Results deny claims of Democratic fraud  

My condolences to Trump supporters. It’s hard to lose any political race, but close ones are agonizing. (Democrats know about that.)

I’ve talked to enough Trump voters to know that the President they admire is a very different one than I see. They speak of accomplishments that I hadn’t heard of before, things like Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and bringing home the remains of soldiers lost in action decades ago.

To me, Trump will always be the President who encouraged division and violence in America. At times, he seemed to want civil war.

I once feared that the race problems of the 1970s could only end in war. In time, though, laws were changed, schools were integrated, and employers changed their policies. Problems remained, but there was less heat and more progress.

Americans can get along again. We decide.

Right now I believe we can all be thankful that the predictions of violence during these past few weeks were not only exaggerated, but wrong. Americans have addressed this election with a sense of commitment that shows deep respect.

Some do worry that Trump won’t leave the White House peacefully, that his army of supporters will fight for him.

Yet, I don’t think we’ll see widespread violence. Unexpected Republican victories are hurting Democrats–we had so much hope–but they have also put a big hole in the claim that we somehow rigged this election.

If Democrats had planted thousands of ballots, one would expect a Democratic sweep at least as big as the polls predicted.

It didn’t happen. Republicans won at least five of the U.S. House seats that Democrats were predicted to win ‘easily’ or ‘narrowly.’ They are also on track to win 24 or more of the 28 House races polls called ‘tossups.’  (At the time of this writing, Joe Biden has been declared winner of the presidential race, but counting continues for 25 House and four Senate races.)

 Even the most avid Trump supporter should doubt that Dems planted ballots with votes for a Democratic president and a Republican Congress.

If the Republican leadership supports throwing out the thousands of ballots that would have to be eliminated to give Trump victory in three more states, they would be endangering Republican down-ballot victories.

Okay, maybe I’m being a pollyanna, trying to find the silver lining in a cloud of defeat.

Democrats lost as many seats in the U.S. Senate as they gained.  With run-off elections for both Georgia Senate seats coming in January, there is still a chance to reach the magic 50. But two Democratic victories would be expecting a lot from a state that’s been Republican until now.

And Democrats will probably retain the majority in the House, but they won’t be as cocky.

In Idaho, Democrats lost two seats in the legislature–Rep. Jake Ellis (District 15 just west of Boise) and Rep. Chris Abernathy (District 29, Bannock County). I don’t know Chris, but Jake is a good person–a retired fireman who listens to voters and cares about workers and schools. He will be missed.

So Republicans again have a 58 to 12 advantage in the Idaho House. The Senate remains at 28 Republicans and seven Democrats.

And it is 40 years since a Democrat represented Canyon County.

Idaho is one of the few states where President Trump received more votes in 2020 than in 2018. A lot of people are hurting.

 But over 75 million Americans voted for Biden and an end to the storms and furor of the Trump administration. May their decision prove to be a wise one.

Elections, vaccine to end this edge-of-our-seats thriller

Elections, vaccine to end this edge-of-our-seats thrillerThese last two weeks before the election seem like the runup to the climax of a thriller movie.  

Will armed bullies take over polling locations?  Will the post office defy the powers that rule it to get the mail out on time?  Will we ever know if Hunter Biden really got millions just for introducing people to his dad?  

And underneath is the pounding rhythm of a pandemic–the elephant in the room that we’re all desperately working to ignore as it rises on its hind legs and prepares to attack. 

I want to believe it’ll be like the Y2 crisis. Remember when many feared that the change from 1999 to 2000 would send all sorts of networks haywire–power, water, phone, dispatch, and banks?  

At some point the fear of a panicking public loomed worse than the fear of computer outages.  About 15% of the country set up to store enough food, water, cash, ammunition and, yes, toilet paper, so they could hole up while hungry hordes roamed the streets and battled for the few bottles of water available. 

And New Years’ came–and went–without incident.

And the history buffs among us could remember those inspiring words of Franklin Roosevelt: ”The only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.” 

Today I can’t help wondering just what Roosevelt would have said if he’d realized the economic collapse of the Great Depression would trigger a war taking 70 million lives.   

Maybe, “Fear can motivate us to be aware and prepare for dangers, but we must control it; terror may divide and destroy us.” 

Somehow seeing lines of voters waiting hours to cast their ballots early made me feel hopeful. They didn’t look like they’d be cowered by a few armed bullies asking questions. And I do think post office workers will do their best to get ballots to the polls on time. And I hope neighbors in Ohio are arranging to take one anothers’ ballots to the one voting box in the county. 

Both Democrats and Republicans fear the outcome of the coming election.  

As a Democrat, I worry about dangers I see increasing day by day.  I fear that we’ll do next to nothing to mitigate climate change and end up with an Idaho in eternal drought. I fear differences in neighborhoods and schools will separate us by class and culture so that we fail as a melting pot. I fear the courts will allow the powerful to take away the rights of common citizens, especially workers. And I fear that we will start caring even less about one another than we apparently do about immigrant toddlers separated from their parents.

 I’m not sure what Republicans fear down deep. Some say it is any change.  Some, the loss of white supremacy.   

A recent questionnaire from the Republican party plays to fears of extremism–”budget-busting” federal spending,” “extreme” climate change policies, “dangerous” abortion policies, “increased” gun control. 

It labels policies as “advanced by Democrats” that few Democrats embrace, e.g. extending voting rights to inmates and those under 16. And when “Universal Income” advocate Charles Murray spoke in Nampa, his audience was Libertarians and Republicans. Only one Democratic presidential candidate in 29 supported it.  

And “open borders for all immigrants” has been denounced by Bernie Sanders as “a Koch brothers proposal” designed to cut wages to “two or three dollars an hour.” If Democrats had their way, the United States would be giving trade advantages to countries who treat workers humanely so fewer would risk their lives to come to the U.S. 

Soon, election results and a vaccine will bring an end to this episode. May it go out peacefully and usher in a time when truth and cooperation thrive. 

New Year’s Resolutions for Democrats

2020 will be a deciding year for our country. 

For three years, we’ve watched as decades of progress was reversed–clean air and water rules, endangered species protection, anti-violence laws, workers’ rights, net neutrality, the fight against global warming, etc. 

 The 2020 election will be the most important–and the most rancorous–in recent history. 

So I am suggesting some New Year’s resolutions for progressives.  

The first: Don’t tune out.

It’s easy to say that both sides are at fault. 

Or that nothing you can do will make a difference. 

That’s surrender. The more people who do nothing, the greater the danger to our freedoms. 

Don’t give up on making the world a better place. Be the role model you want for your children and grandchildren.  

The second: Fact check everything–and speak out. 

Very few of us are going to believe that a candidate is trafficking children from a pizza place. Nor will we take serious a Fox news report that the FDA is banning popcorn, frozen pizza, and canned frosting. 

Yet, during the 2016 elections fake news articles were shared on social media at a higher rate than more reputable ones.

Most people know that The Onion posts satire, not news. But after the 2016 elections CBS News listed an additional 20 sites specializing in not-true items including some with such great sounding names as Civic Tribune, Empire Herald, National Report, abc news (a look-alike) and Christian Times.  

And articles claiming to be from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal were found to be fakes. Check companies’ websites to be sure.  

 Three: Don’t go it alone.

Your emails or letters-to-the-editor won’t be enough this year.  

 Winning even a race for state legislature can require contacting 12,000 voters–and advisors like Wellstone recommend contacting each five to seven times. 

Find a team with a clear message that you agree with. The best ones will also have a hard-working candidate, a plan for multiple voter contacts, and a dedication to saving data for the last weeks’ Get-Out-the-Vote drive.

Plan on working with others to visit voters door-to-door and phone them.      

And if you can’t do either–help locate potential donors.  (Envelope stuffing is out-dated. Too many people don’t open them. Postcards put it all right out there for voters.)  

Four: Consider all your options. 

Support a legislative candidate if you can. 

Right now Republicans control more than two-thirds of the Idaho legislature–enough to overcome a gubernatorial veto if they stick together.  And some important issues are sure to come up again–the right to a doable initiative, more restrictions on Medicaid expansion, and attempts to do away with our bipartisan redistricting commission.  

And if the initiatives to increase the minimum wage, legalize medical marijuana, or raise taxes for education pass, the legislature may face more issues that the people support and most Republican legislators do not. 

Plus, working with a legislative team, you get to know the candidate and get a good overview of what a campaign involves. 

If there isn’t a local candidate you can support, you have choices–volunteer for a legislative candidate in a neighboring district, volunteer for a candidate for the U.S. House or Senate, or help a presidential campaign (possibly working in other states.)

Five: Start as soon as possible. 

Idaho’s presidential primary is March 10.  And the filing deadline for Idaho congressional and legislative candidates ends March 13. 

Right now many activists will be working on initiative drives that must end by April 30. Others are recruiting candidates, listening to voters’ major issues, and registering new voters.

Work for the Idaho–and nation–you want in 2021! 

November

There’s a major election coming up this November and most of us know less about it than the presidential primaries next March.

(Actually, there’s an election even closer–August 27–but it seems a sleeper.  The recall elections for Middleton School District trustees Tim Winkle and Aliesha McConkle are the only contests I know of in Canyon County.)

But in November, 2C voters will be deciding holders of about 40 different offices in 15 different political entities.  This record-breaking number is brought to you courtesy of a legislature that moved school board elections from March to the November Tuesday when city council elections are traditionally held. (Legislators are banking on this improving voter turnout.)

And, in contrast with our even-year elections, when campaigns stretch from May to November, we won’t know who is running until eight weeks before the election.

Candidate filing runs from Monday, Aug. 26, to Friday, Sept. 6.

So, there’s still time to become a candidate.

Admittedly, there are good reasons not to run. These offices take  time–the papers to review before a meeting typically run three-inches high,. You get a lot of hassle–you really can’t please people all the time. And the pay ranges from next-to-nothing to nothing.

Still, some offices, like an open seat on the Nampa City Council, will attract several candidates–two have already announced–while seats in small towns and school districts may get none.

Why should anyone run?

One, we owe it to our world not to let a nut job just walk into a position. A lot of filings happen the final Friday afternoon when concerned voters realize that no one they trust has filed.

Two, we may have ideas about changes that should be made.

That’s super. It means we’ve paid enough attention to issues to have a campaign message. Win or lose, running for election will get our ideas before the public.

Three, it’s something good citizens can do to make a positive difference and give something back to the community.

And four, it’s an opportunity to gain experience working with people, planning projects, and making tough decisions. City councils and school boards are mini-legislatures; one can gain insight into the complexities of law and what it takes to make meaningful change.

And the positions are non-partisan, perfect for independents who feel they should be doing more than darkening small ovals a few times a year.

Still not dreaming of running?

Then help someone else.

You will make a difference; enthusiastic volunteers always do.

Of course, you have to do something–and stuffing envelopes and licking stamps hardly happens anymore. Postcards are more likely to be read–and printing houses get cheaper postage.

Volunteers contact voters directly.

There are a lot of decisions to be made, however, before phone calling or door knocking starts.

Who do you contact?  The County Elections office can give candidates lists of eligible voters. But do you want very eligible voter–that’ll take lots of volunteers — or only those who voted in the last election for the same office?  (That can backfire if you’re running against an incumbent; he or she got the majority last time.)

What issues do you mention?  What handouts do you use? What do you do if no one is home?

 How do you keep track of who likes the candidate and who doesn’t?

Do you need to file a Sunshine report? How much is the candidate allowed to contribute?

How do you register voters who’ve just moved? Should you encourage people to vote absentee?

Read. Talk to those with experience. Volunteer. Contact voters. Contact them again.     Have fun.
Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019

Early thoughts about 2020

Normally I’d wait until July at least to write about the 2020 election, but this year I’m making an exception.

After all, the Idaho legislature is off to a smooth start. Yes, there was a $90 million difference between Gov. Brad Little’s revenue projection and the legislature’s, but it seems to affect only one item–the hold-over to next year.

And there’s really little I can add to the discussion of the government shutdown.  Federal employees, citizens needing services, and local economies are hurting more every day over a wall that 60 percent of the people don’t believe would accomplish anything. It must end, but I’ve no insights into how or when.

Moreover, a new weekly column by FiveThirtyEight, an on-line affiliate of ABC, on “what the potential 2020 candidates are doing and saying” called to the political junkie in me.

Surprisingly, two Republicans were included as possible primary opponents to President Trump: former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Both have shown more spine in standing up to the president than most Republicans. Kasich recently said President Trump was wrong for not “putting the country ahead of his politics and being more flexible in his goals.”

Seventeen Democrats were mentioned. The two most articulate and experienced are leading all the polls right now: former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. Biden is noted for being good-natured and compromising; Sanders, for being combative and standing by the middle class.

Either would make a great president except–both will be nearly 80 before inauguration in 2021. Donald Trump is the first president to be over 70 at inauguration.

Just how big a barrier is advancing age?

Five of the potential nominees named are women now serving in Congress. The best known–and my personal favorite–is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  An oft-cited scholar on commercial law, she has a clear understanding how government now funnel all gains from economic growth to the nation’s richest 10 percent. Warren is a strong, dauntless advocate for the middle class.

But just how big a barrier is being female?

Hillary Clinton was not only the victim of 30 years of vicious political attacks and the Russians’ online rumor-mongering, but she was held to a stricter standard than any of the male candidates.

In four one-on-one polls of potential candidates, Oprah Winfrey beat out both women and lost to both men.

And there is a full field of lesser-known male candidates with good credentials. Maryland Rep. John Delaney was the first to announce his candidacy.  He started out working in construction and founded two successful lending firms. He didn’t run for re-election in 2018 so he could campaign full-time. He’s opening offices and giving speeches in Iowa this month.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has championed human rights during 26 years in Congress. His two books, Congress from the Inside and Myths of Free Trade, explain his actions and beliefs.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is considered a “dark horse” even though he served 15 years in the U.S. House before becoming governor and chair of the Democratic Governors’ Association.  He sees climate change as a real threat, has both legislative and executive experience, and knows people with cabinet-level qualifications from coast to coast.

Five potential candidates are under 50. Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro are Hispanic; Corey Booker, black; Tulsi Gabbard, Samoan and Hindu; and Richard Ojeda, a 15-year military veteran.

One or more of these candidates must capture the minds and loyalties of the young activists which made the Democratic victories of 2018 possible. The country needs a new president.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019