We Can Do Better

8ACDAA6B-E83A-4081-983B-75FBE0B3BEC8The following editorial was written by William Falk, Editor-in-Chief for the one hard copy magazine I still receive in the mail, The Week.

Falk’s message is that, when it comes to voting, America can do better. He points out that the US ranks “26th out of 32 developed democratic nations in turnout.” He notes that other democracies encourage citizen voting, while we seem to put obstacles in their paths. [And, if I may add my own two cents, one party is guilty of blatant voter suppression. Can you guess which party?]

So here’s what Falk wrote:

For a nation that prides itself on our pioneering role in democratic self-rule, we are not very good at elections. More than a week after the midterms, we still do not know who won several disputed House, Senate, and gubernatorial races. In this election, nearly half the eligible voters — about 115 million people — cast ballots, which is the highest-percentage turnout for a midterm since 1914. For this surge in enthusiasm, we can, of course, thank President Trump, who is demonstrating even to disengaged citizens why politics matters.

But compared with most Western democracies, a 49 percent turnout is pathetic. Based on the 2016 presidential election, we rank 26th out of 32 developed democratic nations in turnout. Belgium had an 87 percent turnout in its last election; Sweden, 83 percent; Australia, 79 percent.

Why the huge disparity? Those democracies actively encourage citizens to vote, rather than putting myriad obstacles in their path. If we truly wanted 80 percent turnout in the U.S., it wouldn’t be hard. Democracies with high rates of participation automatically register all citizens to vote. In the U.S., more than 50 million of our citizens — about 1 in 4 — haven’t registered and weren’t eligible to cast ballots on Election Day. Countries that believe in democracy don’t hold elections on Tuesday, when most people are working; they cast ballots on Saturday or Sunday, or make Election Day a national holiday.

Curiously enough, some Americans contend that we are better off if certain citizens do not participate in our democracy. Thomas Paine, a Founding Father and revolutionary advocate of self-rule, would disagree. “The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all others are protected,” Paine wrote. People who can’t vote, he said, are like “slaves,” whose fate is determined by others.

If we want to call ourselves a democracy, we can and should do better.

Sex is a Dirty Word

546881D0-E338-4979-AE1D-C5F776C3B257You may have already heard that there is a proposal being floated at the U.S. State Department that could prohibit American diplomats from using the phrases “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education.”

Instead of “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education,” the proposal is that U.S. officials would be instructed to use phrases like “reproduction and the related health services” in official communications.

This proposal is being pushed by a handful of conservative political appointees at the State Department and other agencies. Abandoning the use of the word “sex” would be a symbolic move that aligns with other Trump administration efforts to reduce funding for, and focus on, women’s reproductive issues — especially anything related to abortion.

The problem appears to be that saying “sex” makes Trump’s far-right Republican supporters feel all sad and uncomfortable inside.

I guess that for the 2020 election, Trump is going to change his #MAGA hashtag to #MAPA, for Make America Puritan Again.

 

Parody of a President

In response to my one-word challenge, “parody,” Ruth wrote this excellent post in which she asked, “But how do you create a parody of a president who is already so wholly exaggerated in his bullish mannerisms and attitudes?” Great question.

Ruth Blogs Here

My personal notion of a parody is taking something or someone and exaggerating those little things that make them instantly recognisable, exposing and poking fun at their most common mannerisms and attitudes and in highlighting them in an over-the-top cartoonish caraciture of reality, holding them up for playful ridicule in a highly amusing way.

But how do you create a parody of a president who is already so wholly exaggerated in his bullish mannerisms and attitudes? How do you highlight as funny someone whose personal reality is so distorted that they live in a constant state of self-righteous delusion, especially when their perceived self-importance is channelled into playing out a truly important role they clearly have no real understanding of?

President Trump reminds me very much of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, in that:

‘The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small…

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DWC — The Best Words

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“I know words. I have the best words,” says the man who has probably never read a book without pictures or stepped inside a library in his life.

I still wonder how this moron was able to ascend to the highest office in the land. And I wonder when the people who helped get him there will wake up and discover that he’s nothing but a charlatan and a con artist.

Or maybe they already know that, and that’s why they want him there.


Written for today’s Daily Writing Challenge from Teresa over at The Haunted Wordsmith. The three prompt words are “words,” “discover,” and “wonder.”