Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

30 April 2018

Voting Made Easy


[For links to popular recent posts, click here.]

UPDATE (5/8/18): The “Trump Bump” is Over

Introduction
1. Register to vote
2. Know the rules for voting
3. Try to vote early or absentee
4. How to decide
5. Rules of thumb Conclusion
UPDATE (5/8/18): The “Trump Bump” is Over

Introduction

This post is for new, infrequent and sporadic voters. You know who you are.

Maybe this is the first time you’re old enough to vote. Maybe you’ve voted, but seldom, because you think “all those pols are the same.” Maybe you think that a long ballot is too much like the tests you hated in high school or college. Maybe you have no interest in politics or policy. So you aren’t sure you’re going to vote in November, let alone in the primaries this May or June.

Whatever your reasons for not voting, don’t even think about it this time. If you’re under 40, this November’s election is likely to be one of the most important in your lifetime. It may determine whether you have a life, or at least a decent career. It may determine whether you get shipped off to yet another “optional” “forever” war, like ours in Afghanistan and Iraq today, which are the longest in our history as a nation. It may determine whether we have to fight a new war in such faraway places as Iran or Korea, and whether that war might go nuclear.

Unless you’re already rich, this year’s election will almost certainly influence, if not determine, your level of income, health, opportunity, freedom and happiness. It could even determine whether you have a real right to vote ever again. (Recall that Adolf Hitler was freely elected Chancellor of Germany the first time.)

So make up your mind to vote this time, in both the primaries and the general election, just because it’s so important. Don’t let others steal your country or your future without even trying to have a say. This post helps advise you how.

1. Register to vote.

Before you can vote, you must register to vote. You must sign up with an official (or an official volunteer) who puts you on the voter rolls in the precinct (area) and state where you will vote. You can often find volunteers who will register you in or near schools, colleges, supermarkets, shopping malls, and other public places. If you can’t find one, look for guidance in the official website of your state (see below), or in the local affiliates of the political party you prefer.

You don’t have to have a political party. You can register as a Democrat, a Republican or (in most states) as an Independent, as you wish. In most states you can also register as a member of other, minor parties, too.

Just remember that, in many states, you can vote in the primary election for a particular party’s candidates only if you register as a member of that party. You can always vote in the general election in November even if you do not register as a member of any party, but by then the candidates chosen in the party primaries may not be to your liking.

If you don’t yet have a strong party affiliation, here’s a good strategy to try. Register for the party that you think has the most extremists. Then vote as a member of that party in its primary election against the extremists and for the moderates. Then, if you wish, you can change your party registration before the general election. Under most circumstances, you should be able to vote for any candidate from any party in the general election, as long as you are registered to vote.

2. Know the rules for voting.

You can find out how to register, as well as how to vote, from the official online records for your state. Search in Google for “Secretary of State [name of your state]” or “official rules and procedures for voting [name of your state].”

Pick the best hit with the most official look, and be sure it has a “.gov” or “.us” suffix. Be aware that there’s a lot of “fake news” out there about voting, as about all else. So be skeptical and be sure that you are looking at your real, official state government website.

The official website for voters and voting in your state will lay out the rules for registering and voting and help you find your polling place, i.e., where to go to vote. It will even let you print out a sample ballot, exactly like the one you will find in your polling place, so you can make up your mind in advance.

I recommend doing exactly that—printing out a sample ballot—so you can decide (and mark!) for whom to vote and figure out how to vote on the complex ballot measures (legal issues, not contests of candidates) that often appear. You can take your marked-up sample ballot with you into the voting booth to make actual voting easier and quicker.

Erratum: An earlier version of this section advised looking for a “.gov” suffix exclusively. But some states’ voting websites have “.us” suffixes. Some states may use other suffixes as well (I didn’t check all 50; just a few.) The important thing is to verify that the site you rely on is an authorized, official site of your state. You can do that by many means, including asking people you trust, checking with media or sources you trust, or reading the website’s index and other pages to look for evidence of “official” flavor and currency regarding public officials (with the names spelled right).

3. Try to vote early or absentee.

Many states allow you to vote early if you are properly registered and prepared. That way you can avoid standing in long lines to vote on election day. Or, if you can’t vote on election day, you can secure an absentee ballot (in advance) and submit it by hand or mail it in later. You usually have (depending on your state) a few days (or even a couple of weeks) to mail in or deliver your absentee ballot later.

The official website with your state’s rules of voting will tell you exactly how to vote early, how to get and submit an absentee ballot, and what time limits apply. That’s why you should bookmark that website and keep the bookmark in your computer or mobile device as long as you use it.

4. How to decide.

Now we come to the hard part. How do you decide for whom and for what (on issues) to vote?

I’m not going to tell you that, at least not in detail. I will state for the record that, in November’s general election, I will vote for every Democrat and against every Republican.

Why? Republicans have owned all three branches of government for over a year. Yet they have given us nothing but tax cuts for the rich and corporations, tariffs that will make things more expensive and enrage our trading partners, millions of undocumented immigrants who don’t know where they stand and fear immediate deportation, and bushels of blame and excuses.

The Republicans even tried, but failed (by one vote—John McCain’s!) to deprive tens of millions of us of affordable health insurance. And despite all his promises, President Trump has not created a single job rebuilding America’s failing infrastructure—which is one of the best ways to create jobs that can’t be outsourced.

But you don’t have to vote like me. That’s the whole idea of voting. Everyone gets a say. The reason we have such lousy government today is that far too many people haven’t actually used the say they have. In primary elections, for example, around 30% of eligible voters typically pick a party’s candidates. That’s less than one-third.

With that kind of record, your vote could be amplified if you vote in the primaries. That’s just one of many reasons why your own vote is so vitally important now.

5. Rules of thumb.

Politics and policy are complicated. Economics is complicated. Energy is complicated. It’s hard to figure out what tyrants like Vladimir Putin, Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, and Kim Jong-un are trying to do, how they’re trying to deceive us, and how to outwit them. It’s hard to bring manufacturing jobs back onshore after generations of bad policy have sold our jobs and intellectual property abroad.

But you don’t have to figure all this out yourself. All you have to do is pick the best person, of those running, to do that. The idea of our form of government is that you help pick your representative, and then he or she does the hard work for you.

So you don’t have to solve the world’s problems yourself. All you have to do is be a fair judge of character and talent. With these points in mind, I offer six simple rules of thumb that can help you vote right almost all the time, especially in these polarized times of normalized extremism.

    a. Identify the extremists and vote them out.
You know the ones. The try to make complex problems sound simple by touting reckless non-solutions as if they were just, smart or “obvious.” Far from being thoughtful and effective, these pols are impulsive and careless. Their election could be dangerous to your health, both physical and economic.

I’ll give just two examples. The first relates to Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea. Of course we would prevail in the long run in any war against him, at least if we and South Korea devoted all our resources to that war. But millions of Koreans on both sides would die, not to mention our own soldiers. Even without nuclear weapons, Kim’s 10,000 pieces of conventional artillery aimed at Seoul (South Korea’s capital) likely would cause millions of casualties in the first hour or two of war alone.

Maybe we could take out Kim and his inner circle with a limited pre-emptive nuclear strike. But that would involve huge risks, including the risk that Los Angeles, San Francisco and/or Seattle might get nuked.

Anyway, sneak attacks on foreign countries are un-American. We have been the victims of two big sneak attacks (at Pearl Harbor and on 9/11), but we have never started a war with a sneak attack on a foreign country. Even Donald Trump, after criticizing Obama for doing the same thing, “telegraphed” his recent attack against Syria’s chemical weapons facilities in order to avoid casualties among Iranian and Russian troops in Syria.

Of course our military planners, in secret, must consider the possibility of a nuclear first strike against Kim and its chances for success. But anyone who touts war publicly as a “solution” to Kim’s tyranny or Korea’s division is an extremist. Just as you would vote against such a “wise guy” in selecting your own boss or a team leader, you ought to vote against anyone like that.

Our second example of extremism involves immigration. We have about eleven million undocumented immigrants in our nation now. Some pols want to throw them all out, as soon as we can.

But there are two big problems with that “solution.” First, all those people are here to work. That’s why most of them came here illegally, for jobs.

Forget about all the taxes withheld from their pay and the benefits they can’t collect because they aren’t citizens. Just think about the work they do. They butcher chickens, hogs and cattle under the miserable conditions of industrial farming. They sow and reap our crops. They build home and business buildings. And they do this work under conditions and for pay that no American citizen would accept. Even then, they scrimp and save and send part of their pay back to their families abroad.

What would happen if we deported them all? Prices would rise as employers had to raise wages and improve working conditions to fill those jobs. There could be shortages, and crops might rot in the fields while those jobs were filled. When the dust settled, many slaughterhouses, farms, food processors and builders would be forced out of business, and imports (at higher prices) would have to take up the slack. We as a nation would be less food secure, less independent, and poorer.

Then there are the moral issues. Is it right to kick people out who have no criminal records, who’ve worked here hard and honestly, maybe for decades, and who’ve contributed to our economy by taking nothing (but their pay, less taxes) in return? Is it right to break up thousands of families and force kids who’ve known no other home to “return” to nations they don’t even know?

Of course none of this is ever doing to happen. Despite what various candidates say, the leaders of the Republican Party know that mass deporting millions of honest workers would be a social and economic disaster. Wall Street and the Republican Party’s true bosses, its business wing, will never let that happen, although the Trump Administration may continue to terrorize small numbers of undocumented immigrants for show.

So candidates who promote this “solution” seriously are either extremists or liars, or both. You shouldn’t have to think hard to vote against them and for their opponents.

    b. Vote out the “white nationalists” and those who try to normalize them.
Our modern media are so full of euphemisms. So-called “white nationalists” used to be called “white supremacists,” “racists” or “Nazis.”

They have always been un-American. We fought our two bloodiest wars ever—our own Civil War and our part of World War II against German Nazism—to rid ourselves and our planet of their hateful ideology of racial superiority.

The horror of supremacist thinking is not just a matter of history. Think of Syria today, or Iraq. Syria is a mound of bleeding rubble precisely because a minority of its people, the Alawites, have used force and butchery to rule the majority. And even when minority rule is overthrown by force, as we did in deposing Saddam and his Sunni rule in Iraq, look at the result. Would any native-born American want to live in today’s Iraq?

By 2043, we will be a majority non-white nation. By then there can be “white supremacy” only through terror and the kind of force that have made Iraq and Syria such hell-holes. There is no accurate word for anyone who wants that outcome here but “extremist” or “terrorist.”

Our history and the consequences of hateful “supremacies” are about as clear and simple as anything in politics. They are so clear, in fact, that even the worst haters try to cover their tracks with euphemisms and code words.

But it’s not hard to discover the reality behind the euphemisms and the hate behind the code words. Supremacists and those who oppose them are never “both good people,” just as calling out and fighting racism is never the same as racism itself.

Rejecting supremacist pols is the first duty of any new or returning voter. Just identify the supremacists and vote for their opponents, every time. The same rule applies to any hater, whether an anti-Hispanic immigrant basher, a Christian anti-semite, an evangelical anti-Muslim, or a person opposed on religious ground to any rights for gay or transgender people.

Besides voting against haters, a good way to fight white supremacy is to vote for non-white or non-traditional candidates, including the young, females, African-Americans, Hispanics and American Muslims. Of course you should vet these candidates, just like white males, to be sure they satisfy all the rules of thumb. But if they do, their very identities and backgrounds can serve as both a badge and a guarantee of resistance to white supremacy.

    c. Reach for equality and equal economic opportunity.
Economics is a complex field. Even the experts get confused. After all, our economic elite once told us that globalized free trade would make everyone better off. The election of Donald Trump and Britain’s choice for “Brexit” show how false that broad claim was.

But there are a couple of broad economic conclusions that common sense and our own history validate. First, societies work better when wealth and opportunity are more equally distributed. The rich and the aristocratic don’t have to step over the bodies of the homeless and beggars in the streets. And everyone contributes something to the progress of society when the vast majority of people have honest and honorable jobs.

So when any pol promotes policies or programs that make the rich richer and the poor poorer, jobless or homeless, you should know for whom to vote: their opponents. So it should be with all those who voted for the Trump Tax Scan, the majority of whose benefits flow to the rich and big corporations.

The second point of common sense is that cleaning up the environmental messes left by primitive industries makes us all better off. Rich and poor alike don’t have to drink unsafe water, swim in polluted lakes or streams, or breath air that causes asthma, cancer and other respiratory diseases, not to mention premature death. Even if the rich can afford water and air purifiers in their homes, they’re better off not having to buy them and constantly replace their filters, let alone when they inevitably have to walk or work outside.

So when pols rail against the taxes that support public health, scientific research and a safety net for the unfortunate, or against the regulations that keep our workplaces safe and our air, water and food clean, they are railing against the common good and general welfare. Usually, they are working at the behest of the rich and powerful, who think (wrongly) that their wealth will protect them from the dangers that ordinary people face.

That’s not democracy. Nor is it healthy for any of us, whether or not we are rich. So this analysis should tell you not to vote for knee-jerk promoters of unregulated markets.

    d. Seek cooperation, not conflict.
There is nothing new about the notion that people are better off when they work together than when they fight. Julius Caesar put it simply two millennia ago: “divide and conquer.”

If you want to make a people, a state or a city weak, just foster division, conflict and discord in it. That’s what Vladimir Putin tried to do to us with all his “active measures” and his trolls. That’s precisely what all the haters among us will accomplish, whether they wish to or not. The division and discord their hate causes will makes us weak and vulnerable, to financial shocks, to disease, and to foreign rivals and enemies.

Of course this point applies as much to our own white supremacists and other haters as to Putin and the foreign tyrants who want to weaken us through propaganda and military provocations.

But we should never forget the flip or positive side. Just as division and discord can weakens us, cooperation and wise compromise can strengthen us. Examples of how are as close as French President Emmanuel Macron’s masterful speech (in English) before a joint session of our American Congress. We can fight terrorists and tyrants better together than separately, and we can better ameliorate the effects of globalization on our American factory workers by seeking global solutions cooperatively.

Even Donald Trump, in his better moments, recognizes this truth when not touting isolationism. The international sanctions against North Korea that his diplomats have put together with China’s and Russia’s appear to be working. And when Trump sent our planes and cruise missiles into Syria to punish Assad’s brutal and illegal use of chemical weapons, British and French forces were at our side.

Yet our domestic politics is a quagmire of division and discord. A Democrat cannot say the Sun is shining without a Republican contradicting her and proposing increased production of umbrellas.

This of course has to stop, lest we become the Banana Republic of America. So look for a cooperative spirit, a reluctance to call names and blame, and a willingness to compromise for the public good. When you find these traits in a modern pol, value them like gold, and vote for the ones who have them.

    e. Protect the rule of law and the independence of our judges and prosecutors.
Rarely, if ever, has a president or party leader before Donald Trump called for the jailing of his political opponents, or questioned the right and power of our government to investigate his own alleged wrongdoing. In our system of three co-equal powers—executive, legislative and judicial—prosecuting and punishing crimes is the role of the judicial branch, including our federal Department of Justice. Our Founders gave us this separation of powers, with decisions about criminal prosecution, guilt and sentencing made by independent investigators and our independent courts.

Why is that so important? It’s all too easy and all too tempting for presidents to increase their power, and cow their people, by putting their political rivals in jail—or executing them—on flimsy or trumped-up charges. That’s what tyrants like Putin, El-Sisi, Erdogan, and Duterte do; it’s not what real democratic leaders do.

Trump is not the first American to chant the equivalent of “Lock her up!” about his chief political rival. Nor will he be the last. But if that approach to political differences prevails, our nation will begin to resemble one from Central or South America.

What applies to his rivals also applies to the president himself. He cannot be prosecutor, judge and jury of claims and charges against him, at least not in anything resembling a democracy. Only when the prosecutor and judge are independent and professional, and when the jury is independent and unbaised, can the people trust a decision to investigate, jail or execute anyone as based on law and justice, not just political rivalry.

A system in which criminal liability depends on evidence painstakingly gathered by unbiased professionals and evaluated by neutral and independent judges and juries makes us all safer from arbitrary treatment. It gives us the confidence to live and act, secure in our knowledge that we will not be punished simply because someone in power doesn’t like us or doesn’t share our views of politics or social justice.

So a vital rule of thumb is to vote for those who promote the independence of prosecutors, judges and juries and against those who don’t. A president or governor is not a king; he or she should have no power to prosecute, convict or jail anyone, or to absolve himself or herself when under investigation. In our system, those things are done only by highly trained professionals, dedicated to a “clean” system without bias or undue influence. We must all vote to keep it that way.

    f. Evaluate character; it’s your human right and duty.
For me, the most astounding things about Trump’s election is his character. He’s a bully who appears to seek crude dominance in all his personal relationships. He’s obsessed with himself and talks about himself incessantly. His ego needs more and more regular feeding than a pet gorilla.

He lies habitually and casually. He changes his mind several times a day. He cannot focus on anything real for longer than it takes to feed his ego.

Most of his businesses have suffered bankruptcy and/or lawsuits. He drives all of his subordinates who are not family members crazy. Everyone but family who has worked for him in the White House has been tarnished and diminished. His many casual but apparently heartfelt bigotries are almost impossible to believe of anyone college educated and born and raised in New York City, one of our nation’s most diverse communities.

In the California and the United States in which I was raised, the universal reception to such a man would have been a raised middle figure. Your size, position or wealth wouldn’t have mattered at all; you would have raised that middle finger.

No one I knew would have put up with such a man as leader or boss for more than a few weeks. Then the end would not have been “You’re fired!” but “I quit!” My generation even had a popular song to match its attitude: “You can take this job and shove it!”

Yet here we are and there he is. We’re supposed to be the same nation. Yet our people seem to have reveled masochistically in being told “You’re fired!” Maybe the “reality” show explains the man. Maybe a nation of people who clamored to be abused and dismissed, if only on national TV, could elect such a man as their supreme leader.

And yet my mind rebels at that explanation. Hillary, too, has defects in character, although not as many or as terrible. She, too, has trouble taking responsibility for her mistakes and her flaws. Maybe we can explain the astounding results of the election by the voters’ exposure to Hillary’s flaws for 23 years, since the failure of “Hillarycare” in 1993, and their much shorter exposure to Trump’s.

If so, the cause is delayed, not defective, judgment of character. Maybe those who voted for Trump simply assumed the best of him because he matched their anger at their treatment by our elite.

This sordid history inspires my last rule of thumb: evaluate character. Doing so is your right and duty as a human being and a free citizen of a democracy. And in modern politics, you may have to do it quickly, so don’t delay.

A candidate for political office is not a collection of political positions, but a man or a woman. The quality of his or her relationships with colleagues and underlings matters. So think of each candidate as your personal boss or leader of your team. Would he inspire you? Or would he oppress and depress you? Would you want to work for and with him personally? Could you do so without compromising your own personality and values? Would you have to stifle your own humanity, or would she bring it out and nurture it?

Character ought not to require any special knowledge or training to evaluate. So the evaluation ought to be easy.

Somehow, in Trump’s case, it wasn’t. His voters apparently neglected to evaluate his character until his support of their anger and positions had hardened into something between submissiveness and sycophancy.

So don’t let that happen to you. Consider each candidate’s brains, knowledge, compassion, humanity, humility and willingness to take expert advice. Be critical. And if you have doubts, don’t vote for that candidate. Your doing so despite doubts might be the worst mistake you as a voter could make. It certainly was for millions of voters in 2016.

Conclusion.

No short essay can capture all the things that a good voter ought to consider in deciding how to vote. It always helps to consult and discuss your vote, beforehand, with people you know and trust.

It can also be helpful to consider the views of organizations that you know and respect, or even the editorial pages of your local or national newspaper. Progressive organizations such as the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the League of Women Voters, Emily’s List, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and Democracy for America all have websites with useful information, recommendations and endorsements. Democracy for America, in particular, focuses on new progressive voices, including youth, women, people of color and American Muslims.

A final tip for voting is to discuss your choices and conclusions as widely as you can, with friends, family and co-workers. Try to include people of opposing views in these discussions. If they support your choices you may discover a basis for compromise and accord. Or you may find a reason for opposition that you missed.

But the main takeaway from this essay is that voting is neither conceptually or physically difficult. It requires some time and some effort to get things right, or as nearly right as you have the time and energy for.

But history teaches that the time and effort of voting is far less than those of fighting a war (whether civil or foreign) or getting your Republic back once it has been lost. If we all register, vote and follow these rules of thumb, the present threats to our Republic, our civility, our democracy and the system we have cherished for some 242 years may someday soon subside. And your chances of having a free, happy, prosperous and peaceful life concomitantly may increase.

So if you won’t vote for the sake of your country or your community, do it for yourself. The freedom and happiness you save may be your own.

UPDATE (5/8/18): The “Trump Bump” is Over

There is yet another reason to vote and vote smart, including in the primaries. The “Trump Bump” is over, and a fall is coming, both literally and figuratively. The temporary stock-market inflation caused by giving a huge undeserved tax-cut windfall to our 1% and our biggest corporations has run its course. Now we face the consequences of improvident government, at the very top of our leadership, based on little more than “reality” showmanship and a narcissist’s craving for quick, cheap “wins.”

Those consequences will not be pretty. In our personal lives, we call deviation from the real reality “insanity.” Now we are about to find out what that means for a whole nation, one on which the whole world once relied for leadership.

Signs of the “Trump Bump’s” end also appear in the numbers. On February 2 of this year, I sold out my entire “speculative” portfolio of individual stocks after the first clear, sharp stock-market retreat. A few days later, I posted ten reasons why the “Trump Bump” was over even then. Last Sunday, I took stock of the situation by calculating, hypothetically, what my pre-sale portfolio—a not-so-diversified bunch of mostly tech and high-dividend stocks—would have been worth then (5/6/18), over three months after I had sold out. Here are the results:

Hypothetical Changes in Portfolio Values, 2/2/18 to 5/6/18

Hypothetical StrategyResulting Gain or Loss
Hold All Investments+0.23%
Hold only AAPL & AMZN+4.3%
Sell Out+0.1%*
* Estimated

In other words, by selling out totally, I avoided the wild roller-coaster ride over the last three months and all the risk it entailed. At the same time I earned (in the money market) about half the meager return (0.23%) I would have earned had I taken all that risk by selling nothing. Even had I been smart enough to predict that Apple and Amazon, alone among all my portfolio stocks, would have earned substantial gains over that period (4.3% in three months), the risk would hardly have been worth it for a person well into retirement.

My conclusion is that the investment bump caused by giving the rich and big corporations massive tax breaks has run its short course. In six months, the recipients of this government largesse have done what you would expect smart people to do with an undeserved and unexpected windfall: they invested it. Now the period of investment is over, and the period of reckoning is upon us.

As a nation, we are entering an era in which the consequences of the GOP’s “everything’s fine” (as long as the rich donors are happy) philosophy and the narcissist-in-chief’s constant reality-show ego-feeding are coming due. Even today, Trump is due to announce some sort of “show” abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal. Maybe it will be a no-harm “show,” in which Trump rails at the deal, makes some feckless executive order repudiating it, but leaves the heavy lifting of imposing new sanctions to Congress, which probably will do nothing. Yet if he somehow manages to get Congress to impose substantial new sanctions on Iran, Iran will take them as an excuse to begin new work on nukes—secret, undisclosed and un-inspected.

The Europeans, Russia and China are unlikely to impose new sanctions because they are making too much money trading with Iran. So the end result of Trump’s fomenting against the deal (if he actually does something about it) will be a loss of business for US companies and an Iran back in the nuclear arms race.

Something similar may happen with North Korea. Do you really think Trump can outwit Kim Jong-un? Trump can’t keep a single thought in his head for longer than it takes to stroke his ego, while Kim has been obsessed with the single thought of achieving nuclear power as a means of preserving his life and his twisted regime for as long as he’s been North Korea’s leader. So the result in North Korea is likely to resemble that in Iran: a “show” and bragging rights for Trump, combined with secret nuclear parity on the part of the world’s two most pathological regimes.

Meanwhile, the first primaries have already kicked off our bitter election season. So there will be no action on infrastructure, leaving ours in miserable shape and millions without the good, non-outsourceable jobs that rebuilding infrastructure could provide. Our political dysfunction will continue. Lies, insults, dogmatic division, ideological purity and consequent failure to agree on anything will be the rule of the day, not only in the Congress but in the Executive as well. And if the Dems win control of Congress in the elections, the next six months to a year will be entirely focused on impeaching Trump.

Anyone who thinks all this will be good for business, let alone general prosperity, is delusional.

So, yes, the “Trump Bump” really is over. How could it not be? Our political leadership is focused on serving a scatterbrained narcissist’s big ego. Men like Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton (God help us) hold our fate in their hands. Our trade relationships are souring like spilt milk.

As if all that were not enough, long-festering and now-apparent economic problems are raising their ugly heads in earnest. They include vast and rampant monopolies and their unrestrained impact on privacy, demagoguery, “fake news” (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and future start-ups. The tech behemoths are slowing down our innovation machine as they consolidate their dominance. Soon they may even halt it.

And internal divisions, whipped up to a fever pitch by our president and his 40%, are making it hard, if not impossible, even to see what’s important and what needs fixing first. Recovering from this absolutely dysfunctional mess is going to take years, not months, and our nation and its business will hardly gain from that time out.

So vote early, well and wisely, especially in the primaries. Business and politics may be disconnected in theory, but in practice they interact. That’s certainly true when Congress injects unneeded and unwanted trillions into markets, and when a cheap-“win”-seeking president imposes last-century’s failed “solutions,” such as broad tariffs, on an increasingly delicate global economy. The sooner we put the breaks on policy and initiatives designed solely for this kind of show “reality,” the better off our nation and our economy will be.

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