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Presidential candidates offer all kinds of ‘first’ possibilities

REUTERS/Scott Morgan
Americans might elect our first woman president, but there are several other "firsts" among the candidates as well.

What an interesting election cycle we are having! We may be able to elect our first woman president (Carly Fiorina or Hillary Clinton), first Hispanic president (Sen. Ted Cruz or Sen. Marco Rubio), first Jewish president (Sen. Bernie Sanders), first socialist president (Sanders again), first “third-in-a-family” president (Jeb Bush), first “former president’s spouse” president (Clinton again), first “never-held-any-elected-post” president (Donald Trump, Fiorina, or Ben Carson), first Seventh Day Adventist president (Carson again), and at some point we had a shot at electing our first Indian-American president (Bobby Jindal). So many possibilities, so many choices — but why does it matter? We are not trying to add to the Book of Firsts, are we?

Ideally, it all should be irrelevant, and I wouldn’t be writing about this if not for a constant flow of Clinton’s supporters making a big deal out of her chance to become the first woman president. And recently even Clinton herself said that she would make a better president because she is a woman. What? We are constantly told that women are equal to men so they can do the same things men do, such as become CEOs, serve everywhere in the military, lead countries, and so on. But now we are told that women are better than men?

More diversity in GOP lineup

Interestingly, the Republican field is an example of diversity and would have been praised as such had it been a Democratic field. Republicans have plenty of young candidates as well. Instead, many Democrats call all the Republican candidates clowns and scary. If Republicans were reacting this way to a Democratic field of this nature, they would have been called racists and sexists. The Democratic field is (or used to be) almost the direct opposite: There were four white men (one of them is Jewish, though) and Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic nomination was supposed to be simple: Clinton was the presumptive nominee and Democrats just needed a few figureheads for show to give an impression of a genuine nomination process. Instead, Sanders is going strong — but why?

He actually explained it himself: Democrats have to bring more people to voting booths to win. And that, of course, means bringing more inexperienced, uneducated, young voters because others vote anyway and mostly have their minds made up. But those are the voters who can be brought in only by promising them pie in the sky — and that is what Sanders is doing: free college education, more child benefits, higher minimum wage, free medical care, decriminalization of marijuana …. Despite his claims that he cares about the middle class, most of these measures will benefit the young and I think that is the goal, because they can’t analyze the promises and distinguish between facts and fiction. (Remember that the human brain fully develops only by the age of 25 and the last parts of the brain to develop are the ones that are responsible for critical thinking — and that skill, as I learned recently, is not being taught well in colleges anymore.) But at least Sanders honestly if mistakenly believes in his dreams.

A bandwagon of giveaways

It seems to me that Clinton, on the other hand, does not believe in anything except for her ability to get what she thinks she is entitled to and would say anything to get it. So during the Democratic debates, it was clear that she was jumping on the bandwagon of “giveaways” because it is her only choice to win the nomination. In fact, one entire debate looked to be about who could promise more. It doesn’t matter that none of those promises will ever come to life because a Republican Congress will never support them (and no one seriously doubts that Republicans will keep control of at least the House); it doesn’t matter that all those promises are out of reach because the country doesn’t have the money. All that matters is that people like hearing that they may get free stuff (and I have to admit that some people even like hearing that other people will get free stuff), even if it is a fiction, much more than they like hearing that they have to work hard, even if it is a reality.

So for Democrats the choice is between Clinton and Sanders — i.e. in my estimation between an untruthful, self-centered candidate with zero accomplishments and multiple failures and whose single advantage seems to be being a female — and a self-proclaimed socialist who can’t see the difference between America and Denmark and thinks that money grows on trees (in the billionaires’ gardens, that is). The other candidates never counted, and now only one of them remains (Joe Biden was clearly frightened into refraining from running), leaving a pathetic field of two and a half candidates.

Where were the hard questions?

Of course, debates also go as expected, based on media’s favorites. While Democratic debates were a giveaway with minimal attempts to raise hard questions or ask candidates to express opinions of each other, the Republican debate moderators were constantly pushing candidates to bicker and argue with each other. How come we didn’t hear “Secretary Clinton, please name a few of your accomplishments that benefited America,” “Governor O’Malley, please explain the sad situation in Baltimore in light of your being its council member and mayor for fifteen years,” and “Senator Sanders, do you know that students must pass vigorous entrance exams to colleges in Europe in order to get free tuition?”

Well, it is obvious that the media are not doing their jobs, so there is even more reason for all of us to do our jobs as citizens and voters. We should see past rhetoric about gender, past fear mongering (and I mean both Trump’s and anti-Trump ones), past political correctness, and past partisanship. We should distinguish between real threats, such as terrorism and unchecked illegal immigration, and the fake ones, such as war on women or drowning in a hundred years. And we should demand real solutions from the candidates, not the politically expedient ones – and that is the most difficult thing to do.

Ilya Gutman is an immigrant from the Soviet Union who now lives and works in Marshall, Minnesota.  

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Comments (55)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/15/2016 - 06:12 am.

    The most clear-eyed person in this society

    is a former resident of the soviet union.

    • Submitted by Jon Mills on 01/18/2016 - 10:13 am.

      It seems odd to me. Any immigrant from the Soviet Union would have had to entered the country before 1992. Why a person who has been living in the USA for 24 years would still claim to be an immigrant and/or hasn’t pursued citizenship is a quandary.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/15/2016 - 09:50 am.

    Standards

    Interestingly, the Republican field is an example of diversity and would have been praised as such had it been a Democratic field.

    Why exactly is it that we we impose different standards on Democrats and Republicans? Is that a bad thing? Or should we make an effort to hold both parties to exactly the same standards?

  3. Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/15/2016 - 10:14 am.

    So to summarize

    Democrats can only win because their voters are young and stupid. Conservatives are the truly inclusive ones, despite the fact that their ideology is indistinguishable from one candidate to another in its lack of inclusivity. The media is a vast liberal conspiracy. The only real issue to be considered is should we be constantly afraid or constantly VERY afraid. Well it’s good to see the right has yet to come up with new boilerplate, given their recent performance in presidential electoral politics. Were they able to conceive something new in the last 50 years think how bad off we might be.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 01/15/2016 - 02:15 pm.

    Perhaps it is difficult for an immigrant from the former Soviet Union to distinguish between a Socialist and a Democratic Socialist, which is what Senator Bernie Sanders is. I stress the democratic part, because that’s what no one from Russia knows anything about, sadly.

    Further, of all those campaigning for for nomination, in both parties, the only one with a proven track record of achieving legislative goals on a number of issues is Sanders (he beats Clinton, who is the second-best on this, in the whole crew). In Congress he has been widely admired as being able to effectively work with Dems and GOPers. A closer look shows him uniquely able to actually govern, among all those running. Not only is he smart as a whip, he’s knowledgeable, experienced, and forward-looking. Unafraid of the future, always seeking solutions to problems.

    I recommend that this writer pay some attention to Bernie Sanders’ campaign–he’d be surprised at what he learns. What he’s written here is just a right-wing screed, based on ignorance of the candidates and the issues.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/16/2016 - 12:51 pm.

      Not a Screed

      This author notes reasonable points of comparison, points that seem to invoke various defensive reflexes.

      Too many in our electorate have taken to living behind dogmatic firewalls of self-protection (not Ms. Sullivan) in order to maintain a comfortable sense of ideals in an era that challenges nearly all ideals much of the time.

      If we might agree that we are being marketed into political mediocrity and philosophical discomfort, we might consider resisting these forms of manipulation and truly thinking through the propaganda–all of it.

      Those who feel better by obsessing over corporate America ( Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Government, whatever) pretty much shout into the winds of reality. If we think of the two main corporate parties as Big DNC and Big RNC we may better appreciate our individual insignificance to these campaigns. They are not aimed at you or at me, but at collective aggregations required at party conventions and ultimately at the ballot boxes.

      Shouldn’t we all be offended by the Big Party marketing manipulation of these corporate institutions, as we would by similar Big Others?

  5. Submitted by chuck holtman on 01/15/2016 - 02:59 pm.

    Paragraphs

    saturated to their dew point with straw argument, conceptual misapprehension and general tendentiousness, to no discernible end.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/16/2016 - 12:53 pm.

      Shields Up

      Please see previous response.

      • Submitted by chuck holtman on 01/17/2016 - 10:24 am.

        Mr Million

        I agree with your third paragraph completely. The herding into camps of Republic and Democratic is a chief means by which we all are caused to sacrifice our critical thinking; and under which civic engagement devolves into the clan warfare of “us” vs. “them” and the logical error that an effective critique of “the other side’s” position means that you have proven the good sense of your own.

        I disagree with your fourth paragraph, in which you suggest that the RNC and DNC possess and act in self-interest. Like other private, public and institutional formations, the RNC and DNC are simply modalities thru which individuals pursue their own private interests. Over time, all modalities that offer some measure of efficaciousness in advancing private interests (including, e.g., “government” itself and the media) come to be inhabitated by those best able to commandeer them, i.e., those with wealth and power. The RNC and DNC pursue different strategies but the effective role of both is to manage the political process so that the structures by which wealth and power continue to concentrate are preserved.

        • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/18/2016 - 08:35 am.

          Once Upon a Time, Perhaps

          Not so sure the “grass” does have “roots” now. Let’s agree to disagree on this one.

  6. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/15/2016 - 08:38 pm.

    Questions

    Mr. Foster, how can you question having the same standards for both parties? Isn’t that the foundation of freedom – equality?

    Mr. Haas, will you please explain what you mean by saying that Republican “ideology is indistinguishable from one candidate to another in its lack of inclusivity?” Sure, they are all Republicans… And aren’t democrats trying to frighten people with global warming and war on women as I noted? I would guess that being killed by a terrorist looks like a much more reasonable thing to fear, despite its low probability, than drowning in 2100…

    Ms. Sullivan, having lived in the Soviet Union for almost thirty years and in America for almost 25 years, by my own choice, I think I may understand democracy pretty well since I can compare the systems, a thing many people cannot do. And yes, I am familiar with what Sen. Sanders is suggesting – that is why I listed those things. So can you tell me how people will benefit from free college tuition if they won’t make it through entrance exams?

    Mr. Holtman, will you please give me examples when I used straw arguments and misrepresentations…

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 01/17/2016 - 10:05 am.

      Mr Gutman – Per your request:

      Your straw arguments include: that a sizable number of those who vote Democrat do it on basis of diversity; that the ethnic or gender attributes of a president aren’t relevant in helping shift norms; that criticism of Republican candidates is based on gender prejudice or racism rather than their platforms and characters; that there is contiguity of interest between the Democratic establishment and those on the left of the political spectrum as presently defined; and that there is no purpose in advocating policy positions if they presently could not be implemented due to Republican opposition.

      Your tendentious arguments include: that the diversity of a Republican candidate should make him or her appealing irrespective of his/her views; that young voters on average are less capable of sophistication in discerning good policy, and less educated or less able to make thoughtful political choices; that young voters, more than other voters, are attracted by “pie in the sky” and “free stuff”; that Sanders’ platform is detrimental to the middle class; that Sanders’ platform could not realistically be implemented by a competently self-governing society; that those on the left are motivated by, and only by, “free stuff,” while those on the right are motivated by exhortations to work hard and calls on virtue; that Biden was “frightened” from running (whatever that means); that “political correctness” (whatever that means) is consequential in explaining the present views of the citizenry; that climate change is a “fake” threat; and that the platforms of the Right do not reflect historical norms of paternalism and discount womens’ autonomy.

      Your conceptual misapprehensions include: that Republican and Democratic candidate platforms and messages reflect symmetrical positioning on each side of a “center” rather than distinct and qualitatively different strategies to appeal to two different bases characterized by two different psychological dispositions, both ultimately cultivated to serve the interests of concentrated wealth; that policies are best distinguished by party rather than by the extent to which they serve the interests of concentrated wealth vs the common interest; that policies altering the primary distribution of social wealth in a more equitable direction are “giveaways” and require increased spending of that wealth; and that the roots of “terrorism” and humanity’s general nihilistic trend do not have a strong foundation in the way that wealth and power are distributed and exerted globally.

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/17/2016 - 07:14 am.

    how can you question having the same standards for both parties?

    Because the parties are different from each other, they have different strengths, different weaknesses, and each must be, or can be, I would argue, evaluated on it’s own terms.

    I don’t know that setting standards is any sort of foundation of freedom, but if it is, I think the Republican Party which systematically through law, tries to discourage qualified voters it doesn’t like, many of them members of the same minorities it claims are represented at it’s presidential debates, doesn’t do very well on that score.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/17/2016 - 09:16 am.

      Different Standards?

      That seems reasonable if discussing flags, emblems and such.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/17/2016 - 09:39 am.

      Hmmm….

      You are supporting different standards that meet your disposition? That’s pretty ideological. Do you support different standards for men as opposed to women; for English-Americans or German-Americans or white-brown-red-black-Americans?

      Internal consistency of personal philosophy is important.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/17/2016 - 08:40 am.

    Standards, cont’s

    Think of it like a pro football team. Although both a quarterback and an offensive lineman are on the same time, what we ask from them, the standards we impose on them are completely different, indeed even contradictory.

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/17/2016 - 09:46 am.

    Exclusive v. Inclusive

    “ideology is indistinguishable from one candidate to another in its lack of inclusivity?

    First off, although I am a Democrat, and even have an ideology, ideology isn’t necessarily a determining factor with me. My ideology says I should want the Democratic single payer model, but the pragmatic side of me is willing to accept Obamacare, which is a market based, republican approach to health care issues. My Republican friends often speak of Rinos whom they seek to exclude from their party. No one I know speaks of DINOs who we seek to exclude from our party. Take for example, Donald Trump. For most of his life he was a Democrat. Some argue he is a Democrat still. A Republican commentator on a news show recently described him as just a liberal who hates Mexican, a not totally inapt description. The reason he left our party doesn’t have anything to do with our party, it was simply a matter of political opportunism, in that he sensed a leadership vacuum in the GOP, that he could fill.

    All that said, I don’t attach any moral judgment to be either inclusive or exclusive. Those qualities have to do with the different natures of the parties. In a democracy, particularly one that is governed not by majority, but by consensus, to get things done you have to be inclusive, you have to assemble coalitions. And in our country, the activist party, the one that believes government should do stuff, is the Democratic, not the Republican Party. On the other side, in a consensus system, if you are against government acting, an inclusive politics isn’t desirable. You don’t need a majority to push through policy, you need a disciplined minority which can hold together to prevent the other party from achieving the consensus needed to get things done.

  10. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/17/2016 - 11:41 pm.

    Good discussion

    Mr. Holtman, thank you for your response and I will try to address your examples.

    You suggested that my arguments “that a sizable number of those who vote Democrat do it on basis of diversity; that the ethnic or gender attributes of a president aren’t relevant in helping shift norms…” are straw arguments. First of all, you contradict yourself: if “a sizable number of Democrats” do NOT vote “on the basis of diversity,” then they think “that the ethnic or gender attributes of a president” aren’t relevant” and if they think that they are relevant, they vote on that basis, i.e. diversity. On the other hand, considering how much Obama’s race and Clinton’s gender are talked about, it is a big deal for Democrats. Additionally, what makes ethnic and gender attributes relevant – we are all equal and differ only on thoughts.

    Other of my “straw arguments” you mentioned:
    1. “…criticism of Republican candidates is based on gender prejudice or racism rather than their platforms and characters.” I actually never said that; what I said was that Republican diversity is not being appreciated while Republican criticism of Obama and Clinton is attributed to racism and sexism.
    2. “…there is contiguity of interest between the Democratic establishment and those on the left of the political spectrum.” I do not think I said that but how can you deny that the main goal for both of the above is to prevent Republican president from being elected (which is understandable, by the way).
    3. “…there is no purpose in advocating policy positions if they presently could not be implemented due to Republican opposition.” I never said that either; what I said was that that promising things that cannot be implemented is not right and promising and advocating are two different things.

    Let’s continue with my “tendentious arguments.”
    1. “…the diversity of a Republican candidate should make him or her appealing irrespective of his/her views.” I never said that – see Item one of my “straw arguments.”
    2. “…young voters on average are less capable of sophistication in discerning good policy, and less educated or less able to make thoughtful political choices; that young voters, more than other voters, are attracted by “pie in the sky” and “free stuff.” Research shows that critical thinking abilities fully develop by the age of 25; on the other hand, the way history and similar subjects are taught in school (my son is a senior) is not conductive to promoting real understanding of the world. Additionally, young people are naturally more idealistic and have less practical experience being shielded from life by their parents (fewer kids work now than in the past, for example). These are facts fully supporting my position.
    3. “…Sanders’ platform is detrimental to the middle class; that Sanders’ platform could not realistically be implemented by a competently self-governing society.” Socialism is detrimental to the middle class and everyone else – there can be no dispute here. Unfortunately, it can be implemented – with disastrous results; Venezuela is the latest example.
    4. “…those on the left are motivated by, and only by, “free stuff,” while those on the right are motivated by exhortations to work hard and calls on virtue.” I never said that; I just said that “free stuff” slogans are much more attractive to people than “work hard” ones.
    5. “…Biden was “frightened” from running.” Apparently, he regrets not running. On the other hand, Clinton and DNC tried to discourage him from running. I just put dots together but in this case it is indeed my opinion, not a fact.
    6. “…“political correctness” (whatever that means) is consequential in explaining the present views of the citizenry.” Considering that we cannot even have an honest dialogue about race, gender, and practically every other social issue without one side accusing the other of being racists, sexists, etc. , it is clear that voting is influenced by that significantly.
    7. “…climate change is a “fake” threat.” I am glad you didn’t dispute that “war on women” is a fake threat; on the other hand, it is hard to take seriously a threat of something bad that will happen (provided, of course, that technology will not come up with something new within that time frame which is highly unlikely) in a hundred years when we have so many immediate concerns.
    8. “…that the platforms of the Right do not reflect historical norms of paternalism and discount womens’ autonomy.” I don’t think I talked about that but I would like you to give me examples of such reflections.

    Let’s deal with the above issues for now – otherwise I will be writing too much.

    Mr. Foster, I will not be repeating Mr. Million’s points that I agree with, but I wonder how asking a voter to provide a photo ID discourages anyone considering that people have to register anyway.

    Also, if we use your football example, I would rather compare our parties to two quarterbacks from opposing teams – do we impose different standards on them?

  11. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/18/2016 - 06:37 am.

    “I will not be repeating Mr. Million’s points that I agree with, but I wonder how asking a voter to provide a photo ID discourages anyone considering that people have to register anyway.”

    Republicans want that because they know the pool of voters without photo ID skews Democratic. Photo ID’s are not themselves proof of eligibility to vote.

    –Hiram

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/18/2016 - 08:00 am.

    Also, if we use your football example, I would rather compare our parties to two quarterbacks from opposing teams – do we impose different standards on them?

    Each of us has chosen our own standard, and nothing horrible has happened. The Earth still rotates on it’s axis; no existential paradox has occurred which has the potential of destroying the universe like something out of Star Trek. I guess living in a world with double or even multiple standards is perfectly possible. I know my reflexive response whenever charged of maintaining double standards is, “Would that there were only two.”

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/18/2016 - 08:48 am.

      U.S. Parliament

      Now, that might be interesting with respect to clarity of multiple standards. Given functional issues of the EU Parliament of parliaments, our Founders seem to have been on to something we may not have fully appreciated until recently.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/18/2016 - 02:34 pm.

        Founders

        The founders disliked the idea of parties, so they created a system where it would be difficult for them to operate. The result wasn’t a system without parties, instead we ended up with a system where the existence of parties makes the Congress dysfunctional. Another case where a procedural attempt at a solution to solve a substantive leads to not just unintended, but also unfortunate, consequences.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/18/2016 - 09:56 am.

      Assumptions

      If we assume that Republicans indeed want to discourage voters who vote Democratic, isn’t it a logical move which Democrats are also doing (I mean try to discourage voters who tend to vote Republicans)? On the other hand, why don’t those who tend to vote Democratic do not have photo ID? I mean, in all states with those laws that ID may be obtained for free.

      Sure, we all have our own standards – nothing wrong with that. The problem happens when referees and media start having different standards for competing teams and parties thus undermining the fairness of the competition. Then we all eventually lose even though it may seem that at some point we win (like when our team beats the opponent due to referee’s “error”).

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/18/2016 - 01:29 pm.

    Logic

    “If we assume that Republicans indeed want to discourage voters who vote Democratic, isn’t it a logical move which Democrats are also doing (I mean try to discourage voters who tend to vote Republicans)?”

    What both Republicans and Democrats believe is that people who are less likely to vote tend to vote Democrat when they do vote. So the logic is that Republicans want to discourage voting while Democrats encourage voting. Republicans look for ways to raise barriers to voting while Democrats seek to lower them.

    “On the other hand, why don’t those who tend to vote Democratic do not have photo ID? I mean, in all states with those laws that ID may be obtained for free.”

    Photo ID tends to mean driver licenses. Poor people and old people who tend to vote Democrat are less likely to drive. Even if they are free from the state, voter ID involves cost and effort to obtain.

    “The problem happens when referees and media start having different standards for competing teams and parties thus undermining the fairness of the competition.”

    In economic terms, are NFL teams in competition? Or are they in fact partners in the larger enterprise in which they participate. Although the Vikings play football games against other teams, as a business they have no real financial stake in the outcome. They make just as much money when they lose as when they win.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/18/2016 - 04:49 pm.

      You are correct that people who are less likely to vote tend to vote Democratic and therefore Republicans want to discourage them and Democrats want to encourage them – and I said that in my article and explained why; this is pure politics and has nothing to do with discrimination. On the other hand, Democrats (and Republicans) want to discourage some independent leaning the other way – that is what negative advertisement does.

      Poor people who tend to vote Democratic are less likely to have drivers license but they can always get a free form of ID. Yes, it does involve efforts (free means no cost) but what is wrong with that?

      NFL teams are not in competition in economic terms but neither are political parties. Any competition must be fair, whether economic or not.

      • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 01/21/2016 - 09:43 am.

        Voting is a fundamental right, not a privilege

        That means the burden should be on the state to show the voter is unqualified at registration rather than on the voter at the polls every time they go to vote. A registered voter should not be turned away on election day.

  14. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/18/2016 - 08:33 pm.

    Dude!

    Just because it fits your lexicon does not make it true!

    By definition: Liberal: open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.
    “they have more liberal views toward marriage and divorce than some people”
    favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms.
    “liberal citizenship laws”
    synonyms: tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened;

    By definition: Conservative holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.
    synonyms: traditionalist, traditional, conventional, orthodox, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool, hidebound, unadventurous, set in one’s ways;

    Now we can go argue how Webster has it all wrong!

  15. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/19/2016 - 07:12 am.

    Standards

    You are correct that people who are less likely to vote tend to vote Democratic and therefore Republicans want to discourage them and Democrats want to encourage them – and I said that in my article and explained why; this is pure politics and has nothing to do with discrimination.

    Can’t politics be discriminatory? Lately, Republicans have reminded all of us, quite properly in my view, that the Democratic Party has a long history of racial discrimination, when we were the ones who tried to prevent qualified voters, mostly voters from voting. Should we be let off the hook because the tactics we used were not explicitly but rather indirectly discriminatory? We certainly knew what the practical effect of such measures would be. And our willingness to employ was surely evidence of an indifference to the foundations of freedom. That was a standard the Republican correctly told us we failed to meet, and I think it is one standard that should be applied to them now.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/19/2016 - 10:02 pm.

      Politics is Discriminatory by Nature

      The point should perhaps focus on legally prohibited discrimination, possibly morally prohibited discrimination.
      Intellectual and philosophical discrimination are cornerstones of life. As in: She is a very discriminating person. Hardly the same as: She is a very discriminatory person.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/20/2016 - 12:06 pm.

        The point should perhaps focus on legally prohibited discrimination, possibly morally prohibited discrimination.

        If we are not lawyers thinking about lawsuits, thankfully a very small subset of humanity, why should we focus on the legal aspects? It is certainly the case that an act or an intention can both be legal and discriminatory.

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/19/2016 - 07:16 am.

    NFL teams are not in competition in economic terms but neither are political parties. Any competition must be fair, whether economic or not.

    The differences between the parties does have to do with economics, and we are in competition for among other things.

    Competition should be legal, although in reality it often isn’t, but there is no requirement that it be fair which it rarely is.

  17. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/19/2016 - 07:30 pm.

    Please explain

    Mr. Wagner, will you please explain to me why “favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms” liberals prevent people they dislike from making commencement and other college speeches and don’t want media present at “Black Lives Mater” events? How come they call people names? How come they prefer to hire more liberals to college positions rather than conservatives who are in a strong minority there?

    Mr. Foster, I do not think that discouraging voters of another party may be called discriminatory just because at some point of time there are more voters of certain race voting for a certain party. Discriminatory assumes discriminatory intent…

    It may be true that there is no requirement that competition is fair but don’t we all want it to be, and should try to make it, fair?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/20/2016 - 02:46 pm.

      Talking in Circles

      “Discriminatory assumes discriminatory intent…” Not necessarily, or I should say, the intent is not necessarily verbalized. In fact, it seldom is verbalized.

      “I do not think that discouraging voters of another party may be called discriminatory just because at some point of time there are more voters of certain race voting for a certain party.” Well, yes. If you are discouraging voters of another party based on their race (such as, making it virtually impossible to obtain identification in communities where large numbers of people of That Certain Race live (as was done recently in Alabama), you are discriminating.

      Incidentally, in your original article you say that Donald Trump would be the first President who had never been elected to office. That’s not true: off the top of my head, I can think of six Presidents (Taylor, Grant, Arthur, Taft, Hoover, Eisenhower) who had never been elected to office. All of them did have substantial experience in government.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/20/2016 - 06:58 pm.

      Back to the Lexicon

      Because you say it or believe it does not make it true:

      By definition: Liberals are more open and favorable and respectful of human rights, conservatives are not. Webster doesn’t care what we think, he owns the definition. (Argue with Webster)

      Based on the (Please explain) lexicon logic: black is white, white is black. No amount of explaining can achieve understanding if there is no fundamental agreement about the meaning of words as defined in the dictionary.
      PS: How come? 1 data point does not make a trend, nor does it define a group, it makes a single event, open to individual interpretation.

      How come? Universities by definition: an institution of learning of the highest level, comprising a college of liberal arts, a program of graduate studies, and several professional schools, and authorized to confer both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

      (Notice liberal Arts, never heard of a degree in “Conservative arts”
      Universities are for opening your mind and educating, not closing the mind: Want to be considered open minded, you get to wear the liberal tag, closed minded: conservative tag, (By definition not personal lexicon.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/20/2016 - 07:46 pm.

        Definitions

        Webster owns the definition and that definition are correct – I am not disputing that. What I am saying is that many of those who call themselves liberals are actually not because their behavior does not fall into the definition of liberalism. Open mind, by definition, assumes listening (and wanting to understand) to the opposite (meaning in many cases conservative) point of view, a quality many self-proclaimed liberals lack.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/21/2016 - 07:09 pm.

          Ergo:

          “Those folks aren’t liberals”

          So they call themselves, there is another word: “Hypocrite” one who indulges in hypocrisy.
          There is a notation from the far right “RINO”

          Because you wear a Michael Jordon Jersey does it make you Michael Jordon?

          Same original point: Understand our lexicon: Appears you care not for a liberal attitude, but it is not wise to disparage all liberals with a generalization, any more than to generalize all conservatives, (JA) common poster on this blog, appears to have a broad view “topic dependent” without disparaging intent, would term that as a “liberal minded conservative, or perhaps broadminded, takes more than 1 word to bring more depth, meaning and understanding. i.e. 300 M Americans can dial into more than 2 political points (Liberal and conservative)

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/21/2016 - 08:17 pm.

            I never lumped all liberals together – if you noticed, I just said “many of those who call themselves liberals.” On the other hand, you were the one who started this generalization thing by providing definition and assuming that everyone is described by those definitions – I was just responding to your post without any disparaging intent.

  18. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/20/2016 - 05:55 am.

    I do not think that

    I do not think that discouraging voters of another party may be called discriminatory just because at some point of time there are more voters of certain race voting for a certain party. Discriminatory assumes discriminatory intent…

    Sure it can. When you engage in policies which you will know have a disparate and negative racial impact, as we know voter ID does, the charge of discrimination is perfectly fair.

    I don’t particularly want competition to be fair, there is too much other stuff to worry about.

  19. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/20/2016 - 08:46 am.

    Community Voices is one of my favorite columns on MinnPost. But sometimes…

    In this case, I find the argument laid forth patently ridiculous. It reminds me of kids around 6 or 7 years of age who have learned that it’s wrong to hit people, but can’t quite control themselves. They’ve also learned that hitting others leads to getting in trouble. So, after hitting another child, who often starts crying, they also immediately begin crying and offer up, “So-and-so hit me!” The smart adult shouldn’t buy it. And neither should we.

    In other words, the GOP field isn’t offering up diversity, it’s offering up tokenism. It’s not a showing of non-racism, it’s simply proof that you don’t have to be a white male to be discriminatory.

    There’s a song in a very entertaining (and delightfully naughty) musical called “Avenue Q” relevant to this discussion. The song is “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” It’s funny because it’s true. The question isn’t about whether we all have some level of bias against people dissimilar from ourselves, the question is how we act in the face of that reality. It’s clear that each and every one of the GOP presidential candidates embraces their racism (or classism, or triumphalism) and openly uses it as a wedge to divide Americans rather than recognize it as something to work against to improve America.

    Even this article uses classism as a wedge, which isn’t surprising since it’s such a base tool of the right. The whole “giveaway” argument is just polish on the turd of a claim that people interested in Democratic ideas are weak, unintelligent, lazy, and selfish. That they are poor in both a physical and moral sense. That they don’t deserve anything. It’s classism at its core, and false on its face. It may be shiny, but unless you’ve lost your sense of smell, the argument still stinks.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/20/2016 - 07:36 pm.

      Opposite point of view may be helpful

      I understand that you don’t like reading this kind of stuff but don’t you think that the opposite point of view may sometimes be correct? That liberals are not always right? Anyway, considering liberal support for affirmative action that separates people based on race and gender only and gives preferences to certain races and gender regardless of anything else, the Republican field is diverse, much more diverse than Democratic field as I pointed out. As for being discriminatory, I can see that in your mind just being a Republican makes a person a racist; of course, there is no support for that but that is another matter. So for example please explain to me how Senator Rubio is discriminatory?

      You accuse me of using “classism” by claiming that Democratic voters are “weak, unintelligent, lazy, and selfish” and don’t deserve anything. First of all, I didn’t say that; instead, I said that Democrats are trying to bring more young and inexperienced people which is true (older and more experienced people are already voting). And second, isn’t Sen. Sanders embracing his “classims” when he constantly blames rich people for everything? Isn’t this divisive? And don’t you think that frightening women with Republican “war on women” is divisive?

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/20/2016 - 10:12 pm.

        Not exactly

        You claim that Democrats are trying to bring in young and inexperienced people by “giving away free stuff.” If it’s not classist, it’s ageist by claiming that those you suggest might be lured by Sanders and Clinton are too selfish and/or dumb to be lured by anything else. Also, there IS a Republican war on women. I don’t need to be told about its existence to observe it. It’s like the “We are your friends” scene in “Mars Attacks” (for your convenience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogp_Dai691k)—actions speak louder than words.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/21/2016 - 07:40 pm.

          Who is who

          I am glad that I am not a “classist” anymore (Sen. Sanders is)… but now I am an “ageist.” But again I never said that young people are any more selfish than others – I just said that the free stuff is mostly intended for them. Neither did I say that they are dumb – I just said that they have not developed the critical thinking skills yet, the same as most of us by that age (a scientific fact). And please give me examples of the “war on women” – those actions that speak louder than words. If women are absolutely the same as men (up to serving on the battlefield) than they cannot have anything beyond what men have.

  20. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/20/2016 - 07:34 pm.

    Intent and reality

    Mr. Holbrook, how can you assign an intent that is not verbalized? In this case anything and everything can be assigned to anyone and everyone. For example, we can say that Sanders intends to confiscate our money… No one is discouraging voters based on their race; if anything, it is based on their wealth (or lack thereof) and it just happens that more people of that race are poor… And how is it impossible to obtain a free ID? Thank you for pointing out presidents who had never been elected (I should have done more research) but it doesn’t change my point that Trump, Fiorina, and Carson are different in, as you pointed out, not having any government experience.

    Mr. Foster, yes, I know about “disparate” impact – but it is based on “political correctness” approach that is damaging our country. In this case our criminal system is anti-male considering male to female proportion of jail population. As for fairness, if you don’t want competition to be fair, would you be OK with a referee helping your kids’ football team to win? How about helping another team?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/21/2016 - 09:39 am.

      “Assigning” Intent

      We can infer intent from actions. When a child throws a snowball at a car, we know she intended to throw it. We probably didn’t hear her verbalize it, but her intent is nonetheless clear.

      The law creates a presumption that we intend the natural, probable consequences of our actions. If the natural and probable consequence of an election law is to disenfranchise people of a certain race, it’s fair to assume that was the intent all along. If discrimination based on wealth “just happens” to fall more heavily on people of a certain race, I have a hard time believing that’s coincidental.

      “And how is it impossible to obtain a free ID?” If you live in a community where the offices that would provide a free ID are closed (Coincidence! I’m sure), and you have no transportation, that’s impossible.

      The term “political correctness” is a nonsense phrase, used to derail any discussion of racism or sexism.

  21. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/21/2016 - 06:05 am.

    but it is based on “political correctness” approach that is damaging our country.

    Of course it’s politically incorrect, and indeed, incorrect in a number of other ways to discriminate against people. Isn’t that much of the point of what I have been saying?

    As for the criminal thing, are you equating voting with the committing of crimes? Don’t we want to encourage the former and discourage the latter? Isn’t that the politically correct thing to do?

  22. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/21/2016 - 07:17 am.

    how can you assign an intent that is not verbalized?

    From the their actions or looking at the natural consequences of what they do say. We often communicate indirectly, sometimes using catch phrases or euphemisms which signal meaning without expressing it explicitly. This is done all the time.

    “we can say that Sanders intends to confiscate our money”

    The confusion there lies in the choice of the word “confiscate” which is used as a pejorative label, not as a word with a dictionary meaning. The issue, I assume, is that Bernie wants to raise taxes. Someone who actually thinks that a tax increase is confiscation understands neither the concept of tax increase nor the concept of confiscation. They are employing a loaded, pejorative term in order to elicit an emotional reaction from the politically unsophisticated.

  23. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/21/2016 - 07:39 pm.

    reality and assumptions

    Mr. Landherr, the right doesn’t mean that it is not regulated. For example, the right to bear arms is limited by background checks and ID checks. The right to vote is limited to citizens so the burden is on a person to prove citizenship during registration and to prove that it is him or her at the poll by showing a photo ID (otherwise my neighbor may vote for me).

    Mr. Holbrook, when a child throws a snowball at a car, we know that the intent is to throw a snowball at car but we do not know that the intent is to damage a car or blind a driver even though it may happen. When a party tries to discourage the competing party’s potential voters from voting we know that the intent is to have fewer voters of the competing party coming to vote but we do not know that the intent is to target people of a specific race even though it may happen; so it is not fair to assume that it is an intent. And asking for voter’s ID is a reasonable way to prevent fraud (see my response to Mr. Landherr).

    My understanding is that the offices that are closed were providing other services beside free ID. On the other hand, I doubt that everyone there lived within walking distance of those offices so most people needed transportation even prior to closing those offices.

    Mr. Foster, it is indeed incorrect to discriminate; it is also incorrect to accuse people of discrimination without hard proof, just based on results. And that was my point of bringing up jail population: to show that assumptions and accusations based solely on results may be… well, baseless. Criminalizing violence naturally results in more males being accused and sentenced but that was never the intent.

    Of course, the natural result of higher taxes will be that the government will have more of our money and we will have less of it which, in terms of the result, is no different from someone’s confiscating our money… However, here you want to distinguish the result from the intent while in other cases you do not. Plus, how do we know that Sanders does NOT want to confiscate our money, or at least the money of the wealthy? Sure, he never said that, but his constant bashing of the rich people may give us the basis to assign that intent to him…

    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 01/22/2016 - 09:09 am.

      But there isn’t any significant voter fraud

      So what you’re proposing is an expensive layer of extra government bureaucracy for no reason, otherwise known as wasteful government spending. There is a cost to providing “free” voter IDs and having a system in place to verify them at the polls.

  24. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/22/2016 - 06:08 am.

    it is indeed incorrect to

    it is indeed incorrect to discriminate; it is also incorrect to accuse people of discrimination without hard proof, just based on results.

    When someone advocates discriminatory measures, they are going to get accused of being discriminatory whether that’s correct or not. I don’t necessarily want to wander off into different areas, but it’s commonly believed that drug laws discriminate based on race as well.

    “Of course, the natural result of higher taxes will be that the government will have more of our money and we will have less of it which, in terms of the result, is no different from someone’s confiscating our money”

    Many of my friends talk about wealth distribution, and that’s what really happens. The government doesn’t have money. There is no federal hole in North Dakota, where taxpayer money is buried. The government, like other economic entity, takes money in and sends it out. It engages in “wealth redistribution” a different catch phrase often used by conservatives.

    ” how do we know that Sanders does NOT want to confiscate our money”

    Why should he when he can tax it?

  25. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/22/2016 - 06:04 pm.

    Cost and money

    Mr. Landherr, I doubt that it is that expensive but guarantee of a free and fair election is worth the cost. Thousands of people will feel much more confident knowing that their votes will not be stolen or negated even if such a possibility is remote.

    Mr. Forster, you are going in circles. When you refer to someone who “advocates discriminatory measures,” you already assume that they are discriminatory which you can’t do before they are proven to have discriminatory intent. And drug laws discriminate based on race in the same manner domestic violence laws discriminate based on gender (against men) – in other words, there is no discrimination regardless of the outcome.

    The government does have money. All government buildings, federal land, military property, etc. are owned by government. Yes, it does send some money away but why does it matter? The Soviet government did exactly the same, just on a larger scale; all governments do the same.

    And finally, why should Sanders confiscate our money if he can tax it? Because taxing allows taking just a fraction of the money white confiscation allows taking all of it. Why did Lenin choose expropriation (confiscation) rather than taxation?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/22/2016 - 07:22 pm.

      OK I’ll bite

      Because he was COMMUNIST. In reality you expose the worldview of the far right quite nicely. Everything is transactional in conservative world, all other humans, indeed society itself can be boiled down to exploiters or exploitees. Never does a policy, or tax, or spending cut have merit on its own, it only becomes a matter of what the individual conservative feels is meritorious or not. Its still exploitation mind you, or as you put it confiscation, its just that some is intolerable while some is not. Same goes for interpersonal relations, the only metric for judging ones fellow travellers is can I exploit them for a personal gain, or will I be exploited for THEIR personal gain. In this view any money removed from your person, for any reason, is exploitation to the benefit of others. No nuance is allowed for goodwill, need is coldly, carefully, calculated to insure minimum loss. Altruism is not just absent, it has no meaning as such a concept cannot exist in a world where every withdrawal is classified as a bodily attack on one’s person. Most conservatives recognize the ugly nature of this truth and seek to disguise their true intent. I can’t count the number of times we’ve heard the old saw “but conservatives give more to charity the liberals” never mentioning the transactional nature of such giving, going only to the “deserving” and often with a nice reduction in one’s tax burden. To boil it down, conservatives see government collection and expenditure as confiscation because in their mind, there really isn’t a need for government, except to protect themselves from the barbarians they see in their fellow citizens. Anything else, they are exceptional enough to handle themselves, and those that cannot deserve whatever horrors might be visited upon them. Society, and indeed civilization are useless constructs, and constitute repression of their own indomitable and indefatigable will. One wonders why they haven’t abandoned it for their Galt Gulches already, at least one would if they put any creedence in such a preposterous notion of human existence.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/23/2016 - 11:55 am.

        Assumptions

        I should apologize – I actually never seriously meant that Sen. Sanders intends to confiscate anything; I just made that comment in jest to underline that we should never assume with certainty the intent of others unless there is real proof. And this is exactly what you are doing now – assigning thoughts to me and other conservative (and assuming that I am a conservative, too, while I am not).

        You say that in the “far right,”” society itself can be boiled down to exploiters or exploitees.” But isn’t it a far-left concept? Just read the Communist Manifesto… You also said that for conservatives “Altruism is not just absent, it has no meaning…” But who gives the most to charities? Churches are the ones helping the poor without compensation, not Planned Parenthood which gets money from the government. So in real life, it is the opposite: conservatives do things out of altruism… Sure, in your mind it is bogus because government can do it… but government does it so much worse; otherwise, the Soviet Union, where government did everything, would have been the happiest place on Earth… And finally, when governments were created, safety and security were the major reason for that and the major role of government… and it still is. Sure we came a long way since then and that is why the society helps the deserving… the left, on the other hand, want the society to help everyone, and that is a recipe for disaster as proven by history.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/23/2016 - 08:33 am.

      . When you refer to someone who “advocates discriminatory measures,” you already assume that they are discriminatory which you can’t do before they are proven to have discriminatory intent.

      I don’t know that I have to prove anything. And if a policy is discriminatory, that’s what it is. There isn’t necessarily a need to prove intent. Nor should we reward people simply because they are careful in avoiding admissions about what they are doing.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/23/2016 - 04:41 pm.

        A problem

        Here is a problem which is called circular reasoning. You call certain things discriminatory because you know they are discriminatory… No proof is necessary which is very characteristic of liberals lately… Of course this doesn’t leave any room for discussion or search for truth or critical thinking or other similar things that used to move the mankind forward… Sad. As I said, if proof is not necessary, I can claim that domestic violence laws are discriminatory since they do result in many more men in jail than women.

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