The reaction to the results of the 2016 election: protests and more

The Daily Kos reports on protests in response to the election results. Admittedly, protests of some sort are something we don’t see that often in the US.

Given how divisive this election was, we were virtually guaranteed a reaction of this sort regardless of the eventual winner. If there was an ever an election where I felt like I was choosing “the lesser of two evils” this was it. I voted for Hillary Clinton, but it was a more of a vote against Donald Trump. I toyed with the idea of voting third-party but that went out the window the moment some polls indicated Texas was a toss-up state (our 38 electoral votes wound up going to Trump, alas).

So, personally, it’s hard to blame all these people who (presumably) voted for Hillary Clinton (or someone else) who are out there protesting. The preliminary popular vote totals indicate that Hillary actually won the popular vote–meaningless in the grand scheme of things because it’s the Electoral College vote that really matters, but symbolic in that there were more actual people who wanted Hillary to be our next president. Given a lot of the things that Donald Trump said during the campaign, and some things that came to light including blatant misogyny in the form of the “grab ‘em by the (vaginal area)” recording with Billy Bush (which eventually cost the latter his most recent job as host of Today despite the fact the recording was from over a decade ago), the protests aren’t much of a surprise to me.

The First Amendment is a powerful thing. It protects many vital freedoms, including freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. These include the right to protest peacefully, and it is this last point that protesters must remember. Once violence is added to the mix, it’s not really a protest anymore, but a riot. I get that people are pissed off. Heck, I’m still pretty pissed off, and the election was three days ago.

That said, violence won’t solve anything. The problem is definitely not that too few people think that everyone who voted for Clinton (or Johnson, Stein, McMullin, etc), and who is upset enough to protest, has the intelligence and temper of an uncaged wild animal. In addition, there’s just no need for violence to establish that you are unhappy with the election of Donald Trump and all that he stands for. Violence also gives law enforcement a quite legitimate reason to arrest someone.

Thoughts on the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, and the path ahead

So it’s a little over half a day since the election results became final. President Barack Obama spoke about the election results earlier today (he gave an incredibly gracious and above-board speech about a president-elect committed to destroying his legacy), and Hillary Clinton also gave her concession speech (which I did finally watch in its entirety, as difficult as that was).

I didn’t even mention in the previous posts that President-elect Trump never released his tax returns. That was an important “highlight” I left out, along with some things like the “7-11” gaffe. Then again, what I did mention pretty much stands on its own. The only thing left to do now is hope that Mr. Trump is a better president than candidate. The entirety of his campaign left a lot to be desired. Mr. Trump’s campaign, from the beginning, seemed more like a joke campaign than an earnest campaign for president.

As I’ve said elsewhere (and which I’ll probably repeat), the White House is not the set of the next season of The Apprentice or some other reality TV show, this whole president thing is reality and reality is way different than a reality TV show. Reality television is more television than reality, and perhaps can be more accurately called reality-flavored television. The reality “flavoring” of reality TV can be compared to that artificial barbecue or sour cream and onion flavoring on potato chips. Those flavorings rarely, if ever, taste like actual barbecue or sour cream and onion; in much the same way, reality TV rarely if ever reflects the actual reality of what happened, especially when “creative editing” comes into play. It resembles reality just enough that some people mistake it for that.

We have a little over two months left before President Obama’s term officially ends. If Mr. Trump really intends to be a “president for all Americans” as he said in his victory speech, I certainly hope that he realizes just what Obama’s legacy means to all of us who voted for him, and to many of us who voted for Hillary Clinton in the hope that legacy would continue be honored.

I don’t know how many readers I have left from the early days, but you’ll notice I do tend to lean left on most issues. (If you’re just now finding this blog, I do keep the archives up for a reason.) The inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th President on 2017 January 20 will also begin a new era for Rant Roulette, as it will be the first day this blog has existed in its current form under a Republican president. (There was a brief period for the first two months of this blog, before I settled into to the current format, where George W. Bush was still the sitting president prior to the inauguration of Barack Obama.)

This is not unlike the situation faced by, say, Rush Limbaugh after the inauguration of Bill Clinton. Far from being the end of Mr. Limbaugh’s infamous radio show, it was a new beginning (he was even on TV for a while). In the same vein, some may have thought, somewhat naïvely, that this is the end of Rant Roulette. Rest assured this is most definitely not the end of Rant Roulette, in fact in all likelihood it’s going to be a new beginning. Whether President-elect Trump fulfills his campaign slogan and truly “make[s] America great again” remains to be seen. But certainly, it’s going to be my goal over the next four years to make Rant Roulette worth reading again, and I will definitely have a lot more to write about come next January. I compare the election of Donald Trump to being handed a bucketful of lemons; there’s plenty of lemonade to be made in the years ahead.

Thoughts on the Houston and Harris County elections

I’m going to take a break from talking about the presidential election and shift to the local elections here in Harris County and Houston.

First up, I may as well talk about the local election that gathered national attention: Devon Anderson, the Republican incumbent district attorney, who was challenged by Kim Ogg, running as the Democratic candidate in a rematch of the 2012 election. This time, however, it would be Kim Ogg emerging the victor in a relatively close race (54% of the vote). The controversy surrounding Anderson’s jailing of a rape victim to compel her testimony is believed to be a major reason behind her defeat; Anderson’s attacks on Ogg, including one on the latter’s sexuality, almost certainly didn’t help.

Second, we have the even closer race for sheriff of Harris County. Ron Hickman was originally elected to Precinct 4 Constable as a Republican. Hickman was appointed to sheriff when Adrian Garcia resigned to run for mayor of Houston (a race which Garcia lost to Sylvester Turner). Hickman’s challenger was Ed Gonzalez, who ran as a Democrat. Gonzalez’s strategy of highlighting Hickman’s failures as sheriff paid off and he won with 52% of the vote.

Next, there was an election I did not vote in, but I am nevertheless happy at the result. Over a century ago, Houston Heights was actually a separate city, which had elected not to allow stores to sell beer and wine. That ban remained in place even as Houston annexed the area. However, after this election it’s history, and HEB quickly announced they would move forward with plans to build a new store on the former site of Fiesta on North Shepherd at 24th Street.

There was also the resounding defeat of HISD Proposition 1. The ballot language was confusing on this one, and I have to wonder if it was on purpose. How would you vote on something like this?

Authorizing the board of trustees of Houston Independent School District to purchase attendance credits from the state with local tax revenues

What this actually meant was “authorize Houston ISD to send $162 million to the state of Texas when it can barely afford to run its own schools”. This “attendance credits” nonsense is just verbiage to confuse the voters; thankfully they didn’t fall for it. A resounding majority (60%) voted against, and I’m proud to be one of them. The logic behind voting against is that it’s the only hope to get some reform for our school finance system here in Texas. And it needs reform. It’s outrageous that Houston ISD, which has so many students in families under the poverty line and which can scarcely afford to finance its own schools, is somehow viewed as a “rich” district under the law and expected to send an obscene amount of money to other Texas counties. I’m glad this proposition did not pass and I hope some good becomes of it.

Last but certainly not least, the race for Precinct 1 Constable. Another rematch from 2012: Alan Rosen was seeking re-election as the Democratic candidate, with Joe Danna running once again as a Republican. This time, there were no other candidates, which seemed to play to the favor of Rosen, who slayed it with 65% of the vote. (Back in 2012 Rosen won with just under 59% of the vote, with just under 6% combined going to candidates affiliated with the Libertarian and Green parties, leaving just under 36% for Danna.)

Whether Joe Danna gets the hint this time remains to be seen. His candidacy never really ended after the 2012 election, with a lot of the campaign signs staying up even after the 2012 election was over. Mr. Danna had a bit of a disadvantage this time, too: the “we don’t need a volunteer” card wasn’t in play since Alan Rosen had now been working a paid position for the past four years. Whether the voters remembered that from 2012, or were just happy with the status quo, the result is the same.

(As an aside, it was a pretty good night for law enforcement positions county-wide with not only the aforementioned sheriff spot, but also five of the eight constable positions, won by Democrats. The Precinct 7 Constable position was unopposed.)

The worst election night I have ever lived through

I’m going to summarize the last five to six hours or so. Basically, the TV has been tuned to KHOU-TV (channel 11 in Houston, our local CBS affiliate) watching the CBS News coverage of the election. Next to the TV, I have the laptop with IRC open and chatting with some people who happened to be talking about the election, with the web browser open to check results of the local elections (I’ll get to those tomorrow). I have watched as Donald Trump has inched closer and closer to the 270 electoral votes required to win the presidency. CBS News has shown both the Trump and Clinton campaigns’ election watch parties. I get why the people at the Clinton watch party are downright crestfallen; some were even crying.

I’m more angry than sad right now. There is still a very faint glimmer of hope remaining that enough of the last few states will turn blue on the map and Hillary Clinton will be our next president. As I write this, the electoral vote tally is 244 to 215 in favor of Trump. The reporters are all talking about how he pulled this off, the campaign stops Hillary Clinton didn’t make, the voters Donald Trump attracted, yada yada yada.

They also brought up that it’s been rare that the same party wins three presidential elections in a row. That may be true, but we’ve never had a candidate this unqualified and who has behaved this badly and this erratically throughout the campaign. That terrifies me. It terrified me this morning before I voted, and it terrifies me now that I’m back home watching the election coverage.

I’m not calling it either way right now. I’m hoping something changes big time before CBS News signs off for the night. I’ll be back on tomorrow night with some final national election thoughts after I discuss the local elections.

Thoughts on the 2016 election season

A bit late, I know, but I want to get something out there for many reasons.

As alluded to in the previous entry, I have not ignored the goings on with the 2016 presidential race. I voted in the Democratic primary for Bernie Sanders. Though he did not win Texas, and eventually conceded the nomination to Hillary Clinton, I still feel Bernie would have been a far better choice for president.

When I read Bernie conceded the nomination, it was the biggest letdown I have ever felt over a candidate in the primaries. That day was the first truly sad day of a pretty sad week. It became obvious, of course, that those in charge of the Democratic party wanted Hillary to win at just about any cost–something which sparked outrage within the party, and which led to the eventual resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and not a moment too soon.

As bad as that may have been, what happened on the Republican side is far more terrifying. I have never in my lifetime seen a candidate so obviously unqualified to be president actually win the nomination. I noticed Donald Trump running for the Republican nomination, and I thought it was one of those joke campaigns that had no realistic chance of winning, and that we’d at least see the Democratic candidate (this is before Hillary won) face off against someone remotely qualified to run the country sitting in the White House come next January.

And then, excuse my French, the shit really hit the fan. Mr. Trump showed he was a jerk with no regard for the law on so many occasions it’s hard to remember them all. The “highlights”, some of which happened before Trump actually won the nomination, include inciting a riot in North Carolina, the infamous “grab ‘em by the (genitalia)” tape leaked, instructing security to eject protesters out into subzero temperatures without their coats, and demonstrating a terrifying lack of understanding of foreign policy by asking “why can’t we just nuke Russia”. There’s also building a wall at the Mexican border, his anti-Islamic statements, and last but certainly not least, Mr. Trump has refused to release his tax returns sparking all kinds of speculation. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is, Mr. Trump is the personification of everything that’s wrong with the Republican party as we know it today.

I’m not even going to get into the whole emails debacle. I’ll just say there’s a huge double standard, and that when the Republicans do what Hillary did with emails, they have no problem with it. Yes, that’s ludicrous and hypocritical. No, it doesn’t surprise me anymore.

Adding to the frustration is that the system is horribly broken regarding third-party candidates. When I feel more like diving into details, I may go into this more in another post, but suffice it to say that today, the way presidential debates are organized, only the Republican and Democratic candidates are invited. They are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is run by leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties. Worse, so many states do a “winner take all” allocation of electoral votes. Meaning, in theory, if Donald Trump has one more popular vote than Hillary Clinton in a state like California or Florida, it’s the same as if he wins by a 90%-10% margin or a 60%-40% margin.

And the rest of the world wonders why the USA is so messed up sometimes.

Perhaps the worst part about it is, the polls showed that Bernie would have crushed Mr. Trump in the general election. Yet Bernie is not who the Democratic Party put out there; Hillary is. Granted, at least Hillary has some idea what the job entails, having been in the White House during her husband’s two terms, and is somewhat qualified having been a senator and Secretary of State in the past. The flip side of that is the awkward truth embodied in the old joke that Bill Clinton is the best Republican president we’ve had (he ran as a Democrat). I wasn’t eligible to vote yet in the 1992 election, and honestly I’m not sure who I would have voted for even if I did. (I used to lean much farther right than I do today.)

I’ll be honest, I don’t like Hillary Clinton a whole lot. But I really, really, really don’t like Donald Trump, and I’m horrified he’s made it this far and that the Republican Party has given him this long of a leash. The presidency is not a damn reality TV show! This is not a four-year-long taping of The Apprentice! Sheesh! (Yeah, I voted for Hillary. I could not risk voting a third party with some of the last polls saying Texas was effectively a toss-up or swing state.)

So, why did it take so damn long for me to write this post? The few times where I had time to start writing a post about the election season, I actually got a bit queasy. It was still difficult getting it all out there today. I’m not sure how to fix this hot mess we call the presidential elections, but I do know there’s a lot that needs fixing.

If anyone has any good ideas on where to begin, feel free to comment below.