Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “2016”

Oh Florida

Admittedly, this post is being written before the end of election day, so there is still time for other states and polling stations to screw up. But Florida, really? Again? And Ohio: did anyone tell you that the whole nation is watching you?

Now I have organized big events, though nothing on the scale of an election for a state. I have also made mistakes, but I have tried to learn from them. Florida – you embarrassed us all in 2000 – could you not be bothered to learn something from it and try to improve your performance? 

Already, accusations of fraud, misconduct, and six-hour waiting lines have dominated the news of electoral procedure from your state. Reports of voters (your employers) having to wait for several hours and cast their vote at 2.30am is not only intolerable, but abusive.

A line of early voters snakes around a parking lot at a voting location in Columbus, Ohio. (Michael Finnegan/Twitter)

Readers of Left Coast Voices know me for a man who doesn’t need too much encouragement to entertain a juicy conspiracy theory, but it is either considering electoral tampering, or gross mismanagement on a scale that is harder to swallow than Area 51.

It is not just the people on the ground who oversee the complicated process of facilitating a line of voters who put a cross on a piece of paper fold it and put in a slot…and then counting them afterwards. It goes right up to the top of their organization, no doubt led by people who hold degrees in organizational management and earn a good salary.

Perhaps we need to hand this task over to Event Planners. I attend a few conferences and weddings every year and they flow without a hitch. I know, an election is more complex, so take the best and brightest from the field. At least there is no drunk uncle making a toast or bridegroom having cold feet at the last-minute.

In fact, there is little that cannot be anticipated four years ahead. So Florida, Ohio et al: start planning now for 2016. If it truly is a matter of having the best organizational minds running the show, then do it. Democracy is too important to be abused and the voter is the foundation stone of democracy. 

Otherwise, we conspiracy theorists might just start suspecting.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. His next novel, Unwanted Heroes, is due out in early 2013. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Campaign Finance Reform Now!

If I heard correctly, those advocating fiscal responsibility wasted $6 billion on ridiculous adverts, flyers that are trashing our streets and that the tax payers now needs to clear up, and various other shallow tactics. Living in California, I have been spared the assault that took place in the swing states. I spend a lot of time with You Tube in the background. Either the Prop adverts have been few, or I am not distinguishing them from the epic lyrics of Nightwish and Nickelback.

But this past week, I have been exposed to a number of campaign ads and they are, to be honest, demeaning, embarrassing, and insulting. The majority of Americans will vote for the same party candidates because of class, religion, or any of a number of acceptable reasons. The undecided (and I remain unconvinced that they really are) are either apathetic and therefore not listening to ads: or genuine thinking individuals who do not deserve to be exposed to such drivel. 

Now is the time to reform electoral finance while we remember how bad it is. Two models come to mind and, I admit, it says a lot about the writer that his sources are the NBA and English soccer.

In the English Premier League, once the most competitive in the world, two soccer clubs have been bought by billionaires who have pumped money into the clubs, allowing them to outbid any other club for players and pay two or three times the salary. Naturally, they have assembled teams that no one else can compete with. In fact, their reserve teams could beat most opponents. This fine game, the bastion of civilization, has been reduced to market forces, and has lost its soul.

Ironically, in a clear sign of socialist America, the NBA allows teams to spend a salary cap. If they choose to spend it on 2-3 superstars or create a ‘deep bench’ (many good players), that is for them to decide.

Each candidate should be given a clear amount of dollars they can spend that can enable them to have balloons at their conventions and launch a limited media campaign. The rest of their efforts should focus on serious debate, Q&A, honest information dissemination, and speeches.

 Money should be provided through taxes:  no candidate should be in a position to be bought by big business, corporations, trade unions, or individuals. PACs should be sent packing.

It is too easy to avoid serious debate and open scrutiny of a candidate’s policies, to be distracted by slick unaccountable ads. Many thinking Americans were simply worn down by the sheer barrage and noise.

Let’s make the change now. 2016 is just around the corner.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. His next novel, Unwanted Heroes, is due out in early 2013. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

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