Politically, We Are Stupid; We Don’t Give
I just sent a few dollars to the 2016 primary election presidential campaign of far-left Democrat/Socialist Bernie Sanders.
“But … but … Denny, you are a registered Republican. Why would you send money to a Democrat/Socialist?”
Flash back in 2008. Then, I changed my registration from Republican to Democrat so that I could vote for (Shudder) Barack Obama for President, which would deprive (Double Shudder) Hillary Clinton of the Democratic nomination.
I know, I know. Barack Obama has been between mediocre and pathetic as a President. I share that judgment.
But back in 2008, he sounded good to me. Hillary Clinton struck me as untrustworthy, amoral and unsuitable to be President.
So back in 2008, I was a Democrat for awhile, so I could vote in that party’s primary. I didn’t make the 19th century rules that still govern Pennsylvania’s elections. I just play the game according to those rules.
Now, fast-forward to 2015. I sent my political pittance via the Internet to Bernie Sanders because I believe, rightly or wrongly, that Bernie is a what-you-see is what-you-get person. In my opinion, Hillary will say what she needs to say to get elected, and then do whatever strikes her as being in the best interests of her husband and herself, not of the nation.
That is harsh. It could be wrong.
But it is a free country. I am entitled to act on my opinions.
I have no idea whether I will switch registration again next spring to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. As this is written, there is no way of knowing which of the 17 – seventeen! – Republican candidates will still be in the running. I will probably prefer to vote in the Republican primary.
I began my political life in early 1963 as a registered John F. Kennedy Democrat. I had shaken JFK’s hand during his campaign stop in Erie where I was a college student.
In early 1964, after JFK’s assassination, a cousin, Sam, was running for district attorney in then-heavily Republican Warren County. The primary election would decide who would be the next DA.
“Sam is family,” my mother said. “Change your registration.”
I did, and remained a registered Republican. As soon as it was legally possible after the 2008 primary, I switched back to the GOP, where I feel most comfortable.
That is the point of this column.
We are not robots. Despite what the political hacks say, we are free Americans. We can do as we choose with our registrations, with our votes – and with our money.
I am suggesting, asking, even pleading: Send a few bucks to your favored candidates, please.
The big boys and girls, the special interests, the vote-buyers, they all give. Donald Trump openly acknowledged that during the recent Republican debate. They give, he said, because they expect something in return.
We “little people” don’t give. That is why the Trumps of this world, from both parties, look down on us and patronize us; not because we have less money, but because we are politically stupid enough to leave the king-making to them.
We just talk about politics. But by and large, we don’t give the candidates any money, whether it is for a school board race, the Presidency, or in between.
How stupid we are.
Nearly 200 million of us are eligible to vote, though fewer are registered.
If each of the 200 million of us gave just 10 bucks to a Presidential candidate, that would be a pot of $2 billion. Nobody, not even the Koch Brothers on the right or George Soros on the left, gives that much money.
If we all gave a few dollars to our favored Presidential candidate, the winner would feel obligated to – us.
Instead, most of us leave the giving to the vote-buyers – and then we complain when the election winners feel obligated to – them.
How stupid, indeed.
I am telling you what I did, and putting myself out there to be criticized for being party-line traitorous. Of course, the “He is bad because he switched parties” line is hogwash applied by political hacks who try to keep us in line with that song-and-dance. We are free to switch parties, or to belong to no party.
We are free to keep our money in our wallets, too.
But that is politically stupid.
All of us should give a little money to favored candidates once we decide. Give it now, before the primary. Give some more next year, after the primary, to help your favored candidate win the general election. Set aside a few bucks for President, a few for U.S. Senate, a few for U.S. House, a few more for state Senate and House.
If we don’t, the Kochs and the Soroses will continue to own the candidates, the election, the process and the government. All we will be able to do is complain.
How stupid, indeed.
Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.