voting and violence

I try to keep up-to-date on the news, particularly in the US, and often blog about what is happening with politics and public policy.

I admit it has been daunting to write about the upcoming midterm elections next week. There has been so much disheartening rhetoric that I haven’t been able to make myself post about it but I feel compelled to post today after watching the continuing aftermath of the horrific attack against Paul Pelosi, spouse of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

For those of you not in the US, early Friday morning, a 42-year-old man broke into the San Francisco home of Paul and Nancy Pelosi. He had zip ties and duct tape with him and asked where Nancy was. (She was in Washington, DC.) He attacked the 82-year-old Paul Pelosi with a hammer, fracturing his skull and injuring his hands and arms. Pelosi is still in intensive care following surgery and is expected to recover over time from his physical injuries. The suspect is in police custody and will be charged soon, most likely for attempted murder among other charges.

The suspect had posted on social media his belief in a number of conspiracy theories, including those that demonize the Democrats as child abusers. While Democrats have been vocal and universal in the condemnation of the attack, Republicans have been much less so. Instead of recognizing this as political violence, some are saying it is just another example of increasing crime. They also fail to acknowledge that their political advertising, posts, and speeches featuring weapons and demonizing Speaker Pelosi and other prominent Democrats have any role in the increase in political violence.

The Republicans do a lot of “what-about-ism” in which they try to create false equivalencies and fear-monger on their talking points, all while conveniently dismissing any responsibility. In this case, they ignore things like the fact that most of the rise in crime is occurring in Republican-controlled areas that have relaxed regulations on guns. It’s likely that one of the reasons that Mr. Pelosi was attacked with a hammer rather than a gun is that California has a more rigorous system of allowing gun permits than Republican-led states, such as Texas. Republicans, including those in New York, blame bail reform for the increase in violent crime, even though the data show this isn’t true. There is also a much higher level of violent extremism on the far right than on the left. And, of course, we have recent and ongoing trials and convictions of perpetrators of political violence on January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol and the thwarted kidnapping of Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer.

My usual way of determining for whom to vote is to look at the stand of the candidate and their party on a range of issues. Given my personal background, I place the highest priority on environmental and social justice issues. This is in keeping with the principles of Catholic social justice doctrine and with the call in the Preamble to the US Constitution to “promote the general welfare.”

I look at the candidates’ character, personal behavior, and integrity. I also look at their personal experience and intelligence. I want to vote for candidates who are smarter and more experienced than I. I don’t choose candidates on the basis of “who I want to have a beer with!” That comment may sound strange to those outside the US but there is recurring theme about this question as a gauge for likability/authenticity since about the year 2000.

In this election, there is an additional factor that I honestly never thought would be an election issue here in the United States. Do you believe in democracy? So many of the Republican candidates seem to be embracing anti-democratic, even autocratic, leadership and policies. They don’t believe in the outcome of free and fair elections, such as the 2020 election, even though they have no evidence to the contrary. They won’t say that they will accept the outcome of their own election if they lose. They won’t say that Biden was legitimately elected president. They have tried and sometimes succeeded in making it more difficult for minorities, elders, young people, and lower-income people to vote. They have broken up likely Democratic voters who live in a community into different voting districts to dilute the power of their vote.

What is most destructive is that they continue to support and perpetrate the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and that he is not responsible for the January 6 insurrection, for illegal possession of presidential documents (including sensitive national security information), for obstruction of justice, and for other crimes for which there is ample, publicly available evidence.

Apparently, Republicans are into wielding governmental power for their own benefit – and the benefit of the wealthy people and corporations who underwrite them – rather than being public servants.

I won’t be voting for any of them.

I will vote for candidates who uphold our American values and who are serious about enacting and executing laws that improve our lives and communities, that try to heal our planet and climate, and that work with all people of good will to end conflict and disease.

I hope millions of others will join in this cause and remember that democracy is on the ballot.

debates

The first of the US presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is tomorrow night.

What I would like is for the moderators of each debate to ask for specific policy positions on various topics from each candidate.

No generalities. No characterizing the opponent. No personality comments.

If a candidate strays from addressing the topic at hand, the microphone is cut off and they forfeit the rest of their time on that topic.

Everyone keeps lamenting that no one is concentrating on the issues, so let’s make all the debates issue-only zones.

Issues like climate change. Immigration reform. Health care. Trade policy. Diplomacy. Syria. Indigenous rights. Job creation. Income inequality. Education. Military spending. Veterans’ affairs. ¬†War and peace. Civil rights. Justice system reform. Education. Social Security.

Each candidate giving his/her positions and plans. Period.

It would be a huge public service as we prepare to vote in this historic election.

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