August 20, 2020

The Teams Are Set: Let The Mayhem Begin


Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, picked his Vice Presidential Candidate last week. Not a tremendous surprise, Kamala Harris has joined Mr. Biden in his bid to defeat Donald Trump and Mike Pence on November 3.

I am not going to detail the pros and cons of each pair. Your mind is likely beyond changing. After nearly four years, the Trump supporters and Never Trumpers have staked out their position. In his third run for the job, Mr. Biden is promoting his record of a lifetime of service. Ms. Harris's positions on some key issues are more of an unknown.

What I want to address is what lies ahead of us in the next 70-some days.


A) The U.S. Postal Service. Since the decision to provide mail service to the colonies (and then the country) in July 1775, the U.S. Postal Service has been a part of our lives. The blue box on the corner and the door-to-door delivery linked us together. Long before other forms of communication, a letter was how we stayed connected to others, received and paid bills, got advertising circulars, and sent packages both big and small. 

Under the assault of texting, emails, and other options, the postal service has been hemorrhaging money. Even so, all sorts of us depend on regular, secure mail delivery. Like any essential public service, the funds to provide universal coverage must be provided. Adjustments to accommodate a world where first-class mail is much less relevant? Sure, but allowing the service to degenerate into an undependable state is a grave mistake. Privatizing, it would be a disaster.

Now, the postal service finds itself in a mess. A new postmaster general is determined to cut staff and expenses. Under a pretense of saving money, he has decided to slow down delivery. That he is making these moves before a general election that will require a robust, secure system for mail-in ballots is not a coincidence. Just a few days ago, after rather intense scrutiny, he has stated he will delay any cuts and slowdowns until after the election. If true, that is good news for everyone.

What happens to our mail service over the next few months will be a critical factor in the outcome, believability, and aftermath of November 3.


B) Poll Workers. Reports are consistent: tens of thousands of poll workers are missing. Even with mail-in ballots a significant factor this year, there remains the need for trained people to be available for in-person voting all across the country. Because of the virus and fear of being in public spaces, volunteers are canceling their commitment to help. 

In our partisan world, a shortage of qualified people will invariably generate conspiracy theories about fraud at the polls. People voting multiple times, those not eligible to cast a ballot lining up to overwhelm the workers with their presence, maybe electronic malfeasance as machines are hacked are likely charges to be leveled.

Expect a powerful push to recruit people willing to risk public exposure to help manage this vital part of the election process.


C) No-holds barred political advertising; no claim too ridiculous to air. At least in Arizona, this started several months ago in the senate race between Martha McSally and Mark Kelly. If it weren't so serious, some of the charges and advertising messages would be laughable in their absurdity. 

Now, we are being flooded with political ads for the presidential race. No charge is too extreme, no video or audio track of a candidate is free from artful editing and manipulation. 

I always wonder what the millions of dollars being spent in this arena is meant to accomplish. Nothing is going to change the mind of someone committed to one candidate or the others. I guess there are hopes of convincing a Republican to support a Democrat or vice versa. There are still some independent voters left to sway. And, we are a society influenced by sound bites and "gotcha" moments. 

Still, at least to me, the advertising doesn't inform me about anyone or anything. It just hardens my resolve. 


D) Polls, Polls, Polls. Do you want to start a new career, get involved in a growth industry? Start a polling company. There are dozens of different polling organizations; it is easy to find results that support your preconceived notion of reality. Declared fake, biased, or simply wrong, asking someone what they will do months in the future is not much better than tossing a coin. Ask Hillary Clinton.

Part of my career was spent conducting market research. I know that many of us have no concrete idea of why we do what we do or why we pick who or what we choose. Peer pressure, what is expected from someone like us, which is the winning side at the moment...these are primary motivators in answering research questions. 

Polls make one set of people feel good for a brief moment, until the next survey. The only caution I can offer is to read them with not just a grain of salt, but a bucketful. They are a flawed, limited snapshot of the past as perceived by a specific group of people. Not so sure? Ask President Dewey about Harry Truman.


E) November 3 is not the end. We are used to TV networks and cable services declaring winners before we totter off to bed on election night. Often, results are projected when less than half the votes are tallied.

Do not expect that this year. With mail-in ballots, overwhelmed poll workers (see B above), and inevitable legal challenges, whatever seems to be happening will only be a glimpse of what will be the final outcome. 

Unless the results are an absolute landslide for one candidate, I predict we will not have an apparent winner declared for several days. The official decision could be weeks past election day. If things appear to be close, expect courts to get involved that could drag this into December.

The only end date that ultimately matters is in the Constitution: On January 20, 2021, the term of the current president and vice president is over. If there is no declared successor, the Speaker of the House is president until courts or whoever comes to an ultimate decision. 


Buckle up. The most consequential and least traditional election of my lifetime is straight ahead. Is that a light at the end of the tunnel...or a train? We are about to find out.


68 comments:

  1. Don't be surprised if violence breaks out before November (incited by right-wing mobs). Their cheerleader is desperate and indifferent toward human life (with one exception).

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    1. I am thinking legal challenges to every state's results that are not in the GOP's favor. Remember Florida 2000 and the hanging chads.

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    2. I agree 100% with you, Goodly. These militia types and QAnon types are certifiably nuts and very dangerous.

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  2. I agree with Goodly. My Trump supporting in-laws are already talking about putting their guns in play if Trump doesn't win. It blows my mind. Four years ago I never would have thought I'd know people like that.

    It's so distressing to think about our country's future.

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    1. Did you ask your relatives what they are planning to do with their guns? Who are they planning to shoot? Which ones of the 70 million who voted for someone not named Trump?

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  3. First, didn't you write a post on how the postal service is obsolete about two years ago?
    I agree that it might take weeks for us to know who the President is this time. As long as it is done by January is fine with me. That is when the change of command comes anyway- not the first Tuesday in November. Slow voting happened in the 17-1800's--so this is nothing different (except for the media). I wonder if the states will announce the counts that come in daily? More then poll workers, I wonder who the mail in vote counters will be (I have done both- and everyone I worked with was younger then me.) I plan on heading to Disney after I vote....
    I haven't heard of any right wing violence. I have been watching the Antifa people in Portland, Seattle and San Fran. My nephews are thrilled that it has brought the rents down. They are moving now to get in place for their new jobs.
    Short term- The elections won't change my life much. The pandemic still will be here, no matter who wins.
    My brother was sharing his decision on AZ politics last night. A single, white, female, fighter pilot who fought the US on wearing a covering in Saudi from Rhode Island against a white, married, Merchant marine/ astronaut from New Jersey. Once again, Arizona neglects home grown people. At least both of them worked their way up on their own. May Arizona, home of Goldwater and Udall at the same time, be lead by people who understand their issues.

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    1. Yes, as presently structured, the postal service is swimming against the current. A repositioning has been needed for years. But, less than three months before an election that will require tens of millions of mail-in ballots? Timing speaks to the true intent of cutbacks now.

      Arizona, home of such odd people as Gov. Evan Mecham (impeached in 1988), is changing before my eyes. In 35 years, it has gone from rock-ribbed Republican to a multi-ethnic, in-play state for Democrats. While we maintain some of the wild west in our politics and governing decisions, there are fresh winds blowing. McSally versus Kelly is just one example.

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  4. I don’t watch a lot of network TV so I don’t see a lot of ads..although they sneak into the youtube channels I watch! Idon’t listen. I don’t flinch. I am SOO committed to Biden and Harris, nothing could sway my vote. Yes,it’s gonna get so ugly... I have decided to DO WHAT I CAN and I am on a committee with the DNC to make calls, help get out early ballots (you can mail them in, or drop them off in person) and this committee will progress to getting people OUT TO THE VOTE in November.I am beginning to spend time every day in VISUALIZING JOE AND KAMALA in my WHITEHOUSE!! I spend more energy on thinking and praying about their success than I do about orange man, now. But I can’t help (tee hee) but be absolutely ecstatic that trump’s tax returns are under scrutiny, and that Bannon, one of the henchmen he installed on our venerable White House, was arrested today!!!

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    1. The dominos are falling. I understand Michael Cohen's book will be even more inflammatory that John Bolton's or Mary Trump's because of his inside status for years. Steve Bannon is only one of the first to face the music.

      That said, I am keeping my fingers crossed that both sides have the same goal: protection of our democracy and getting control over the pandemic, racism, and the economic destruction of the middle class. Clearly, Republicans and Democrats have chosen different paths forward. Maybe it is too much to hope the losing side will pitch in. I guess we will find out.

      I will add that this has been one of the most infuriating, baffling, confusing, and energizing years of my 71 on this planet. No one can say 2020 has been boring.

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  5. Republicans will continue to do what they have been doing for sometime. Suppress the vote of anyone under 50 or not white. Trump will claim any election he does not win is rigged. It takes a special kind of fool to believe that crap.
    A large percentage of white America is afraid. Within a few short years they will no longer be a majority or exclusively in power. There is nothing a scared declining majority will not do to maintain power. We were afraid of African, Italian, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and every other group of immigrants. They were too different and would steal what was ours. We could not live next to Catholics, Buddhists, Atheists, Jews, Hindus and now Muslims. They would corrupt our children and lead to our downfall. To a great many peoples surprise they all helped build America into the undisputed wealthiest & most powerful nation on earth. And still we cannot allow THEM to take a full seat at the table. The change will happen. We can either let our Constitution work and do it peacefully or descend into chaos and suffer the consequences.
    If we want to be afraid it should be of white men in suits. This group has by far stolen more from the American people than anyone else.

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    1. I used to be one of those three piece suit white guys, Republican and proud of it. Thank goodness that phase is behind me (though I am still very white!). The GOP of the last several years is not the one I proudly supported decades ago. White privilege is real and must faced its sunset.

      I sometimes think of what the white settlers did to the native peoples who were here first. Do you think the natives viewed all those white people as unwelcome immigrants?

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    2. Neither party is the party it was years ago. Sadly, that is not a good observation. Both have gone downhill, in my opinion.
      Four years ago it was a vote to pick the best of the worst and it is going to be again this year.
      I am afraid it is the train in the tunnel vs the light at the end.

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  6. I suppose this has nothing to do with your post Bob but do you think people become more liberal as they get older? I saw a longitudinal study recently that suggested that in general people do. Surveys at a point in time often show older people as more conservative than younger people, however, the older people compared to their younger selves were in fact more liberal than they used to be (or perhaps just less conservative). If true it's an interesting twist on how we typically interpret the attitudes of different age groups.

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    1. I don’t know about that. I’m an elder and very liberal and always have been, but I see many, especially men, who were once part of the hippie generation, who are now big time trump supporters. I find this very disheartening that they lost their sense of civil rights for all and now fear the non whites and therefore hate them.

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    2. I tend to agree with Mary on this one. Certainly in my area, the older groups are much more likely to be staunch conservative Republicans. Why? It could be fear over financial concerns or rights and privileges being given to others. I don't really know. BUt, don't go into a place like Sun City or most rural parts of Arizona with a Biden sticker without expecting some major blowback.

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    3. Perhaps you and Mary are right. Going by myself and friends of mine I would say I was centre-right in my 20s & 30s moving gradually and now in my 60s I would define myself as centre-left. To varying degrees my long-time friends moved about the same. Of course in my political context that means something different than in yours.

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  7. From moderate independents, we say, "Go Joe & Kamala", as in our 60's, we've never seen the stakes this high. Time to get this awful chapter in American history behind us!

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    1. Bingo. I have no problem with other people feeling differently, though I don't really understand that point of view. But, for me, this election will have more consequences for the country's future than any other I can remember, and that goes back to the days of Ike. We must turn the page.

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  8. This morning my post on Facebook was "good morning, beloved community." I stole it from a speech last night. At my house I have an American flag and a Biden 2020 poster. We are all in this together, and we are all the same.

    That said, in my worst nightmare, my candidate does not win. Really. My worst nightmare.

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    1. My wife is serious about her feeling that if Trump is elected we will have to strongly consider moving the family out of the country. The America we have grown up with and is detailed in the Constitution will be on its last legs.

      My entire family is right here - within 5 miles of our house. I don't think they would leave. No matter how miserable it becomes, I couldn't abandon them in a time of crisis. I may die fighting what could happen. But, leave the mess to others without at least a fight? Nope.

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    2. Die fighting? Sounds like what Goodly is talking about.
      I always find a response like this fascinating. Where does she see herself moving to? I don't think she would qualify to immigrate to Canada. Europe has a 90 day stay policy (as does Japan). Immigration is mighty tough unless fully employed in a field that they need. Are you thinking you would be safer and more politically secure South of the US? If you did move south would you live with the people or live as the white ruling 5%?
      Some real research might be necessary for this to happen.

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    3. Frankly, I don't see it as a realistic option. I would consider a place like Hawaii..part of the U.S. (obviously) but far enough away that most people ignore it. I love the islands and could live there quite comfortably.

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    4. Hawaii sounds good to me, Bob. Maybe we can form a commune... :)

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  9. Nice, although distressing, capture of what challenges we are facing this election year. I feel like your wife, I don't think I can take four more years of 45. Watching what is happening to our country under his reign is just too mentally debilitating. I'd love to move to Canada, but the line to get in is pretty long.

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    1. I don't think the country would be recognizable after four more years.

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    2. We would look like Belarus ..broken economy, rampant corruption, much violence and no democracy

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  10. I think Mexico may be one of the few places that would accept us...Covid has shut us out of a lot of places and they usually want people who still work.
    Hawaii sounds good...expensive, but blue.

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    1. I have a business interest on Kauai and friends who live there. I could do it, but family is the problem.

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    2. I was born in Hawaii before it was a state. Do you think I could be deported back there? My birth certificate looks real, but I guess you never can tell.

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    3. Fred, check with Barack Obama about getting a reprint of your birth certificate.

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  11. I hope it's not a train! The US is better than this. I have my fingers crossed that your country gets back on track, the world needs you to get back on track.

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    1. Selfishly, I tend to think of the damage that has been done just to this country. But, you are right, Mike. The world needs a steady, dependable force against the dictatorships that seem to be gaining strength everywhere I look.

      The world doesn't need America to always be in charge, pay for most of it, and enforce its will on others. It does need to be a place that friends and foes can count on to do what we say, live up to our commitments, and represent what is good in people.

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  12. Hi Bob! Good for you for pointing out that poll workers will be needed during the election. Here in California I don't that we'll have as much trouble with our mail-in ballots but you never know. And I agree that looking into a job in "polls" is also good advice. They seem to be very popular along with Apple products and anything "entertaining." As far as the election, I remain cautiously optimistic. And yes, we have two or three places in mind out-of-country that we wouldn't spending a lot more time in... ~Kathy

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    1. Frankly, I had forgotten that I am part owner of a radio station on Kauai until this post. That gives me both a legitimate business and personal reason to learn to overcome island fever.

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  13. I'm a Canadian living in Canada and I fear for all of our general futures if Trump gets re-elected. The USA is such a large influencer on many other countries. A further declining USA means trouble for all of us.
    I obviously have no direct influence on who gets elected in November but I'm strongly hoping that it's Biden.

    - Derek

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    1. The world will be a much darker, unfair, and dangerous place if Trump wins reelection. It would be bad for the planet, and say some pretty horrible things about this country in the process.

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  14. Here in Oregon we have voted by mail for all elections for over 20 years. Never a problem with fraud. Still a problem with turnout. Many people are still too lazy to mark a ballot, attach a stamp and put it in the mailbox. But no fraud. This year will bring a large turnout, but the results in Oregon are not in doubt.

    I am with you, Bob. The mood and divisiveness, anger and hostility are at a high that I have never seen in my lifetime--even during the civil rights struggles of the 60's. I too, know of those who support Trump who say they will have their guns ready if he loses the election--something they say is impossible if the election is "fair." I cannot believe that this is the country my father fought to preserve in WW2. It is becoming unrecognizable. Everyone needs to take a breath....

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. There are times I don't recognize my own country, or some of the people who call themselves my fellow countrymen. Is the fear of change and losing status so powerful to create this type of dystopia? Apparently, yes.

      To those who argue the media is hyping the clashes and divisions, i suggest you are simply not paying attention.

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  15. And may I just say in addition... policies aside, most of this election for me is about decency. Common decency. Last night I teared up when I saw this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lZbOiktAh4

    As opposed to this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX9reO3QnUA

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    1. The difference between the two men couldn't be more stark than as evidenced by these two clips.

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  16. This nightmare can't end soon enough. It's been the longest 3.5 years of my life, quite honestly. Also, my older parents (88 & 92) WERE life-long Republicans. Until 2016. They both said "I just couldn't vote for him!" (meaning Trump). They said that the Republican party is NOT the Republican party of years past. They both said they will vote blue for the remainder of their lives. Both want to live long enough to see the Orange Man booted out of office. If you pray - keep praying. We cannot survive another 4 years of this madman & his corrupt ways.

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    1. Yes, it is like a nightmare that doesn't end. Just when you think Trump and his followers have scraped bottom, he leads them, and us, to places we couldn't imagine we'd ever survive.

      I was a Republican until 2000. The debacle in Florida and the use of the courts to make it appear legal, sealed the deal for me. Nixon didn't help matters but I figured he was just an aberration. Bush-Gore proved me wrong.

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  17. There are many reasonable, hard working Americans who feel completely opposite of everyone commenting. I miss the voice of Dan P commenting here.

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  18. I’m sorry and I mean no disrespect, but then you simply cannot be paying enough attention or you only watch Fox News. There is way too much out there for anyone to see and hear that would preclude anyone from supporting this man to stay in power regardless of party affiliation.

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    1. Mary, if your comment was meant for me I would echo your comment back regarding not paying attention and what you must be watching/listening to. There's a whole other side that is not yours. And no, I do not watch Fox News. I mean no disrespect either.

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  19. I honestly would like to know the factors that would motivate someone to vote for Trump again. I will add no comment of my own, or publish any opposing views. I'd just like to understand what he has or has not done that generates support.

    I don't mean anything that the opposition party has failed at. But, specifically , what policies, decisions, or steps has he taken to deserve 4 more years. I am truly interested in the answers.

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  20. If anyone would have told me that this administration could screw up the post office, I wouldn't have believed it. And yes, I know they've had funding issues for years, but they are supposed to be a service. We don't seem to have problems funding our military, which is also a service. The USPS has always been really dependable, especially in the rural areas of the country. Destroying that reliability just before a hotly contested election is just beyond the pale. But there seems to be no bottom in this administration to what they are willing to destroy for personal gain. November 3 can't come fast enough, and I just hope and pray there is enough decency left in this country to vote this Grifter in Chief out.

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  21. Yes, Bob, and Hope, I wanted to ask something like this yesterday morning to any Trump supporters, including Jeannine. What are the top 3-5 accomplishments during his first term, and what would be the top 3-5 goals for his second?

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    1. My interest is an explanation that is legitimate. I have many friends who are Trump supporters. Their response to questions like this are either an attack on the media or something to do with abortion.

      But, there must be more behind the decision.

      So, I am asking: tell me why. I will both respect and welcome your rational.

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  22. Here are some reasons people support Trump: tax cuts, federal judicial appointments who are not activist (activist meaning trying to "make" law - that isn't their job), his work on closing the border, his work with Israel, getting us out of the deal with Iran, he supports the police, he stands up for America. People who support Trump are afraid as well - they're afraid of the socialist tilt that is happening in this country which makes it a country they don't recognize. They don't like what they are seeing happening in some of our largest cities which have been Democrat controlled for a long time in states that are also Democrat controlled - the chaos and violence which is being billed as mostly peaceful protests. They look at Mr Biden and see an elderly man seeming to exhibit significant cognitive decline and they can't believe he's the Democrat's nominee for president. I know no one who thinks Mr Trump is without flaws.

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    1. Thank you, Jeannine. These are specific reasons for support for Mr. Trump. They are clearly stated and show a rational for that backing.

      THis is exactly what I am am looking for.

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    2. Thank you, Bob. I appreciate it.

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  23. PS - I think you're getting no responses in your call for someone to defend Mr Trump as all those who are more articulate than I have "left the building" and are no longer reading and commenting here due to the attacks they've felt for their contrary views. Just saying.

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    1. You are probably correct, though your response above is quite articulate and answers my question quite well.

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  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  25. While I agree with what you said in your comment, Hope, I did promise that any Trump supporter who answered my request for reasons for that support would not have to endure a response from me or anyone else.

    I am truly interested in reading and trying to understand those who support him, and in this case, I believe that information is worth a place free of rebuttal and counter-arguments.

    I trust you understand what I am trying to accomplish, even if it means removing your obviously heartfelt response.

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    1. Sorry, not trying to cause trouble. :-)

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    2. No trouble, Hope. You are a loyal and important member of this blogging community.

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  26. I would be interested in discussing pro & cons of Trumps accomplishments. I think I would irritate people on both sides. Unfortunately I can't do it by just listing his accomplishments. Perhaps you will have another post in the future.

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    1. That is one path I don't think I want to walk, Fred. Jeannine's comment opened the possibility of some legitimate education for me and maybe others on the mindset of tens of millions of us. Understanding is in short supply in today's world.

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  27. Let’s take just one topic...taxes...from Jeannine's list. Here is an article that seems balanced to me, but it’s a little Greek to me as well.

    https://time.com/5570679/trump-tax-cuts/

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    1. Thanks, Mary, for the link. The tax cut was great for some, a nothing for others. I guess someone's feeling towards its value is on whether the overall economic gains and welfare of enough of us was worth the deficit increase.

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  28. Another one of Jeannine's topics of the good things trump has done was the border wall. This article strictly deals with cost and doesn’t take any account of one's moral view of keeping desperate people out and separating their children from them in holding facilities. Nor does it reflect on some of the walls being blown down during heavy storms And the tunneling done underneath or the latest money laundering con by Steve Bannon.

    https://www.npr.org/2020/01/19/797319968/-11-billion-and-counting-trumps-border-wall-would-be-the-world-s-most-costly

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    1. I said people appreciate Trump's work on closing the border. People like me do not believe in an open border. We believe in legal immigration. We can't open our "doors" to everyone in the world and expect this country to be able to maintain itself. As Margaret Thatcher once said, "eventually you run out of other people's money".

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  29. One more topic from Jeannine is that trump supports the police. Not quite that simple.

    https://www.vox.com/2020/6/16/21286669/donald-trump-is-defunding-the-police

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    1. I'm not going to get into a back and forth and back and forth. I'm not going to change your thinking and you won't change mine. You have your view and that's fine. I don't agree and I have my reasons. My whole point in this is that there are people of good faith on the side you vilify - people who are hard working Americans, people who are not radical, people who are reasonable, just as you feel people on your side are reasonable and hard working Americans.

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    2. Yes, I was hoping for explanations of the reasons people supported Mr. Trump's reelection. I think it is important that we understand other points of view...not that they would change someone's mind but we are courteous enough to listen.

      I think it best to close the comments on this post. I very much appreciate the passion of each of you and that everyone has not engaged in name-calling. A new post goes live tomorrow and it has nothing to do with politics or the election!

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