Monday, October 10, 2016

2016 Election Endorsements

Early voting in Ohio begins tomorrow.  No matter which candidates one supports, I encourage all who are eligible to vote to make their voice heard.  Here are our endorsements.  


For President - Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Clinton earned the nomination of the Democratic Party after a grueling primary battle with Bernie Sanders.  The Vermont Senator, who is not a party member but caucuses with the Democrats, has endorsed Clinton and strenuously advocated for her election.  Others have touted Clinton’s lengthy and distinguished resume of public service, dating back to 1970 when she investigated illegal segregation in private schools in the South (for which a number of Southerners have never forgiven her).  Although Clinton’s CV bears repeating – First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, Senator, Secretary of State – it’s also worth remembering that a list of previous employment is not a guarantee of excellence.  George H. W. Bush was probably the most experienced person in history to enter the office of the Presidency, but he was a fair-to-middling President.

Clinton has come under criticism for changing her positions on issues.  But a slavish loyalty to an unwavering position on any issue reminds me of George W. Bush’s conviction of the merits of his Middle East policies, and Herbert Hoover’s unwillingness to take the actions necessary to alleviate the Great Depression.  It’s worth remembering that Hoover labeled Franklin D. Roosevelt a “chameleon on plaid” for changing positions (often 180º) on how to turn the economy around.  Altering positions on issues goes beyond politically expedient flexibility.  Examining Senator Clinton’s evolving viewpoints it becomes obvious that she has evolved in the right direction.  I’d rather have a President who can adapt with the times than one who is stuck in the groove – an apt criticism against Republicans like Hoover and Democrats like Jimmy Carter alike.  We must bluntly face the truth that no matter who is elected President, Republicans will likely control the House of Representatives for the rest of this decade, largely thanks to Gerrymandering by Republican governors and state legislatures.  Democrats will be lucky if they gain control of the Senate, and the next president will likely nominate at least two Supreme Court Justices.  Contrary to those who deride her as “$hillary” and a corporate candidate, Clinton’s record over the past four plus decades shows her consistently fighting for the downtrodden: minorities seeking education in the South, education improvement in Arkansas, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, aid for 9/11 rescue workers.  Like any politician, Clinton has made her share of mistakes.  The worst of these was her vote to authorize use of force in Iraq – a vote which she has acknowledged as a mistake.  The difference between her and Donald Trump can be centered on their response to this issue: Trump also favored the war in Iraq.  But while Clinton has owned up to her mistake, Trump has laughably denied he was ever for the Iraq war, even though there are recordings of him doing endorsing it. 

Trump’s campaign has revealed his own personal history of corruption, tax evasion, attempted bribery of government officials, kowtowing to dictators, racism, religious bigotry, womanizing on a scale that makes Bill Clinton look like a rank amateur, and most disturbingly, allegations of rape of an underage girl.  That his supporters are willing to ignore these very real concerns is a sad commentary on the racism and xenophobia in the hearts of many Americans.  Hillary Clinton has come under attack for her comments that many of Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables”.  But, like Senator Barack Obama’s comment about certain voters “clinging to guns and religion”, it was a hard truth that should not have been walked back. 

Two other nominees have received some attention, as fewer Americans identify with either Democrats or Republicans: Libertarian Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico who has been out of office since 2003; and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, a physician, folk musician, and activist who has never held elected office and garnered .4% of the vote in 2012 and unsuccessfully ran for various offices in Massachusetts five times.  I sympathize with those who want an alternative to the two major parties. But let's take a look at history. The most successful 3rd party candidate in history was Teddy Roosevelt, who ran as part of the Progressive "Bull Moose" party and won 27.4% of the popular vote back in 1912 - coming in a distant second to Woodrow Wilson.  Roosevelt had previously served as President and enjoyed widespread popularity.  If a popular former President like Teddy Roosevelt can't mount a successful 3rd party run, it's delusional for anyone to think that someone who is unknown to much of the public can.  (By the way, the Progressive party’s 1912 platform called for a minimum wage, 8 hour workday, social insurance {i.e., Social Security}, farm relief, and increased rights for labor unions. It took Teddy's distant cousin, Franklin Roosevelt - a Democrat - to put those ideas into action in the 1930s.)

Building a credible 3rd party is something that must be done from the ground up. That's one of the lessons of 1912. Also, don't drive a ship at full speed through iceberg infested waters - but I digress. 
Of the alternative candidates, Johnson has received unusually large support owing to Trump’s continued offensive statements and Johnson’s call for decriminalization for marijuana – the latter of which I happen to support. However, he has no experience in either national or foreign affairs, as his bafflement over Aleppo and other foreign policy matters painfully demonstrates.  Although I supported William Weld for governor of Massachusetts in 1990 (his opponent, John Silber, was downright fascistic), his presence on the Libertarian party ticket does not compensate Gary Johnson’s unsuitability for the Presidency.  Jill Stein, the Green party candidate, is a non-starter nominee of a non-starter party and is the kind of candidate who gives leftist politics a bad name. 

Therefore, on the basis of experience, policy positions, and the ability to remain steady in a crisis, we enthusiastically endorse Hillary Clinton for President.   

United States Senator – Ohio: No endorsement

Commentators have tried to paint Senator Rob Portman as a moderate Republican on account of his support for same sex marriage.  In fact, Portman only supported marriage equality after his own son came out as gay.  Otherwise, Portman’s record is undistinguishable from the most conservative Republicans.  His refusal to allow President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee - Merrick Garland - to even be voted upon, along with his continued opposition to background checks for gun purchasers demonstrate that he is unworthy to continue serving as Ohio’s Senator.

His opponent, Ted Strickland, is hardly any worthier.  For months, he was unable to come up with a credible explanation for his weak performance as Ohio’s governor – when the answer was right in front of him – the state was in the midst of an international economic crash.  He’s a “Johnny come lately” to sensible gun control.  As I predicted when I posted my primary endorsements, Democrats have selected the establishment’s weak candidate rather than the lesser known strong candidate.  It’s my hope that P. G. Sittenfeld, a young and promising public servant, will seek a Senate seat again.  For this cycle, we are not offering an endorsement.

United States Representative, 11th District – Marcia Fudge

Marcia Fudge stepped in at the last moment to chair this year’s Democratic Convention, replacing the controversial Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  That she did so with poise and grace, despite disruptive behavior from those in and out of the party, are testament to how Fudge has become a seasoned parliamentarian in the eight years since she replaced Stephanie Tubbs-Jones after the latter passed away.   Further, Fudge’s policy positions and votes are in concert with the vast majority of her constituents, so she is an accurate representation of her district.  We endorse Fudge’s reelection.


For State House, 8th District:  Kent Smith.  Smith, a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican house, has fought the good fight against Corporate Personhood, in favor of protecting Lake Erie, advancing Clean Energy, and challenging the Kasich Administrations fiscal stranglehold over municipalities.  Smith deserves to be reelected.

South Euclid

Issue 101, Property Tax Safety Levy: I supported issue 65, the initial safety levy, in 2013, and we support its replacement and increase.  South Euclid safety forces have done an excellent job in protecting our community from both fires and crime – with none of the embarrassing behavior that has marred Cleveland’s Safety Forces.  As overall tax revenues are still suffering from the real estate crash and the Great Recession, continuing and increasing the levy (which will only cost another $7.25 per month for every $100,000 of property value) is a no-brainer.

Issue 102, Corporate Personhood: The Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizen United case has led to the increasing monetization and commercialization of politics.  Case in point: a reality TV star is the Republican nominee.  Issue 102 is mainly symbolic, but it puts the citizens of South Euclid on record as opposing Corporate Personhood – and we support its passage.