Endorsements for 2016 Election

Vote on November 8:
Off-centerviews Endorsements

Tuesday November 8 is Election Day, even though Donald Trump recently told a group of his supporters it's November 28. I hope they don't bother to show up until then!

President: There is only one clear choice: Not Trump! Hillary Clinton remains problematic in my mind. Despite what her admirers say, she's a triangulator, not a liberal; a free trader, not a friend of working people; a political insider, not a reformer; more of an interventionist than a mediator; and–in a nicer way–an egoist akin to Trump. But here's what she's not: crazy, lazy, crooked, irresponsible, crude, misogynist, racist, or stupid. Trump is all of those things–the biggest con man since Marjoe.

Still, I find it inherently undemocratic that Clinton supporters tell you that must vote for her. Trump is a mad man and can't be supported, but if you simply can't vote for Clinton, don't stay at home. First, another non-endorsement: Don't vote for Jill Stein. I flirted with the Green Party, but Stein's running mate, Ajamu Baraka, is as bad as Trump; he's anti-Israel, has penned an essay in a book written by a Holocaust denier, partially condoned Muslim French terrorists, admires Che Guevara, and has expressed other views bordering on anti-Antisemitism. He vigorously parses and backpedals on these, but Stein showed poor judgment in choosing Baraka, which tells me the Green Party needs a new national face. 

Your options:

            1. If you lean right, vote the Libertarian Johnson-Weld ticket. I can't do that because I find the Libertarians too wacky on too many points, but a Libertarian vote is definitely an anti-Trump vote.
            2. Write-in whomever you'd prefer. Many on the left will write in the name Bernard Sanders. Mainstream Republicans have a plethora of choices: Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Dennis Kucinich…. May I respectfully ask you refrain from Ted Cruz, Donald Trump with a brain and an apocalyptic worldview?

3. In some states, none of the above is an option; others consider it a spoiled ballot. Check before using that option, but I know of no states that disqualify a ballot in which the voter simply makes no choice at all in a given race. I often use that option for local races in which I have no opinion about the candidates.

Massachusetts Ballot Issues:

If you live in the Bay State, four initiatives appear on the ballot. These are voter-generated and (in theory at least) require state government action regardless of what legislators think of them.

No on Question 1: Slots

It would allow the Gaming Commission to issue additional slots licenses. My God! Massachusetts hasn't even opened its first casino—four have been authorized—and already Mafia dons (sorry, lobbyists) are trying to expand legalized gambling. How about waiting to see if gambling is an economic boon or the cork removed from the Social Problems bottle before diving in deeper?

No on Question 2: Charter Schools

This would allow the state to open a dozen new charter schools per year. I urge a "no" vote and am only sorry the initiative doesn't authorize dismantling the ones already open.

Let me get personal. I am a friend of three separate couples who enrolled their children in Montessori schools, which are not charters. In each case, their kids loved Montessori but ultimately had to leave because the cost was too high. No one suggests Montessori should become "charter" schools, though their educational techniques are far more innovative than those you'll find in charters. Question Two should be defeated because it's unfair. No advocate can show me why a charter focusing on performing arts, enriched math, language immersion, or any 'hook' ought to take priority over other values. Indeed, Massachusetts pioneered in determining that parochial and other religious education could not be supported by taxpayer money. Why not? What gives liberal educational reformers the right to privilege their worldview? Unfair is unfair.

Charter advocates--backed by outside money--argue they take no money from public schools because they are public schools. What a load of sophist twaddle! This is analogous to saying that buying a sailboat won't hurt the family budget because it's a family sailboat. School budgets are not infinite. Every charter school requires teachers, supplies, and buildings. If you hire a new charter school music teacher for $45,000, you can bet your paycheck there's a traditional elementary school in your district that won't get $45k it needs. And so on.

Public schools are not supposed to specialize. The entire idea behind public education is to ground students in the rudiments needed to be educated and responsible citizens. By statute, only vocational training, opportunities for special needs students, and talented and gifted programs are mandated. In each case, a district can provide these, or send tuition to an adjacent district to meet those requirements. Specialization? Nope! Colleges do that. If you want to jump-start the process, there's an option: private education. Charters cheat the masses. They are vouchers through the back door.

Yes on Question Three: Ending Animal Confinement

This initiative would end many factory-farming practices and require more humane treatment of animals by ending nightmarish practices such as chickens confined to pens in which they can't move; or veal cattle chained to small huts. I confess to having a soft spot for critters but—damn–it's just not right to brutalize animals.

My grandparents were farmers for whom killing animals was an integral part of their livelihood. They made certain, though, that creatures had space, food, air, water and a decent quality of life for as long as they lived. So who is against Question Three? Simple: Agra-business. This one is not about family farms; it's about whether or not Big-Ag can dominate the market through assembly-line farming. A word of caution to liberals and animal sentimentalists: Don't kid yourselves; food prices will rise if this is passed. Vote yes because it's the right thing to do, not because it's in your self-interest.

Yes on Question 4: Legalization of Marijuana

This is a no-brainer. As the offspring of an alcoholic household, I've never been a pothead, so I've no dog in this hunt. That said, we need to put aside all the war-on-drugs nonsense. Run up the white flag: the war was lost decades ago. Pot use today is higher than it was in the groovy Sixties. It's this simple: if nothing we've tried in the past 60 years has worked, it won't work in the next 60 either. 

A new law would restrict sales to those 21 or older—you know, the same ones who can legally buy alcohol, cigarettes, and guns, so spare me hand wringing about saving kids. Can those pseudo-scientific studies about pot's harmful medical effects on developing brains. Even if we do nothing, about 8% of those aged 12 to 17 will be regular users, as will a quarter of those 18 to 25

Again, the Massachusetts bill would restrict sales to those 21 and up. This means the only groups with a vested interest in defeating Question 4 are organized crime, middlemen smugglers, and street pushers. All three will be busted if linked to distributing wares to underage buyers (and with roughly the same ineffectiveness as now). Free those jailed for pot. Collect the tax revenues (which will probably be bigger than those from casinos). The war is over. Peace!    

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