Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for September 2020

Voting, Nightmare Scenarios, and the 2020 Election

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Folks, this past week, for me at least, has been one of great dismay.

After the death of ground-breaking Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), didn’t even wait a full day before saying “her seat will be filled as soon as possible.” (This is my best paraphrase of the many things he did say.) As I said in my last blog, this is contrary to what McConnell did the last time a Justice — in that case, Antonin Scalia — passed away in an election year, as at that time he more or less filibustered the nomination of then-President Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland, for the Supreme Court.

But that wasn’t all that was so disheartening out of Washington, DC, this past week.

Nope. We also got a very oddly worded, meandering comment by President Donald Trump (a Republican, in case anyone has forgotten), saying that he felt the ballots are a “disaster” and that he shouldn’t have to worry about leaving. (This was in response to a question about the peaceful transfer of power, something that has been a hallmark of American democracy since its inception.)

Because of that, a good friend of mine discussed with me the following scenario, which comes straight out of the Constitution: Trump is apparently leaning hard on Article 2, which would in effect throw the election (if disputed) to the House of Representatives. Every state there gets one and only one vote. And there are more Republican-led states than not, so it’s quite possible that even with a landslide victory for Joe Biden (a Democrat), Trump could still conceivably stay in office.

My response to this, aside from incredulousness of course, was as following: “If there’s a landslide for Biden and his VP pick, Kamala Harris, there’s likely to be a Democratic Senate along with a Democratic House. Trump will be impeached in short order, for pulling something like that, and he’ll have bought himself a maximum of six to nine months. What’s the point of that?”

My friend assured me that to Trump, every day in office counts. It gives him and his family more chances to amass power (and, I suppose, wealth). And, of course, the Constitution doesn’t allow for any sitting President to be arrested on any charges, anywhere in the world…mostly because the rather naïve belief was that anyone terrible enough to be charged with anything would be impeached in short order, and then no longer out of reach of the legal system.

(Ah, the innocence of the Constitutional framers. They could not have conceived of the situation of 2020, nor the naked partisanship of the Republican Party as led by Trump and McConnell. They knew naked partisanship, mind; how not? But they didn’t necessarily understand that some people are just immoral, and will grasp power for its own ends just because. Or maybe they did, but figured there would be enough good people to oppose such a power grab in the Senate…but woe betide us, as there aren’t.)

The idea that my vote, your vote, your parents’ votes, your friends’ votes, and even your enemies’ votes won’t be likely to be fairly counted because counting the votes is not in the current President’s best interest bothers me greatly. It is undemocratic and unAmerican. And it also flies in the face of Trump’s followers, because most of them voted for him believing he would be a capable President and behave as Presidents do…that is, if they get voted out, they leave, peaceably, and let the next President take over.

Even though Trump did not win the popular vote last time, he did win in the Electoral College. This still reflects that, at that time, Trump was respecting conventional norms; his was a legal way through, and also an ethical way through. It wasn’t a preferred way through — most Presidents prefer to win the popular vote and the electoral college, if they can — but it was both legal and ethical. And he did win many votes, though not the most, as Hillary Clinton led by over three million votes overall.

In the situation I’ve described, where the election is not in doubt and Biden has won by swamping Donald Trump, but there are many legal challenges — so many, a slate of electors from each state cannot be chosen in a timely manner — we’d be thrown to Article 2 of the Constitution. And while that is completely legal, it is not ethical. Nor is it moral, to overturn the overwhelming will of the voters like that, which is why up until now it’s never been tried.

This year, it may be, though. And the prospect of it vexes me greatly.

The thing is, something tells me this is being thrown out as a red herring. It’s being thrown out to suppress the will of the voters. It’s being thrown out there to make people believe their vote doesn’t matter. That nothing they do will ever matter. And that there’s no way to overcome the Trump Machine/Republican Party as led by Trump/McConnell…even by voting them out.

My belief, therefore, is that we MUST vote. (I want everyone to vote, even if you still believe Trump is wonderful in every way and deserves a second term despite his obvious mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.) We have to vote. We have to show what our will is, and trust that there are enough good people out there to overcome the bad ones — whomever or whatever they may be, and whomever and whatever they try to do — and do our civic duty despite all efforts to depress us and make us too despondent to do anything at all.

And if worse comes to worst, and Trump stays in due to using Article 2 of the Constitution to blatantly disrespect the will of the people, I’ll have to trust that somehow, some way, the ship will be righted. And that we will not slide further into autocracy, much less a straight-up dictatorship, with a second, undeserved in this scenario, presidency.

What do you think of my nightmare scenario? Tell me about it in the comments!

Justice Ginsburg Dies, and the U.S. Goes Crazy…**

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**at least, the internet world. (Are there any others? /sarcasm)

The last few days have been surreal. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazing lawyer and U.S. Supreme Court judge, has passed away at age 87. She was possibly one of the few jurists in the nation most people trusted; they might not like her, or like her viewpoints, but they trusted her to come at them from a judicial/legal standpoint. And her death is a great loss to the nation, much less to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS, for short).

“But Barb, all you’ve explained so far is that Justice Ginsburg has died. What is this part about the United States supposedly going crazy about?”

It’s simple, dear readers. She was needed at this time and place. Despite her advanced age, and her long-time battle with cancer, her clear-headed nature and trustworthiness were a Godsend for the American people. Her death means that the current President of the United States (POTUS, for short), Donald Trump, can now appoint a new Supreme Court Justice even though there’s only forty-five days until the next presidential election.

Which wouldn’t seem that bad, until you consider your recent history.

In 2016, the Republican Party forced then-President Obama to hold a SCOTUS seat vacant until the next election. They did nothing for nine months, at all. And they said it was because they wanted the people to decide.

Now, the Republican Party, which is in power, feels they can replace a judge on the Supreme Court with less than two months to go until the next election. Their reasoning (rather spurious, to my mind) is that last time, the Rs held only the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, not the Presidency. This time, they hold the Senate and the Presidency (but not the House).

If you fail to see why this is acceptable, join the club.

**The only thing that comes to mind when I think about this whole situation is Disturbed’s song “Down with the Sickness.” (Just felt I should throw that in there. Moving along…)

Me, I see it as rank hypocrisy. And here’s why…Mitch McConnell, who was the Senate Majority Leader in 2016 and is still the Senate Majority Leader today, seemingly wants to do this so fast because Trump could lose this election. But if McConnell and the Rs can ram through another judge before Trump leaves office, they can affect laws for decades to come.

And power, after all, comes before consistency. /sarcasm (mine)

Note that it usually takes far more than forty-five days to find a qualified person (usually someone who’s already a judge, but not always), get that person through Senate confirmation (even when your party is in power, this can be an ordeal), and onto SCOTUS. But who the Hell cares about finding the right justice for SCOTUS, when it’s all about the power?

(And yes, this time, I wrote that without any sarcasm at all.)

I can tell you one thing. The people of the United States know what hypocrisy looks like. Tastes like. Smells like. And most, regardless of party, do not want to partake in hypocritical things or use hypocritical means for any reason.

Why? Because most of them have endured this in their own lives. And they know it’s wrong.

Plus, they know that in general, no one party stays in power forever. And if one party — in this case, the Rs — treats the other party (in this case, the Ds) badly, that means it’s justified — or at least justifiable — if the Ds later treat the Rs with as much vitriol and condescension as they’ve just seen themselves.

Because make no mistake about it. Justice Ginsburg died yesterday evening. And today, McConnell has already said he will get President Trump’s nominee a fair hearing. In the next forty-five days.

Yep. “Down with the sickness” is the only thing that keeps going through my head, here. Moving on…

Anyway, I do not believe in hypocrisy. And I do think it should take any party or any person more than forty-five days to put a new judge on SCOTUS as it’s a lifetime appointment.

And in the midst of all this, Justice Ginsburg’s remarkable life is being given short shrift. As is her stated final wish, as dictated by her granddaughter, which was, “Please wait to fill my seat until after the election.”

To say I find that infuriating, much less maddening, much less frustrating, much less despair and anguish-inducing, is an extreme understatement.

So, for those of you trying not to go crazy right now, I want you to think of this. The wishes of the dead usually are respected if they make sense. And in this case, they do.

I also want you to think about this: We, as people, need to stand up and say, “No more of this nonsense, please.” Because if it’s wrong for a Democratic President to fill a SCOTUS seat in an election year (nine months out), it’s just as wrong for a Republican President to fill a SCOTUS seat in an election year (forty-five days out).

And if this is allowed, don’t come back to me and say, when the next Democratic President takes office, “Oh, he shouldn’t do that! It’s hypocritical!” Because you’ll have ventured all your dignity, ethics, and morals already, and you’ll have no philosophical “leg” to stand on. At all.

The More Things Change…

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…the more they stay the same. (Yes, I’m borrowing from the famous French saying.)

It’s September. It may be 2020, but it’s still September. And September is the month I lost my beloved husband, Michael.

I’ll never forget that day. It is seared into my memory in so many ways, and has shaped who I’ve become. It is a part of me, and I am a part of it…that I tell myself, daily, that Michael would not want me to dwell on the nature of his passing matters not. Because I was there.

I wake up, even now, and reach for him. I wonder what he’d think of this, that, and the other. And I’m glad he’s not lived to see the deep, divisive partisan divide in the United States that’s gotten so bad, we can no longer agree on what the facts are if we’re in different parts of the country. Or in different political parties. (Or worst of all, both.)

Michael believed that you needed to make your argument logically. Factually. With care. With concern. And that if you couldn’t do all those things, it wasn’t much of an argument. (That he’d hold someone like that in contempt is a given.)

That the current President of the United States is a man who can’t do any of those things, or worse, doesn’t even see the point to wanting to make a logical argument about anything (why use logic, when appeals to emotion and unreason will do instead?), would vex Michael as greatly as it’s vexed me.

It’s almost as if we live in Bizarro World. Everything we thought we knew about people, that they could use reason and logic along with compassion and empathy, has turned upside-down.

(Mind, in many ways, I’ve lived in my own, personal Bizarro World since the day Michael died. But that’s just me. Now, back to the blog, already in progress…)

Instead, these days, it’s seemingly all about who can scare everyone else the most.

I don’t understand it. I will never understand it. But I will continue to work against it, for as long as I possibly can.

Michael would expect no less. (And I certainly expect no less out of myself anyway, Michael or no Michael.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 10, 2020 at 12:56 pm

What Kind of Person Do You Want to Be?

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Lately, I’ve been thinking of the above question: What kind of person do you want to be?

Do you want to be helpful? Blaze your own trail, while empathizing with those who can’t? Following your own dream in your own way, while helping others do the same? While knowing there are such things as love, freedom, spiritual sustenance, and the willingness to grow and deepen as a better person throughout?

Or do you want to be harmful? Someone who actively insults others. Someone who thinks everything and everyone is transactional, a business deal; someone who does not believe in love, or empathy, or happiness, or anything except himself/herself.

Bluntly, the choice is yours.

What kind of person do you want to be? And why?

Think about this, please. (And authors, not just for your characters’ motivation.) Because everything you are — everything — relies on your answer to this question.

And refusing to answer this question is, unfortunately, also a choice.

What do you think of this little bloglet? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 5, 2020 at 1:18 pm