Tag Archives: Politics

Tuesday Talks: Trump’s Transition

John Buterbaugh and Patrick Wood chatted via Facebook regarding Trump’s transition and the future of the party system in America.

JOHN: Okay, we have to deal with the confusing situation that is Donald Trump’s presidency. Brought to you by Trump Industries. “If a politician does it, it’s corrupt. If I do it, it’s good business.” Let’s start off with his transition team. FiveThirtyEight is saying the nomination process is the fastest of all time. I think he’s rushing. I think he’s clogging the pipes for the swamp he’s trying to drain. Your thoughts on his transition and what his presidency might look like?

PATRICK: I can’t say conclusively what strategy he’s employing. I can say however that all his cabinet picks so far have been terrifying, and his potential picks for other positions are just as bad if not worse. This is a far-right cabinet.

JOHN: This is truly an awful Cabinet nomination process. You have alt-right Steve Bannon of Breitbart News as his Chief of Staff, an earshot from the presidency. He says he’s not a white nationalist, he’s a nationalist. Well, Steve, you’re white and a nationalist. And you say anti-Semitic things. So, stop splitting hairs. And you, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions? Were you frozen in an ice capsule in the 1950s with the strict instructions: “Do Not Open Until 2016”? Who jokes about supporting the KKK until he found out they smoked marijuana? Mnuchin as his Treasury Secretary will be a disaster. You don’t hire a Wall Street banker if you’re putting America first. You’re putting the top 1% first.

However, I am pleased that he is still strongly opposed to TPP. I am for free trade because China has things we don’t, and the U.S. has things they don’t. So, naturally we need to trade. However, you don’t sign onto a trade deal without knowing what the heck is in it. (I’m talking about you, Gary Johnson.) So, I’m hoping Trump is careful with trade. He also said that he wants to legalize medicinal marijuana and allow states to choose their policies, but he has a Attorney General nominee who wants to do the exact opposite.
Trump has not been consistent on most issues except trade. He has denounced trade deals since the 1980s. I think he’s biased though because he’s never had to outsource real-estate jobs. Most of his workers have to be on location pretty much.

PATRICK: It was interesting to see Trump move to left for a quick second after being elected, only to make these cabinet picks after. He is suddenly okay with parts of the ACA, is rethinking the mass deportations but then appoints a white nationalist as chief of staff, a racist as AG, and is thinking about putting Sarah Palin in as Interior Secretary. Can you imagine? That’s the department that heads the Bureau of Indian Affairs! I’d be hard pressed to name ANYONE who would be worse pick. This is one of most marginalized demographics in the US. To put Palin in charge would be an insult.

JOHN: Really I believe Trump thinks the presidency is about negotiating everything. He’s claimed to be a negotiator in everything he does. He took a really harsh tone in his campaign and really harsh positions. Now he’s backpedaled on a lot of his big talking points (thank God.) Now he’s starting to move toward the middle because he’s opening up the negotiation process. And also because he is starting to face reality. Trump realizes he has a loyal following that will never leave him. Period. He can do whatever he wants, and they won’t leave him. I’m not sure people took his promises literally — although saying he would not pursue prosecution of the Clintons (which he can’t do by himself anyway) might ruffle some feathers, even with his diehard supporters.

PATRICK: I’m glad to see he’s not pushing for it, though. Maybe democracy will survive in this country after all! This man really has undermined American democracy by threatening to jail his opponent and refusing to accept unfavorable election results. That’s not behavior befitting a U.S. president.

JOHN: Fox News comments seems to show they are letting the “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons” decision slide. Hillary losing is enough OR other people can prosecute Hillary. However, I don’t believe she will run for president again. I honestly don’t see Republicans trying to take her down anymore. They only seem to do that when she is in a political position or seeking one.

I’m starting to see a pattern though. He is taking these really ridiculous statements like saying he will imprison political opponents, but then he backpedaled on that with Hillary. It’s good negotiating. He takes an extreme position so that he negotiates to where he actually wanted to be in the first place. Although I don’t see how you could negotiate on Cabinet picks. The Republicans control the Senate. Trump has some leverage there. I’m not sure compromising would be in his cards.

PATRICK: This is true. He takes an absurd position and then is applauded when he moderates it slightly. He plays that game quite well.

JOHN: “We’re gonna build a wall” became “Some of it might be a fence.” There is already fencing! “We’re going to deport all 11 million immigrants” became “We won’t deport all of them.” Obama is already deporting more immigrants than Bush did. Trump will probably take credit for all immigration reform when a lot of it was already taking place under Bush and Obama. I will add, you can see fencing on the border with Mexico on Google Earth. 580 miles of it.

PATRICK: It’s almost sad how little difference there is with regard to the physical border among our politicians. They pretend differently, but Hillary voted for a “fence” twice, I believe.

JOHN: Yeah, I think a non-Hillary candidate will be great next time. Maybe Joe Biden. Common touch, straight talker, good salesman, loves people. Only baggage is the plagiarism incidents (during his campaign and during college) and the fact that he is a bit of a loose cannon. But hey, America should be used to that by now. Melania and Donald have shown us the light. “All the words you just used were taken from the dictionary. Isn’t everything plagiarism?” Anyway, what is the left-wing equivalent of Donald Trump’s strategy? Tax Donald Trump at 100% and settle on $25 million?

PATRICK: There was a fair bit of demagoguery coming from my preferred candidate Bernie Sanders to be completely fair. He would have had to come to the center from his original positions if he was to get anything done.

JOHN: Do you think the Democrats should use the same strategy? They keep negotiating with themselves it seems. They have only gone right in the past 10-15 years, allowing the Republicans to go so far to the right they need to extend the wall so that the Republicans can have more space. But Sanders was right to say he will never compromise on key social issues like sexism, xenophobia, etc. I can live in peace knowing that he is what he stood for. I can live with compromising on tax reform as long as we the people get a good deal. It’s so unsexy and it’s so numerical, who really cares?

PATRICK: It’s also certainly less important than “who gets to be treated with dignity and respect?”

JOHN: The president is a role model. People watch. It’s important that Trump realizes that. Not sure he will. I’m pretty sure he’s simply a megalomaniac sociopath bent on using the presidency for personal gain and to subjugate historically oppressed people. But I could be wrong. Zootopia is about that situation. Have you seen it?

PATRICK: I haven’t, unfortunately!

JOHN: It’s funny and timely. A kid’s movie explains the fear of people who are different and the political exploitation of that fear quite poignantly.

PATRICK: That’s certainly extremely relevant to what’s happening and what has happened.

JOHN: However, I don’t think Trump’s only appeal to his voters was the race-baiting. A lot of Trump supporters didn’t want “another career politician” or bought all the theories of Clinton criminality and decided Trump was better than electing a criminal.
He spoke simply and toughly. That plays well with people who speak simply and toughly. If you’re not college educated, you don’t need jargon and nuance in your life. You just need a simple job like everyone else.

PATRICK: Right. Neither candidate was a person of the people or the working class. Trump however was much better at talking like it. You don’t win elections by talking at length about intricate details of politics unfortunately. That’s lost on most people; it’s the flashy headlines and insults that people remember.

JOHN: Bernie Sanders was very much of the working class. But he didn’t really talk like it. He did every speech like a college lecture with passion, but it was still more professorial than conversational.

A Jewish carpenter who pays his taxes, includes people of all stripes, and wants to give to the poor. How did they not see him as Jesus? I suppose a prophet is never excepted in his hometown as they say, or home party as I say.

PATRICK: The DNC colluded against Jesus to prop up… struggling for an apt historical figure here.. perhaps King George?

JOHN: No, I’m thinking Biblical… King Herod.

PATRICK: The only advantage is the knowledge of statesmanship.

JOHN: Go on.

PATRICK: I said King George originally because there was a lot of distaste between the American commoners and the King. No secret. The King took a rather patronizing approach. But at least he had experience and knew something about statesmanship. But Americans then and now decided to flip everything on its head, to defy order and perhaps even conventional wisdom in the hope of attaining something GREAT and very new
In the name of avoiding taxes! And it sucked at first. Originally our leaders didn’t know what they were doing. We had to suffer through the Articles of Confederation (states’ rights!) Eventually we came to realize that “new” isn’t always good. Letting states coin their own currency was a mistake.

JOHN: You can’t do interstate commerce that way! Horrible idea.

PATRICK: And the best political system is one that protects and guarantees basic liberties for everyone including, especially, unpopular minority groups.

I think Hillary lost for five reasons
1. The Electoral College
2. She wasn’t exciting in the same vein as Obama — so this stifled favorable turnout at the polls
3. The opposition painted her effectively as a crook
4. Liberals overplayed their hand on campus safe spaces and transgender issues
5. The DNC is corrupt and was caught rigging the primary

In a way, this result was foreseeable. The DNC was always going to get caught. Hillary was winning mostly red states she had no shot at taking during the general election, and Bernie was polling better against Trump in the head-to-head polling.

JOHN: We need a palate cleanser and we need to fix the party. It keeps losing. It lost the presidency, Congress, and most state legislatures. How the hell are we supposed to reverse Citizens United with a party led by a supposedly populist billionaire running the show?

PATRICK: It doesn’t stand for anything. We need a popular extremist. A Bernie or a Warren. Someone fiery with solid, easy to understand convictions. I think Bernie would do well with working-class voters.

JOHN: How do you think Elizabeth Warren would do with them? I am not sure a liberal woman would be their cup of tea.

PATRICK: I actually agree. I hate to admit it, but our next champion may have to be male.
A lot of voters described Hillary as “shrill.” And honestly I think they just don’t like the female voice talking about leading the country.

JOHN: Hillary’s voice doesn’t strike me as totally unusual. It is a bit shrill and knowing Hillary says one thing and does another aggravates that view.

PATRICK: What do you think about Keith Ellison as chairman of the DNC? Do you feel that the Congressman’s religion makes it a better or worse choice? The DNC chair will be a response to Trump. And to a lesser extent, meant to address problems of corruption within the party.

JOHN: Politically? Possibly. Although I don’t think he’s a big name. He’s going to be more exposed as he becomes more famous naturally.

PATRICK: I think Howard Dean may have been too closely tied with Hillary to be a good pick.

JOHN: There needs to be some fresh faces — new blood. Also, Cory Booker needs to become a better speaker. I love him, but he is too loud all the time during his speeches to be the future of the party.

PATRICK: Good observation, I agree (and also share your affinity for him)
If that improves I think Cory could be wonderful. He has down to earth charm, youth, and is perceived as honest.

JOHN: Right. He is energetic, positive, and has no known baggage. But he is technically urban and he’s from a suburban state. He’s not the best face of rural voters.
There isn’t really a good representative for rural voters in the party other than Bernie. His state is among the most rural in the country.

PATRICK: I suppose this is all true, but most rural states go are deep red, beyond the reach of almost any Democrat.

JOHN: Right. But Wisconsin’s rural population was more Democratic than its suburban population. But then Trump changed that. Bernie would have won it. It’s important that we not take the Midwest for granted. The rural voters are more reachable in the Midwest.

PATRICK: I think that is an area where people actually do listen to both sides, before generally picking the one that seems most the most honest and the most like them.
Which one *would want* to have a beer with me?

JOHN: Ironically, Trump says he doesn’t drink alcohol; so, good luck drinking beer with him.

PATRICK: Haha!!

JOHN: I would say I would rather have a beer with Bush then Gore. Bush would be more easygoing I think. Gore is too stiff.

PATRICK: Stiffness is a major political liability. Candidates deemed robotic almost always lose.

JOHN: That killed Jeb Bush. He was too conscientious.

PATRICK: And many other people. Jeb appeared a little timid at the debates. And debates are about presentation more than substance. So Trump exuded strength, bullied Jeb with monosyllabic words, and won. It was over as soon as Jeb stuttered (which he did several times.)

JOHN: He also broke a rule the others wouldn’t — never speak ill of another Republican.

PATRICK: Trump broke every rule in the book. Originally wouldn’t even commit to running Republican.

JOHN: He briefly ran as a Reform Party candidate in 2000.

PATRICK: And he did the fake out quasi-runs in 2008 and 2012. Do you think we’ll be seeing Kanye in 2020?

JOHN: Dear God, Trump vs. Kanye. What an absolute disaster. Just what we need. More narcissists. Kanye is the hip-hop Trump.

PATRICK: This really seems like the end of civilization. Rome 2.0.

JOHN: Our hubris will be the end of us. Or at least the hubris of a handful of idiocrats will be the end of us.

PATRICK: This will be our fate if we don’t take all this as a wake-up call and respond appropriately in four years. The electoral college worked exactly as it was designed to
and then plunged the country into the alt-right abyss.

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Tuesday Talks: Electoral Reform

Tuesday Talks will be an ongoing series of discussions among the contributors to Greater Scheme. We will discuss of variety of issues, mainly political, but we will discuss other topics as we see fit.

JOHN: All right, let’s talk about electoral reform. There are a number of factors that determine how the current electoral system in the United States operates, and Patrick and I will discuss those factors and address potential solutions with the hope of promoting and protecting democratic values. Patrick, would you like to start with some issues you’re seeing with the current system?

PATRICK: Absolutely! Thank you for discussing this vitally important topic with me. I think one of the biggest problems with our current electoral system is that it is a pretty firmly entrenched two-party system. It results in similar candidates, lack of meaningful choice, and allows parties to put forward increasingly unpopular candidates – this has culminated this year in the major parties presenting the two most disfavored candidates in any contemporary American presidential election.

Outdated voting machines and a complicated registration process are also cause for concern.

JOHN: What I find interesting about this argument is that the two-party system is nothing new. The current two-party system dates back to the 1850s when the Republican Party was formed. And we’ve had some solid presidents and statesmen come our way since then. Abraham Lincoln was part of that system as was Teddy Roosevelt and FDR. I think the problem with the current two-party system is its relationship with campaign finance. The Koch Brothers, of course, don’t fund Libertarian candidates because they don’t win. They spend most of their campaign funds on Republican candidates. As a result, the Republicans get most of the money. The Democrats have their fair share of corporations and special interests that fund them. Don’t get me wrong.

People’s discontent toward government has grown because the politics is getting more polarized. That wouldn’t have happened if Newt Gingrich didn’t have 24-7 news as his soapbox so that he could speak out against Bill Clinton and his policies. Polarization wouldn’t have happened if Fox News didn’t become the conservative network, if MSNBC didn’t become the liberal network, if CNN didn’t become the establishment Democrat network. People get to customize their news, and the news customizes itself to boost its ratings. That’s a very tricky problem that doesn’t have a clear governmental solution. Requiring certain news to be more neutral or punishing news corporations for not being truthful is very dangerous if we want to preserve the First Amendment. How does one define neutrality? How does one define truth? The truth is that it is somewhere in between, and we need to change as a culture, think critically, and move toward a society that is open to cognitive dissonance.

And sure there is bipartisan corruption, but I think instead of the parties being opponents, they have become even more like enemies. And it’s trickled down to regular people.

PATRICK: I agree! It is very interesting how two parties that in the grand scheme of things aren’t that different ideologically, have become almost childish in their relations with the other party, often refusing to compromise and saying pretty awful things about members on the other side.

Americans have been quick to follow the example they set, and we seem to enjoy demonizing our neighbors who belong to the other party.

JOHN: I think a big thing we’ve seen is that lately the Republicans have been the ones that are better at sticking to their guns than Democrats. The Democrats will generally support something in name only, but often won’t get to do much about it. And of course, who will support a party who tries to emulate the center-right in the name of ending gridlock when that gridlock never actually ends?! The Republican Party currently thrives on gridlock because ideologically it supports their ends. The government can’t grow if new laws aren’t passed. And it’s very hard politically to repeal laws once they have come into effect. So, they stick to gridlock because they are trying to prove that government doesn’t work and that we should have less of it. It’s a fairly brilliant strategy because, along with gerrymandering, the Republicans continue to control both houses of Congress. It’s an awful strategy because disapproval of Congress is even worse than that of cockroaches, and people have begun disliking the two parties even more.

And yet, approval of individual candidates is stronger. People like their House Rep or Senator because they bring funds into their home states. It’s sort of like rooting for the Bears if you’re from Chicago but disapproving of the NFL for all the concussions. The Bears are part of a system of constant concussions that the NFL won’t acknowledge. Politically, the system is more corrupt, because individual politicians try to do the right thing, but the system is stacked against them (money, egos, etc.)

PATRICK: I think new restrictions of pork barrel spending are going to gradually reduce the popularity of individual lawmakers and Congress over all while making gridlock even worse, but your Chicago Bears analogy is apt. Some people will support whoever represents their hometown. Without pork we’ll see less quid pro quo compromise. And I think we are already starting to see that.

JOHN: That’s an excellent point. I believe Lincoln was the one who realized that pork was necessary to get anything done. And it’s easier to advocate for more spending in your state if you’re a longtime incumbent.

And there’s an argument that we need term limits, but then there’s the issue of having constantly inexperienced people coming into the system and then leaving without making much of an impact. I think a big issue with these Congressional terms is that they are too short. Two years is not enough time to get anything done in the House of Representatives. You cajole people into giving you campaign funds to get elected, and then a year later you’re already campaigning again. There’s no time to actually do your job. I realize that the Founders wanted that turnover for the sake of common people having a say more often, but it doesn’t take into account the rising costs of campaigns. If we wanted to fix that, four-year or even six-year terms would be better. We want our leaders to focus long term, not on the current election cycle.

PATRICK: I think you’re on to something. If you listen to former congressmen talk about the fundraising aspect of their job they all absolutely detested how much time they spent doing it. A lot of them came in wanting to make a difference, only to find themselves spending huge chunks of time on the phone asking for money from people they really didn’t know.

JOHN: But I wanted to jump back to that polarization conversation. The polarization and gridlock in Congress makes people leave their respective political parties and become independents. Often, the people left behind are even less sane, the groupthink gets groupier, and the gridlock gets worse. And now you have all these independents who don’t have a say in who gets to be the Democratic or Republican nominee. If independents actually got to vote in these primaries, I think Bernie Sanders would have squeaked by and John Kasich might have actually had a fighting chance.

PATRICK: Maybe. The primaries aren’t very democratic. They put independent-minded populists like Bernie Sanders at a disadvantage. Trump falls in that category too. In Louisiana, he got more votes than Ted Cruz, but fewer delegates!! The deck was stacked against him, but amazingly he still won.

JOHN: I think a big thing with that GOP primary was that all these billionaires could buy their own presidential candidates. The dumbest thing for the GOP to do was allow 17 candidates to run. At least in hindsight. They had no idea Trump could actually come into the scene and win. If they had known what was going to happen, the GOP could’ve sat down with potential candidates and try to talk them out of running for president by offering them support for a different position instead. I don’t know if their efforts in that case would have been fruitful, but having that many candidates fractured the voice of whatever sanity was left in the party.

And sure, Trump had the cards stacked against him in a way. The GOP traditionally picks the tried-and-true establishment candidate. But all Trump had to do was win the plurality of the votes in many states and take all of those states’ delegates! 60% of the voters in a state could have voted against him and yet he is 100% the Republican nominee today.

PATRICK: That’s a good point. The “moderate” Republican vote was pulled every which-way during the primary.

JOHN: Maybe preferential voting could have helped, but that might just encourage more people to run. I’m a special ed teacher, and I don’t think people need that risk of candidate ADHD in their lives.

PATRICK: I hear that argument invoked sometimes when I bring up how terrible the two-party system is, which plagues not only the presidency, but Congress as well. Perhaps its effect on Congress is even more damaging. Congress is not representative of the electorate.

JOHN: Of course it’s not. Only a third of registered voters even bother to show up for midterm elections.

PATRICK: When they do, they are often presented with just 1-2 choices for a given office. And those choices are often not a great match for the voter.

JOHN: I know some countries mandate voting with the penalty of a fine so that the leaders are representative of the electorate. I believe Australia is one of these countries. I’m concerned that many politically inactive would just vote randomly and not take the process seriously. What do you think?

PATRICK: I agree. I don’t think voting should ever be mandatory. Not only do you risk random voting but I think not voting makes a statement too. I support a really right not to vote, ha ha ha. I do favor a parliamentary/proportional representation system for our Congress. But participation in that process shouldn’t be compulsory.

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Image 1.

JOHN: If we really want to increase turnout, I think it would be smarter to stop making voting access worse. Often, polling places are put in an area that poor people can’t access because they can’t drive to the location. We also really need to hammer home the fact that people can send an absentee ballot. But the sad thing is that a lot of people don’t vote because they don’t think the candidates are any different or because their vote doesn’t count. Well, maybe if we got these people together (which is often the majority of voters!) and we said to them, “Take a look around you. These people stayed home just like you because they thought their vote wouldn’t count. If all of you voted, your vote would count. Big time.” (Image 1).

PATRICK: A proportional representation system would increase the differences in the views and backgrounds of candidates. I think it would do a lot to stifle the view that all politicians are the same. A belief that a vote doesn’t matter isn’t helped by undemocratic primaries. A lot of people feel that way because of the Electoral College too. But I see the utility in the electoral college (making sure a candidate is popular across a wide geographic range).

JOHN: I mean, the number of swing states seems to have gotten smaller historically. So, in theory, it would be easier for presidential candidates to only have to campaign in those states. But then they pander to those states only, and campaigns still get more expensive.

I know voting equipment was an issue for you. What are some issues you’re seeing there, and what should we do to address them?

PATRICK: For starters, some polling locations are still equipped with machines from the 1970s. At least some of these machines will lose its record of all the votes cast if its battery depletes. This is unacceptable. If there is one thing most people would agree is worth investing in, it would probably be safeguarding our democracy by ensuring our votes are counted.

And it’s not just equipment! Purging someone from the rolls because they haven’t voted in X years is ridiculous. A lot of New Yorkers ended up unable to vote in this primary after discovering on election day they had been purged in this way.

JOHN: It’s important to keep our equipment updated. Nothing lasts forever. I’m not sure I’ve heard of the equipment being as old as the 1970s. I don’t think they had touchscreen machines and Scantron machines back then. I have heard of equipment that hasn’t been updated in 10 years, which makes sense, because there was a huge exodus from punch cards toward electronic equipment. And then we just stopped bothering to keep them up.

I made sure to check online to see if my dad or I had been removed from the polls. We weren’t, but it’s important that people know these online resources exist!
PATRICK: I think I saw machines from the 1970s on an episode of the Daily Show this year. I’ll look up the video later tonight, I think it’s on youtube!
JOHN: I think John Oliver brought that up as well. Maybe, maybe not.
PATRICK: A lot of people are totally unaware of online resources to expedite voting. And even I’m not sure how absentee ballots work. I’ve changed my address with the election board each time I’ve moved, even if the move was just for school.
JOHN: I’ve used absentee ballots on numerous occasions. I’ve kept my address the same as that of my parents even though I don’t live with them for work reasons. It’s because I enjoy voting in the village elections in Skaneateles. I’ll probably change it to Binghamton in a few years though. But absentee ballots are fairly straightforward. I just went online, looked at the due dates for when everything had to be sent and received, filled out the form, and sent it to the Onondaga County Board of Elections.
PATRICK: Painted Post elections aren’t very exciting. Our mayoral elections are often uncontested. My father ran in 2006, and was the first Democrat to seek that office since the 1940s. Most things are pre-destined here.
JOHN: Oh, before we forget… There is a huge, huge issue that we need to talk about… And that is voter ID laws.

PATRICK: Ah, yes. There is no real need for them. But they are great at keeping poor people of color away from the polls. “Voter fraud” the reason given for their existence by their proponents, almost never happens. Almost no cases of double voting whatsoever.

JOHN: It’s very obvious that they are discriminatory. I think it was a majority leader from Pennsylvania’s state legislature that said that they were solidifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes for the GOP presidential candidate. Awful. In reality, that would have only swung it 1% in favor of Romney in 2012, but that is still WAY bigger than the 0.0001% or whatever votes that are fraudulent.
PATRICK: Yes!!
JOHN: And I’m reading about Alabama which is closing down DMV offices in mostly counties that are majority black and that voted for Obama. If you really want to crack down on fraud, that’s one thing, but it’s very obvious that you are manipulating whatever Democratic votes are left in Alabama instead of actually cracking down on voting fraud.
PATRICK: That’s sickening.
JOHN: Fact check — Those DMV closures in Alabama happened in 2015, and the state reopened them. But it’s still horrendous.
PATRICK: Agreed.
JOHN: Clear violation of the spirit of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
PATRICK: Gerrymandering though is often racial. Racial barriers are everywhere.
JOHN: North Carolina has realized that. They’ve gerrymandered a district such that it has a significantly African-American electorate and as a result an African-American representative. But then the rest of the state’s representatives are disproportionately Republican even as the state has gotten more purple. That’s because the Republican state legislature realized that they could pack a ton of Democratic voters into that district and not have to worry much about them elsewhere.
Anyway, I think we should wrap up this discussion. I’m getting sleepy! Any final thoughts?
PATRICK: The two-party system is awful, especially for our picking our representatives in the legislative branch. We need to make voting easier, but not compulsory. The decline of pork barrel spending means an increase in gridlock in Congress. Finally, voter ID laws are terrible, and their proponents have a pretty obvious ulterior motive.
JOHN: And there you have it! Our first Tuesday Talk has come to a close. We’ll see you next week, folks!
PATRICK: Thanks for having me!
JOHN: Always a pleasure.

The Nightmare of Hillary Clinton

By PATRICK WOOD

Hillary Clinton is a nightmare for American leftists.

How many Sanders supporters and peaceniks happily hopped, skipped, and jumped over to the Clinton campaign when it become apparent Bernie Sanders was not going to win the Democratic nomination? Surely not as many as had serious reservations, flat-out refused to support Clinton, or only made the switch because of the grotesque spectre of a Trump presidency.

This is partly because Clinton doesn’t have nor does she deserve the same reputation for honesty and political integrity that Sanders does. Clinton’s statement that she “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified” on her private e-mail server while she was Secretary of State was not true and her recounting of landing under sniper fire in Bosnia was either a sign of a very faulty memory or a straight-up fib.

Mostly, however, it’s because Clinton has embraced policy positions that most progressives in 2016 do not support. Clinton has rejected the idea of pursuing single-payer healthcare, instead she wants to work to improve the ObamaCare system. Clinton has refused to encourage a ban on fracking or an end to the Drug War. Wall Street banks like Citi Group and Goldman Sachs liter her list of top contributors over her political career. Her foreign policy views have been labeled “hawkish” and include a threat to go to war with Iran if it breaches the nuclear agreement and a promise to immediately attempt to remove the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad from power.

Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine as her running mate will do little to herd in fleeing progressives. Kaine is a boring centrist, with a lackluster record on reproductive rights and staunchly pro-Israel foreign policy views. To his credit, Kaine is surprisingly progressive on gun control for a Virginia senator, and that is perhaps the one issue where this ticket presents any hope for progressive change.

The progressive vote is going to be divided in many ways this November, but most progressive voters will fall into one of four categories: voting for Clinton, writing-in Bernie Sanders, voting for Jill Stein, or staying home because they are disillusioned with the two major party candidates.

Jill Stein, who barely cracked 0.3% of the vote last election, is poised to have a much, much bigger year. In her, progressives see an opportunity to vote for an agenda they agree with that doesn’t exist with Hillary, and they don’t have to forgo voting for a female candidate for President of the United States.

Of course, this presents the same old bitter debate over third party candidates. Many, like George Takei, are encouraging former Sanders supporters and progressives to “vote blue no matter who,” deeply concerned about what a Trump presidency would mean for the United States. These are the voices that especially in this election view a vote for Jill Stein or another third party candidate as a wasted vote, or worse yet “a vote for Trump.”

IT’S A TRAP.

The Democratic Party has produced one of the most disfavored nominees in the party’s history. If all of America’s progressives fall in line to support Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party has no incentive to cease running hawkish centrists with honesty problems, corporate backing, and mediocre records on the environment and fighting poverty. Unless the Democratic Party begins losing a little support on the left, they will feel free to continue this drift to the right. Already they have come up with a ticket other countries would likely view as more conservative. American progressives deserve a better choice, one that aligns with their views and values. That is why I offer a battlecry intended to counter “Vote Blue No Matter Who”, with all due respect to the magnificent George Takei, and that is “Have A Spine, Vote for Stein.”

Clintrump and You

Let’s face it. We’re looking at the worst presidential election match-up in history — cold, calculated, corrupt Hillary Clinton vs. brash, bombastic, bumbling Donald Trump. I admit it. I’ve thought about voting for a third-party candidate. Jill Stein shares most of my views, but she has some downright implausible ideas. She won’t win. Gary Johnson shares my views on social issues and even some economic issues. He’s positive and seemingly reasonable, but libertarianism is simply too inflexible to respond to changes in our world. My guy was Bernie Sanders but he simply won’t be the nominee. And maybe he would be too soft and get steamrolled by Republicans just like Obama had happen to him.

Now a lot of people are saying the lack of indictment for Hillary Clinton regarding the emails is politically motivated. FBI Director James Comey was a registered Republican but he later said he is no longer so. Perhaps Comey realizes there’s something more important in the greater scheme of things. Perhaps Comey has been so turned off by the idea of Donald Trump becoming president that he left the Republican Party. And maybe that is why he is letting Hillary off the hook. I’m sure Mr. Comey is aware that she is vulnerable to anything that would damage her reputation and such damage would give an edge to Trump.

What I find so perplexing is why so much time is wasted conducting witch-hunts on minor blunders and even victimless crimes. Sure, that is politically motivated. Republicans want to see Hillary fall apart. The death of four Americans at the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, sure doesn’t make Hillary look good. And I haven’t read the emails that the State Department and WikiLeaks released. And sure she shouldn’t have used a private email servers to send and receive classified information. Nevertheless, did storing her emails on a private server threaten national security or aid terrorist efforts? Has anyone died or suffered physically as a result of her using a private server as opposed to that of the State Department? I don’t know. This angle of the story doesn’t seem to reach many people when it should. There seems to be this obsession with the letter of the law when it comes to Hillary.

What I find more troubling about Mrs. Clinton is that she supported the overthrow of dictatorial regimes in Iraq and Libya. Trump recently said that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, despite being a “very bad guy,” was good at killing terrorists. Well, he killed a lot of people because there was no due process and he wanted firm control. Because he was Sunni, the minority Sunnis felt they were important too. With Hussein out of the picture and the majority Shi’ites in control, many Sunnis couldn’t join the military because of their connections to Hussein’s Ba’ath Party. What else were these disaffected Sunnis going to do other than join ISIS? You see, dictators are very bad, inhumane people. However, their rule by predictable terror squashes unpredictable acts of terror.

Libya is similar. Gaddafi was a pretty terrible guy. He wasn’t the kind of guy to take home to mom and dad. Trump even said the U.S. should topple Gaddafi and that it would be very easy. Then, Trump flip-flopped on this issue because he realized this overthrow destabilized Libya. Gaddafi’s demise resulted in a power vacuum, allowing ISIS to establish a colony on the central northern shores of Libya. “Accidentally strengthened terrorist organization” does not look good on a political resumé.

When voting, Americans should know that Clinton and Trump have both made horrible decisions regarding foreign policy. However, a President Trump’s careless, impulsive, and insensitive approach to diplomacy and military interventions would present a greater threat to American national security. He too thought toppling Gaddafi would be a good idea. It hasn’t been good in Libya since. He even said ISIS should be allowed to topple Assad’s regime in Syria. Seriously?! Assad (and the American-backed Kurds) are the only reasons ISIS hasn’t taken over the entire freaking country!

If ISIS were to take over all of Syria, that would strengthen their claim to country status and legitimize them as the new caliphate for Muslims. We can’t do that now when they are losing territory day by day. The Iraqi army is making ISIS fighters retreat like never before. And yet, we’re seeing ISIS commit more terrorist acts as they lose more and more territory. They can only win right now with the element of surprise and hiding in plain sight. We need a strategy that protects us from terrorism. We need to realize that military intervention is not the only option, that Sunnis and Shias are never going to get along in Iraq, that we need a nuanced and conscientious approach that protects the lives of Americans wherever they may be. That includes diplomacy, more responsible nation creation (e.g., a three-state solution dividing Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds), and not toppling dictators just because we can.

We Need Relief from the Political Crap in North Carolina

It’s really absurd how this entire North Carolina bathroom law is even a political issue. The North Carolina legislature decided that people would go to the bathroom corresponding to the one on their birth certificate. Opponents argued that its apparently discriminatory components prohibited transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice. As a result, businesses decided not to open new sites in North Carolina, concerts in the state were cancelled, and even state governments decided to stop official travel to the Tarheel State.

Supporters of this new bathroom law are saying the backlash is just a politically correct reaction and that their sentiments ignore common sense. They add that the law would maintain the level of comfort people already have when going into gender-segregated bathrooms. However, a Republican governor didn’t see what the fuss was all about. “I don’t believe it’s necessary,” South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said. Even “Macho man” Donald Trump says that transgender people should be allowed to use the bathroom corresponding to their self-identified gender.

If men and women going to their respective bathrooms is common sense, why make a law at all? Conservatives lament the “nanny state” in which the government has to step in and solve everyone’s problems. Conservatives want individuals to be responsible for solving their own problems. Yet conservatives want the government to make them feel more comfortable by prohibiting transgender individuals from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender. Sure, there are people who fear that pedophiles will molest children if pedophiles can exploit a relaxed bathroom assignment policy. However, if male pedophiles are required to only use the men’s room, they can still use the same bathroom as young boys. If we are concerned about molestation, we need to think less about gender segregation and more about age segregation of bathrooms.

If someone has an issue with another person being in the wrong bathroom and making them uncomfortable, this person needs to advocate for themselves or suck it up. Moreover, many average Americans would identify a transgender individual with their gender identity not with their sex by birth. This is simply because many transgender Americans simply look like their self-identified gender. Additionally, the share of the transgender population is so small (about 0.2%-0.3%) that any issues regarding bathroom assignment are unlikely to emerge.

Everybody has to use the bathroom and relieve themselves. Why don’t we relieve ourselves of this political crap and use some common sense? We don’t need the government to micromanage our bathroom choices.

The Rise of Angry Mob Politics

By JOHN BUTERBAUGH

This has certainly been a whirlwind of a presidential campaign season. Since the 1950s, the heir apparent for the Republican Party has always won the nomination. Either they have been vice president, on the presidential ticket, a runner-up for the nomination, or they were a president’s son. Meanwhile, since 1960, the Democratic Party has generally elected fresh faces, all but one of whom were in their early 50s or late 40s upon their inauguration.

This year is far different. Anti-establishment fervor in the Republican Party is so strong that the heir apparent (Jeb Bush, a president’s son no less) apparently was not the heir. How it is that Donald Trump, a college-educated man worth billions of dollars, is earning the support of people who make far less than he does? How is it that a Bernie Sanders, an aging socialist, is winning the hearts of young people and Redditors everywhere?

To answer these questions, I must first explain how anti-establishment sentiment arose in the first place. The selection of Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee in 2008 partly fueled the rise of angry mob politics. Sarah Palin empowered a largely uneducated populace to express views that even under President Bush’s first term would have been considered way out of the mainstream. As part of Sarah Palin’s Tea Party movement, growing animosity toward entitlement programs, political correctness, and liberal arts education emerged.

Palin in effect galvanized angry white males, working-class or middle-class white Americans who fueled the Republican Revolution in the mid-1990s. Many of these Americans had every reason to be angry. “It took Nixon to go to China” and outsource American jobs there, resulting in the demise of American industrial cities starting in the late 1970s. President Clinton’s NAFTA deal sent a number of low-skilled jobs to Mexico. Of course, I would be angry if my job were sent to Mexico, and I didn’t have the academic skills to work in the professional sector. I would want someone to get my job back instead of forcing myself into a profession. Scapegoating Mexicans or the Chinese for my plight would be perfectly natural. I would feel insecure and would need reassurance from a fellow angry white American to feel “great again.”

Anyway, Palin never did take the opportunity to run for president. She could have gotten a lot of votes in the 2012 Republican primaries, although she would have split the evangelical vote and Mitt Romney would probably have won anyway. Instead, a billionaire who “talks like the people” but doesn’t “walk like the people” has capitalized on the movement that Palin started. Independently wealthy real-estate magnate Donald Trump did everything right in his campaign announcement. He knew exactly how to play his audience of disaffected working-class Americans — using fear and anger. Fear over Muslims destroying their way of life; anger over losing jobs to Mexico and China. Immediately, Trump’s populist trade policy won over the working class, his anti-Muslim rhetoric won over Southern Christian conservatives, and his militaristic attitude kept neocons excited. Trump’s self-funded campaign meant that he could not be bought by special interests.

While Trump claims he has the support of the silent majority, it’s clear they are actually a vocal minority. Trump’s favorable rating is only 24%, meaning that the majority of Americans disapprove of him. It’s no surprise that Bernie Sanders has a greater lead over Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton does in general election polls. Unlike Hillary, Sanders and Trump strongly oppose TPP. The positions of the two men on free trade are slightly different — Sanders wants fair trade whereas Trump supports free trade unless China and Mexico are “beating us too badly.” Additionally, unlike Trump and Hillary, Sanders actually has a positive favorable rating as people perceive him as honest and trustworthy. Hillary is also losing white male voters to Sanders.

Sanders’ crossover appeal is immense. He is actually outperforming Hillary with independent voters despite not being in the ideological center. The reality is that the American people are slowly but surely recognizing that the current American political system is an oligarchy and no longer a republic. 78% of Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn the Citizens United ruling. As a result, the next president must appoint justices who can be expected to do just that. The Judiciary is the only branch of government that has any power to make real change in this day and age. A Republican-controlled won’t allow a Democratic president to get anything important done.

Even if Sanders only accomplishes the feat of nominating Supreme Court justices who eventually overturn the Citizens United case, he will have been a very consequential president under the current system. The effect of limiting the power of the wealthiest Americans to shape public policy would allow politicians to follow the voice of their constituents as opposed to the donors who put them in office.

When the interests of the people are ignored and when unemployment becomes too high, societies will face instability and civil unrest. The short-lived Arab Spring was a response to governments that ignored the interests of the people. Look at Iraq. During the Saddam Hussein regime, Sunni Muslims held high positions in the military and a great deal of power in general. Under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, even highly educated Sunnis were barred from military service because they were members of Saddam’s Ba’ath Party. This was the only source of employment for many Iraqis. When opportunity faded away for the Sunnis, their natural inclination was to turn to the ISIS. At least under ISIS, they had power and ISIS certainly had a record of getting things done, right or wrong. ISIS blames the Western world, and even other Muslims, for much of its problems.

While not as extreme as the rise of ISIS, the rise of the angry white mob in the United States is a response to very similar problems: the feeling of losing power to people with a different ethnicity, nationality, or religion. A government must do what it has to do and resolve growing tensions within its borders. Otherwise, the angry mob in America could grow into something much nastier. Unemployed people have more time to protest when they don’t have to go to work anymore. We can’t resolve internal tensions when there are so many barriers to economic opportunity or political freedom.

Education Is Not an Entitlement Program

By JOHN BUTERBAUGH

Education is not an entitlement program for the student. It is an empowerment program for society. The G.I. Bill guaranteed free higher education to World War II veterans due to worries that another recession could take place. America needed to increase its human capital by giving people the opportunity to go to college. This was not a hand out. It was an investment in our country’s future. Millions of veterans took advantage of a college education and many more took part in training programs. As a result, it ended up being a huge success.

For most others, college has only become more expensive. From 1975 to 2015, the combined cost of college tuition, fees, and boarding has risen 150% at public colleges and 170% at private colleges. In that time, the share of college-educated 25- to 29-year-olds only grew by 53%. According to a Georgetown survey, 35% of job openings in 2020 will require at least a Bachelor’s degree and 30% will require at least some college. Clearly, not everyone will need to go to college. Trade school diplomas and even high school vocational diplomas will often be sufficient to enter the middle class. However, we need to provide educational opportunities to potential electricians in order for that service to be provided. However, a liberal arts education provides a different set of skills — learning how to think and discovering what we truly value.

Additionally, having 71% of four-year college students in debt is not only a detriment to themselves but also to the economy. Instead of investing in companies or buying goods or services, students instead must pay off student loan debt, which on average, takes 21 years. They often take up part-time jobs to pay off their debt, which takes away jobs from those who are not college educated. When college-educated individuals enter into professional jobs, the non-professional labor force shrinks, resulting in job openings and often increased wages in that sector. The multiplier effect of a college-educated society is simply too good to reject.

I’d like to reiterate that providing free higher education is not a handout; it’s an opportunity to improve the surrounding community. The reward that students get for hard work and good grades in college does not come in the form of disposable income until they get a job. You cannot get a degree unless you attain a certain grade. A survey at 200 schools indicated that 40% of grades were A’s. Many professors want their students to receive high marks to get a leg up in the job market. In some instances, however, students need to attain at least an A or a B or a C in every course to remain in a program. If a professor gives a student a B-, that student may lose a scholarship or drop out of a program altogether. The institution understands that grade inflation is often necessary to keep students paying into the tuition system. However, as a result, a student often puts in less effort to attain higher grades. If one contends that people should work for what they have and not have it handed to them, then he or she should be against grade inflation as well. A government-financed, but not government-run, higher education system could partly address this issue.

To finance this system, the government will indeed need to implement new taxes. According to Bernie Sanders’ plan, the federal government will levy a tax on Wall Street speculation, stocks, bonds, and derivatives, and not much on the incomes of most Americans. This is poetic justice. Currently, the top 0.1% controls as much wealth as 90% of Americans, but the wealthiest Americans spend very little of it — maybe 5% to 10% of their income. Meanwhile, the bottom 90% spends most of their money.

To imagine what impact that has on the economy, imagine you’re a CEO or if you’re an average Joe. On how many pillows do you personally need to rest? The answer — most likely 1 or 2 — is not terribly different from person to person. A rich man can afford to save more money because he has more money while others may not. A college education would open more Americans to jobs with higher incomes meaning that Americans have the ability to spend more on the economy. We don’t have to worry about raising the national debt from providing free college tuition. When we invest in college, we are investing in a workforce that can make higher incomes. This in turn creates more job creators and raises tax revenues. In a sense, “free” college education pays for itself, and the benefits for society are immense.

On Democratic Socialism in Europe and America

By JOHN BUTERBAUGH

If it weren’t for Donald Trump and his campaign announcement speech, the Republican primary candidates would not even be discussing immigration. Moreover, without Bernie Sanders running as openly socialist, we would not even be discussing democratic socialism. Hillary Clinton wouldn’t dare discuss democratic socialism or many left-wing policies without the presence of Bernie Sanders.

Quite often, the debate on ideologies touches on electability, e.g., “This candidate cannot win because they are too ideologically extreme.” For our purposes, we shall discuss the ideologies and the efficacy thereof as opposed to discussing knee-jerk reactions to policy proposals.

Democratic socialism, unlike authoritarian socialism, depends on the people to combine efforts and collectively control the means of production and decision-making. In Sanders’ home state of Vermont, co-ops — where the workers own the company — are abundant. Authoritarian socialism, as seen in the People’s Republic of China, thwarts popular will and establishes leadership that prevents any sort of parity. People have argued over the effectiveness of democratic socialism in Europe, for example. “Democratic socialism hinders economic growth” or “Democratic socialism increases public debt.” There is no doubt, however, that democratic socialism has been consequential in Europe. Western and Northern Europe formed democratic socialist governments during the Cold War to provide enough for the people so that they would not turn to more radical forms of socialism, i.e. Soviet-style communism. Governments would guarantee universal healthcare, higher wages, and often free higher education.

The issue with the European model of democratic socialism is that it depends on a low military budget. European countries are able to invest in universal healthcare and education precisely because they do not have to spend much on defense. In the United States, military spending was 17.6% of national government spending. The military spending of other NATO countries (including Canada and 26 European countries) ranged from 0.4% to 6.7%. Currently, the U.S. spends $789 million of its military budget on European defense, and a current proposal would quadruple that commitment. With NATO countries in Europe living under the American security umbrella, they can afford to spend less money on their militaries.

The United States also faces issues in establishing a universal healthcare system. Not only has the 1980s conservative movement inspired people to oppose non-military government expansion, America is also the home of Big Pharma. Pfizer, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson are multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies based in the U.S. They help contribute to the fact that the U.S. holds 40% of the global pharmaceutical market. Publicly traded companies such as these three depend on stockholders for investment. As a result, they must post large profits so that stockholders can reap the dividends and continue investing in their company. Big Pharma has a strong lobby in Washington that protects their profits. On the other hand, European governments have an easier time negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies. European countries have a lower share of profit-driven companies that would lose out on a profit if their drug prices were lowered. In the U.S., the incentive to sell medicine for profit causes the entire medical industry to prefer administering drugs over preventative practices.

Public sentiment has nominally opposed socialism due to an erroneous association to Soviet-style communism. However, the federal government has established a number of socialist programs that Americans appreciate. Teddy Roosevelt formed the Food and Drug Administration to keep Americans safe from harmful foods. FDR launched several recovery programs and Social Security. Eisenhower taxed the wealthiest Americans at 90% and launched the Interstate Highway System. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society created Medicare and Medicaid. However, Johnson’s military intervention in Vietnam faced so much opposition that the spirit of the Great Society faded. Afterward, Nixon cracked down on drugs, and Reagan taught the American people to mistrust the government for anything other than war (on other countries or on drugs). This is why Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had such a hard time selling their healthcare initiatives to the American people.

Socialism works when it is implemented properly and in the right context. Too often socialism is seen as a system that coddles millions of “learned helpless” individuals with welfare money and food stamps. Socialism can be something greater, and in fact, it is. It’s about liberating workers from the excesses of capitalism. It’s about understanding that it is not the government that runs industry; it’s the American people who run industry together. It’s about understanding that education is not an entitlement program; it is an empowerment program that creates an informed society. Moreover, through socialism, the government protects a key tenet of capitalism: competition. By itself, the free market fails to break up monopolies. Thus, the government has a duty to prevent companies from providing poor or expensive service through regulation or breakups. Socialism is not a fringe ideology; it is one that looks to create the best society for the people.

Socialism cannot succeed in America unless the American people unite in favor of it. The Democratic Party has won the presidential popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. However, in the last 12 Congressional elections, the Republican Party has won the House nine times and the Senate six or seven times. The fact of the matter is that voters turn out more to vote for president (54.9% in 2012) than they do for Congressional midterm elections (36.4% in 2014). The American people cannot expect a socialist president to be consequential unless there is a political revolution across the board. We have to democratically elect a socialist president along with a cooperative Congress.

Why We Should Have a One-Term Limit for Executives

By JOHN BUTERBAUGH
The presidential election season is like a train wreck — we don’t want to watch but we can’t look away. The incumbent president claims that the state of the union is improving or better than it was four years. His challenger asks you, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” You are still unsure what the challenger will actually do in office. You know what the president has been doing, and it’s not as if the sky has fallen. Your gut isn’t quite ready for a leap of faith; so, you reelect an incumbent you’re not too pleased with either.

While the president’s first term is relatively scandal-free, the second term is bumpy. Second-term woes are not uncommon; in many ways, they are the rule and not the exception. Lyndon Johnson declined to run again after a tiresome war, Richard Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal, Ronald Reagan’s second term saw the Iran-Contra Affair, Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, George W. Bush handled a hurricane poorly and oversaw economic collapse, and Barack Obama oversaw a poorly released health insurance exchange website. The president’s staff gets worn out, and the people are worn out. After they reelected someone whose performance is likely to decline, they are always looking for a change.

The same rule applies to mayoral elections as well. Take, for example, Michael Bloomberg in New York City. While the people did elect him three times in a row, his name recognition and massive war chest was more potent than his mayoral record. Dick Daley served as Mayor of Chicago for 22 years. As such, it is very difficult to defeat an incumbent.

It’s time we change the laws. Almost every state allows the governor to run for at least two terms except one — Virginia. Since 1830, Virginia has prohibited its governor from serving consecutive terms. Theoretically, it is possible to serve one four-year term, retire, and run again four years later. This, however, has only occurred once in Virginia’s history. Mills E. Godwin, Jr. served two non-consecutive terms, one in the late 1960s and one in the 1970s.

Many of Virginia’s governors and even Virginians themselves find the one-term limit too restrictive. Here’s the thing though. This limit enables the governor to focus on the four years he or she is in office, not on the upcoming election cycle. This is especially important now. Election cycles are beginning to start much earlier than before because campaigns are becoming much more expensive. By the time midterm elections roll around, most governors are already preparing their reelection campaign. When running for reelection, public officials generally avoid any politically inconvenient moves. Many of these moves can hurt their popularity short-term but can help the people long-term.

In a two-term limit scenario, opposing candidates to incumbents are generally supported by fellow party members on the surface. However, Hillary Clinton had little incentive to vigorously support John Kerry for president in 2004 when her 2008 presidential ambitions are considered. Likewise, Chris Christie had incentive to praise President Obama’s management of Hurricane Sandy so that Mitt Romney couldn’t win. This created an opening for Christie in 2016, during which he would not have to challenge a President Romney in the primaries. Even though many Republicans vilified Christie for making this move, three or four years in political time seems like forever to many.

To sum it all up: First, members from both sides of the political aisle have more incentive to support a one-term incumbent because it won’t impact their electoral chances. They don’t need to strive to sabotage a reelection for political gain. Second, because legislators wouldn’t have to confront their own term limits, there is no selfish reason not to limit gubernatorial or presidential term limits. (Although legislators should have term limits but with longer terms so that they can actually be productive.) Third, voters have reason to support a one-term limit. Monied candidates benefit tremendously from a two-term limit because incumbents are allowed to keep campaign funds from previous election cycles. While money would continue to play a role in politics, voters don’t have to deal with the same person buying the office for decades straight. Corruption will still occur, but with the one-term limit, governors and presidents focus more on policy than on politics.

This is not to downplay the role of money in politics. It is absolutely absurd that millionaires and billionaires can simply buy a candidate, and consequently, the result of an election. Public officials are beholden to the will of the wealthy, not to the will of the people. However, confronting term limits and term lengths is a method that confronts the issue of low political productivity. If a candidate for office can’t get reelected in the near term, they have no reason to be accountable to the special interests that elected them. Instead, they can follow their conscience. The problem with all of this is the trust factor, or the fact that the people simply don’t trust their leaders to do the right thing regardless of how the system is constructed. For that, I do not offer a solution, but I do suggest that we consider creative solutions that understand the motivations of anyone involved in government.