The problem is pulling that one lever to vote straight ticket

2 thoughts

For some reason, when someone links to my blog, it sometimes shows up as a comment awaiting my approval. I don’t know why. Anyway, that happened today, and it led to a response from me, so I thought I’d share it.

I was being quoted in the context of a much longer post. Actually, I’m not sure why what I had said fit into this post — as the writer said, it was about conservative propaganda, and as he or she said, my point comes from the center — but it did, so I’m just going to address that portion of the post.

The writer was referring to this post from this past Election Day. It was one in which I (and others) objected to people who actually vote on Election Day “late voters.” I then went on to object to the term “ticket-splitting.” My point was that there should be no such term, that the practice should simply be called “voting.” As opposed to what people who pull the party lever and ignore the ballot itself, thereby abdicating their responsibility to think, to discern, to discriminate, to make decisions about each individual candidate, to vote.

Here’s the passage of mine that was selected for quotation:

You know what I call ticket-splitting? “Voting.” True voting, serious voting, responsible voting, nonfrivolous voting. I am deeply shocked by the very idea of surrendering to a party your sacred duty to pay attention, to think, to discern, to discriminate, to exercise your judgment in the consideration of each and every candidate on the ballot, and make separate decisions.

If you don’t go through that careful discernment, you aren’t a voter, you are an automaton — a tool of the false dichotomy presented by the parties, a willing participant in mindless tribalism.

Sure, you might carefully discern in each case and end up voting only for members of one party or the others. And that’s fine — kind of weird, given the unevenness of quality in both parties’ slates of candidates — but if that’s where you end up.

And here’s what the person quoting it had to say about it:

Kernel of truth:
Human beings are certainly tribal, just in general. The idea that political parties are becoming tribes is an obvious extension of this, especially bolstered by worrying observations like increasing polarization of political opinion in the U.S. and (very likely related) increasing physical separation (segregation) between red (suburbs/country) and blue (cities) tribes. You also don’t have to look very long or hard to find a person who has a basic, surface-level understanding of politics, who doesn’t have an elaborate, well-thought-out intellectual theory of politics guiding their positions (in fact, their positions might be a contradictory mish-mash of things) but know very well who they’re supporting in the next election.

Tribal chauvinism can be scary — the ability to ascribe Deep Differences between in-group and out-group justifies (and thus creates) violence. People instinctively wish to bridge gaps between groups. Doing so stems future violence and can even be an ego boost to the person capable of doing so — being able to see how both sides are just tribal takes the person able to see it out of the realm of primitive partiality into the era of enlightenment and clear sight free from petty bias.

Why is the use of “tribalism” messed up?
There are at least three things messed up about analyzing political disagreement as largely tribalism.

First thing: it disrupts public democratic discourse by giving people the ability to dismiss people’s positions as born from blind, unenlightened loyalty rather than being sincerely held. The ability to say, “Well, you WOULD say that because that’s your tribe’s Doctrine” is not a good way to engage with fellow citizens’ opinions.

Second thing: it elides the very real differences and very real societal implications that different positions have. Whether Muslims should be banned, in my opinion, really really isn’t a matter of, “Well, you say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to. Who’s to say what’s right, really?” The concept of political disagreement boiling down, ultimately, to tribalism spreads a weird moralized amorality throughout society, where the ability to see the value of both sides becomes valorized (morally lauded) much more than the ability to take a side decisively (such preference for one over the other is close-minded, unenlightened, tribal). I’m not saying being able to see the logic or reasoning behind the other side is bad — I will never ever turn my back on the importance of empathy. But if your idea of enlightenment extends to “seeing through the bullshit of each side impartially” and no further, not to being able to evaluate the merits and awfulness of various positions, choose a side, and fight for the more moral option, your ability to see free from bias serves you and no one else.

The example above finds it unusual that someone would uniformly choose politicians of one party after careful evaluation because the “quality” of candidates varies so much that there is likely to be overlap, which means that a straight ticket will probably select a bad quality candidate over a better quality candidate. However, this doesn’t really make sense to me as someone for whom political positions are the main criteria of “quality” in a candidate. The two parties agree on a lot, but on the issues they don’t agree on, it is very rare for me to agree more with the political positions of a Republican over even a very right-wing Democrat — my notion of “quality” does not suggest there is much overlap at all. It’s true that serious issues like corruption / criminal behavior might make me consider voting for the other candidate, or a very odd politician who runs on issues no other politician has a stance on might warrant a closer look. However, I think the view that political differences seem like the least relevant consideration only makes sense when you’re in the center.

In the place of political stances, there is an unspecific notion of “quality”, and as you can see in the post, the state of being indifferent to political differences is morally valorized.

Third thing: as someone who is not a centrist, I will tell you that you can have zero loyalty for a political party (in fact, actively have an antagonistic relationship with both), and still have a very clear preference for one party’s politics. Having a preference between two teams ≠ being guided by tribalist loyalties. It just means your politics are not located midway between the teams.

Instead of / when you encounter “tribalism” you should:
Recognize that the existence of tribalism as a psychological feature of humans doesn’t negate very real differences between political stances. Recognize that while it’s good deed to reduce partisan bias in the world, there are sometimes things much worse than being partisan, and sometimes doing the right thing means decisively taking a side and fighting for it, rather than saying “well, I can see the value of both sides”.

Yes, I know that a lot of people hate it when I say “I can see the value of both sides,” and they let me know it, but this was not a case in which I was saying that.

Pleased that this writer was approaching my point thoughtfully, but distressed that my actual point had been ignored for the sake of concentrating on a word (“tribalism”) that was neither here nor there, I responded:

I’m glad you found my blog worth quoting, and I appreciate your thoughtful approach.

But you didn’t address my point.

No one’s trying to paper over differences, or call genuine disagreement “tribalism.”

I’m attacking the indefensible practice of party-line voting. I’m talking about people paying ZERO attention to the relative qualities of individual candidates, and simply pulling the party lever, choosing the very worst candidates that party is offering along with the very best. I’m referring a gross form of intellectual laziness, which I would think — given your thoughtful approach — you would abhor.

A person who pulls that lever abdicates the profound responsibility, as a voter, to think, to discern, to honestly compare each candidate to his or her opponent(s).

Sure, I can see how you can be a Democrat and vote for Democrats most of the time because you more often agree with Democrats. But it would be absurd to say, to assume, to believe, that ALL Democrats are automatically better than ALL Republicans, and vote accordingly, without taking a moment to test your proposition with each candidate on the ballot. In other words, without thinking.

If you’re really, really into being a Democrat (and of course it works the same way with Republicans; I’m just choosing the side you’re more likely to go with), then you will usually vote for the Democrat. In a particular election, you might even end up voting for every Democrat, without engaging in intellectual dishonesty. It seems to me unlikely, but then I can’t imagine agreeing with either party — or any party in the world — on everything. But a person who truly leans that way might legitimately do that.

But if he or she has not thought through every choice on the ballot before arriving at that 100 percent, we have an abdication of responsibility.

And then — you ever notice how irritating it can be when you want to change what you wrote in a comment, but there’s no edit feature (yes, I’m trying to be funny)? Well, those of you who complain about it so much can feel a little Schadenfreude at my having experienced it myself today. So looking back and seeing I had expressed something poorly, I had to add, immediately:

Rather than “I’m attacking the indefensible practice of party-line voting,” I meant to say, “I’m attacking the indefensible practice of party-lever voting.” As I go on to say, it’s OK if you end up voting for every candidate of one party or the other — as strange as voting that way seems to me.

The irresponsible thing, the indefensible thing, is doing so without having considered the individual candidates and their relative qualities in each contest on the ballot.

44 thoughts on “The problem is pulling that one lever to vote straight ticket

  1. bud

    If the KKK ran a slate of candidates would you consider the individual merits of their candidates? How about the Nazis? Communists? Libertarians? Sometimes you have to consider the merits of the party in making your voting decision.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, you don’t.

      Anyone running on a KKK slate would obviously be someone who personally, without considering the label at all, be entirely objectionable.

      In fact… I think references to party should be removed from ballots. If you don’t know enough about the individual candidates to judge their acceptability, DON’T VOTE!

      1. bud

        Anyone running on a KKK slate would obviously be someone who personally, without considering the label at all, be entirely objectionable.

        Substitute Republican for KKK and that pretty much sums up why I regard a vote for any GOP candidate as offensive.

  2. Dave

    Your correction, frankly, makes no sense. So voters only make up their minds in the voting booth? That seems to be what you’re implying. But that runs directly counter to your broader argument that voters should be informed. If a voter has informed themselves and read up on the candidates in advance and decided they therefore want to vote a straight-ticket ballot, why shouldn’t they do so by punching a single button instead of individually voting for every single candidate on that party’s ticket? Why would any rational voter do the latter? I mean seriously. Your argument makes absolutely no sense.

    I also think you need to think about who uses straight-ticket voting in South Carolina. It’s disproportionately Democrats. Who in South Carolina, are disproportionately African Americans. Many of these voters are elderly African American voters who fought for decades for the right to vote. They’re now elderly and infirm and find it difficult physically to get to the voting booth, stand in line, and punch a vote for every single office. If they want to vote a straight-ticket ballot by punching a single button, let them. That you think this is one of the biggest problems facing this state (as does Cindi Scoppe in The State) and write repeatedly about it is beyond me.

    1. bud

      Agree. The two major parties are so vastly different in their governing philosophy it just makes sense to put a great deal of weight on party affiliation.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave, my apologies! I typed this whole response, and the one that follows it, without realizing I had completely failed to include my main argument in the original post! I copied, but didn’t paste, I guess. I’m an idiot! Forgive me for being so dense….

      My argument makes absolutely perfect sense. People, even very smart people, just have a TERRIBLE time understanding what I’m saying because we are all so indoctrinated to the two-party system that we lack the common vocabulary to express what I’m saying in a way that will be universally understood. I blame myself, but only partly. (No, now that I realize I failed to make most of my argument in the original post, I blame myself entirely.)

      “So voters only make up their minds in the voting booth?” No, I neither said that nor implied it. In fact, I’m saying the precise opposite. The ONLY way you can make informed decisions in each and every race is if you have studied them and made judgments ahead of time.

      The only person who can go into the booth completely ignorant and still accomplish what he came to do is the person who is planning on pulling the party lever. He’s decided not to think, to delegate thought and discernment to the party. So he doesn’t spend a second at any time examining the candidates or considering them; he’s completely ready to pull the lever and walk out, dusting his hands in satisfaction.

      In fact, he’s the perfect candidate for early voting, because he needs NO information whatsoever. He could vote before the primaries. He could vote the previous year. He could vote once for the rest of his life and save himself a lot of trouble. Because he’s not a real voter; he’s an automaton…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “He could vote once for the rest of his life and save himself a lot of trouble. Because he’s not a real voter; he’s an automaton…”

        You know…I bet if this was offered as an option there would be a non-zero number of people who would take you up on it and be perfectly content. Heck, they’d probably even express actual gratitude that you made their life that much easier.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Would they be grateful enough to give me money?

          That would be helpful, because it’s been far too long since I last laid eyes on a lawful prize…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Well, it saves a lot of heartache. Suppose you find yourself in a position in which honor requires you demand satisfaction from a dear friend. It’s so distressing to be close enough to see him fall.

              Or say you intend only to wound, and end up striking your adversary in the vitals — as happened with that commercial fellow Canning. This can cause a serious imbalance in the gross humours, spiritually speaking. One might feel like a complete scrub, and suffer from the Blue Devils for the rest of the day.

    3. Brad Warthen Post author

      EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave, my apologies! I typed this whole response, and the one that precedes it, without realizing I had completely failed to include my main argument in the original post! I copied, but didn’t paste, I guess. I’m an idiot! Forgive me for being so dense….

      Dave, I just realized I addressed only the first paragraph of your comment. As for the second…

      I don’t care who uses it. They should stop. I think people finally getting the right to vote after generations of discrimination is one of the most wonderful things to have happened in our history, the realization — at long last — of the promise of America. And I think everyone should make full use of the franchise by studying each candidate carefully and making individual decisions. To fail to do that, to say, “Oh, I’ll just vote for all the Democrats; I don’t care who they are,” is to devalue the right and responsibility of voting.

      I don’t think either Cindi or I would say it’s merely one of the biggest problems facing our state — it’s one of the biggest facing the whole country.

      Democrats may vote straight-party more than Republicans, but do you not agree that one problem we have in this state is that no one who lacks an “R” after his name has a chance of getting elected? I do. Because that means the GOP primary decides everything, and the GOP primary is too often a contest to see who can be the most extreme, and NOT a measure of the will of the whole population of South Carolina….

      Every candidate should be able to go before the voters as himself or herself, without being a victim or beneficiary of partisan prejudice. When that happens, candidates who care about the interests of those poor, elderly black voters, for instance, would at least have a chance of being heard in South Carolina. But as long as we vote by party, they’re toast, unless they’re running in one of the tiny number of “safe” districts that Republicans have allotted to them…

      Finally, we have long had absentee voting for people who are physically unable to undergo the rigors of standing in line on Election Day. And when you’re filling out that ballot at home, you have all the time in the world to carefully consider each candidate, so there’s no excuse at all for checking one party box…

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    DANG! Why didn’t somebody TELL ME that I’d neglected to include my initial response? All that was in the original post was my CORRECTION to the initial response.

    What do I pay you people for, anyway?

    I wondered why Dave was responding only to my correction and not to my main point. I thought I must have REALLY failed to communicate with him — which of course I HAD.

    I’ve fixed it, and I hope my point is clearer now.


    That’s all right; you don’t all have to express your agreement at once…

  4. bud

    Brad I don’t think it’s worth spending a lot of time on this issue. I’ve suggested repeatedly and you have rejected repeatedly my observation that the modern GOP is a reflection of it’s 2016 nominee for president. For some inexplicable reason you continue to regard Trump as some sort of anomaly. I don’t. Hence we continue to be at loggerheads whenever you give any deference to the Republican party. I find the party labels useful in that it shows, in a general sense, where a candidate views the world philosophically. That is crystal clear to you with regard to a Nazi or Libertarian and someone so labeled on a ballot would be instantly rejected by you.

    I want to stress that my views on this only apply to the current version of the GOP. Somehow you seem to view the GOP as it was in the 1970s. That started to change with Reagan but only gradually. So perhaps the boiled frog analogy is appropriate. By the time of Obama’s tenure as POTUS it was clear that something radical had happened to the Republican party. They were spinning conspiracy theories and refusing to work with Democrats on a grand scale. The final straw that showed their true colors was the reprehensible treatment of Merrick Garland. A few continue to resist the tea party/alt right wave but those few have dwindled to a tiny handful, pretty much confined to the John Kasich supporters at the end of the 2016 primary season. Now we have the party of Trump fully supported by the power brokers in the GOP.

    It is therefore completely rational and thoughtful to vote against this demonic band of fear mongering, rabid oligarch wannabes. It is the party that matters because it is the party that collectively moves legislation and strategies to wrest control of the United States from the people. This must be opposed. Just watch the ongoing, secret approach the Republicans are taking to move healthcare legislation through the senate. No hearings. No sharing with the media or Democrats. That isn’t a strategy based on just one man but rather it is a collective effort by the entire 52 member GOP caucus. If they ultimately pass something using this approach it can no longer be denied that this party is nothing but a catalyst for enshrining the wealthiest Americans with a sort of gilded age class status.

    So while we focus on the Russians, the emoluments clause and other matters related to Trump the Republicans are quietly working their diabolical will to transform America into the image of Russian oligopoly. So let’s not pretend that it is a good thing to go to the voting booth without regard to party designation. That is a fools game that will only work against the American dream.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I don’t for a moment think the current GOP is the one of the ’70s. Of course, this isn’t the Democratic Party of the 70s, either — but it’s a lot closer. The Dems are the way they were in the 70s, only MORE SO. Which is my problem with them… to be continued…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I was typing that on my iPad while I waited for my laptop to finish updating Windows — something it refuses to do while I’m not using it; it always waits until I need to use it urgently, or turn it off urgently so I can pack it up and go somewhere.

        And NOW the stupid touchpad is activated, and again I can’t figure out how to turn the blasted thing off, so my hands and wrists keep touching it and causing the cursor to go careening across the screen, totally screwing up my typing… fume, mutter, grumble…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          OK, I think it’s stopped…

          Anyway, I’d probably be pretty comfortable with the Democratic Party of the 60s, but I have quite a few beefs with the one that’s like the 70s, only more so.

          As for the Republicans, they’ve gone through several wrenching changes that have not left them better, but worse. First the “Reagan Revolution,” and then the traumas of the past decade, with the rise of the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus, and off on the fringes, Mark Sanford/Club for Growth pure libertarianism. Then, they had the Big One dropped on them — the madness of Trump.

          They’re pretty messed up. And the ones who still have traditional GOP tendencies have trouble figuring out what to do or say…

  5. Karen Pearson

    Bud, voting purely on the base of party line would leave me voting for that Mr. Greene (sp?) who ran for, I think, govenor several years ago. No. I don’t think voting party line is a good idea. While I agree with you that the Republican party has strayed far and away too far right of where it needs to be, there can be really bad candidates on either side.

  6. Karen Pearson

    How about abolishing political parties completely? Require anyone interested to produce a specific platform of interests. Let them run on that platform alone. Refuse to allow the PACs or anyone else to use negative advertising unless they can back it up specifically. I tend to think that lying about a candidate should disqualify the candidate who does it, or backs it, and by backing it I mean does not specifically deny the lie, and state the truth about the person being slandered/libeled.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Hey, I’m up for it. UnParty all the way!

      Although I’m not big on platforms. I want to look at the candidate’s record, hear him (I’m using the inclusive “he” here because I’m Old School; that’s how I roll) talk about various issues so I can see how his mind works, and decide whether this is someone I trust to do a good job.

      I don’t like promises. I want to elect good people whom I can trust to deal wisely and effectively with issues neither I nor anyone else can begin to anticipate during the election…

  7. Doug Ross

    Here’s what a straight Democratic Party lever puller gets you… the guy who shot up the softball field with the Republican Congressmen has had a number of letters to the editor posted over the years.

    Here’s some of his great ideas:

    “Also to fund the government deficit I hope the Obama administration raises the income tax rate for the rich to 70 percent or more. If a person has an annual income of more than $10 million, he should be proud to be an American and proud to live in a country that would allow this kind of income, and proud to pay his fair share of taxes.”

    “One of my favorite TV shows is “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC. On a recent show she stated that 17 very rich men are supplying the Republican Party with more than 60 percent of their campaign contributions.These men are trying to buy our country. You know they expect something for all this money. That something is that Mitt Romney and a Republican Congress won’t raise their taxes. We all know that the rich don’t pay enough taxes.”

    Sounds familiar…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I was really, really hoping that this shooter wasn’t going to be a left-wing guy. This is just going to ratchet up the venom and hatred. The usual suspects in the news are going to try and minimize the guy’s motivations, they’ll get accused of doing so, there will be criminations and recriminations, and it’s just going to be awful.

      Already, left-wing Twitter is celebrating and calling for more.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        By the by, it appears the only reason that this wasn’t a complete bloodbath is because Scalise had a security detail due to his being in House leadership. Without the security detail, this would have likely been a horrific scene.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I think about how difficult it is for normal humans to bring lethal force to bear on other humans. It’s taken hundreds of years of military training to figure out a way to beat this innate inclination out of people. Absent military training, if someone is trying to kill multiple people, he is likely unwell. But whether this guy was well or unwell, these actions came from him, from his soul, from is own volition.

          It’s a vain hope, because it’s already happening, but using an event like this to score points, or say “it’s about time” or make any sort of smug remark just makes me physically queasy. (And I see my friends of both political sides doing it.)

            1. Bryan Caskey

              Well, in fairness to my old college friend (who’s pretty left-leaning) he was saying “it’s about time that the GOP getting around to deploring ‘2nd Amendment remedies'”

              Which is a reference to Sharron Angle’s quote of: “And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.” So he wasn’t saying that “it was about time” someone got shot. He was just trying to say the GOP has encouraged political violence so this is karma, which is only slightly less awful, I guess.

              Which is EXACTLY why I was so dreading this shooting being politically motivated. It’s done nothing but inspire people to do their little smug thing and say it’s “karma” for being an NRA supporter, or something equally as awful.

              It makes me think about how nice it would be to do weeks and weeks of nothing but blue-water sailing with Jack and Stephen – just living in a small wooden world, with the same routine every day. Nothing but waves, the breeze, the perfect blue dome of sky, and a routine. It would be nice to just escape from the political venom that’s infected our entire country.

              1. Doug Ross

                ” It would be nice to just escape from the political venom that’s infected our entire country.”

                It’s very possible to do that. Don’t turn on the TV, certainly not to any of the channels like CNN, FOX, or MSNBC whose sole existence is to fan the flames. Decide what you can and can’t change in this world and focus on the former. Take a walk.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I think Doug is suggesting what this song is about.

                  Of course, while I think it’s fine to blow up your TV (as long as you take proper safety precautions), I do not endorse ignoring what’s happening in the world, which I regard as ostrich-like behavior. Don’t watch TV. Read. If nothing else, it will show how you differ from Donald J. Trump.

              2. Scout

                “It makes me think about how nice it would be to do weeks and weeks of nothing but blue-water sailing with Jack and Stephen – just living in a small wooden world, with the same routine every day. Nothing but waves, the breeze, the perfect blue dome of sky, and a routine. It would be nice to just escape from the political venom that’s infected our entire country.”

                Here is a song for you that evokes for me what you describe there. I agree:

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  As for what Bryan is specifically talking about — being able to step into one of the peaceful interludes in the Aubrey/Maturin novels — I’d also love to do.

                  As I think I shared awhile back, if I were a multi-billionaire, I would buy that ship used to represent HMS Surprise in the “Master and Commander” film, send her into the dockyard for a complete refitting (I’m concerned about her knees, Bryan), hire everyone in the world with the requisite skills and then fill out the rest of the crew with landsmen who are fit and are eager to learn, provision her, and set out on a circumnavigation. I’d also hire skilled British actors to portray Killick (David Threlfall did a great job in the movie), Bonden, Pullings, Martin and a few others.

                  The first few months would be busy with training up the crew, especially with live-fire exercises every evening (good thing I’m a multi-billionaire, and can afford the powder and shot), then we could kick back and enjoy some of that peaceful blue-water sailing. By that time, the routine would be what the crew was used to, and they would like what they were used to.

                  By then, we’d be in the Indian Ocean, where we could protect shipping from the Somali pirates.

                  Bryan, I’m assuming you, acting as my man of business, could obtain the requisite letters of marque from the government. Might as well see if you can get some that specify Russian shipping, so we can wipe that Putin’s eye…

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author


                    Threlfall as Killick in the film: “Scrape, scrape, screech, screech. Never a tune you could dance to, not even if you were as drunk as Davy’s sow.”

  8. bud

    Bernie was just on condemning this kooky shooter. This guy is the antithesis of a true blue liberal. We’re about peace, nonviolence, no death penalty, no war. This is a sickening act by a sick man. Let not politicize this.

  9. Karen Pearson

    I’m not about to. When someone behaves in such a murderous manner, I don’t consider his party affiliation, however much that person may claim it, to be the primary motivating factor. Nor do I consider one’s race, or faith (Islam is a faith; Isis is no more Islamic than the KKK is Christian). These actions must be condemned. The perpetrator must be stopped before he/she does further harm.

  10. Bart

    I was not surprised at this at all. It has been coming for months and unfortunately, it is very likely it will happen again. I doubt many on this blog read the comments after some of the articles in the NYT, WaPo, WSJ, or any publication whether they are left or right leaning. I do and it is frightening and discouraging to see in print the level this nation has sunk when it comes to the sheer negativity, rancor, anger, and absolutely nasty comments each makes about the other.

    What makes it worse is what Bryan noted coming from the left on Twitter calling for more. All that will do is drive the right to reply in kind and sooner or later, someone who is so caught up in the politics of hate on either side will take action and more will be wounded or killed. There seems to be no sense of control of emotions and especially hateful rhetoric and inflammatory comments. They may seem innocuous when posted in the comment sections but they are a reflection of how people feel. They may not represent the majority but like ISIS, they are unfortunately the faces of the far left and far right and too many are too willing to paint all right leaning or left leaning with the same brush.

    I won’t be around too many more years and that is not being morbid, just realistic. At my age, 73, I have been witness to a change in this country on many levels. Some for the good but all too often, the bad outweighs or is more publicized than the good. During my life, I have been fortunate enough to meet a very broad section of Americans and for the most part, they don’t like what is going on and I have found only the rabid, name callers, negative personalities, and single minded are the ones making most of the trouble and creating most of the problems. For the most part, most Americans want to live in peace, live the American dream (whatever their version of the dream is), and contribute to the well being of all. It doesn’t matter if it is in NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, or in the small cities and towns, they simply want to live life the best they can.

    I fear their hopes and dreams are being shattered and broken because of a few who hold the spotlight and dominate the news and entertainment industry. Their views and opinions are what we hear and read about more than the woman or man who really have no voice when it comes down to it. The only way they can express themselves is to vote but when we consider the absolutely worst possible choices in this past election, what does that send to us who live on Main Street?

    1. Doug Ross

      It doesn’t help matters when people spout hate anonymously. I own everything I’ve said on this blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I think Brad should consider making commenting on this blog require identifying one’s self. Anonymity breeds contempt.

      1. Bart Rogers

        Agree. I own everything I say on Facebook and this blog. I don’t “Tweet or Twitter”. As for some of the comment sections, giving your real name is dangerous. There are stalkers who are relentless if one is not careful. I have one handle I have been using for a very long time and will continue to use it even for the NYT and WaPo.

        Some time ago, Brad asked each of us to submit our complete name and something about us so he could publish it on the blog. I did it so did bud and everyone except “Silence” and a couple of others that subsequently were banned for various reasons.

        If Brad wants to do it again, I will submit another profile with any information required.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        As you know, I continue to be torn about it.

        For now, I think I’ll stick with my compromise — if you’re anonymous, you get no leeway on civility (and if ever y’all see me failing to enforce that, bring it to my attention). If you sign what you say with your real, full name, you get SOME leeway, but there are limits for all…

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