In the late 1980s, I audited a UCLA political science class that focused on the 1988 election through the lens of the poll data. They had the Republican poll data that was actually used by the campaign team and the students could do segmentation of snapshots of the data and use to discuss how they might have formed strategy if they had been running the election. It was only later that I realized that I was even more interested in how the campaign strategies affected me personally.
I self-identify as a Republican, but am very middle of the road and have ended up voting for every sitting President since 1984. Looked at one way, this makes me part of that percentage that every POTUS (President of the United States) campaign needs to sway in order to get elected – since I am willing to go either way.
Even though the election is still more than a year away, this one promises to be entertaining, irritating and possibly the most crazy Presidential election cycle we’ve ever had. Because of that I want to start writing a weekly update that captures my impressions and thoughts all the way through so that I can look back on it after the fact. There is another debate tonight too, and I am planning to watch and starting getting more informed about the candidates.
The Democratic Party is looking to career politicians for their candidate, even though the two poll leaders have little chance of winning votes from the other party. The Republican Party voters want change and polls show two non-politicians as front runners for the nomination. If I had to vote right now, I’d vote for Ben Carson.
Research and Investigation
So far, I’ve done almost none. In future, I’ll talk about things that I’ve learned that might sway my perspective one way or another.
For this first post, I’ll mostly talk about the issues that I find more important, relative to my beliefs, my community and my family.
- Big government. Government should be as local as possible, and broader decisions should be reserved for key issues that apply equally to all types of citizens, regardless of local context. For example, I think minimum wage is an issue that should be solved at a local level, where local cost of living issues can be taken into account. A minimum wage that applies equally to NYC and Huntingburg, IN simply makes no sense. It is either too low for one (and thus has no positive impact) or too high for the other (and thus has negative impact on local business). I think government (at all levels) should be just big enough to fulfill responsibilities and not a bit bigger.
- Economy. How well can I support my family? The US economy is ticking along nicely compared to the pre-Obama 2008 election days. I don’t anticipate the economy being a big factor in the election unless something changes drastically.
- Budget / National Debt / Government spending. I would strongly consider a candidate that was committed to making the country spend within its means, like the rest of us need to do. Leadership by example would be great.
- Taxes. I would love to see a flat tax, with a flat exemption below a certain income level, but it will never happen. See above on government spending, I’m very skeptical of the government’s ability to use my money better than I can.
- Social Issues. I am very supportive of social programs that are specific and implemented well. Unfortunately, I don’t think many are efficient. I will be immediately skeptical of any candidate that talks about “new programs” without talking about what will need to be cut in order to fund it. No blank checks.
- Supreme Court. In general, I do not like the fact that the Supreme Court has evolved to the point where they make law instead of interpret it. That is just wrong, in my opinion, but it is reality. Because of that, I am conscious of the POTUS ability to appoint replacement Supreme Court justices that are further (or less) inclined to make law.
- Foreign Policy & Defense. Personally, I think we need to be strong, but not meddle too much in other countries. We really need to modernize our military equipment, so that we can have a smaller, efficient and strong defense capability. At the same time, we live in a global society and we should be more collaborative with our allies.
Now let’s look at the smattering of issues that seem to be popping up in the political dialog so far. I’m aware of the dialog on these issues, but they are unlikely to sway my vote except where positions are extreme.
- Cybersecurity. Jeb Bush calls this out as an issue on his agenda. Given my 28 years in security, I consider that a good thing, but not something that would sway my vote.
- Gun control. The 2nd Amendment seems pretty clear to me. At the same time, it seems reasonable to pass rigorous measures for the sake of public safety so that gun owners are held to a high responsibility. I’m supportive of required safety classes, long waiting periods and specific safety restrictions in populated areas.
- Same Sex Marriage. Live and let live. I am Christian, but I am a big believer in James 4:12 and Mark 12:31, as well as the separation of church and state. Draw your own conclusions.
- Immigration/Mexico. We were founded as a melting pot and we should figure out how to keep attracting new citizens who have a good work ethic and want to embrace our values and way of life. I’m for reform and not walls at the border.
- Healthcare. I am supportive, in general, but anticipate inefficiencies and a huge bill that will be passed on to our children. My nephew would not have had insurance if not for Obamacare and he benefitted this year.
- Environment. I care about the environment, but think Congress and universities are likely to have more impact than the President.
- Education. Very important, specifically educational opportunity and costs. I find it very disappointing that about 44% of 16-24 year olds are not enrolled in either high school or college, meaning they are not taking advantage of the educational opportunities available as a US citizen.
If I Had to Vote Today
I thought it would be fun to add a little section to put myself on the spot and see how it changes over time. Knowing no more than what I know right this moment (which is admittedly uninformed), I’d vote for Ben Carson.
The Democratic Party Candidates
Keeping in mind I’ve not really done any research yet here are the candidates I see in the media enough to know they’re running.
Hilary Clinton. If you had asked me six month ago, probably the candidate I would have said I would vote for. At this point, I think she is too divisive for the country to rally around if she were ultimately elected. Personally, I also have to question her decision making because of the whole personal email situation – both the original decision and how she has reacted to the revelations.
Bernie Sanders. Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist (huffpost), aligned with organizations that have espoused public goals ‘… to eliminate capitalism by evolving a “social order based on popular control of resources and production …”’. As someone who has believed you must work to learn and earn what you get since my first job at the age of 12, working 3 jobs while putting myself through college, I will never be supportive of someone that wants to take away what I earn and decide how to redistribute it to others. To me, Sanders is the ‘Trump’ of the democratic party candidates, being the candidate I would actively vote against.
Vice President Joe Biden. Currently not even running, he has the advantage of being less polarizing than either Sanders or Clinton. Hard to imagine the democratic party members broadly rallying behind him, but he might be the one least controversial candidate that could cross party lines and keep the democratic party in the White House.
The Republican Party Candidates
The one thing that has stuck in mind so far is the media’s observation that the two Republican Party front runners are not professional politicians and that this reflects a deeper desire for a change from politics as usual. That rings true to me. I know there are other candidates, but at the moment, only three come to mind for me.
Donald Trump. Trump is such an arrogant ass, it is embarrassing for the republican party that he is the front runner. To quote a great American poet, I will “… never, ever, ever …” consider voting for Donald Trump. If it came down to Sanders vs Trump in the actual election, I would probably abstain or do a write-in vote for Pete Carroll.
Ben Carson. Had never heard of him before he popped up to #2 in the polls a few weeks ago. Having seen a few clips from the news, he is currently my pick – admittedly, without knowing hardly anything about him. (This says more about the other candidates than it does about Ben Carson, at this point.)
Jeb Bush. Brother of two former Presidents and Governor of Florida. He should be a front runner, but is not. This is another data point that re-enforces that, for Republic voters at least, people do not want a career politician as President. I’d vote for him before Trump or Sanders, but don’t find anything compelling that sets him apart.
I welcome any constructive discussion on election-related topics or candidate!
Best regards ~ @securityjones