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Looking to Future Presidential Elections?

Posted by Howard Denson on October 14, 2016 at 12:45 AM


 

By HOWARD DENSON

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The 2015-16 election cycle has been one of the silliest in modern history. It may be that, with Facebook, Twitter, and similar tools, we will have a new norm: all outrageous illogic, shouting matches of lie against lie, etc. If so, that does not mean we will have a better country. What we have at present is a sick nation. Those with negative intentions immerse us in a warped perspective about who we are and where we are going.

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All parties like to cry, “This is the most important election in our country’s history.” Often it’s not since what they mean is, “This is the current election.”

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The U.S. would have done all right if Tom Dewey had defeated Truman in 1948 . . . if Adlai Stevenson had defeated Ike . . . if Nixon had defeated JFK . . . and so on.

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When we have a healthy country, either party’s candidate has been a reasonable person who could plot the country on a sensible course.

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They certainly had their crazies in past years, with 1948 being outstanding. It featured Strom Thurmond heading the Dixiecrats with racism to surpass what we have seen today.

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Talking heads like to compare this election to 1964’s, when Barry Goldwater was the GOP standard bearer. That, of course, is way off base. Barry knew he wasn’t going to win and described himself as a kamikaze pilot since there was no way the country could go from JFK up to November 1963, LBJ from November until the election a year later, and then the swearing in of Goldwater in January 1965. Three presidents in that short of time? Not going to happen.

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If it mattered (and it didn’t), Goldwater erred in answering a reporter’s question about how atomic bombs could be used in Southeast Asia. Barry, an Air Force general in the reserves, gave a reasonable answer from a military college standpoint of discussion of tactics and strategy . . . and suddenly ads were showing bombs going off while a little girl picked flowers. Barry was a gentleman and totally non-partisan in his civilian capacities. As a C.B. operator, he could carry on cordial conversations with an FDR liberal  (a friend’s liberal father had regularly conversations with him).

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In 1968, an A-bomb advocate might have been George Wallace’s running mate, General Curtis LeMay, who headed the massive bombings of Japanese cities during World War II.

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As I argue that we cannot continue doing what we’re doing, I’m not opening the door to a First Amendment Gestapo, but we do have to stand upright the figure of Sanity and Truth. The 1960 debates provided a standard. The Democrats and Republicans had different perspectives about what facts meant, but they were closer together than what we have witnessed for months now.

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So . . .

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Step #1 in making America sane again is to promote truth and accuracy. That means all parties need to participate in truth-vetting. The goal is to exclude candidates who lie 80-90 percent of the time.

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We are all paranoid, so a NON-PARTISAN fact-checking group should be established and set up rules that will be followed by all candidates from major and minor parties.

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100% Truth is unlikely since some positions are simply matters of perspective. A good example here is the difference between pro- and anti-abortion. Each side will argue that their position is correct. However, if one side argues that abortion is increasing in the U.S., while statistics say it is decreasing, then a flag could be thrown.

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In addition, we will have some issues concerning which we can't measure the accuracy or truth index. Climate change may fall into this area. A truth index may deflect arguments about the accuracy of climate change toward the reality of states having to cope with rising coastal waters, loss of wetlands, increased floods, etc.

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A Scrooge McNutt may revel in his billions and back a candidate who has a truth index of 10%. He may get the candidate of his choice to use fiery but reckless rhetoric.

 “Never in the history of our country have we seen such tyranny and injustice!” That doesn’t jibe with what occurred before, during, and after the Civil War.

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Let's say that we will NOT respect nor acknowledge a candidate who is lying more than, say, 20-30% of the time. That doesn’t set the bar very high, but it allows wiggle room for matters that may be simply individuals’ opinions.

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If a candidate has a truth index of 50-60%, then he or she is penalized. It won't matter if Scrooge McNutt is backing him to the hilt. The parties could be encouraged to deny him or her funds for any campaigns. If the parties refuse to do so, then the candidates certainly could be ruled ineligible to participate in any debates between the major party candidates.

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The truth index might result in, say, only two individuals on the stage for a party debate. Lincoln and Douglas, and JFK and Nixon, proved that two candidates can provide a fine debate. To cut out the childish interruptions that we are seeing too much of, the debate organizers might borrow an approach from the Golden Age of Quiz Shows. Candidate A is in his or her isolation chamber and speaks for two minutes on a topic. The mike is then turned off, and Candidate B gets to speak uninterrupted for two minutes from inside an isolation chamber.

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For the final debates before the November election, candidates from the minor parties would fill out the debate platform. It shouldn’t matter that they had support from only three to eight percent of the electorate. If their Truth Index were high enough, it would entitle them to a podium on the stage.

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Will the suggestions work?

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Of course not.


What will happen then?


For starters, pieces like this will be written asking what rough beast, its hour come around at last, creeps toward Washington to be born.

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