Several years ago, I pitched an idea in an essay addressed to the Secretary of Education — called, appropriately enough, An Unsolicited Proposal for the Secretary of Education — that they might do well to open and operate a charter school in the District of Columbia, with the aim of making it the best school in the nation. After all, if the US Department of Education really is the nation’s repository of educational excellence, it should be able to run a school, should it not? And not just any school, but a model school that other schools would want to emulate.
We could take that a few steps further, though, if Congress insisted that all Federal laws be tested in the District of Columbia for a period of time — five years, maybe — before they go into effect nationwide. Depending on point of view, D.C. residents would either be the pioneers of new legislation or the guinea pigs for it, but the object would be to actually try out the lawmakers’ (and, let’s be honest, the lobbyists’) ideas on a small scale before they get rolled out to the rest of us. Pilot programs: make sure the laws do what they’re supposed to and don’t have unexpected adverse effects before we make everyone subject to them.
This map shows the original boundary of D.C., before Congress gave Virginia back (in 1846) the portion it had originally donated. (Image: “Map of the District of Columbia, 1835,” public domain from Wikimedia Commons.)
Alas, it’s just another harebrained Anti-Candidate idea. (But, hey: if enough people wanted to put me into elective office, I’d be willing to give it a try!)
First, a confession: I didn’t watch all of Monday night’s debate. I missed about the last half hour, I think.
Second, an evaluation: Mrs. Clinton looked poised and was better prepared than Mr. Trump, though that seems a fairly low bar to clear. Mr. Trump’s failure to take what would have been some fairly easy shots at Mrs. Clinton seemed almost deliberately contradictory to his usual “attack dog” style. (Yes, people have pointed out Mr. Trump’s interrupting Mrs. Clinton and the unfortunate moderator, but Mr. Trump seemed mild-mannered and deferential compared to his performances in the primary debates. Whether that was intentional, I cannot say, though I have seen speculation that it was calculated to make him seem less intimidating to voters.)
Now, some more specific observations:
- Both candidates talked a bit about the National Debt. Mr. Trump made the point about how large it is now, without driving home the point that it is much larger now than it was eight years ago. Mrs. Clinton made the point that Mr. Trump’s proposed tax cuts would add to the debt, without explaining whether her proposed tax increases would actually reduce it. But the moderator missed an opportunity to ask them one simple question: Are you going to balance the Federal budget every year? Because if not, then you’re not going to reduce the National Debt.
- Mrs. Clinton scored some points with the “Trumped Up Trickle-Down” phrase, and she praised her husband with respect to the booming economy we enjoyed during his Presidency. Then, however, she made the curious statement that trickle-down economics led to or was responsible for the recent recession. I found that curious because trickle-down economics was not a hallmark of George W. Bush’s 2001-09 term; it was a hallmark of Ronald Reagan’s 1981-89 term. If trickle-down economics lasted until the 2008 recession, then, that would imply that the economic policies of the intermediate terms didn’t count for much.
- Mrs. Clinton also scored points by pressing Mr. Trump about his company’s failure to pay suppliers for services rendered. I would like to know the story behind that, and the terms of the agreements that were violated — or that were negotiated so strongly in favor of the Trump conglomerate.
- Just once I would like to see a debate in which one of the candidates actually takes a moment to explain what is and is not the President’s job. With respect to economics, for instance, to explain a bit how the budget process works (I’m not sure Mr. Trump knows very much about that). With respect to military matters, instead of sniping at each other about who has a plan to defeat ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/whatever the Islamofascist quasi-Caliphate is calling itself today, it would be refreshing to have a candidate say, “No, I don’t have a plan because that’s not the Commander-in-Chief’s job. That’s why we have a Secretary of Defense; that’s why we have Combatant Commanders; that’s why we have the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I will give them direction, they will recommend courses of action, and I will make the decision. Next question.”
- The two of them had a lot to say about policing, but policing is a local issue rather than a Federal one. It would have been nice to have them discuss whether they think the Executive Branch has a role in local matters, and if so what that particular role might be, rather than hearing about whether “stop and frisk” was or was not effective when it was in place in New York City.
- The crime and gun control portion was one of Mr. Trump’s missed opportunities. A simple question that he could have asked: How many criminals and gang members have ever gone through a background check in order to purchase a firearm legally?
- The question about cybersecurity was another missed opportunity. Mr. Trump certainly did not display any sort of killer instinct, or he would’ve pointed out the irony of someone trying to come across as knowledgeable about security who could not recognize that paragraph markings in a message denoted classified content; alternately, he could’ve asked about how increased cybersecurity might have protected mishandled emails that, it turns out, included very highly classified information.
- Also on my list of things I wish Presidential candidates would talk about in order to show that they understand or at least appreciate National Security and military-related issues: the DIME: the instruments of National power.
(Image: “Prepping the debate,” by Leigh Blackall, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)
In the end, I was disappointed that the smaller-party candidates had not crossed the threshold of making it onto the debate stage. That might have been more entertaining, and almost certainly more enlightening.
It is easier, of course, to talk about playing the game than it is to play the game: to analyze the debate afterward than to participate in it in real time. It may be that if I had the chance to debate I would not have fared any better. Then again … I think if I had a team of people to help prepare me and quiz me, I would be able to hold my own.
Put me in, Coach. I’d love to take a swing at it.
P.S. I’m the Anti-Candidate, and I approved this blog post.
Sometimes I think I ought to run for office
For mayor or senator, or even the local school board
Sometimes I think you’d be better off voting for me than anyone else
Especially if you want your faith in government restored!
Yes, it’s that time again! Time to consider whether you’re going to vote for an establishment candidate, an alternative candidate, or — if you’re really bold — the Anti-Candidate!
You may want to “throw the bums out,” but be careful you don’t vote a bunch of new bums in. At least this bum is honest about being a bum! And if you don’t believe me, take a listen to “I Think I’ll Run for Congress”.
Politics, that’s the life for me
It fits my arrogant, megalo-maniacal, personality
I’ll get my name in the papers and my face on your T.V.
And take good care of myself, my friends and my family — yes, that’s the life for me
I am the Anti-Candidate, and I wrote, edited, approved, and posted this message.
On every electon day, I recall this bit of guidance from Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long”:*
If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for…but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.
And if you decide you want to vote against both sides, I am as always available as your convenient write-in vote.
I’m the Anti-Candidate — or, if you will, the “well-meaning fool” — and I approved this blog post.
*The “Notebooks” were included in Heinlein’s novel, Time Enough for Love.
Actually, that goes for just about anyone, anywhere, but most especially for my friends in the Show-Me State who are as appalled as the rest of the thinking world at the idiocy spouted by Representative Akin.
Remember, the Anti-Candidate is available to be your write-in vote for any election, any time, anywhere.
You DO have a choice this November. As the Grail Knight said to Indiana Jones, “Choose wisely!”
I’m the Anti-Candidate, and I approved this message.
If you can’t find anyone you want to vote for, you can always write in the Anti-Candidate.
… we’re not on the ballot for … any elected office (so far as we know). You won’t see our name on those irritating little signs in your neighborhood. You won’t see any obnoxious “I approved this message” ads on television. In fact, if you’re committed to one party or one issue and you find a candidate who will represent you adequately, we encourage you to vote for that person.
Then again, if you find you’re not satisfied with the candidates already on the ballot — and you can’t pick one to vote against, as Robert A. Heinlein suggested — just vote against all the candidates and write in “Gray Rinehart.” It doesn’t matter what office: put us down for any or all of them. (Be sure to spell the name right: we wouldn’t want the election officials to get confused.) On the off chance that we win, we probably won’t show up anyway, since we agree with Thoreau that the government governs best “which governs least.”
You can read more on the Anti-Campaign page.
I’m the Anti-Candidate, and who else in their right mind would have approved this message?
So many blog-able things, so little time.
First, do you consider yourself conservative or liberal? If you answered “yes,” then you’re a person after my own heart. That’s the Anti-Candidate’s position, too, as seen here.
That is, the anti-candidate is conservative on some things, and liberal on other things. So far as we can tell, the anti-candidate is conservative and liberal on all the right things.
Next, a little space history: 50 years ago today was the last day of NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. (My aerodynamics professor once tried to convince us that NACA stood for the “National Association for Cambered Airfoils.” Go figure.)
And finally, progress on the novel has stalled. Last night I had an idea of something to add, and I’m struggling with whether it’s a good idea or not. I may have to leave a big block of white space labeled “figure it out later” and move on. It’s very frustrating.
But, life goes on. At least until it doesn’t.
Happy Autumnal Equinox, one and all.
Today’s subject comes courtesy of the Anti-Candidate Position on Energy, just posted on the forum.
Long-term energy needs require long-term energy solutions, and petroleum is not a long-term solution. Fossil fuels in general aren’t long-term solutions, because we’re not making enough fossils these days to replace the fuels.
Interested parties can find it here.
The post just prior to that one, incidentally, is the Anti-Candidate Position on Free Speech. Basically, it’s a good thing — but free speech doesn’t automatically mean easy speech.
Today in space history, 1993, the Space Shuttle Discovery landed at Kennedy Space Center at the conclusion of mission STS-51.
I understand they don’t want to vote for Senator Obama, and it might leave a stain on their souls to vote for Senator McCain. The solution is obvious: they should all vote for the Anti-Candidate!
No party, no speeches, no promises; just a workable slogan based on Jefferson’s maxim, “That government governs best which governs least”: “Governing least–we’d be happy to.” Your convenient write-in vote for any office, anywhere, any time.
Some of the Anti-Candidate’s positions are available on the Anti-Campaign page, and new positions are put on this forum page before they’re added to the main page. If your favorite issue isn’t represented yet, sorry. “Things take time,” as Piet Hein reminded us, and working 2.5 jobs plus church and community service precludes platform-building.
Besides, when you don’t represent a political party and aren’t even on the ballot, having a platform isn’t that critical.
All I ask is, if you’re going to write in my name, that you spell it correctly. 😉