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Closing Arguments–some final thoughts on the Presidential Election of 2020

2016 flashback

It’s been over four years now, but I can still hear the voters I called during the 2016 election to ask whom they were supporting for President. “Trump” some would bark back with a defiant grunt. There were not that many of them, but it sure hurt when I heard them. Even when I had a Hillary Clinton supporter on the line, most were lukewarm in their support. Their responses were a sharp contrast to the phone bank volunteers at the Hillary campaign office in Albany, CA, mostly women who were enthusiastic about electing our first woman president. I kept warning that only complacency could defeat us, and it turned out to be true. I remember asking one young woman in Nevada if there were any issues that concerned her. She couldn’t think of any. What about the Supreme Court?, I asked, which at that time had a vacant seat due to Republican obstruction. Aren’t you concerned about your rights to an abortion and birth control? If only Democrats and people on the Left were as motivated by the future of the Supreme Court as the the Right has been motivated, I lamented. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Religious Right had no problem holding their noses to vote for the most unChristian candidate ever nominated by either party. The same voters who were all for impeaching Bill Clinton for having consensual sex with an intern were then unconcerned by a candidate who has consistently demeaned women and been accused of rape. Their focus on abortion and LGBTQ rights outweighed any issues they had with Trump. For more, see https://tomyamaguchi.blog/2017/11/14/no-citizens-united-for-the-mega-churches/

I have always been terrible at predicting the future, yet I knew a potential Trump presidency would be a disaster. I posted my arguments to this blog on why we should never let Trump become President, and those posts are still here to read. My favorite is Trump’s Gettysburg Address, posted before he gave an actual speech in Gettysburg during the campaign. https://tomyamaguchi.blog/2016/09/27/trumps-gettysburg-address/ As it turned out, Trump has been more than a terrible public speaker. In fact, he has been a worse disaster than I expected. A pandemic could not have arrived at a worse time than during Trump’s control of the federal government.

Why we need to do more than just vote

As I wrote previously on this blog https://tomyamaguchi.blog/2018/07/06/five-important-things-i-want-you-to-consider-as-we-approach-the-november-election/, a friend confessed after the 2016 election, “I wish I had done more than just vote.” I could at least say I did more than vote in 2016, even though my effort was not successful. Could I have done more? Yes, though I would rather not beat myself up about it. I did what my energy allowed me to do. I can say the same for this election and offer this challenge to you who read this post. Will you wake up on November 4 wishing you had done more than just vote? The time is now to get involved.

If Joe Biden is not a perfect enough candidate for you, and you are planning to vote third party, as too many did in 2016, this is the reality of the consequences of your vote. If you aren’t voting for Biden, you are voting for Trump. It is as simple as that. Yes, it would be different if we ditched the Electoral College and used the national popular vote. It would be more democratic to use Rank Choice Voting so people had more ballot choices. We can work for these reforms for future elections. For this election, we have to accept the flaws of this system. In addition, Russia appears as determined to divide the Left as they did when they convinced just enough people to vote for Jill Stein or write in Bernie Sanders.

We need to vote for Biden in huge numbers in every state, not just the battleground states. Remember that Hillary Clinton did get almost 3 million more votes than Trump did. With an even larger margin of victory for Biden, no one can question the results of the election. Evicting Trump after a Biden landslide should not be a problem. In addition, we need to hold the House and take back the Senate. That means holding onto seats that flipped from Republican to Democratic in 2018.

On the other hand, a Trump victory means an end to our democracy as we know it. Trump will be free to continue enriching himself and his friends. They will make fair elections impossible by making it more difficult for people to vote. Their refusal to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources will head us on a path of irreversible climate change.

Thoughts on Vote By Mail (VBM)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I will not be working as an election officer on November 3. For one thing, I am now 70 years old and do not want to risk exposure to the Corona virus. For another thing, California is conducting the entire election by mail. While fears have been expressed that the state is not prepared for the change, I have more confidence, given my experience working past elections.

Trump’s ignorance of the voting process is another example of how he is unfit to hold any office, not just President. HIs efforts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of our voting process is harmful to our democracy. Sadly, he doesn’t care because he only sees how this helps him.

First, let us dispense with the term “absentee” ballot. Trump argues that absentee ballots are good, while mail ballots are bad. That’s like arguing there is a difference between divorce and no fault divorce. You once needed a reason, like infidelity, to get a divorce. We have since done away with that requirement. The same applies to Vote By Mail ballots or VBM ballots for short. You no longer need to provide a reason why you can’t show up at the polls on Election Day in order to vote by mail. Everyone who wants one gets a VBM ballot. In fact, many bring their ballots to the polls to drop them off on Election Day. In recent years, they have outnumbered voters who show up to mark their ballots in person. Alameda County, California has updated its Election Day procedures to have an early pick up of VBM ballots simply because those ballot boxes were getting full hours before the polls closed.

Trump has told his followers to vote twice, once by VBM and again at the polls. Of course, this is illegal. In addition, the system is designed to prevent it. That is why we have the Provisional Ballot. In a typical (non COVID) election, Alameda County, prints out a roster that includes those voters who have received a VBM ballot. So if you are a Trump voter who has shown up to vote twice, you will be informed that you need to surrender your VBM ballot and envelope (the one you sign to prevent someone else from voting your ballot) in order to vote at the polls. Now, the Trump voter could lie and say they did not receive their ballot or they threw it away. In fact, that happens all of the time when people tell the truth. In the last primary, my ballot was lost in the mail, and I cast a provisional ballot at the polls. People do throw away their ballots thinking they are sample ballots. They forgot that they had signed up to receive a VBM ballot for every election. Again, no problem. These voters are provided with a provisional ballot and envelope that is kept separate from the ballots cast at the polls. When that provisional ballot arrives at the Registrar of Voters office, it will only be counted if no other ballot from that voter has been received and the signature matches the one on file. Provisional ballot voters are informed they can call the office to verify their ballot has been counted and, if it hasn’t, why not. In fact, I called and verified that my provisional ballot was counted in the March primary.

Do ballots get mailed to voters who have died or moved? Of course. If someone tries to illegally vote a ballot, it will be rejected if the signatures do not match. Again, people can and should check to make sure their ballots have not been rejected. In this election, voters can sign up to be notified by text message when their ballot has been received and accepted. In California, you can go to https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/wheres-my-ballot.

What to do after the election

There is a great deal worry about what will happen after the election. Will there be a coup? Will recounts get tied up in the courts as in 2000? Will Republican governors appoint their own electors to send to the Electoral College? Will Trump not accept the results and refuse to leave? While preparing for future possibilities is not a bad idea, I prefer we focus on getting the votes in the ballot boxes first. A Trump victory would make those scenarios meaningless, anyway. 

So let us focus on winning the election and winning by a huge landslide that holds the House and takes back the Senate. Remember that contested House and Senate races can delay certification, such as in 2008/09 when Al Franken eventually won over Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

If we do win, we need to learn from our mistake in 2008. Yes, we elected Barack Obama with a sweeping agenda on health care, climate, education, immigration, and more. And what happened? We generally did little or nothing at all. I heard progressives complain that Obama was responsible for not getting enough done. Then we generally failed to vote in the mid terms and ended up handing the Congress back to the Republicans. Obama’s court appointments got held up and were eventually filled by Trump. What we have won with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) has been under continual attack, and a challenge is now going to a conservative dominated Supreme Court. 

After 2020, we need to do more than just vote. We need to stay engaged and lobby our representatives as taught by those who created the Indivisible Guide. If you haven’t read the Guide, here it is https://indivisible.org/guide. It is as relevant today as it was in 2016.

We need to vote in every election, not just for President. We need to vote up and down the ballot. That includes governors and state representatives who will be in charge of redrawing congressional districts. Our Congress has been so badly gerrymandered, it not longer represents a majority of the voters.

First order of business is to end the pandemic and rescue our economy, just as in 2009 when Obama’s first task was dealing with the recession that was handed to him by the Bush Administration. No doubt, Republicans will be obstructing the way they did in 2009, so we will need to end or modify the filibuster. We need to expand and protect the ACA, even if we can’t get Medicare for all. Can we at least get the public option? And we need to enact climate legislation. I believe we can get a tax or fee on carbon pollution. A doable plan is a carbon fee and dividend, as proposed by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. https://citizensclimatelobby.org

Those are my closing arguments, friends. The rest is up to you.

October 26, 2020 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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