Campaign Beggars

I’ve mentioned recently the deluge of political emails I’ve gotten, but I haven’t dwelt on the underlying subject behind the vast majority – money.

They all want money, whatever I can give, in order to be elected or re-elected to stop the evils of their opponent or the other party.

One of my initial reactions is, why should I give you more money when all you seem to do with it is bad-mouth your opponent? [I realize there are a few candidates who don’t, but VERY few.]

The senders of these emails also all seem to think that people, individually and collectively, are a bottomless and endless source of funds, either for campaigns or for government. Or in Trump’s case, to pay his seemingly endless legal bills.

Once upon a time, I thought that the simplest campaign reform measure would be to allow unlimited contributions to specific candidates – but only from individuals whose names had to be public. But then, with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations effectively became persons, at least in the legal sense, in being allowed to contribute unlimited sums to entities not legally linked to political parties or candidates. On top of that, those “dark-money entities were also allowed to spend unlimited amounts in supporting or opposing specific candidates.

Then, too, recent events have convinced me that people only care about who spends inordinately on electioneering when it’s someone supporting the other side.

So, as I read the FEC rules, while an individual is limited to contributing $3,300 to a candidate for a primary election and another $3,300 for the general election, corporations can and do pour far more into “independent” political action committees and those committees can spend unlimited amounts in political ads or activities benefiting or opposing candidates for office.

In the 2022 election, United States House and Senate candidates running in the 2022 election cycle reported raising a total of $3.1 billion and spending $3.7 billion between January 1, 2021, and September 30, 2022. That averages $4 million per seat – for a job that pays $174,000 annually.

But what I want to know is with all that money floating around, why is every candidate claiming they don’t have enough funding?

The Cultural Difference

The other day, I read a comment about my portrayal of women in a Recluce book, which said that my political leanings resulted in an unrealistic view of women in a lower tech society. This isn’t anything particularly new, although such comments are not common.

I definitely understand that sources of power, particularly physical power, affect societal relationships, but there’s also another, often overlooked, factor. For at least the last few hundred years, particularly in western cultures, there’s been a misrepresentation of what women actually did and accomplished on our planet in earlier societies and cultures.

Far more women were battlefield warriors than are mentioned in either historical tomes or most historical fiction. The remains of more and more earlier societies are showing that women were anything but “fireside sitters” and cave homemakers. The Mongols used quite a number of mounted women archers, and the female elders managed the logistics of one of the most effective fighting forces in history, and from fairly close to the fighting. Scythian tombs containing remains of warriors, once thought to be men, have been determined to be women. The same has also been found in Celtic and other tombs. In the early years of Islam, there were women scholars and rulers. In the early United States, Benjamin Franklin’s wife Deborah, ran and controlled all of his enterprises in Philadelphia for most of a period of twenty years, and who ran all those plantations and farms during the revolutionary and civil wars?

I’m not saying that the “traditional” gender representation was “wrong” so much as it was woefully incomplete and created an inaccurate portrayal of societal structures and gender roles in many instances. There have always been women who didn’t fit the stereotypes largely created by men; it’s just that the mostly male historians and politicians overlooked or actively tried to erase the records of their accomplishments.

In addition to that, while accomplishments in any society are indeed affected and shaped by power, in fantasy worlds, the scope and use of magic should also affect roles and power, just as technology is reshaping gender and sexual roles today. At the same time, while brute force can impose gender-based roles on a society, history shows that such imposition usually handicaps that society.

So, in commenting on any fictional view of a society’s structure and gender roles, it’s more accurate to look at real history and/or the way the author has structured the basics of his/her world, rather than relying on inaccurate and fact-outdated stereotypes or beliefs.

The Immigration Mess

Yesterday, the House Homeland Security Committee approved, along party lines, two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. A floor vote is likely within the next week or so.

Republicans charge Mayorkas didn’t uphold immigration laws, exceeded his authority, risked public safety, made false statements to Congress, obstructed congressional oversight and impeded construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Many, if not all, of the charges are likely overstatements of the situation, if not false.

From what I see, Mayorkas – and anyone in his position – is in an impossible situation. The U.S. currently doesn’t even have a legally consistent and unified position on immigration. Neither party has an actual policy that could be legally implemented at present, nor does Homeland Security have the resources to find, stop, process, or reject the vast number of illegal immigrants.

The Republicans are right in demanding a workable and effective immigration policy, but impeaching Mayorkas won’t do anything to improve the immigration mess, because the proceedings are effectively admitting that Congress has failed for decades, under both parties, to deal with the problem, and making Mayorkas a scapegoat for long-standing Congressional failure won’t do anything constructive.

A Senate coalition is making an effort at a comprehensive bill to at least start in dealing with the problem and what do the House Republicans do? Try to impeach a bureaucrat who’s saddled with inadequate resources to deal with the overwhelming number of illegal and legal immigrants, conflicting laws, and a Congress that doesn’t really want to make hard choices.

That’s political posturing, not leadership.

Destroying Truth

I have a long history of political involvement. My father was an attorney and a local city councilman, as well as acting mayor for a time. My mother worked in local politics. Both were Republicans, although in the 1990s, my mother left the Republican party because of its growing misogyny.

My college degree was in political economy, and after my time as a Navy search and rescue pilot during the Vietnam War, I went into the business sector, first as an industrial economist and then as a real estate salesman. At the same time, I got involved in grassroots politics, as a Republican precinct committeeman [about the time I sold my first story]. That led to working as a paid research director on a successful Republican congressional campaign, after which the congressman hired me as his Washington, D.C., legislative assistant. When he became a senator, I was hired by his successor as his staff director. When the Reagan Administration took over, I became the head of Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the U.S. EPA. After three years there, I moved back into the private sector as a senior manager at a Washington, D.C., consulting firm for another seven years.

Stress and associated health issues prompted me to leave D.C. and the high pressure, but I continued political and regulatory consulting for another three years, until my writing finally provided enough income. But I continued to follow and comment on government and politics.

And after fifty years of political involvement, I can honestly say that I have never seen as great a disdain for the facts as is now evidenced by almost the entire Republican Party. While U.S. political parties have never been known for their strict adherence to the facts, in the last century, with the blatant exception of the McCarthy years and until the last ten years, they tended to limit their excesses to selective omission, modest misrepresentation, implied connections to problems, non-verbal visual allusion, and the like. There were always some outliers, but they were the definite minority.

From what I can see and read, the Democrats have intensified the old tactics, but there’s still a certain accuracy there, if not so much as there used to be.

As for the Republicans, and especially the far right and the Trumpists, accuracy and truth have largely ceased to exist. There was no insurrection, just a peaceful demonstration. Trump didn’t do anything wrong; the Democrats and the left invented it all (despite court convictions that are likely to increase). Hillary was behind a porn/sex ring in the basement of a pizza parlor (except the pizza place didn’t have a basement). Democrats will confiscate every gun in America (except that the Supreme Court has effectively ruled that they can’t).

The list of blatant lies is endless… and Republicans could care less. They’re so invested in their anger and their grievances that they’ll not only shred the truth, but the entire country, and democracy with it.

The “Elephant” in Political Parties

Perhaps because I have a degree in economics and spent roughly twenty years in politics, I tend to look at numbers, and what they suggest about people… and about political parties.

I’ve felt for a long time that Republican politicians and Republican voters are very uneasy about women in politics. Certainly, Donald Trump doesn’t care much for women, and he certainly doesn’t respect them, but it’s definitely not hurting him among Republican voters.

Going into the recent Iowa caucus, polls suggested that Nikki Haley would get around 22-24 percent of the vote. But she only got 19 percent, a shift of almost five percent overnight, when nothing else changed. My own personal feeling is that nothing did change, but that three to five percent of the Republican voters could say they favored Haley, but when it came to voting, they couldn’t do it, but they never wanted to admit it.

Women in the U.S. have had the vote for just over a hundred years, but today only thirty percent of the members of the U.S. House are women. But when you break those numbers down, they get really interesting, because 46% (almost half) of the Democratic representatives are women, while only 14% of the Republican representatives are women.

In the Senate, 33% of the Democratic senators are women, but only 16% of the Republican senators are.

Why might that be?

Could it just be that Republicans just don’t like women in public office?

Those statistics might just explain a lot, including much of the support for Donald Trump, but I haven’t seen any poll or study that addresses this aspect of political parties, possibly because men don’t want to address it directly… and women in politics can’t, not without alienating too many male voters.