You would think that with all the technical savvy and innovative spirit that exists in this great country, we could finally develop a system of voting that doesn't make us look foolish every two years. In the aftermath of this year's midterm elections, I must say I am embarrassed and ashamed of this society. Let's face it, we tout ourselves as the greatest democracy on earth but almost every two years, we look like idiots. Voting machines are antiquated and don't seem to have any standard. Some communities are still using paper ballots and punch cards others are using computerized machines circa the 1980's. It is frustrating and disheartening. Here, ten days after the midterm elections, there are still at least six races for a seat in the House of Representatives that have yet to be called. That, to me is shocking. Why can't this country get it's act together when it comes to its citizens casting a ballot?
Now, I am no expert in computers or frankly in anything but I can envision a system whereby a citizen walks into a voting booth at a designated precinct and meets with a computer installed with a proprietary operating system and proprietary voting software. the vote is cast and once the process is completed, a paper ballot is produced in case a recount is necessary based on various state statutes and as an optional feature, a copy of your ballot could be sent to your cell phone so citizens can be assured that the votes they meant to cast were actually recorded. Each precinct would be in charge of its own vote and each individual machine would not be connected to a central hub. Trust me, I know the arguments. How can we be assured that the computers cannot be hacked and votes manipulated by outside forces? If you are telling me that a computer system with a proprietary operating system cannot be verifiably secured, then I think we need to have a broader conversation about our computerized world.
Security and absent of hacking, I cannot see why a system could not be developed to modernize our voting procedures. I suspect there are several other arguments against such a system, for example, who will develop it and who is going to pay for it? There are details to work out, for sure but for the sake of our democracy and the sake of our reputation for conducting non-partisan elections, please, someone get involved and fix this mess.
Go back in time with me to November of 1994. Imagine, if you will, waking up one morning to news reports that Hillary Clinton had demanded the ouster of then- Deputy National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. I imagine the incoming speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich would have lit his hair on fire and would be demanding investigations into this obvious overreach of the first lady's influence. Can you for one minute imagine the Washington Republicans letting that pass without so much as an inquiry into the situation? If you are honest with yourself the answer is a resounding no.
So I ask you, why, now 25 years hence the exact same scenario plays out in Washington and no one seems to bat an eye. This past Tuesday, in the aftermath of the mid-term elections and the removal of Jeff Sessions from the Justice Department, the First Lady's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham issued a statement that read in part, "It is the position of the Office
of the First Lady that she [Mira Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House." Mira Ricardel is a staunchly partisan government official and since 1986 she has served as an aide to Bob Dole and in the Bush Administration from 2001-2006. She was raised in Pasadena, California and her father was a Croatian immigrant and a supporter of the Ustache, a fascist, ultranationalist terrorist organization in Croatia. On the surface, she seems like a perfect fit for the Trump Administration. Ms. Ricardel, it seems, can be brash and abrasive in her dealings with both subordinates and superiors and she apparently clashed with the first lady and her staff on her recent trip to Africa. It is said that Ms. Ricardel does not suffer fools easily so it is as clear as the nose on my face why she had such trouble in the Trump White House, the house of fools.
All this intrigue and upheaval in the Trump Administration has lasting consequences. Is this the new normal? One day, in the not too distant future, a Democrat will again occupy The White House and I dare any Republican to speak out about anything that goes against tradition or the norms that existed prior to the Trump Administration. Trump has broken almost all the rules and norms of governmental actions at the highest level and as long as he goes unchecked, these will be the new norms of the future. Chew on that for a while.
In case you had not heard, there was an election this past week. The Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans maintained their control of the Senate possibly increasing their margin by one or two seats. Both sides claimed victory and said it was a great night for their parties. The Blue Wave that was predicted didn't actually materialize but Democrats did make significant gains not only in the House but managed to flip seven governor ships in crucial states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Nevada and Kansas. The governor's races in Georgia and Florida were oh so close and as a matter of fact are still being looked at with intense scrutiny.
The question now is what lessons can be learned from the 2018 mid-term elections? Former House Speaker Tip O'Neil once said that "all politics is local" and that seems to be the case in this year's election cycle. If credit is to be given for the Democrat's win in the House, I think you have to give some of that credit to the DCCC or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They helped to recruit and support a dynamic group of individuals who ran in 2018. In many cases, these individuals were indeed the best candidates in their districts and won with a positive message instead of a message of divisiveness and opposition to the status quo. I hate to point to just one house district and create a broader message but I think we have to look at the South Carolina first Congressional District for a valuable lesson. The South Carolina 1st is a district that stretches along the South Carolina coast and encompasses Hilton Head, Beaufort and Charleston.
The incumbent was tea party darling Mark Sanford who lost in the primary to Trump acolyte Katie Arrington. In the general election, Arrington tried to put a National face on the campaign aligning her opponent to Nancy Pelosi and her liberal agenda but her opponent, Joe Cunningham kept talking about issues that mattered to local constituents like the cost and access to health care, offshore drilling, voting rights and environmental conservation. Cunningham won the seat that had been solidly Republican since 1980 and a district Trump won by 13 points just two years ago.
Despite Trump's rhetoric about how much he helped candidates win, his brand of politics clearly did not resonate well with voters in a district that is more affluent and better educated than many. Trump has been a master of deflection and extremely adept at dividing this country but hopefully the electorate is beginning to realize that divisiveness only leads to governmental stagnation and the only way to move government forward is to work together for the common good.