Saturday, October 22, 2016

Like Two Tsunamis Crashing Into Each Other


Six months ago, someone asked if Donald Trump's character and HB2 here in North Carolina were still going to be campaign issues come Election Day, November 8, 2016.

'Yes, of course it will!' I said. Even blind hogs find acorns every now and then, right?

But no one ever thought that in this year of a 'change election' that those would be the ONLY two issues people were concerned about this year. No. One.

The economy is sluggish, if that. We have never come close to a robust recovery coming out of the worst recession since the 1930's. The early years right AFTER a nasty recession are usually the best ones in terms of growth simply because so many of the laid-off workers are usually the first ones hired back once excess inventory is sold off or houses start to get built again, for example.

President Obama will retire on January 20, 2017 as the only President in modern times to have not presided over a US economy that exceeded 3% GDP growth in any quarter of any of his eight years in office. That would be 32 quarters.

That is like a football team scoring maybe a safety or a field goal every other quarter or so over 8 looooong seasons. At least they are 'scoring' every now and then you could say but they are never going to win a lot of games nickel-and-diming it along like that. Ever.

Under President Obama's watch, we have seen the national debt explode 100% to $20 trillion, up from $10 trillion when he took office. The federal deficit today is now half of what it was when he took office in 2009, that is true. However, it was over $1.2 trillion in that first year due to stimulus payments and bailouts and buyouts as we tried to stop the hemorrhaging of the economy so 'cutting' the deficit to $500 billion is nothing to write home about or win any award for achieving.

And by the way, CBO just came out with a report showing the budget deficits going UP this last year under President Obama to $650 billion on his way out of the White House and heading BACK UP to over $1 trillion in the next several years. Mainly because nothing fundamental or structural was done over the last 8 years to do anything constructive or helpful to solve our nation's fiscal deficiencies.

Add in ISIS; deteriorating racial relations; illegal immigration; no comprehensive energy policy; health care costs STILL rising almost exponentially despite the fact that President Obama got everything he wanted in the ACA passed in 2010 and a raft of other pressing issues, and you would have to believe the American people are just going to run to the polls to vote for a 'Big Change' to everything it would seem.

And yet, at this juncture 16 days away from perhaps the most consequential election we will see in a while, this election is boiling down to 2 things, at least here in North Carolina, that is:

  1. Does Donald Trump have the temperament to be in the White House?
  2. Does everyone have the right to choose which bathroom they can use?
It is like two tsunamis, one coming in from the west and one coming in from the east and colliding in the middle, say, over some small isthmus of land and totally covering it up with sea water and foam and detritus of all kinds.

And it is going to take some time to clean up after it all. That is a guarantee.

Let's take a look at how this might play out come Election Day:

For one thing, 'Election' Day has already started. Absentee ballots were requested and many already returned by the time early in-person voting started Thursday, October 20 in North Carolina.

By the time November 8 rolls around, over 50% of all ballots will have already been cast based on past experience. Around 4.5 million people in North Carolina can be expected to vote this year and close to 2.5 million ballots will have been cast before November 8.

You are going to hear both the left and the right crow about how their supporters are 'swamping the polls!' between now and then. Based on the first day of record turnout in Wake County, there is probably cause for jubilation on the left, at least in the larger cities.

However, the same thing could be happening in the smaller towns and more rural counties, many of which are going to be slower to report their turnout based on the resources they have at their disposal.

Add in the fact that many polling places are still underwater in and around the Neuse River down east, not to mention the fact that thousands of houses and homes have been destroyed by the recent floods.

Many of those people could care less about the general election today when they are more concerned about where they are going to live and eat the next day.

Finding a clean place to just go to the bathroom and shower and clean up is more of a concern to them than who has the right to join them right now.

The basic question that remains to be seen is this:

'Who is going to show up to vote this year and will the final electorate look more like the Obama turnout of 2008 and 2012 or will it not look like either of those 2 years?'

A bit of history might be helpful at this point. In 2008, with historic high levels of African-American and young voters voting for the first African-American president in American history, President Obama won North Carolina by 14,000 over a very weak and uninspiring John McCain.

In 2012, with slightly lower turnout levels among African-American and young voters but still way higher than what was considered 'normal' before 2008, President Obama lost North Carolina by 88,000 votes to Mitt Romney, even though Pat McCrory won the gubernatorial race by over 250,000 votes over Walter Dalton.

Many people attribute that drop-off to Mr. Romney's Mormonism. It might be other things factored in as well but it is impossible to believe that it did not play some role in such a disparity in his vote totals in North Carolina in 2012.

You almost never see a down-ballot candidate out-perform the presidential candidate at the top of the ticket in almost any presidential year. Most people want to vote for the President first but then lose interest as they go down the ballot all the way to the district judges and bond referenda before their eyeballs fall out of their head due to lack of interest in such issues or even knowing who, what or why 'judicial temperament' is a good thing for any candidate for a judgeship to possess.

Secretary of Labor Cheri Berry garnered 100,000 more than Mitt Romney did in 2012. Think about that for a minute.

In order for Hillary Clinton to win North Carolina's 15 Electoral Votes, experts say that 22% of the final electorate has to be African-American. That means that close to 1 million votes have to be cast for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina or almost 1/2 of her total votes in the state.

If she does that, she will win hands-down going away all flags flying.

However, she has failed to generate the enthusiasm in the African-American communities and young voting block that President Obama did which stands to reason since he was the first African-American to win the presidency and a cool symbol of progress for many young people and African-Americans nationwide.

What HB2 has done on the left is to energize thousands of progressives in the major cities mostly to turn out and vote against the Republican Governor Pat McCrory and the GOP-led General Assembly which is one reason why we saw long lines on the first day of early voting.

So perhaps that will be enough to offset any drop in African-American or youth voting statewide.

To them, it 'feels' like a tidal wave that is going to sweep out all of the Republicans and the dozen or so Democrats who voted for HB2.

On the other hand, the sheer size of the rallies for Donald Trump at every site large or small in North Carolina this past year gives hope to people on the other side that a tidal wave of conservatism is swelling on their side that is going to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning North Carolina's 15 electoral votes and keep Governor McCrory in the Governor's Mansion and Republicans in solid control of the General Assembly for another two years.

10,000 people showed up for a Trump rally in tiny Kenansville, population 775, this past summer. People don't show up for a political rally in those numbers if they do not intend to vote in large proportions for that candidate, that is for sure.

Based on who you talk with, you could be persuaded that this is going to be a 'wave election' for the Democrats at the state level where they win every Council of State office except Secretary of Agriculture and they at least get Republicans below veto-proof majorities in the NC house and senate.

Others can convince you that Republicans will keep the Governor's Mansion and close to veto-proof margins in the NCGA; Senator Burr and Trump will get the 15 North Carolina electoral votes he needs to have any chance of winning the Presidency simply because they 'know' a 'wave election' is building for Trump and the Republicans much like Reagan in 1980.

One by-product of this nasty and in many ways, desultory presidential campaign, other than its interminable length, might be the surprising numbers of people who have just given up on our democratic process and just choose to stay at home and not vote this year.

Many people say they just can not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump this year. You might see totals for both of them fall below the votes cast for the gubernatorial candidates on both sides as we saw in 2012 with Mitt Romney which came as a surprise to most observers.

You can hardly blame anyone for not voting this year. It reminds us of the Rolling Stones' song, '(Stuck Between a) Rock and a Hard Place':

But you still need to vote. One way or another. Up and down the ballot in all the races and referenda.

It is the only system of government we have. We will make it through. Somehow. America always has in the past. And this is certainly not as 'scary' of a time as the Civil War, World War I, Great Depression and World War II were for our forebears and ancestors.

We even survived 25+ years of dismal presidential 'leadership' (sic) before the Civil War.  Take a look at that list of presidents. James Buchanan was the last one and he was so awful that historian place him at the absolute bottom of all of our 44 Presidents so far and he won that almost by acclamation.

Mick Jagger is no poet along the lines of now-Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan (will wonders never cease?) but perhaps we should heed the words to 'Rock and A Hard Place' as we go forward after this election:

'You'd better stop; put on a kind face....We're in the same boat on the same sea and we're sailing south on the same breeze...and our children are playing with loaded dice'

Indeed. Just the 'loaded dice' of the burgeoning national debt at $20 trillion and rising with the attendant potential explosion in interest costs if interest rates just return to 'normal' rates of 5-6% is enough to keep you awake at night.

Hopefully, our next President will lead us in an effort to finally do something about it.

lyrics to 'Rock and a Hard Place'

The fields of Eden

Are full of trash

And if we beg and we borrow and steal
We'll never get it back
People are hungry
They crowd around
And the city gets bigger as the country comes begging to town

Stuck between a rock
And a hard place
Between a rock and a hard place

This talk of freedom
And human rights
Man's bullying and private wars and chucking all the dust into our eyes
And peasant people
Poorer than dirt
Who are caught in the crossfire with nothing to lose but their shirts

Stuck between a rock
And a hard place
Between a rock and a hard place
You'd better stop put on a kind face
Between a rock and a hard place

We're in the same boat
On the same sea
And we're sailing south
On the same breeze
Guiding dream churches
With silver spires
And our rogue children
Are playing loaded dice

Between a rock and a hard place
You'd better stop

Give me truth now
Don't want no sham
I'd be hung drawn and quartered for a sheep just as well as a lamb

Stuck between a rock
And a hard place
Between a rock and a hard place
You'd better stop put on a kind face
Can't you see what you've done to me

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

#Hillary and #Trump May Have Done The Democratic Republic A YUGE Favor

'And so will be the 2016 Presidential Campaign!'
When this presidential election finally and mercifully ends on November 8, hopefully*, America will be ready to remember Gerald Ford's statement after he was inaugurated to succeed Richard Nixon in August, 1974:

'Our long national nightmare is over'

Isn't there anything we can do to adopt some semblance of the British electoral system where elections are called and usually take place 60 days or so thereafter? 1 year is too long. 2 years is insane. If we are looking at 4 years of campaigning by anyone on the losing side this year, we should just all agree to ignore them until October, 2020 and be done with it all.

After the latest revelation of another inappropriate comment by Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton's drip, drip, drip of damaging Wikileaks emails and memos, it occurred to us that between his comments and Hillary Clinton's almost pathological inability to tell the truth about anything, both may have done something that will actually help the American Republic down the road.

As hard as that is to believed right now.

Think about it. On Election Night, one or the other is likely to get to 270 electoral votes, barring some unforeseen circumstances. Will there be euphoria and fireworks on the winning side? Will hundreds of thousands of people swarm to see the President-Elect give a rousing, positive inclusive speech on the grounds of some historic building where something important happened in the past?

Both candidates combined have the highest aggregate unfavorability ratings of any 2 candidates in American history running at the same time. Out of a total of 200 points, 100 points of unfavorability being the worst for each of them, these two presidential candidates have a grand total of about 140 negative points, around 70% apiece.

They have both earned them fair and square for reasons and incidents that are too numerous for us to share here.

It is highly unlikely that the next President will enter the White House with any sort of positive 'electoral mandate' or have a post-election honeymoon with the Congress and Senate. On what sort of basis would either have an 'electoral mandate' to do anything? Both would claim 'Hey! I am not as bad as that other person!' but that is hardly any sort of galvanizing force to rally the country around.

Neither will enter the White House with anything close to being considered as having the 'moral high ground' on much of anything. How could they possibly look the American public in the eye and say in essence: 'Trust me to do and say the right thing. All the time. No matter what'

The respect either will have with the American public might rival the respect many Americans have for a dishonest used car salesman who somehow stays in business despite cheating and lying to the same customers year after year after year.

That is not good.

However, the silver lining in all of this might be as follows.

We have long been proponents of diffused governmental power. The more checks and balances the better; the less power any one individual has at their disposal the better as well. We are very Jeffersonian in that regard; legend has it that he did not like the concentration of power in a few hands in Congress even if they were members of his own political party and persuasion!

He wrote a lot about the tyranny of power concentrated in a few. Except when he became President for 8 years and found out that having a lot of executive power at his disposal was something he rather enjoyed.

Which brings us to our point:

Perhaps Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have done us a massive favor. Perhaps this presidential campaign has so damaged the reputation and respect of the Office of President and reduced the aura of that office to the degree that we can return to the ideal that was central to the Founders of our Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 which was this:

'We Don't Want No King!'

The Founders had absolutely zero interest in setting up a President who could do whatever he pleased, much as the king they despised, King George of Great Britain, had done to set them off on the dangerous and treacherous course of independence from the Crown.

They fully intended to have a government 'of the people, by the people and for the people' as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently put it 76 years later at Gettysburg and that did not include having total indiscriminate powers on anything really.

Every single thing the President was tasked to do in the Constitution is subservient to the US Congress and Senate. The office of the Presidency was the second article, not the first, which dealt with the legislative branch comprised of elected delegates 'of the people'.

The President was tasked to be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. However, no funds could be spent on prosecuting any war without the concurrence of Congress.

The President could nominate people to the Supreme Court (who don't need to be lawyers or judges by the way). However, he could only do so with the 'advice and consent' of the majority of the US Senate on top of their recommendations in many cases of lesser judges in the judicial branch.

If there was anything that the President was seen as doing outside of the specific powers allocated to him in Article 2 of the Constitution, Congress always retained the 'power of the purse' and could either agree to fund something the President advocated or could withhold funding in total.

Of course, Congress retained the ability to impeach a President in the Constitution, not the other way around. A US President could never try to disband Congress as you may see in other lesser republics around the globe; the reaction to such an effort would be immense and hopefully, it would be unanimous and seen across-the-board as antithetical to the American spirit and system of self-governance.

We think that regardless of who is elected this year, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, both are such damaged goods in terms of being viewed by a vast majority of Americans as a 'moral leader' that we might see a golden opportunity for the US Congress and US Senate to reassert both legislative bodies as the 'board of directors' as elected representatives 'for the people' for whom the President works, not the other way around.

Henry Clay and other great leaders in Congress spoke often of 'legislative supremacy' which in its purest form embodies exactly what the Founders had in mind when they decided to give representative democracy a good go in 1787. Many did not think it would last long. Even James Madison, The Father of the Constitution, soon regretted many of the features of the ratified Constitution and thought the young republic would soon fail under the weight of its many pressures.

Ever since FDR, we Americans have somehow become inured to the idea that maybe a great President can all of a sudden become 'Superman!' and save us from all our troubles.

A good friend of ours, Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC (yes, such a place does exist...check it out) cautions us all to adopt an 'Augustinian sensibility' when it comes to politics and the ultimate impact it can be expected to have on our lives. Augustine said we are here between the temporary and eternal worlds so we should moderate our expectations for a mere mortal man to lift us up and our depressions when our side doesn't win an election.

Maybe the accumulated foibles of both major political candidates for President this year will finally pop the bubble that 1 person can and will 'solve ALL of our problems and set us free!'

They won't. No matter how great any candidate could possibly be.

No, we think there is a silver lining after all to this truly desultory political campaign. Regardless of who wins, 40% of the country is going to completely ignore his or her legitimacy as our President. A large percentage of people beyond that are not going to respect either one who is elected because neither has seized the high moral ground of leadership and authority by their conduct or by their prosecution of this campaign.

It is a campaign of anger on all sides. And that anger will take a lot of time to subside and heal which usually takes place when great leaders emerge to lead us.

In the meantime, however, knocking down the concentrated power of our Chief Executive to its proper place as envisioned by the writers of the Constitution might not be altogether a 'bad' thing after decades of more and more power accruing to the Executive Branch of our federal government.

#Hillary and #DonaldTrump may have both contributed more to that diminution of power than even they recognize at this point.

If it happens, and more power devolves back to the legislative branch in the US Congress and Senate in the coming years, we might even be able to thank them one day.

As soon as we forget how disgusting this campaign has been.

*(unless something else happens, that is,between now and then to allow Gary Johnson to win New Mexico's 5 electoral votes or something crazy happens in Utah to allow Evan McMullin to win those 6 electoral votes and deny Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump a majority in the electoral college and send it into the House of Representatives for the election of our next president)

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Think Everything Has Been Solved Under President Obama?

Think again.

Most recent forecasts and projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) show that federal spending jumped in 2016 just as tax payments from small business and individuals dropped due to the weak economy.

The scary thing about these projections is that they still project a relatively 'calm' rate of interest on the national debt for the next 10 years, increasing from near zero today to 3%-4% by 2026. If interest rates spike at any time during that period, these projected deficits will increase even faster.

There is not much more we can add to this CBO report (which we urge you to download and read as you hunker down watching Hurricane Matthew this weekend; the summary is only 9 pages) that we haven't already written about before.

For the past 8 years, we have been pointing out the critical importance of having our President and elected US Senators and Representatives come together on some sort of 'Grand Bargain' whereby the major entitlement programs would be thoroughly examined, evaluated and then reformed, especially in the health care programs, Medicare, Medicaid and the military and VA health programs; worthless and wasteful programs in domestic discretionary and defense budgets would be eliminated and, if absolutely necessary to gain a majority to get it passed in Congress, some small tax hikes somewhere to garner the necessary votes for passage and ultimate signature signing ceremony in the Rose Garden by President Obama.

We have put it this way to reluctant conservatives opposed to any tax hikes ever under any circumstance:

'If you could get $10 trillion in spending reductions from the baseline over the next 10 years GUARANTEED and in place BEFORE any taxes take effect, would you agree to a $1/head tax hike on everyone to complete the Grand Bargain'?

Had such a bargain been completed in 2009 instead of President Obama and the Democrats, who had 100% control of the US Senate and Congress at the time, steamrolling the Republican minority in Congress to pass Obamacare which is now coming apart at the seams like a cheap suit (Even Bill Clinton calls it 'The Craziest Thing Ever!'), our national debt would be closer to $12 trillion or maybe just $13 trillion today instead of $20 trillion heading to $21 trillion.

The greatest threat to our future going forward is not higher taxes, although they would tend to mitigate accelerated economic growth. We have proven that somehow we can absorb, or avoid, the higher taxes and regulations of Obamacare over the past 8 years and not completely fall apart as an economy.

The greatest threat to our future going forward is not getting firm control on our exploding federal debt. Anyone who has been in Congress or the US Senate or The White House for the past 8 years and not voted for a legislative package that would have limited spending first and possibly agreed to some small tax increase in return to curb these deficits has, in essence and in results, 'VOTED' FOR HIGHER NATIONAL DEBT!

There is no other way around it. Anyone who was not part of a solution has been part of the problem no matter how loud they cry that they 'Did NOT Vote for Higher Taxes!' or 'Did NOT cut this-or-that program!'

By their own decision to default to inaction, they have willfully and thereby almost intentionally 'voted' to increase the national debt on everyone, especially our sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters and their progeny for possibly the next century to come.

Great Britain just made the last payment to the United States recently for debt they incurred during World War ONE which ended close to 100 years ago.So it has happened before.

Everyone who has been elected to go to Washington over the past 8 years had the power to not add $10 trillion to the national debt but they failed in their responsibility and duty as our elected representatives, Senators and President.

No manner of excuses or finger-pointing or name-blaming can exonerate each of them from such a judgment of history. They were there; they didn't do anything about it; others who follow will have to clean it up and clean it up fast or else we will all suffer the consequences for their inaction, carelessness and in many ways, sheer stupidity.

'Here's a great book you might
want to read....'
One thing we can all agree on is that there is some definite finite point where any economy on the face of this earth can incur 'too much debt'.

As Alan Greenspan used to say when testifying about the federal budget and national debt before the House Budget Committee or the Joint Economic Committee (where he and 1 Federal Reserve aide were often the only 2 people at the hearing other than the Chairman and his staff and the congressman I worked for and myself so it was very easy to hear and understand what he was saying):
'I don't know where the line is that crosses us over from 'manageable' amounts of national debt to 'unsustainable' levels of federal debt. But what I can tell you is that if we do recognize it and start to try to do something about it only then, it will be too late at that point in time'.
Why take that chance?

You are going to get your chance to vote for people to go to Washington to fix this crucial public policy problem in about 1 month.

Choose wisely.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How About A 'Stand For The Flag' Constitutional Amendment?

Unless you have been around for awhile, a pretty good long while, you would think the Colin-Kaepernick-kneeling-during-the-National-Anthem controversy was the first of its kind in American history.

It is not.

We remember quite well the controversy nationwide over the so-called 'Flag Burning Amendment' since it was introduced and debated during the time we were serving in the US Congress in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in a split 5-4 decision that burning the US flag in a protest was protected by the First Amendment.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said this at the time:
“The hard fact is that sometimes we must make decisions we do not like. We make them because they are right, right in the sense that the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result...And so great is our commitment to the process that, except in the rare case, we do not pause to express distaste for the result, perhaps for fear of undermining a valued principle that dictates the decision. This is one of those rare cases.
Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt”
This is a tough issue for many Americans to parse through and grasp.

On the one hand, the flag is a symbol for freedom that millions of Americans have sacrificed their life and limb for over the past 2 centuries so we can enjoy those freedoms today.

For many Americans, especially those who have ever served in the military or have had family members serve and/or die or be wounded while in combat serving our country, kneeling during the national anthem is perceived as being a profound act of disrespect for their sacrifice and honor of duty regardless of what the protester might be saying they are protesting against at the time.

On the other hand, many people hold a 'list of grievances' against things in American life they consider to be 'unfair' or 'unjust' and feel that protesting against the flag is one way they can express their displeasure with the way things are today.

Colin Kaepernick said he felt moved to kneel during the national anthem to show his support for protesters who were protesting shootings of African-Americans by white police officers around the nation. However, when pressed, he did say that he held soldiers and the military in high esteem and this protest was in no way directed towards them.

That is the problem with many protests. You don't really get the chance to parse out the reasons and the targets of a simple act such as kneeling down or burning the flag and then saying later: 'Well, I only meant it to mean what I meant it to mean'

We don't disagree with anyone's right to protest almost anything in the United States of America. If we had not had our inherent right to freedom as enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, which was really an extended 'list of grievances' against the King of England, we wouldn't have fought the War of Independence to gain those freedoms and would have been content to just obey anything the King wanted to throw at us and we'd be sipping tea every afternoon at 3 pm instead of guzzling coffee at Starbucks all the time.

But there are 2 other things that such 'freedom of speech' has guaranteed every American citizen that many seem to have forgotten for some reason:

  1. The right to not listen.
  2. The right to disagree.
If the sight of watching a professional athlete kneeling during the national anthem is offensive to you, you have every right to do two things:

1) Turn off the TV and go for a hike or play a round of golf; or
2) Stop buying expensive tickets to go to a professional football game and throw the ball around the backyard with your kids or grandkids.

Or you can watch the opening ceremonies and either acknowledge that the athlete is expressing some legitimate concerns about American life or just ignore it and get ready for the big game.

Everyone has a lot of freedom when it comes to speech in America, don't they? 100% of the right to speak freely doesn't lie solely with the protester.

We guess there could be a law passed to prevent people from kneeling during the national anthem. Or a constitutional amendment offered to do the same.

But maybe the best course of action to take might be to have people from all sides of any controversial issue meet to discuss the issues with all the facts on the table and try to come up with complicated solutions to very complex matters such as the unrest in many inner cities when it comes to interactions with police.

We might be sounding like a broken record by now but we don't think there is any substitute for rational, enlightened civil discourse and compromise when it comes to living in a diverse democratic republic such as the United States of America.

Maybe that is too much to be asking for in this day of hyper-ventilating TV and radio talk show hosts and super-partisan newspapers and news media outlets. Political parties on both sides and news media outlets are making way too much money over fanning the flames of political discord to be really all that interested in peace and love and harmony.


We have long thought that one of the best things that could happen to any super-partisan news media or talk show personality would be for them to run for any political office and THEN return to their line of work after such an experience.

As one of our sons told us after he came off the field after missing what we thought was an easy shot while playing in a 3rd-grade lacrosse game in snow flurries in late fall in a Northern Virginia off-season game:

'It is not as easy as it looks, Dad!'

So it is with running for public office. It will take real leaders with real leadership abilities and talent who have respect from supporters and opponents alike to lead us out of these contentious situations where partisans on both sides have every reason to not want to seek a solution and make gains at the polls this fall.

Perhaps the 'best protest' you could make as a private citizen would be to throw your hat into the ring and run for political office and show us how mature, sober and serious adult leaders can lead us to concrete solutions in the political arena instead of watching others just protest and inflame things.

You might just win, you know. And a grateful nation would applaud wildly.

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