in my opinion. I’d probably call it a draw, in the sense that neither candidate wiped the floor with the other. Trump’s still struggling, but everyone expected (hoped, perhaps) he would implode–and he didn’t.

When I watch the debates, I’m purposefully trying to look past the surface stuff and see things that will get buried later. The media tends to focus on the more sensational things that happen, but I guess I’m more interested in the boring stuff.

For example, I noticed that Chelsea Clinton snuck into the friends box with Bill after the big introduction of the spouses. (She may have done this in the first debate too, but I didn’t notice.) The obvious conclusion is that she didn’t want to shake hands with the Trump crowd. I don’t remember anybody in the media mentioning that, but it might have something to do with this:

Later, we learned from a Washington Post article that Trump wanted to put those women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault into the Trump friends box, so that Bill Clinton would have to confront them on national television. A cunning plan, and the kind of power play you’d expect to see only on HBO’s House of Cards.

CNN’s post-debate coverage team lost their minds over Trump’s comments about appointing a special investigator to jail Clinton. I personally thought it was a laugh line (Trump is objectively better at comedy than Clinton), didn’t take it seriously, and I don’t believe he would or could follow through with it. The Clintons are a pretty big political force in this country and it seems like a bad business move to alienate them, regardless of party affiliation. On the other hand, if Trump doesn’t at least make a serious effort to follow through, his base could turn on him. (I’m pretty sure the left still hasn’t forgotten that Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay.)

Speaking of CNN and boring details, I was captivated by a guy in the background behind the analysts who kept walking around holding up a giant head of Wolf Blitzer on a stick. Every time the camera focused on a different analyst, the guy with the Wolf Blitzer head-on-a-stick walked into the background of the shot.

Back to the debate, Clinton did better at connecting with the audience questions, so maybe she won that handful of votes on the stage. The “town hall” format definitely favored her.

I thought most of the questions from the audience were shallow. Half of them amounted to, “Can’t you guys just be less terrible to watch?”

  • Do you think you’re being good role models?
  • What will you do to make Obamacare more affordable?
  • Can you be president to all Americans?
  • What would you look for in a Supreme Court Justice?
  • What’s your energy policy?
  • Can you name one positive thing about your opponent?

Of those, I only thought the Obamacare and energy policy questions were relevant. The Supreme Court question should have been blindingly obvious for anyone to answer: The Republican will nominate conservative justices, the Democrat will nominate liberal justices, and every case from now until the end of time will be a 5-4 decision with half the country hating the outcome.

I noticed that Clinton gave a weak answer to the WikiLeaks emails and then changed the subject to Russia.

Russia and our growing Cold War-style proxy war in Syria is my current concern du jour if you haven’t noticed from my previous posts. Clinton sent another pretty strong message opposing Russia propping up Assad and the Syrian government, while Trump suggested we should work with Russia to fight ISIS. That’s a pretty sharp contrast. (On that particular topic, I submit that Clinton might be farther right than Trump.) If you’re concerned about wars with foreign superpowers, it’s pretty clear that Clinton is more likely to lead us into a confrontation with Russia. (Or continue to lead us down that path, I should say.)

On the other hand, Trump is more likely to lead us into becoming a vassal of Russia. So pick your poison.

Then again, if you subscribe to the theory that if Trump is elected, Mike Pence will be running the country (which I kind of do), he’ll probably take an even more aggressive stance against Russia than Clinton. I believe he mentioned air strikes in the veep debate.

Trump’s answer on that last question about something they admired in their opponent sounded more sincere than Clinton’s.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what the white ribbon on Clinton’s lapel meant. Couldn’t figure it out.

I’ve always liked Martha Raddatz so for me she has the journalistic and war correspondent cred to pull off her editorial remarks regarding warning the enemy about upcoming attacks. I probably wouldn’t have bought it from Anderson Cooper though. Overall I thought the moderators were okay, but I do think they went a little easy on Clinton until Trump started complaining.

Where do they get these debate audiences? Can they stop letting noisy partisans into them? If the debates are supposed to be for the American people, put them in an empty auditorium. I expect Trump is going to try to pack in even more partisans for his side in the last one.

One thing I’ve been wondering the last couple of days in the wake of all the Bill-Clinton-did-this and Trump-said-that, and after what seemed to be a clear theme in the audience questions: Should it be important for the American president to be a good role model for the kids? Electing someone based solely on whether you’d let your kids hang out with them seems … I don’t know … naive maybe? I’m not sure it’s healthy for a democracy to try to view their president through that lens. (I realize I’m basically making Trump’s argument here, but I’ve said before that he often has valid points, even if the way he makes them is, um, let’s say off-putting.)

On The Newest Trump Scandal

I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about the election, but here I go again, talking about everyone’s favorite emotional trigger.

Twitter exploded Friday night and Saturday with a new controversy over Trump saying some terrible stuff about women in a video from 2005.

My first reaction: I guess I’m confused. Didn’t everyone already know Trump was a horrible person and still nominated him for president? I mean, it wasn’t a secret. His very un-electability is exactly what appeals to his supporters.

So I guess I’m wondering why anyone (by which I mean all the people talking up the scandal on Twitter) thinks this scandal will suddenly be the one that brings him down.

If this scandal does sink Trump, it will give us a great indication of just how little America pays attention to the candidates prior to October. Because, I mean, seriously, this should not have been a surprise to anyone. Indeed, the general consensus among Trump supporters seems to go something like, “Yeah? So?”

By the way, WikiLeaks dropped a counter-scandal about Clinton (arguably, one considerably more substantive) this weekend, too, but it’s been pretty amusing to see how little traction it’s getting. One can imagine Julian Assange jumping up and down, wildly waving his arms around, screaming, “Look at this juicy dirt on Clinton! We worked really hard on getting this you guys! Guys? Anyone?” I see it pop up occasionally in a headline, but it’s typically buried in an avalanche of hundreds of Trump scandal headlines.

Anyway, many Twitter folks are calling for Trump to “step aside” or “step down,” but he can’t at this point. At least here in Virginia, he’s already on the ballot, and people have already submitted absentee ballots votes. If by some chance Trump withdraws, there would essentially be no Republican candidate, as whoever the party replaces him with would probably have to be a write-in with roughly zero chance of winning.

By the way, here’s a couple of nightmare scenarios to ponder: Trump wins the election and then has to resign or is impeached. Or, Trump withdraws, leaving Mike Pence at the top of the ticket, and Pence wins the election in a landslide because he’s more likable than Clinton. Either way, Mike Pence becomes president. Ultra conservative, pro-life, evolution-denying Mike Pence. If that happens, I’ll be directing a very sarcastic slow golf clap toward the American people. “Yay! We got rid of Trump! Oh, wait…”

Humor aside, I’m genuinely worried that we might be in the initial stages of an American civil war. All those Trump supporters (and they are not just a tiny fringe group) are not going to quietly accept a loss to the political establishment (both Republican and Democrat). They’re going to feel extremely disenfranchised (again!), and the only question is how they’re going to respond. They’ve been simmering since 2008.

One last thought: It’s really disturbing to see the number of people who believe that someone’s voting choice is equivalent to a personal attack. For example, I saw someone on Twitter have a melt down because someone they knew was voting for Trump, and felt personally insulted by it. I’ve seen it more than once, actually. I humbly submit that voting isn’t supposed to be like that. Just because you vote one way or the other doesn’t necessarily mean you have the same beliefs as the candidate. Given that we only have two viable choices, it’s statistically unlikely that anyone will have all of the same beliefs as either candidate. We have to pick out maybe one or two things in a candidate’s platform to agree or disagree with and hope for the best.

Okay one other last thought: I think one of the basic problems with political discourse in this country is the constant framing of one candidate as representing the destruction of a way of life (on Twitter, cable news, campaign ads, etc.). People believe that stuff, and they don’t forget. It’s going to have long-term consequences. People out there actually believe Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will destroy everything they know and love about their country. People on the losing side of these elections are increasingly going to get hostile about losing, thinking they’re in real danger, and eventually that hostility is going to turn into something bad. Protests in the streets. Riots, even. Police confrontations on a massive scale. Military involvement. That’s kinda how everything started in Egypt, Libya, and Syria.

Hopefully I’m just being paranoid and pessimistic.

Have fun watching the debate! Ahem, I mean, “debate.”

On The Veep Debate

Tim Kaine is a known quantity for me, since he was my governor and now he’s my senator. Granted I didn’t pay much attention to what he did, but that’s the kind of politician he is: He doesn’t make waves unless you’re into hyper-partisanship. I’ve always seen him as your basic run-of-the-mill politician, stamped out of the politician factory, with the party switch set on “Democrat.”

So my main interest in the veep debate though was sizing up Mike Pence, who I imagine we might be seeing run for president in 2020 or 2024 or both. (I mean, who else is there?) Pence is white and handsome and likable and articulate and funny … and very conservative … and lacks a southern accent. He’s the complete package. If the alt-right adopts him we’ll probably be seeing him again. (I actually don’t know what Trump supporters think of Pence.)

Kaine seemed out of his depth playing the role of attack dog. He’s not good at interrupting people and talking over people and acting like a jerk. Some people can get away with that (*cough* Trump *cough*) but Kaine’s not one of those people. Pence played it smart by playing the victim, although toward the end he started to sound a little whiny.

As for who won, I’d call it for Pence. He was the less annoying of the two. I think it was a mistake for Kaine to keep harping on the sound-bite gaffes that Trump has made. It made him sound like an Internet troll. Those gaffes are in the past now. Pence had an effective counter for it anyway: Essentially laughing it off as gossip that was beneath the dignity of him and the campaign and all of America, or turning it around with, “Okay, you got him, Trump isn’t a polished political speaker like the career politicians that you and Clinton are.” That’s probably the best and only way to handle that situation, and it’s fairly persuasive. I imagine that the kind of people who are seriously undecided, and seriously looking for how to vote, would be turned off by Kaine’s continual return to diversions from policy. A serious undecided voter (by which I mean someone who genuinely cares about making the “right” decision) would be looking for substance, and I think Pence did better there.

Then again, he did dodge a lot of questions about his boss. “I’m happy to defend Trump! Let’s talk about Russia.”

Speaking of which, this time, I noted that it was the Republican ticket bringing the hammer down on Russia. (No pun intended.) Pence said a lot of strong words against Russia, whereas Kaine was mostly all like, “Did you guys hear what Trump said about Putin?” During that discussion it seemed pretty clear that if Trump is elected, Pence will be handling the foreign policy while Trump works on negotiating trade deals and building walls and tweeting at 3 AM. Which again reminds me of your friend and mine, Dick Cheney, who had a big hand in Bush’s administration (that’s historical fact now, isn’t it?).

Elaine Quijano did a much better job as moderator than Lester Holt, or at least tried to. The questions were definitely better. It would be nice if the debate commission would figure out a way to stop the cross-talking though. The easiest solution would be to give the moderator some buttons to turn off microphones after the time limit. But I doubt that’s going to happen. The television sound engineers wouldn’t allow it, for one thing. Anyway it would just end up being distracting. I vaguely remember one year there was an actual “shot clock” that would count down and then buzz when time ran out. It didn’t make for great television, and the candidates just made fun of it.

I was a bit surprised to hear in the pre-debate spiels that among the list of sponsors for the debate was one Anheuser-Busch. I wondered what big corporations could possibly get out of sponsoring debates, but apparently they get free tickets to sit in the audience and (maybe) talk to the candidates. So if you were wondering who those people were in the audience, that’s who they are. Rich CEOs.

The debate had a lot less impact on Twitter (outside of political spheres) than the first presidential debate. Hardly any memes evolved. Which I take to mean that in the end, the debate didn’t matter at all, and it won’t change the election in any way.

And finally, here’s my public service announcement again: Don’t forget to read up on what else is on the ballot. It’s more than just the presidency. Somebody might be trying to change your state constitution. Google for your state’s election board or whatever.

On The First Debate

I don’t even know what to say about that debate. In the first five or ten minutes, I thought for sure that Trump was going to be the next president. Clinton started awkwardly, and Trump killed.

Then the rest happened.

I’ll be honest. Monday night was the first time I watched either candidate in action. Previously, I had only read reports about them, or seen the occasional clip on a news or comedy show.

I was not prepared for the full force of The Donald. Once he went off-script, he mutated into somebody’s crotchety old grandfather, yelling at the television news, not caring in the slightest who hears him. And it’s not like it was a one-off occurrence. He kept doubling-down on it.

Still, there’s a little part of me that thinks, “Wow, it’s refreshing to see somebody running for office who doesn’t care about political correctness.”

I can see why he’s been successful. As, ahem, let’s say “unorthodox” as he is, he makes valid points. I don’t know a thing about trade deals, but I’d be inclined to agree that America’s aren’t great. And it is good business to buy property when the housing market crashes, if you’ve got money laying around. It is smart to avoid paying taxes, if you’re a billionaire. The problem is you can’t say those things in a nationally-televised debate when you’re trying to become president! He’s not trying to win the vote of billionaire CEOs, he’s trying to win the votes of undecided millennials, who mainly just want to hear that the rest of their lives won’t be one constant, meaningless struggle to pay bills.

Clinton had her share of cringe-worthy moments, too, by the way. Every time she tried to be funny, for instance. You could tell when she switched back and forth between rehearsed material and off-the-cuff remarks. I think she may have lost some male votes with that “he’s a bully to women” bit at the end, and it wasn’t even necessary by that point.

I still stand by my previous observation. Clinton is the devil we know, and Trump is the devil we don’t know. And there’s several others running if you don’t want either devil.

I came away with two other lasting impressions. The first is that I completely underestimated Mike Pence. I saw him sit down on CBS for a few minutes and deliver some world-class spin about how well Trump did. That guy seems pretty smart and, more importantly, personable. I don’t get why he isn’t the Republican nominee. I need to read more about him. I wrote before that he’s no Dick Cheney, but I’ll be damed if he doesn’t act exactly like Dick Cheney. (In the sense that he acted like an all-powerful puppet master, staying away from the spotlight, the kind of person who could do some serious damage as a vice president.)

The other surprise came from Clinton: I felt like she really threw down a gauntlet against Russia with some harsh words about cyber attacks. “And we’re going to have to make it clear that we don’t want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don’t want to engage in a different kind of warfare. But we will defend the citizens of this country.” (From transcript.) Those sound like pretty strong words, and they didn’t come from Trump.

P.S. I thought it was pretty smart that Jill Stein went and got herself escorted away by police. Good publicity stunt. Where was Gary Johnson, eh? (Probably off trying to learn some geography.) And the other Independent guy whose name I don’t even know? More missed opportunities there.

On The 2016 Election

I’m going to publish hopefully this one post on the 2016 election, because, to be perfectly honest, I’m terrified to express an opinion about this on the Internet.

electionmap

I still consider myself mostly a centrist on the left-right spectrum of politics. Some issues I lean left on, some issues I lean right on, but usually not very far either way. I typically take things on a case-by-case basis, and hardly ever form a “this is the way it should always be” kind of opinion, because circumstances always change. (This is probably a side effect of my experience as a software developer.)

That should be enough right there to tell you why I’m scared to talk about politics on the Internet anymore. The Internet no longer understands Gray. There is only Black and White on the Internet now. Politically, the Internet consensus either leans extremely far to the left, or extremely far to the right. (Mostly left, if one were to be truthful, but the right is catching up in some sectors.)

With regard to this election in particular, if you’re not 100% anti-Trump or 100% anti-Clinton, you’re probably going to be a target for a horde of zealots who think they know everything they need to know from Stephen Colbert, Fox News, and/or some animated GIFs.

Unfortunately I have this weird habit of throwing out all the memes and headlines and rhetoric about candidates. I look at memes and say, “That’s a funny meme, but I wonder if it’s actually true?” Usually a little digging will reveal it’s not.

For example, like everyone else, I saw that photo of a crowd turning their backs on Clinton to take selfies with her, with a caption something like, “This is what’s wrong with America.” Or, “This is 2016 in a nutshell.” Or, “Kids today.” Or something along those lines. I chuckled. But what’s the first thing I thought? “I bet that was intended to be an opportunity for selfies and everyone is taking that photo out of context.” I didn’t even bother to look it up because I knew that’s what it had to be.

It’s best to assume that every media report (in this I include social media) about any candidate is a 100% bald-faced lie, and proceed from there. The days of journalists reporting facts so that we humble citizens can make informed political decisions are long dead. (Well, let’s say ten or fifteen years dead.) And social media? Citizen journalism? Don’t make me laugh. Citizens are the worst. Political bloggers? It’s all filthy, stinking lies.

But that’s beside the point. The real point of this post is: For me, it doesn’t matter who wins this election. For America, I don’t believe it matters either. Both candidates have merits and flaws. (Gasp!)

A Clinton Presidency?

There’s not much to say about Clinton. She represents the status quo in this election. I don’t have a problem with the status quo at the moment, so it won’t hurt me if she were elected. I am actually better off than I was 8 years ago, but I’m not so naive as to think it has anything to do with who was president. It was all me. Me, I tell you!

I said above that I’m fairly centrist. Clinton is a centrist Democrat, so her ideology fits reasonably well with mine, so there’s nothing to complain about there. She’s (probably) not going to start any wars, she’s not going to try to overturn the second amendment, she’s not going to change any marriage laws.

Personally, I’ve suspected that Clinton would be the next president ever since she dropped out of the 2008 race. I assumed that Obama made a deal with her so she would step aside and endorse him.

I don’t particularly want another Clinton in the White House, though, because of the knee-jerk partisanship she brings with her. Republicans will continue to obstruct everything at every turn, because that’s what they do now, and boy will they ramp it up against a Clinton. I could easily imagine Republicans spending her entire term trying to impeach her for whatever made-up reasons they can make stick. It will be another four years of epic gridlock.

Oh, she used a private email server? I’ve seen how government secures their computers, so her email was probably safer on a private server (even if it was hacked). The very idea that she should be sent to prison for using a private server sounds silly and hyper-partisan to me. Like trying to sink a politician’s career over jay-walking or speeding. If anything, it should make everyone feel better about her as president, because you know she’s never going to make that mistake again. (And yes, I believe it was a mistake, because to believe otherwise is to believe she was deliberately leaking emails to our adversaries, and that level of planning and sophistication is rarely present in government circles.)

What about Benghazi? A catastrophe, but nobody’s fault. Except, you know, the terrorists.

But nobody really cares about Clinton and her baggage, do they? The 2016 election is all about one man.

A Trump Presidency?

Here is where I’m going to start to get into trouble. I said above that if you’re not 100% anti-Trump or 100% anti-Clinton, you’re going to be a target, but the dirty truth of the matter is that it’s only if you’re not 100% anti-Trump that you’ll be a target. If you breathe even a word suggesting that you might in fact only be, say, 60% against Trump, I’m a little scared of the consequences. I’m afraid that only being 60% against Trump is basically the same as being a full-blown, racist, misogynist, pro-Trump supporter, in the eyes of the Internet. Followers and readers could be lost, which is the currency of the Internet.

So here goes.

Stripping things down to the basics, Trump is an outsider, which makes him a big question mark. With Clinton, we know exactly what we’re going to get: A career politician. With Trump, we’re not so sure, but we know it’s not a career politician. He’s more of a career used-car salesman.

But there’s a solid case to be made for the fact that “career politicians” are not doing the country any favors. They are not “public servants”–they are more in the business of avoiding trouble. Their goals are to stay in office by maintaining a solid level of mediocrity that attracts no negative attention.

Trump, on the other hand, has and would definitely shake things up, or at least try to, and I don’t necessarily think that would be bad for America. Right now, the country feels stagnant, even falling behind. At least in my industry, which is technology. (Unfortunately I haven’t seen Trump say anything about that.)

This might sound surprising, but Trump is fairly moderate on the Republican scale. Just saying “Trump is fairly moderate” is likely to get me in trouble. Some people will say, “OMG are you crazy he wants to build a frickin’ wall!” Some other people will say, “OMG are you crazy he’s the hero of the alt-right!”

But I don’t see him as ideologically-motivated at all. I think he’s more interested in generating controversy to capitalize on the publicity it gets, and what generates more controversy in this country than immigration reform? (Answer: Healthcare reform.)

But we’ve seen Trump moderate his positions since the primaries. His veep choice is a bone for conservatives that won’t matter much in the long run. Mike Pence is no Dick Cheney, in other words. Trump will not allow anyone to upstage him.

The bottom line is that Trump is a pretty smart candidate–he manipulates the media and public opinion like a pro. There’s a reason his name is in the headlines every single day, and Clinton–potentially the first woman president!–is an afterthought.

Still, I don’t particularly like the guy and I think he’s terrible at politics. He’s got the stage presence of an awkward circus clown, and I feel like I’m in a monster truck audience when I listen to him. (Caveat: I have never listened to a complete Trump speech.)

I have no idea what will happen if Trump wins, but if I had to guess I’d say: Nothing. He’s created so much ill-will among the political establishment that I don’t think he’ll be able to get anything done. Clinton would have all Republicans against her, but Trump would have all Democrats and all Republicans against him.

The infamous wall will be a giant boondoggle, if it ever sees light. (I’m not sure it’s within the realm of a president’s duties to build walls.) If it does, maybe it will create jobs for a while. Will it ever get actually built? Surely not within four years or even eight. After that it will probably be cancelled.

Many people I see on the Internet, particularly those outside the U.S., are literally afraid of a Trump presidency. The comparisons to Hitler are flung far and wide. (Those comparisons, by the way, break down immediately if you spend five minutes reading a Wikipedia article on Hitler’s rise to power.) I don’t like Trump, but he’s not going to hurt the country. Or the world. He’s not going to declare war on Canada or Iran or anything, or start mass deportations. He’s just going to give terrible speeches and provide a lot of fodder for comedians for four years. (I wouldn’t expect him to be re-elected.)

What about the others?

Poor Gary Johnson: He’s only able to get into the news when he makes a colossal, campaign-ending bungle. Jill Stein can’t even get that much publicity. This election year has been a mind-bogglingly huge missed opportunity for third parties.

Predictions

One thing is certain: This will be the lowest turnout for an election in a long time. Democrats and Republicans both hate their respective candidates. This election is probably going to be decided by the extremists in both parties.

Right now, I really don’t know who’s going to win. I once thought (like most people I think) that if Trump won the Republican nomination, it would be a shoe-in for Clinton. But Trump has done a remarkable job of moderating himself since the primaries. He’s no longer hurting himself every time he opens his mouth. Media headlines have been scrambling to find Trump blunders to report on. They are so blatantly riding the anti-Trump bandwagon that I think, hilariously, it’s actually helping Trump. Joe Average American surely must be feeling bad for Trump over how much the media tries to parse his every word in a bad light.

(I don’t usually get on the “liberal media bias” bandwagon but it’s very obvious the media is no longer amused by Trump’s candidacy, and now fears it.)

Polling is surprisingly close. It might come down to the debates, which is sad because I’m sure they will be completely vapid affairs where each candidate jockeys to be the best at avoiding a last-minute viral blunder. Smirking at the wrong time might cost someone the presidency.

I don’t know about nationwide but I’ll go out on a limb and say that I think Trump will win Virginia, despite Tim Kaine being on Clinton’s ticket. This is based mainly on the fact that I have personally seen two Trump yard signs and zero Clinton yard signs. (The science is undeniable.)

Monday night’s debate will be the first time that I sit down to watch the candidates for any length of time. (It will not affect my vote, however, as I decided how I was going to vote months ago.)

Conclusion

Honestly, nobody should be deciding how to vote based on these circus debates, however they turn out. Don’t be a dumb American. Turn off your confirmation bias, go to the candidates’ web sites, and read their platforms.

And this is the most important thing you should take away from this post, if you’ve read this far: Make sure you read up on what else will be on the ballot besides the presidential election. There are congressional elections, too, and probably some local issues. Local issues are usually what affect us the most anyway.

P.S. I’m disabling comments to censor you. Yes, you in particular.