My Overwhelming Dread About Election Day


It is November the first, year of our Lord 2020.

The night is dark. An icy rain patters against the roof. 

I shiver as I scroll through the headlines.

Covid deaths are rising around the globe. Caravans of crazed Trump supporters are blocking highways and bridges. They nearly drive a Biden bus off the road. The polls sway back and forth, yanking me from hope to despair and back again. Gun sales are soaring. Grocery store shelves are frighteningly devoid of toilet paper and yeast.

November first.

A gust of wind scatters crumpled leaves across the driveway.

The candle in my Jack-o-lantern flickers.

I shift in my chair, trying to get comfortable. The kitchen clock ticks loudly in the silent house. 

I. Feel. Every. Freaking. Second. Ticking. Off.

How will I get through the next forty-eight hours?

Should I make a huge pot of espresso and just plan to stay up until it’s all over? Or should I grab some weed butter and a cup of Sleepy Time tea and pray for oblivion?

I am torn.

What if Trump wins? 

The mere thought of it has my stomach heaving.

What if he loses, but pretends that he wins?

A pounding headache joins the nausea.

What if he loses, everyone knows he loses, but he refuses to accept the final results? What if it goes to the Supreme Court? The Court Trump so recently stacked in his favor for just such an occasion? What then?

How can I maintain my sanity between now and the moment the polls close? 

Is there enough chocolate left over from Halloween to see me through?

More importantly, is there enough vodka under this roof?

I am filled with real dread. Actual, honest to God, shaking in my boots dread. It’s the kind of feeling you get the night before a long, complex, dangerous surgery. 

I am sixty-four years old. I have never lived through a time like this one. The surreal has become common. The unthinkable is suddenly on everyone’s mind. 

Few Americans doubt that the next days and weeks will be chaotic and confused. Most of us believe that there will be at least some level of violence and civil unrest.

But how far it will go is something we cannot predict. There are moments when I fear that the US military will become involved in suppressing public reaction to the election. But that would mean civil war, wouldn’t it? How is it possible that we are even thinking that thought?

I take a deep breath. My heart is racing and I can’t find a way to stop my thoughts.

I dread tomorrow. I dread tomorrow night. 

Most of all, I dread the thought that this sense of impending doom will continue on past the closing of the polls, stretching out into an unpredictable and bleak future.

November first, twenty twenty.

How the hell are we going to get through it?

I Just Can’t Do This Anymore


For almost five years I have tried to write about the insanity that is the American political system. As a student of history, a news junkie and something of an activist, I’ve always found the machinations of government to be fascinating.

From my high schools days on the “Model UN” to my college degree in Soviet Studies, I’ve been excited to discuss politics with friends, relatives and strangers. I loved the debates, even when they got heated. Exchanging ideas, presenting facts to each other, back and forth and back again. I used to learn something with each discussion. I worked hard, if not always successfully, to keep an open mind.

Back in 2015, I was writing for an online publication called “Liberal America.” Rather obviously, we had a lot to say about the prospects of a Trump Presidency. I thoroughly enjoyed writing these pieces, because they expressed my political views and even let me earn some money by writing.

After the election, I kept on writing and was submitting to a variety of sites. Once again, I wrote to point out what to me was so glaringly obvious: that Donald Trump is totally unfit to serve in any public office, much less the Presidency.

Now, at last, we find ourselves in the final few months of Trump’s term. Our long, chaotic decline as a nation has been well documented by real journalists in thousands of ways. Facts about Trump’s inept handling of international relations, his attempts to bully Congress, the hundreds of instances of corruption and graft….it’s all there in black and white.

So why doesn’t it seem to matter that the whole world can see exactly how dangerous and ugly this administration is?

Trump still has the support of more than a third of American voters. The Republican Party is still protecting him and backing him up, even though at one time most of them were horrified at the idea of him winning.

How is this possible?

Because Trump has performed a miracle. He has undone the truth. Facts no longer have any relevance. As Trump apologist Kellyanne Conway famously stated, they have their own “alternative facts.”

This administration started out by lying about the most obvious of facts (the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration) and has gone downhill from there. They lie freely, openly and with complete seriousness and they do it every. damn. day.

How do you fight that?

How do you continue to respond when facts have no meaning anymore?

I can’t do it. I can’t keep it up. I am worn down, worn out and exhausted. So, it seems, is the Democratic Party, whose entire campaign seems to be “at least we’re not Trump.”

If you’ve ever engaged in a conversation with an angry toddler, you will recognize the overwhelming fatigue that comes with trying to convince someone of something that they refuse to see.

“I didn’t eat the cake that was on the table!”

“But you have chocolate frosting on your face.”

‘NO I don’t!”

‘I’m looking at it. I see the frosting. And there are cake crumbs on your shirt.”

“No, there aren’t! I didn’t do it!”

After a few rounds, you end up grabbing the kid, washing their face and sternly saying, “Don’t eat dessert unless you ask me first!” You recognize that you are engaged in an argument that cannot be won.

That is exactly how American politics feel to me now. We point out that Trump was completely nuts when he suggested injecting disinfectant into humans to kill Covid19. The response? “Oh, he just said we should study it. No big deal.”

What the absolute hell! No, it should NOT be studied!

We write about the flagrant inappropriateness of Ivanka and Jared having their fingers in every aspect of government, when neither has been elected, appointed, Senate approved or vetted. The Trump apologists simply turn the facts around on us. “Look at Hunter Biden!” they cry. Or, “What about Hillary’s emails?”

And the worst, the most egregious warping of reality happens every single time Trump and his enablers hear something that they don’t like.

“FAKE NEWS!!!!” they scream in unison. Fake, false, a hoax, all made up!!

But we can see the damn frosting on his face. We can smell the chocolate on his breath and count the crumbs on his shirt. There are photos, there are tapes, there are Tweets to prove that what we say is a FACT.

They never respond with facts. They respond with insults, lies, and Trumpian pseudo-reality.

I can’t do it anymore. I can’t argue with these angry toddlers anymore. I’m out.

I’m going back to writing about things I understand and can process. Like global pandemics, the inner life of children, and the magic of the natural world.

Image:“File:Goran Gatarić, Woman At the Dock ll, 40×50.5, Oil on canvas.jpg” by Tomicmilos90 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Why I Am Not Blue


I am pretty passionate about my right to vote. I am a student of American history.  I love, in a visceral way, the story of how those revolutionaries not only toppled the monarchy but went on to create a democratic republic.

But you know what?

I am so NOT a fan of the “two party system.”  I am a progressive.  A liberal.  A lefty. A socialist in a lot of ways.

I don’t find my positions supported by either of the two giant political parties that now dominate every single election in this country.

I’m a Bernie voter. That means that I am now under all kinds of pressure from the Hillary crew, who want me to throw my vote to their candidate.  They are becoming increasingly shrill as they yell at me about “throwing away” my vote, or “voting for Trump” just because I refuse to give my precious one vote to Mrs. Clinton.

But here’s the thing.  I never signed up to vote “Blue, no matter who.”  Never. I agree with John Adams, a guy who put his life on the line to overthrow tyranny.  He said this:

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

If anyone has a right to speak on the two party system, I have to believe it would be John Adams.  I do NOT support a system which leaves all of the power in the hands of two small elitist groups.

I am a progressive.  Hillary Clinton is a main stream Democrat. I believe, after having researched and thought deeply, that a vote for her is a vote for a continuation of the current administration.

I do NOT want to continue the drone strikes and the endless wars. I do NOT want the government to continue to rake in billions of dollars in interest on student loans. I do NOT want the government to be owned and operated by lobbyists and special interests. I do NOT want the oil/gas industry to continue to decide our energy policy.

I am a progressive.

I believe in a multi-party system. I believe in voting for the candidate who best reflects my beliefs.

I will NOT vote “blue, no matter who.”

What the hell, folks? Have we really given up our free thinking, our beliefs, our independence?

THINK HARD before you vote.

There are other alternatives.

Green Party.

Socialist Party.

Libertarian Party.

Bernie Sanders Made Me Young


Oh, I know. The 2016 election is a giant cesspool of horror.  I get it.  I have followed (with a great deal of nausea) the “tiny hands” comments, the “my wife is hotter than yours” mess and even the “beat the crap out of ’em” moments.

But still. I am having a good time with this election cycle.

I am!

In the first place, after having had to hide my lefty tendencies for so many years, I am finding it incredibly liberating to finally have a candidate who is saying “You aren’t as lefty as I am!” The “who’s more progressive” fight is so. much. fun.

And I am having a great time watching the party of Lincoln devolve into a pack of badly behaved five year old brats. I am thoroughly enjoying the nasty stupidity of that side.

But you know what’s the best part of the whole thing?

Its the never ending chorus from the media: “Bernie supporters are all millennials!” and “Oh, those innocent young people being fooled by Bernie!”

I have heard this story on NPR, on CNN, on ABC, on NBC and on CBS. I have read it and seen it over and over again.  All those Facebook memes about “20 somethings who want free stuff.”

I LOVE it.

Because its so incredibly wrong.

I am 60 years old. I recently went to a Bernie Brainstorming meeting, and 2 out of 25 people were under 35.  Most of us were gray haired and mature. We were not looking for “free stuff”.

So I am loving the misconception.  Yes, I want to say to people I meet, I am very young! I am feeling the Bern!

I sort of wondered about which celebrities are backing Bernie. You know, were they all under 25?

Let’s see:

  1. Susan Sarandon: 69 years old. (I know. She looks fabulous)
  2. Spike Lee: 59 years old.
  3. Tulsi Gabbard: 34 years old.  A youngster, but a veteran. She’s a grownup.
  4. Joan Baez: 75 years old
  5. Mark Ruffalo: 48 years old
  6. Robert Reich: 69 years old

So guess what, mass media?

Even though I am thoroughly enjoying the label of “youngster”, you are completely missing the point on who supports Bernie. I hope you keep missing the point all the way to the Inauguration.

Do the Right Thing


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“Do the Right Thing”.  I always thought it would be so easy.  Just do what’s right.

Easy!

Except that life doesn’t seem to work that way.

Take the situation with Mr. Trump and the protesters at his rallies.  On one hand, I strongly believe in the first amendment to our constitution. You know, that “Freedom of Speech” thing.  I believe that the hallmark of a healthy, basically democratic nation is that everyone has a right to speak his mind.

I like to believe that as a “card carrying member of the ACLU”, I would grant everyone that right.  I believe that the KKK has every right to assemble and to speak out.  And of course, I believe that right minded people have every right to assemble in protest against the KKK.

I was very upset when the Occupy Wall Street camps were shut down and when protesters were kept away from the sidewalks in front of the banks and hedge fund offices.  “Free Speech!”, I said.

So far, so good.  “Do the Right Thing”.  Let everyone speak his mind.

But then there is the old adage, “Your right to free speech ends at the tip of my nose.”  Meaning, I guess, that you can speak up as long as you aren’t harming anyone with your speech or your actions.

And we have to remember that we are not allowed to say just anything we want.  We can’t, they tell us, yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. That would be dangerous.

OK.

So what am I to think about the events at those Trump rallies?

First point: Trump and his minions have every right to speak their minds. They have the right to assemble.

But don’t those who oppose him also have the right to assemble in that place, to speak up against him?

Well, yes, of course they do!

Trump’s right to free speech, it seems to me, ends when he tells his people to physically hurt those who speak against him. “Beat the crap outta them. I’ll pay your legal bills.” That’s the “tip of my nose”phenomenon.

So his speech, when it is violent, SHOULD be shut down.  The “Right Thing” would be to protest and assemble and to shut him down.  Right?

But if those who protest against Trump’s hate speech yell threats, or carry out those threats, or throw punches, then they have give up their right to free speech in that place.

Right?

So. What is the “Right Thing”?

It isn’t as easy as it seems, is it?

Why Trump Makes Me Happy


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If you have been following this blog at all in the past 9 months, you will know that when I retired last June, it was with a great deal of sadness and a fair amount of regret.

I loved teaching. I loved spending my days with children, helping them to grow and to think and to learn about themselves.  As I moved into the fall with no classroom full of children around me, I found myself somewhat adrift.

But then Donald Trump happened and I was able to view my new life, sans classroom, with more relief than regret.

And here’s why.

Because this country has focused so intently in the past few years on ending the epidemic of bullying in our schools, that’s why.

And if I was still teaching, I would have to find a way to explain to my group of tender young children why it is suddenly acceptable and even admirable for an adult to be a bully, while they are expected to show more restraint, kindness and humanity.

If I was still taking care of 25 ten year old children, I would have to answer questions about why so many Americans choose to elect a man who publicly curses as he talks about his plans to kill others. (“I’d bomb the shit out of them.”)  I would have to somehow find a way to explain, if not excuse, the adoration that so many adults in our country are showing to a man who announces his desire to “punch that protestor in the face”.  I would have to find a way to explain lies, name calling, insults, racism, sexism……

I don’t know what I would do.  I don’t how I would respond.

So for the first time since my sudden decision to retire, I am truly relieved NOT to be in a classroom any longer.

I was listening to my XM radio tonight as I drove through the rain to go grocery shopping. I was listening to the POTUS radio station, which features “Politics of the United States for the People of the United States.”  The show that was on was called “Steele and Ungar”, and its usually one that I truly enjoy.  It features a man who once served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee (Michael Steele) and man who came through Hollywood and entered the world of progressive political talk (Rick Ungar). I love the show because the two men clearly enjoy each other’s company and respect and understand each other as they debate the day’s politics through their very different viewpoints.

Tonight the topic of the Donald was the featured discussion on the show.  Michael Steele, while not a supporter of Trump, kept repeating that he knows the man personally, and doesn’t think that he will be as terrifying or as inept as so many of seem to fear.  Rick Ungar, on the other hand, repeatedly stated his own discomfort with the idea of Trump as President.  Here was his main concern: he stated his firm belief that no matter whether or not Americans agree with their President, they must respect him/her out of respect for the office. “But what do I tell my Grandchildren if Trump becomes President?”, he asked. “What do I tell them when the most powerful man in the world says things that I tell them they must never say?  What do I tell them when he behaves in ways that I tell them are wrong?”

I understand Mr. Ungar’s discomfort and confusion.  I don’t know what I would tell my students if I had to try to explain all this to them.  But I do know this:

I would NOT tell my children that they need to respect the person who holds the office of President.  I would do my best to make it clear that differences of opinion are not enough to warrant a lack of respect.  But I would make it very clear to them, as I did so often when I was raising my own children and teaching the children of other parents, that respect must be earned.

Respect. Must. Be. Earned.

We do not merit respect because of our wealth, or our position of power, or our fame or our ability to out shout or out insult those around us.  We earn respect by showing ourselves to be thoughtful, kind, caring and respectful of others.

If Mr. Trump is elected, I will not respect him.  I don’t respect bullies.   I won’t respect them.

I would never ever ever ask children to respect someone who fails to behave as well as they do.

Sorry, Rick Ungar.  But Respect. Must. Be. Earned.

 

I have a theory


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Here’s my highly informed, incredibly insightful theory about what is motivating the irascible bloviator who leads the polls for the Republican party.  You ready?

The Donald has NO desire to become President of the United States.  None. I’m not kidding.

Have you seen the President’s salary? A measly $400,000 a year.  Donald probably spends more than that on hair care products!

If he were to become President, Trump would have to get up early every day and actually work.  He would have to be on call 24/7, and would be expected to take phone calls in the middle of the night.

Not only that, if he became President, Trump would be put into the difficult position of having to compromise with other leaders in order to keep the country running.  All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, this is not a stupid man. He knows that Presidential power is limited.  He knows that if he had the job he wouldn’t be able to just bully his way through the four years putting up walls and bombing the shit out of people.

He knows full well that it just doesn’t work that way.

So why is he marching around on the campaign trail you ask?

For the free publicity, that’s why.  The man is a fame whore.  He had a book coming out, he wanted to boost sales, he wanted to see his face on the news.  He did not intend to actually become President! He knows its a totally thankless job!

What is my evidence for this theory, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.  When this “campaign” began, Trump sounded like himself.  Bombastic, egocentric, arrogant. Yucky but not completely insane.

However, with each successive week, his comments have become more and more offensive.  It began with his snarky statements about John McCain, remember?  “He got captured; I prefer people who don’t get captured.”  All the pundits had a nutty, and predicted that this was the “end” for Trump.

But his poll numbers rose.

Next he turned his giant mouth on Mexican immigrants.  It wasn’t enough to be merely snarky now; he had to go for fully offensive. All those immigrants, rapists and drug lords being sent up here by the Mexican government.  Awful! People were outraged, and some protested.

Everyone predicted the end of his campaign again….and again the numbers went up.

No matter how ugly, rude, offensive, dishonest, cruel or despicable his behavior has been, his poll numbers have gone up. What that says about our countrymen is a question that is beyond my feeble efforts at understanding.

But I truly believe, and sincerely hope, that it is driving Trump himself crazy.  I can just imagine him, after promising to “bomb the shit out of” ISIS. I can see him checking the polls, and telling his wife, “This should do it. We outta be able to go on vacation by next week.”  Then I can see the blood rushing to his head as he sees that he has gained even more ground.

“What the hell do I have to do to get these people to see that I can’t be President?  Jesus! I’ve insulted McCain, called immigrants a bunch of rapists, made fun of women’s faces, talked about a woman having her period on national TV! I’ve threatened war! I stood up and challenged a guy to stab me in the gut!  They think that’s the behavior of a world leader? Give me a break!”

“I’ve talked about building a giant wall across the continent without one word about who’d pay for it!  My God, what do I have to do? I said it was OK to beat up black protestors! I even made fun of a guy with a physical disability!  And STILL, they wanna vote for me? What the hell is wrong with these people?”

I can just imagine him, wagging a finger at his advisors.  “This was never supposed to go this far, believe me! This was supposed to be free publicity for a couple of months, that’s it! Now do something! Get me out of this mess! I need to get to one of my private islands to recharge as soon as possible.  What do I need to do to get these idiots to stop supporting me?”

I can imagine it. They’d all look at each other, helpless.  Then maybe one of them would cautiously clear his throat, fidget for a moment, and say slowly.  “Maybe if you pull out a gun at the next debate………..”

 

 

 

So I have a question…..


Is it Barnum & Bailey's?   No!  Its the GOP on stage!!!

For anyone out there in blogland who is considering voting for “The Donald”, I have a serious question.

Have you even tried to picture what the world would be like if Trump became President of the United States?  Have you thought about what would happen if he were to represent our country at a meeting of international heads of state?  Have you envisioned how those conversations might go?

I can see it now. There is an international banking crisis,  The European Union has called a meeting of all of the Western Powers.  It’s being held in Berlin.

In walks President Trump. He approaches the group, watching Angela Merkel as she chats quietly with François Hollande and David Cameron.

“Good morning, Monsieur le President”, says Hollande.

“Yeah,” answers the American leader, “First of all, I don’t have time for this crap.  And oh, by the way, our economy is stronger than all of yours put together.”  He sits at the head of the table, a space reserved for Chancellor Merkel, whose country is hosting the event.  Camera’s click and zoom in on the President, who leans forward on his arms.

“Monsieur le President”, begins Hollande, attempting to point out the faux pas to the President.  “I believe…….”

The Donald turns to Chancellor Merkel. “Sit down babe, take a load off.  You’re not getting any younger, or thinner for that matter and we gotta lotta work to do here.” He points to a seat next to him.  Face flushed, the Chancellor casts a quick and horrified glance at the press. She sits as her assistants and various flunkies quickly switch the leather bound agendas, each engraved with the name of a leader, into the correct places.

The Chancellor clears her throat, “My friends, thank you for coming to this emergency meeting of……”

She is interrupted by the US President, who breaks in with a smirk, “Angel, baby, we know why we’re here.  Let’s cut to the chase, because believe me, you politicians don’t have a clue about what to do. I’m a business man, and by the way, I’ve made millions and lost them, but then I made them again, so obviously we do things my way.”

“Monsieur…..”  The other leaders shift uneasily in their various seats, adjusting the papers in front of them. The cameras continue to click.

“So.” The Donald looks out at the group, waiting until he is sure that every reporter is focused squarely on his face. “We declare bankruptcy, we wipe out all this useless debt, we start fresh. Believe me”, he casually waves a hand  and shrugs, “I’ve done this schtick before.”

Or how about this for a scenario.   The US finds itself in a military confrontation with Russia over land that has been seized in Eastern Poland.  Putin has declared the area a Russian protectorate, citing the needs of the Russian speaking minority who live in the area.  He has threatened to use “every weapon in our arsenal” to defend the expansion of his power.

A high level confidential phone call has been arranged.  The interpreters are poised and ready, determined to capture every nuance that is spoken.

President Putin places the call.

“Mr. President,”  he says, when the call is answered. “Good afternoon.”

“Listen, Vlad, this whole threatening each other thing, that’s just not gonna work. We’re the United States, OK? We’re the big boys, get it? I don’t have time for all this phone calling, useless political crap.  You wanna shoot? So shoot.”

There is a moment’s pause as the interpreter speaks softly and quickly. Then Putin speaks again.  “I am sure, my friend, that we can find a common ground in which both of our countries can find peace and stability.”

“I’m not your friend, and by the way, I have millions of friends and followers. Have you seen my Twitter account? I don’t need another friend.  This is a waste of time.  If you want Poland, make me an offer.  Just don’t waste my time.”

World War Three begins the next morning.

I know that this post was written in a humorous tone.  I wrote it that way.  The thing is, in my deepest heart, where the real worry lives, I’m not at all sure that its an exaggeration of how this guy would operate on the world stage.   

Donald Trump is not the champion of free speech. He is not simply standing up to the “politically correct”. He is rude, vindictive, self-absorbed, arrogant, mean spirited, misogynistic, egotistical and incredibly dangerous.  ALL right thinking Americans need to recognize the danger that he represents.  This is our national Presidential election; it isn’t a reality TV show or a Hollywood movie.  This is serious stuff.   If you want to elect a conservative, look at the array of talent that is on display. Kasich, Fiorina, Walker, Christie, Graham……..  You have plenty to choose from.   Just please do the entire a world a favor and turn away from the potential train wreck that is Donald Trump.

Low GSQ


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A long, long time ago, like a really wicked long time ago…..when I was young and dinosaurs ruled the earth……I worked for one of my best friends. He was the funniest guy I knew, a High School pal, and he owned a small sandwich shop.  There were about 8 of us who worked there, and so we got to know each really well.

Every morning, as we were making the coffee and cooking the roast beef, our boss would go around and give us each a tiny slip of paper with our “GSQ” written on it.

Our “Give A Shit Quotient”.

It was hilarious.  He was definitely the best boss I’ve ever had in my life and he’s still a really good friend.

For some reason, when I woke up this morning and saw the election results, the old “GSQ” popped into my head.  Because mine is really, really low right about now.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a wicked liberal. Like, really really really liberal.  As in, I vote Green or Socialist or at the very least United Independent Party.   Which means that I should be pretty upset with the takeover of the government by the GOP.

Only I’m not.

Why not, you ask?

Because I don’t think it makes one damn bit of difference which of the two huge corporate owned parties is theoretically “running the show”.  We had Bush and we had war in the Middle East and Near East. We had unemployment, high student debt and an ever increasing income gap.  So we voted for Obama and we got…..the same damn thing.

In my secret lefty heart, I suspect that all of these guys sling mud at each other all day, then go home and sit in their mansions and Skype each other about how dumb all the rest of us are. I think they share the same bankers as backers and the same lobbyists and the same haberdashers and the same sommeliers.  I think they belong to the same clubs.

I know for sure that they all hire the same scary actress to record the voice overs for those horrific political ads.  You know the ones I mean.  That woman who sounds both astonished and horrified as she semi-whispers, in her exaggerated intonation, “Bobby Bobberson says he shares our values?!? I don’t think so! In Bobberson’s America, babies have no milk, and old ladies have to cross the street by themselves! Bob Bobberson: Not our kind of Senator.”

Bleh.

I didn’t vote for any of the folks who’ll be making the laws for the next few years.  And I don’t mind.  I can’t stand either of the big parties.

Until we get to the point where we have more than two equally balanced political groups, until we get to that glorious day where money doesn’t control every election, until we get to a time in our future where there are enough disparate interests and viewpoints represented in our political system to force them to actually compromise, my GSQ will remain in the single digits.

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Having followed the election in Tunisia for the past several months, where the citizens were engaged, interested and invested, I am underwhelmed by our so called democracy.  Having watched events unfolding in that small country, where several parties vied for power, I am less than impressed with the nonsense that passed for an election in this country.