Why Recount a Foregone Conclusion?

Florida Approves Voting Reform Bill

As if the 2016 General Election couldn’t get any more bizarre, the past couple of weeks have provided more fodder. We are truly beginning to reach the point that, if someone were to write a movie with the plotline of what we’ve seen over the past 18 months, the producers and executives in Hollywood would dismiss the screenplay because it was so implausible. Yet it seems that the cast of characters in this Marx Brothers farce can’t seem to step away from the stage.

Speaking of the stage, that is where the never-ending story of the 2016 Election keeps itself alive. Apparently the GOP nominee for Vice President, when he isn’t advocating for the conversion of gays or forcing women to have funerals for their fetuses following an abortion, is a huge fan of Broadway musicals. In stepping out one night to see the Tony Award-winning  Hamilton:  An American Musical, the GOP VP nominee might have thought he was just enjoying some “theater of the elite.” Instead, the man received a message from the cast of the Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize winning play.

After the evening’s performance was complete and during the curtain call, Hamilton lead actor Brandon Dixon stepped to the fore of the cast and spoke directly with the GOP VP nominee. “We, sir, we are the diverse America, who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir,” Dixon stated. “But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.

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In a normal world, this would have not even drawn a flutter on the Twitterverse, but we do not live in normal times. Within hours, the thin-skinned GOP Presidential nominee was demanding a cast retraction of the statement and an apology for the booing from the audience in attendance that evening. First off, it was particularly ironic that the little snowflake of a GOP nominee was demanding a “safe space” free of criticism, it was secondly idiotic due to the very nature of the First Amendment rights of people to speak openly in condemnation (and the Hamilton statement was FAR from condemnation) of the government. After suffering the ridicule of pretty much the entire human race, the GOP nominee shut the hell up…but it wouldn’t be for long. (Amid cries for a boycott of Hamilton from the Ignorati, you know what happened? They broke records…)

Last week, the candidate for President from the Green Party, Dr. Jill Stein, decided that she had been ignored long enough (you get barely one million votes when over 130 million are cast…you’re being ignored). Looking at the results in the state of Wisconsin, Stein announced a bid to challenge the results and call for a recount, provided she could get the crowdfunding necessary to pay for the challenge. In what was a more rapid pace than it should have been, Stein had upwards of $5 million in her coffers and filed for that recount, which prior to the recount the GOP nominee won by approximately 22,000 votes. After Stein brought up the issue, the sycophants that surrounded the Democratic nominee for President, Hillary Clinton, “reluctantly” decided to support Stein’s efforts in the recount.

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Now, at this point the GOP nominee could have just sat back, shut his mouth, and continued with the work of transitioning into government (or, in his case, actually learning about what the President actually fucking does). But no…that would have been…presidential of him. Instead, the thin-skinned GOP nominee chose to launch on Twitter a barrage of statements crowned by the lunacy that “he would have won the popular vote if illegals hadn’t been allowed to vote.”

The utter stupidity of that last sentence shouldn’t have been the focus (and it has been the subject of several factchecking sites which have utterly debunked it), however. What should have been the focus was the utter stupidity in even having a recount of the votes in the 2016 General Election.

The numbers are quite clear, even without the state of Michigan coming across on Monday with their results for the GOP nominee. In the Electoral College, he won the vote, 306-232 (not the landslide that his personal Ann Coulter, Kellyanne Conway, and other troglodytes on social media has promoted, but still a victory). He LOST the popular vote by at least 1.5 million votes, meaning that he has absolutely NO MANDATE for pushing his agenda (other than, you know, both houses of the U. S. Congress…this is why the GOP is shitting themselves because they know it is ALL ON THEM now).

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To continue to pick the scab from the 2016 General Election – which the move for the recount by Stein and supported by the Clinton campaign is continuing to do – does nothing to move things forward in the States of America. If the Electoral College were closer – say Wisconsin would change the result of the Presidential race – then the purpose of a recount might be a viable idea. Even with that thought, it would have to be much closer than 22,000 votes to make a recount meaningful. There has never been a recount that suddenly found a bloc of votes that should have been accepted, especially one as large as what would be necessary in this case, without some sort of fraudulent activity taking place on one side or the other.

As it is, the recount is a circle jerk of governmental proportions, one that shouldn’t have been mounted with just numerical reasoning and “computer calculations of voting trends.” Clinton said she would not question the election results (unlike her opponent) and she should have stuck to that mantra. What calling for a recount does is tarnish (if it were possible) the process that has had little to no issues for 240 years. And even if it does change the result, it isn’t enough to change the overall course – unless you want to start looking at other close states and further disembowel our democracy. Besides, even if Clinton could change the result, just how much would she get done with questions of the legitimacy of her election?

Therefore, those that believe the Electoral College riding in like Roy Rogers to save our system come December 19 is a fallacy. Although individual members of the Electoral College will gripe and moan about having to go through with putting their vote in for the GOP nominee (and even resign their positions), the people’s will have been declared. While they can completely break away from those results, in the entire HISTORY of our country, no Electoral College has reversed the results of a general election.

It is up to Congress – yes, that body whose party leader will be sitting in the White House come January 20 – to enforce the rules and the protocols that ALL OTHER PRESIDENTS have been held to. It is up to Congress to make sure the GOP nominee has divested any interests he has in his businesses, no matter how large or small. If his children take them over, then those children don’t get to sit in on meetings with world leaders (or even take those meetings themselves) on a governmental level (they don’t get to do that anyway, you moron). It is up to Congress to make sure that the GOP nominee conducts himself in a PRESIDENTIAL MANNER. And it is up to Congress that, if this prick thinks he’s going to do whatever he wants to do, then he should be investigated and, if necessary, removed from office. The Presidency is not bigger than one man and the reverse is true – one man is not bigger than the Presidency.

One thing that doesn’t need to be done, however, is continuing the Chinese Water Torture that the 2016 General Election has been. If the results are a foregone conclusion, then there is no purpose in recounting one particular state because it happened to be close (and despite what computer scientists are saying, changing over 22K votes is close to impossible). It’s time to move on, but never relent in opposition to the GOP nominee (and his continued ignorance, which he seems to revel in) nor surrender to the face of fascism that will be in the White House come January 20.

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Remember…To Impeach Her, You Gotta Elect Her

Hillary Clinton Begins Presidential Campaign In Iowa

We’re going to take a pause on my “Top Ten Underrated Hard Rock Songs” to slip a final tidbit in regarding a pretty big deal that’s happening next week.

There’s been something that has been bugging me of late. The tumultuous 2016 General Election campaign has brought seemingly the worst out of people rather than their better angels. But one of the things that has been particularly annoying is the moves by the Republican Party – recognizing the fact that Donald Trump won’t get into the White House without an invitation or a paid ticket (as Bill Maher, who contributed the title of this essay a few months ago, has said, “It’s too late to get away, Republicans. You’ve handcuffed yourself to the dead hooker, now drag it to the finish line!”) – to already subjugate the prospective Presidency of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

First it was Arizona Senator John McCain – himself locked into a death duel for his seat in the Senate – who said that, should Clinton be elected, that the Senate would block any nomination she made for the Supreme Court of the United States. Then the reptilian Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, echoed the sentiments of McCain. Finishing it off, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, the head of the House Oversight Committee, said his group had enough subjects to investigate Clinton “for the next two years.” (Imagine then the richness of the irony of Chaffetz potentially facing a similar investigation as Clinton for his use of a private server.)

It wasn’t always like this. Prior to the ascension of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency, the two sides – Democrats and Republicans – would often work together with the interests of the citizenry of the United States at the forefront instead of the political party they were affiliated with. It is well known that Reagan and then-Speaker of the House, Democrat Tip O’Neill, would often bash heads as opposition leaders, but they would also find a common ground and work things out for the betterment of the country.

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There was even that type of shared partnership in the 1990s during the Presidency of Bill Clinton. His opposite number, then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (and really…is there a better vermin name for a politician than Newt?), did at one time have the ability to negotiate with Clinton and work for improving the welfare of the people. Then came the incident that would separate the two leading parties in the United States into warring camps instead of able leadership.

The 1998 impeachment of Clinton – the charges were perjury (lying under oath about not having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky) and obstruction of justice (same situation) – only came about after the Republicans took charge following the 1998 midterm elections. Forgetting that the House of Representatives could bring charges but the Senate would try the President, the case led to the acquittal in the Democrat-led Senate, not even coming close to the two-thirds that were necessary for conviction.

From that point on, the fragmentation of the political structure in the United States – and the damage that it continues to do – has only gotten worse. The Gore/Bush 2000 election only exacerbated the situation (with the election eventually ended by decision of the Supreme Court), then the Second Gulf War and invasion of Iraq after 9/11 further separated everyone. The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency brought out a racial attitude from the GOP that was unprecedented (OK, maybe it was around from 1965, but it really came out strong after Obama’s election – twice). That attitude lead to the nomination in 2016 of a xenophobic, fascist, racist and misogynous misanthrope that allowed the id of the GOP to be displayed publicly to be nominated for President by the party.

Now we stand on the precipice of the final act of this Presidential season, where we will likely see Hillary Clinton become the first woman (and the first spouse of a former President) to be elected. The shape of the Congress is still under question, with many saying that the Senate is a lost cause for the GOP, but that the House will remain in the hands of the Republicans by a slim margin. This is important in that it will be a direct reflection of what we can expect for the next couple of years at the minimum.

In Washington D. C., it is who is in control of the Congress that is the most important thing. If the opposing party of the President is in control of both sides of Capitol Hill, then nothing gets done. If the sitting President’s party oversees both sides, then there’s too much of a rubber stamp for the President and no check on his (or, we will be able to say soon, her) actions. In a perfect world, there would be one side of Congress in one party’s hands and the other in the President’s party (House or Senate, it doesn’t matter). Normally this would force them to work together but, as we have seen since probably the late 1990s, that hasn’t been true.

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There is one problem, however. I’ve noticed that people are already tossing around the “impeachment” word when it comes to Clinton and that is outrageous. First off, the woman hasn’t even taken the goddamn office yet…normally you should impeach someone for the actions of their Presidency (both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached for actions during their tenures, not before they became President – same would have been true for Nixon IF he hadn’t resigned). To try to charge someone for their PREVIOUS actions before they are President is unprecedented and shouldn’t be an acceptable action.

Impeaching the President of the United States is saved for severe crimes and treasonous acts, not storing e-mails on a goddamn computer (or a blowjob, in her husband’s case). If you can SHOW where Clinton, through an e-mail, had a motherfucking effect on a foreign policy act or that said e-mail landed in the hands of a foreign power and they used it for ill intent, then you must be better than Congress, who has investigated her a minimum of 10 fucking times and for more than 30 years (to the tune of roughly $500,000,000) and hasn’t charged her with a goddamn thing.

Here’s a suggestion that will send the alt-right into a frothing, ravenous frenzy. President Obama, as he begins to see the sun set on his days in the White House, has the right to issue pardons to certain U. S. citizens, forgiving their actions and/or crimes they may or may not have committed. How about Obama save one of those Presidential pardons for Hillary, stating firmly that Clinton, prior to her inauguration on January 20, 2017, is absolved of any “actions” she may have done in the past. With a stroke of his pen, Obama could save the country a bunch of money and a bunch of bullshit.

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The GOP would go off the rails, looking for ways to circumvent Obama’s pardon, but they would be unable to do so. Without the specter of Chaffetz’s investigations (or someone else who might threaten impeachment) hanging like The Sword of Damocles, the fucking government might have to work together and get things done. And if it hasn’t been evident, the Democrats may have introduced obstruction, but the Republicans have perfected it.

I can get it if you don’t agree with Clinton’s political stance or her party’s ideas. I can even understand it if you’ve got legitimate problems with some actions she might have done in the past. What I cannot understand is why someone would want to continue to dwell on these issues (hello, GOP?) and even go to the lengths of putting the country through such a divisive and partisan exercise as potentially impeaching a President-ELECT who hasn’t even had a week in office. I also can’t stand it when people can’t rub two of their brain cells together to form a cohesive thought and simply run with whatever bullshit is fed to them by the alt-right, which has the potential to be the single most destructive faction in the United States’ history.

After Tuesday night, we’ll have a new President chosen (and we should, if Cheeto Jesus can be tossed in a straightjacket long enough to roll him to the asylum). Why don’t we try something unique…starting a Presidency by working together rather than tearing each other apart? It seems to work well for every other sane country in the world, why not us?

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Another Day, Another Mass Shooting…Part One

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It’s beginning to become arduously mind numbing. A delightful office party on a sunny morning in San Bernardino, CA, celebrating the holiday season was suddenly wracked by automatic gunfire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Two people, a husband and a wife with the husband actually employed by the company throwing the party (and plenty of evidence continuing to come out about), came into the gathering with this weaponry, semi-automatic rifles, handguns and bombs, blazing a trail of brains, guts and sinew across the floor of what was once a happy celebration. When the scent of gunpowder was the only thing remaining, 14 people laid dead and 17 others suffered from injuries.

Of course, the usual procedural began before the bodies had even quit leaking blood. President Barack Obama, pulled out of an interview with CBS News as the bullets flew, made his usual commentary (accurate) that we are the only civilized country that has these issues, the same speech given five days earlier when a gunman shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. President Obama also called for politicians to put aside their differences and come to agreement on a plan of action to thwart future potential attacks. Pro-guns advocates threw up the “thoughts and prayers” bullshit (more on this in a minute) rather than take any logical approach to the issue. Meanwhile, those in the middle that might actually be affected by these insane actions feel another bit of our heart, our belief in the good of man, ripped away from us.

The “thoughts and prayers” platitude (just heard President Obama utter it too, not just Republicans) is about the most useless piece of wasted words that have ever been uttered. When people lie dead and injured from situations that are simply too outlandish to comprehend, “thoughts and prayers” aren’t going to do shit for them except to make your little heart feel good that you offered something up. In reality, you’ve offered nothing except empty words that have little actual thought or prayer behind it, a simplistic vagary that has become commonplace instead of actually taking legitimate action.

With that out of the way, how do we actually go about taking care of these issues? Both sides – and why there has to be sides on this issue is completely ludicrous (we enjoy seeing people ripped apart by gunfire, spreading their life essence on the ground?) – are going to have to give on the issue.

First, the rhetoric has to be squelched. As far back as President Ronald Reagan (if not further), the depiction of the President of the United States as a Hitler-esque figure has made the rounds. Back during Reagan’s heyday, however, those photos and comparisons were held in small groups that had a more difficult time in breeding their particular stew of radicalism because of the lack of connectivity.

Those same pictures of President Bill Clinton, President George Bush, President Obama or even Hillary Clinton today can race across the United States as quickly as a fiber optic line can carry them. Along with those photos comes the rhetoric – of the federal government as “jackbooted thugs” (a term used by Campaign for Liberty and I have the e-mails), that the “New World Order” is coming or that several tragic occurrences (including 9/11) were “false flag” operations (situations “staged” by the government to allow them to impede the freedom of the ‘American’ people) – and the ability to meet and exchange radical rhetoric much easier. This leads to radicalization, whether it is on an international level or a domestic one.

No leader of the United States has looked for the destruction of the country or its beliefs. Every leader since Reagan (at the minimum) has been accused and vilified for this, however, and the rhetoric has ratcheted up as people become immune to the last outrageous statement that was made (something we’re seeing in the 2016 Presidential races also). Instead of using incendiary words – yes, words can infuse a thought or action into someone’s mind that they might not have considered previously – try disagreeing on a different level, one where actual discourse about policy comes into play.

This also applies to other aspects of our lives. Tolerance of other religions (ALL religions), respect to a person’s particular thoughts and beliefs outside of a God-based nature, even someone’s opinions on politics or other seemingly insignificant issues can, in an unfettered discussion, devolve into a frenzy of rhetoric denouncing a person to their very essence, if not directly leading to questionable talk that wouldn’t be used if a person was standing directly in front of their opponent. The rhetoric, the speech…it has to be reined in.

Before it is accused, I am all for the “freedom of speech.” I am also all for speech that advances us as a country and as a species. Continually devolving ourselves to the lowest common denominator – or even lower – doesn’t seem to be working out too well.

The next step would be to put some regulation on the weaponization of the United States. In 1994, then-President Clinton passed, along with the U. S. Congress, a ban on assault weapons for a 10-year span. That law was allowed to expire in 2004 and, although there have been attempts to reinstate the law and make it permanent, the powerful gun lobby (re:  the National Rifle Association) has been able to squelch such efforts.

There is some evidence to state that semi-automatic weapons and their availability have little to no effect on the numbers of mass shootings. It is obvious, however, since the law expired in 2004 that there has been a rise in the usage of the weapons for that purpose. From 2004 to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, 27 mass shootings (the definition of a mass shooting is a minimum of four people either killed or injured, including the shooter, through the usage of guns) occurred; this leaves out those that have drawn attention in 2015, including this most recent shooting, the Colorado attack or the college shooting in Oregon earlier this fall.

Semi-automatic rifles are used in the military to give troops the rapid fire that is necessary during warfare to defend themselves and fight battles. The weapon is NOT meant for use by civilians; there is no practical purpose – hunting, target shooting, etc. – that these style of weapons would be necessary to find in the hands of the Average Joe. If you’re argument is that “you’re defending the country against the fascism of our government” then you need to go back and read the first part and reexamine your mindset.

Next, there needs to be some changes to other areas of our “gun culture.” People are supposed to have insurance on their vehicles that, in the event of an accident, can help to provide compensation for any victims. The ownership of weaponry needs the same treatment as this is part of responsible ownership. It would also provide for someone to report when their weapons are stolen or sold to another party because that would alleviate any responsibility for the weapon.

Finally, the left has to get used to the factor that this is a country that was built on the ownership of guns and that, treated responsibly, this isn’t a problem. In recent mass shootings three-quarters of the weapons used were legally purchased, hence back to the tightening of what weapons are available and the need to put controls in that area. But the complete eradication of guns from the U. S. society isn’t going to happen.

Through an amalgamation of some of these previous thoughts – our country’s overall rhetoric, control on some weapons, penalties for usage of weapons in serious crimes and the understanding that every situation doesn’t call for the banishment of something you disagree with – we might start to clamp down on the overall malignancy that is festering in our soul. The inability to implement some if not all of these suggestions will just continue to lead us down a road until drastic actions take place that no one will be pleased with.

Will it happen? If you see this same article again, with a different “Part” number and a different lead paragraph, then obviously it hasn’t…

Why I Currently Don’t Support Bernie Sanders

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When it comes to my political stance, I am an independent with liberal leanings. This makes sense as, when there is that proverbial blue moon (or, as some might put it, Hell freezes over), there are some conservative candidates who are the better choice for office and I have voted for said candidate. As I’ve stated another time, I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, Bush I in 1988 and Bush II in 2004, feeling that every time I did they were the better candidate for the office. On a number of state ballots I have also pulled the lever with an “R” by the name. Those tendencies lately, though, are becoming fewer and farther between.

That doesn’t mean that my vote is automatically going to the Democrats. I’m not pleased with the leading choice there, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, due to a wealth of baggage that she would bring into the office of the Presidency with her. Hell, she’d probably be the first President elected who, on the day after her inauguration, would face the potential of impeachment (remember, this Congress isn’t going to change out of the GOP hands due to the House gerrymandering that has basically set up Republican strongholds in states; before you say it, yes, the Dems have the same thing in the cities, but not nearly to the same extent).

Thus, the only other logical choice for the Democrats is Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Senator who is proud of the fact that he is a “Democratic Socialist,” and whom immediately sends conservatives fleeing to the hills instead of a political science textbook. A Democratic Socialist, according to my research, is someone who believes in the policies of democracy but believes that the fruits of said democracy should be shared among all people and not concentrated in the hands of a few (if I am wrong here, please let me know in the comments…hopefully I can learn as well as you). The genial Sanders, who may remind you of a kindly Uncle or a Grandfather, is a firebrand who is giving Clinton all she wants and more, hence his leads in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

About a week ago, I was taken to task by a friend over something I wrote. In that article, I looked at the Democrats and only mentioned Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden as viable candidates (and Biden is looking less and less likely as time goes by). “What about Bernie?” my friend asked. Over the course of the discussion, I detailed out my reasoning for not being able to support Sanders at this time…but that still has the potential to change.

Sanders is doing a great job in drawing in potential voters to hear him speak at his rallies. In Greensboro, NC, on Sunday, Sanders drew in a crowd of approximately 9000 people at the Greensboro Coliseum. It was at this rally (unfortunately I couldn’t attend as I had to watch my son…political rallies, contrary to popular belief, are not a great place for kids) that some of Sanders’ issues came to light.

One of those in attendance, a black woman from Charlotte, noted that there was little diversity to those that supported Sanders. “It’s a very white crowd,” she said in the local paper. “Right now, at this point in the campaign, maybe that’s not a surprise.” There is one of the areas that I’ve noticed with many a Sanders rally is that it isn’t the most diverse cast when it comes to support and Sanders isn’t alone with this problem. I’ve seen the same for many of the Republican candidates on the stump (Donald Trump, I’m looking at you). I have problems with any candidate who cannot at the minimum give me the impression that they have a wide base of support across all people…white, black, brown, green with purple polka dots, you name it.

The audience in attendance for the Sanders rally in North Carolina (later, Sanders would become probably the first Socialist to ever set foot at Liberty University in Virginia) was also very young. I don’t have a problem with the youth of today being politically active, I actually enjoy it more when those 18-25 are involved in their future because it inspires me to examine what is drawing them out to support a candidate. But with many of these younger voters, it isn’t about any particular policy decision that the candidate supports, it’s about the factor that they feel like the candidate was personally involved with them. All one has to do is look at how social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, have changed campaigns; do you really think Rand Paul would have an App for your cellphone that puts you in the picture with him if it weren’t for trying to capture the “youth vote?” (This has been used for other more hilarious reasons, too.)

When the youth get involved and their candidate goes down in flames, they normally don’t move onto another candidate to support, though. They get disgusted, disillusioned and disinterested in any further processes if their candidate isn’t the winner and refuse to continue to drive for their philosophies. With all the talk about Republicans supporting their eventual nominee for President, why hasn’t anyone looked at how many of those supporting Sanders would be up for supporting another Democratic nominee?

Sanders is a great speaker, especially when it comes to deriding the current state of government. Sanders doesn’t take it to the point of “America is doomed,” “America has lost its way,” or “America is in the shitter,” like Republicans do, but he does come pretty close. The thing that Sanders does well is emphasize the problems with issues such as college student debt, income inequality, the budget, the decay of infrastructure and treatment of veterans, all things that are key domestic issues that we face.

Part of pointing out the problems, however, is that you also have to present solutions. That is where Sanders comes up a bit short. Either the solution that he suggests has no earthly intention of ever being put into use (Sanders has talked about upping the tax rates for the uber-rich to 90%, raising the minimum wage (he called $15 an hour “reasonable” but suggests $10.10) and breaking up the largest banks into smaller subsets a la AT&T’s Bell system in the 1980s, among other things) or he doesn’t bring up a solution at all. Sanders is quite deficient in foreign policy, something that is critical in our global world and, at least to this independent, is important as I believe we should have a strong military, just not a wasteful one.

If Sanders were to become President, he would definitely have to curtail his “Socialist” agenda in favor of a more “Democratic” solution (otherwise he wouldn’t get anything done as President), which would alienate many of his supporters. How many of Rand Paul’s supporters ditched him as soon as he showed any inkling that he was moving towards a Republican philosophy on anything over the Libertarian route of thinking? Sanders, I fear, would fall into that same trap in that his vociferous supporters would immediately hold his feet to the coals for anything less than the entire reformation of financial distribution in the United States.

There’s plenty that Bernie Sanders talks about on the campaign trail that is dead on correct. You can also hear the passion that Sanders has, whether he is giving a speech at a large rally such as Greensboro or when he is a guest on Bill Maher’s “Real Time.” Unfortunately, there is also no chance that the solutions he proposes would stand a chance of being put into action by a Congress that can’t decide if water is wet. I’d like to consider Sanders for my vote but, at this time, he’s an option that I cannot embrace.