The Legacy of the 2016 Election: Wishing it would end already
By Steven Kurlander
If you ask most Americans, they will tell you they can’t wait for this year’s presidential election to be over.
The 2016 presidential campaign has been one with no decorum or class - a very dirty, vicious political race. It has exasperated an already overblown antipathy toward American politics and those who govern us.
Americans have a choice of Donald Trump, who has based his voter appeal on callous and reckless rhetoric designed to exploit the average voter’s frustrations, or Hillary Clinton, a 1990’s leftover who along with the Democratic National Committee really did rig the primary results against a more popular, and more electable Bernie Sanders.
It’s been a demoralizing experience for an American electorate that is angry that they weren’t really given a decent choice of presidential candidates to choose from, a “Gotcha” race highlighted by three terrible debates where the candidates got really nasty and personal about each other’s character and fitness to be president.
But you can’t superficially critique this race simply as a very nasty race between two very angry, unpopular candidates.
Much like our mean and nasty American culture itself has evolved as a result of unfettered freedoms afforded by social media, we are correspondingly enduring a unsophisticated and vicious brand of free-for-all reality politics governed less and less by the parties, the candidates, and even the SuperPacs too.
The press is much to blame.
With Trump making it a point from the start to confront the media as biased - both liberal and conservative outlets alike - Americans have been subjected to continuous vicious anti-Trump headlines and news framed to put him in a very bad light.
As the election draws to a close, many outlets are already absurdly declaring a landslide victory for Clinton - so the election news and polling by these organizations surely can’t be trusted to be accurate to say the least.
Unlike previous elections, the Fourth Estate has shown no pretext of impartiality in their hostility, contempt, and bias toward him and their reporting and the analysis of the race in 2016.
In turn, the rogue Wikileaks has established itself as the anti-Clinton premier source by using illegally obtained and hacked information to feed biased information to Americans.
So Americans are frustrated that they can’t trust what news, the context of such information, and polling information they are getting about the election from this biased media.
Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have also been horrible sites of contention and rudeness, where patrons of both sides, and Donald Trump too, have exposed the electorate to uncontrolled hostility and venom on a 24-7 basis.
The rise of Donald Trump as the GOP presidential candidate and the strong showing (and real victory) of Bernie Sanders also highlighted the impotency of the Democratic and Republican parties.
Even if Hillary wins, this election could be the beginning of the end of the two party system in this country in many ways. That’s not only discouraging to Americans, but scary too.
Bottom Line: This election has unfortunately set a very low common denominator for the conduct of future presidential races and does not portend well for the future of our nation.
But instead of just wishing for the election to take place already, maybe there should be something for Americans to look forward to after the election.
President Obama should immediately declare November 9th as a “National Reconciliation Day” where all Americans can declare their love for their country and for each other.
After watching Donald and Hillary brutalize each other these past few months, social media negatively run amok, and the press in turn try to destroy Trump and the Russians through Wikileaks savage Clinton, a national group hug is certainly in order!
Steven Kurlander is an attorney and communication strategist from Monticello, New York. He blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary and writes for floridapolitics.com
Potty-Mouth Politics: Trump's Misogynist Behavior will have no bearing on election.
By Steven Kurlander
Donald Trump recently apologized to the American people for making “vulgar” comments about a married women, in a “locker-room” context, in 2005.
It seems that if you are running for office these days, whether it be for the presidency or for the local village or town board, you must make serious amends for talking with a derogatory potty mouth about women-even if it was years ago.
So in accordance with these new standards, I’m going to make an admission to all my readers.
I probably shouldn’t do it.
But I feel I must cleanse myself, be honest about who I am, lay it out there so that one day, if I am judged, either by running again for political office or even at some heavenly pearly gates “manned” by politically correct sentries in the mists, I can say I came clean.
OK, here it goes:
In the past, I have made very derogatory and mean remarks about women too.
I don’t think I have ever inappropriately grabbed or engaged in bad physical conduct with a member of the opposite sex, so I won’t admit that.
But I have shown disdain, contempt, and a lack of decorum toward some women I’ve encountered.
I’ll admit that I’ve used that horrible c-word throughout my adolescence and adult life in venting my anger, my disappointment, my hurt and my rage toward members of the opposite sex, in both professional and personal circumstances.
I’ve said what have become totally unacceptable sexist words in private conversations with other men, and even some women including my wife, who I trusted keep those words and feelings in confidence.
Do I really feel bad about saying those things? Absolutely not. Unlike Trump, I won’t apologize.
I am, like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and everybody else, a human being, with my own set of prejudices and my own history of bad behavior, habits and conduct that define Steven Kurlander, to a certain extent, as partly intolerant, sexist, and obnoxious, pure and simple.
So there it is.
What Donald Trump said stupidly in that “locker-room” interview, or his behavior toward beauty contestants, ex-wives, and others of the “fairer” sex, was certainly over the top.
But let’s admit it, both men and women alike, we’ve all been guilty of making these comments throughout our lives.
What’s dangerous about this overblown conception of inappropriate misogyny in politics is that it sets an impossible bar of behavior for politicians that are true, not phony, human beings.
It distracts from important conversations of issues and character about candidates in campaigns and sets unrealistic and ridiculous boundaries for both public and private behavior.
If you can say one thing about this election, it’s that the concept of acceptable behavior by our public figures has devolved into a one sided sexual decency test evolved from a “modern” woman’s concept of politically correct behavior.
And men are at a distinct disadvantage-particularly older ones.
But the reality is that the recent sexist allegations of abject disrespect to women by Trump don’t mean a thing in terms of changing votes, particularly with women voters who are inappropriately clumped together as a sexual voting class.
So despite the great hype about Donald’s misogynist past, and the perception being laid out by the press and Hillary’s campaign, he is still connecting to alienated voters because he says what people think and feel, but don’t say, particularly to pollsters and the press.
He is a master of not only being crude, but exploiting voter frustration to win them over.
If the flawed Donald Trump wins, it will prove politically incorrect crude behavior still doesn’t matter much to voters, men and women alike.
I certainly hope so, now that I have admitted to being a somewhat obnoxious human being too.
Dumb and Dumber: The choice is awful, but it's anti-American not to vote
Like many other Americans, I’m really frustrated with the upcoming choice of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president.
Why? From the start, they were surely not the best candidates for the job.
Also, this election has been extremely contemptuous in its negative tone and the hostile demeanor of both candidates.
Each day brings a new round of stupid statements and actions by the candidates that makes you at best very skeptical about voting for either one of them.
Bottom Line: There’s been an scary void of common sense, intelligence, and vision from either candidate of how to fix America in this 2016 presidential election.
It’s just not me. Poll after poll shows that Americans are very dissatisfied with both Trump and Clinton, with many feeling that both are not qualified to be President.
One analyst put it this way: “Among the most remarked-upon aspects of this presidential election is the fact the two major party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are the two candidates with the highest unfavorable ratings since modern polling was invented. The standard explanation for their dismal ratings is that they are both flawed candidates.”
For me, this universal feeling of deep skepticism was put best in a crude sarcastic way in a recent episode of South Park when a Gallup pollster comes to the door of the character Randy and asks “will you be voting for the Giant Douche or the Turd Sandwich?”
I was expressing my angst to my wise, 87 year old father the other day after we talked about how stupid Hillary’s idiotic remark that “Half of Donald Trump’s Supporters Are in ‘Basket of Deplorables” was and the absurdity of how suddenly Trump believes that President Obama was born in Hawaii.
I said “It’s like they are having a competition who can say the most stupid comment to rile up voters.”
“Yep, this race is just between “Dumb and Dumber,” replied my dad.
In a 2014 article in Psychology Today entitled “Anti-Intellectualism and the "Dumbing Down" of America,” its author Ray Williams began the piece by stating: “There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility."
This presidential race is a true reflection of that dumbing down trend in a country obsessed with reality TV and scurrilous Internet behavior - the result being that if either unqualified candidate wins, America loses.
This election, a lot of people I talk to are thinking about not going to the polls in November-and for the first time in my life, I have thought about it too.
But I’m going to the polls, no matter what.
My mother, who survived the Holocaust and immigrated to the US after World War II, constantly told me growing up that going to vote, no matter the choice, is the most important thing I could do as an American citizen.
Voting is not only a right, but an obligation.
“If you don’t like a candidate in a race, just skip that particular race, even if it means just going into the voting booth, pushing no levers in any race, and registering your vote not to vote as a protest,” she told me.
She was right (of course).
Although I have never not voted a presidential election, I may opt for the first time to cast that protest vote, not penciling in any bubbles in the presidential race this year.
I might shoot that voting blank-and it will count for something other than a vote for a presidential candidate.
It may be the only way of sending my message that I’m tired of Dumb and Dumber encompassing Washington and American politics and governance.
Redefining A Political Hack:
The dangerous obsolenscence of the electorial process
September 10, 2016 - Harris, New York
Stealing elections, even presidential ones, is an American political tradition dating back to the beginning of our nation.
Think about those hanging chads in Florida, or Mayor Daley stuffing the ballot box in Chicago for JFK.
But stuffing the ballot box is about to be taken to a new level in the race for the White House-not by Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but by the Russian government.
Our electoral process has failed to keep up and adapt to tremendous technological changes in the last half century that impacts the exchange, storage and security of voter information and the election process itself.
Our political system is not only broken by being obsolete and inefficient, but extremely vulnerable to hacking and disruption to the point where the integrity of the elections can be greatly impacted.
“Cybersecurity experts have long warned that computerized voting systems are vulnerable to hacking, and what once seemed like wild prognostication is increasingly coming true,” writes Elias Groll of Foreign Policy. http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/08/30/did-russia-really-hack-u-s-election-systems/
As the presidential election continues, the Russians are penetrating these vulnerabilities to influence who wins the Oval Office by hacking their way into the American political system, some say to swing the election for Donald Trump.
The Washington Post termed the hacking campaign by Russia as “a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions.”
The most obvious example so far this election cycle was the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the release of emails by Wikileaks showing a bias by DNC officials for Hillary Clinton which impacted the Democratic convention and the Democratic Party itself.
In addition, the FBI issued an alert in mid-August after the Arizona and Illinois voter databases were hacked by what is again to be believed Russian operatives. https://s.yimg.com/dh/ap/politics/images/boe_flash_aug_2016_final.pdf
Disinformation, whether planted by a foreign government or a political adversary, is nothing new to politics, particularly when it can be identified as such by our security apparatus.
All those Wikileaks about the DNC did was embarrass Democratic officials for a day and get Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz fired as Chairwoman, which was going to happen anyway.
But if the Russians can hack into a Democratic or Republican Party database, or even worse the registration lists of various states, how can’t you believe that Putin could not compromise the tabulation of votes on Election Day to swing the election to Trump?
In this presidential race, most Americans have already decided who they are not voting for.
So they won’t be fooled by the Russians, or anyone else, looking to sway their votes one way or the other or discourage their participation in the electoral process.
They are already very displeased with their politicians, and with the choice of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton too.
Now we must question whether their votes will really count, or be counted accurately.
There’s really no assurance that these vulnerabilities are being adequately addressed and that Americans can’t be assured that the final tabulations of the 2016 election will be accurate and correct.
Hacking is not simply a matter of simple voter fraud in the traditional sense that should be considered just another aspect of an American election. It’s about a Russian political hack, not American voters, deciding who is our next American president.
Debating Debatable Debates
August 14, 2016 - Harris, New York
In 21st century American politics, it’s a given that if you are running for office, you should expect to debate your opponent(s) during the campaign - no matter whether you are running for school board or president.
Debating your opponent is part of proving your mettle for the job you are running for.
Normally, it’s not a good move for a candidate not to show up to debate your opponent. Bob Greene wrote in 2012 “Today debates between the candidates -- even when one of them is the incumbent -- are all but mandatory. A candidate would be seen as chicken for not agreeing to debate. “
It appears that Donald Trump may think otherwise.
He set off a controversial debate about the presidential debates themselves when first tweeted he was debating skipping the three upcoming presidential debates, which are set up by the “nonpartisan, nonprofit” Commission on Presidential Debates.
CNN’s Rachel Sklar wrote: “Donald Trump is complaining. Of course, that's nothing new -- the notoriously thin-skinned Republican nominee is an inveterate pouter, openly sulking about perceived injustices like lawsuits presided over by "Mexican" judges, accurate press coverage and Megyn Kelly being mean to him. At 70, he may be the grumpiest old man on Twitter.”
A visit to any American retirement community would confirm that grumpy, thin skinned old men don’t like to debate anything, let alone the political issues of the day.
But in this day and age of social media, a 24 hour news cycle, and an American electorate already inundated with instantaneous presidential election news, Trump maybe right to question the antiquated formats of these debates and particularly the moderators who nowadays show no semblance of neutrality at these events.
In 2016, if you ask Americans whether they rather tune into a presidential debate between Hillary and Donald or a NFL game being broadcast at the same time, it’s easy to predict that they’d rather eat their Doritos and wings watching football.
Political debates used to carry the aura of significance in terms of having great impact on elections and how voters decide who to vote for. Students of history were taught of the impact on American history of the infamous seven Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 Illinois Senate campaign and the Nixon-Kennedy debates of the 1960s.
But since the Nixon-Kennedy debates, presidential debates have devolved in terms of their quality of political discourse, their fairness in how they are conducted and their true impact on voters.
The true question is not whether Trump should debate or not, but whether the upcoming presidential debates carry any significance at all.
At this point, most Americans are voting against, not for, either Clinton or Trump. They both carry big negatives among American voters. The debates, no matter what is said, won’t matter in this regard.
Americans also have been already subjected to 13 GOP presidential primary debates and 10 Democratic presidential primary debates, and most of those debates, particularly the Republican ones, already proved trivial in dialogue and insignificant in terms of affecting how voters cast their ballots in the primaries.
Given all this, aside from being called a chicken by the mainstream press that despises him anyway, Trump has nothing to lose by refusing to debate Hillary Clinton.
There’s only one way the upcoming three presidential debates can change voters minds, and that’s if third party candidates can participate in them.
The Commission on Presidential Debates right now doesn’t allow third party candidates to participate in the debates unless they reach a 15% polling threshold in five polls among voters.
If Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party or Jill Stein of the Green Party were allowed to take the stage with Clinton and Trump, then there’s no debating that these debates would suddenly become very significant in the 2016 race.
Allowing Johnson and Stein on the debate platform on three occasions would guarantee that Americans would hear some serious political discussion (that they crave at this point) - and that a third party candidate could have a serious impact on the race, or even win the White House.
This is not debatable: If Johnson and/or Stein take the stage, a serious Donald Trump would definitely show up and the presidential debates for the first time in decades would be a truly historical event.
Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary. He is a communications strategist and an attorney in Monticello, New York, writes for Florida Politics and is a former columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Election May Be Over, But Not For Trump
August 7, 2016 - Harris, New York
With at least three months to go, the mainstream press (once again) is writing the obituary of GOP nominee Donald Trump’s bid for the White House.
Trump has lately endured withering criticism on a number of fronts: The controversy continued over his sarcastic remarks about the bereaved parents of a killed Muslim American soldier who spoke against him at the Democratic convention. President Obama, among others, called him “unfit” to be president. A number of Republican candidates and donors across the nation were expressing bootstrap angst about Trump's impact on GOP campaigns or were just endorsing Hillary Clinton (and Bill too). Even his wife’s erotic lesbian poses as a young model were front page news in New York.
All that in turn was being touted as the beginning of the end of his campaign.
The BBC News news item “Trump campaign teeters on the brink" began by stating: “Like a boxer on the ropes, the Trump campaign has weathered a flurry of body blows over the past few weeks. Is this the beginning of the end, a full three months before election day? Should Donald Trump throw in the towel before the inevitable November knockout?”
But Donald Trump’s campaign-and his political revolution too-is far from being kaput. It’s just wishful thinking by a press and political establishment that hates him and all he stands for to mark Trump’s downfall.
It’s a regrettable failure to recognize the potency and teflon durability of Trump’s ShockReality brand of politics (see my article last August “Donald Trump “phenomenon” defines new age of American ShockReality politics”).
Beating conventional wisdom, Trump is the anti-politician who has a knack of connecting at a rudimentary level to a majority of Americans by bombastically exploiting their frustrations with their politically correct and inept government and politics.
According to plan, Americans continue to be bombarded daily with incredulous negative articles and continuous talking heads bemoaning him - but they all have Donald Trump on their lips and in their headlines.
So as it was during his primary run, bad news is good news for Trump - his focus continues to be that Americans solely hear his name and that news is made by his politically incorrect tweeting and speeches.
Here’s another epic mistake made by his opponents: You can’t begin to analyze the race between Trump and Clinton (and Bill too) like past contests for the White House.
This is a presidential campaign that is far from being like any other-and one that will change American politics forever.
Forget what any poll says. Unless they are leftover teabaggers, many of those supporting Trump (especially Democrats) will never admit to a biased pollster, much less even best friends or family members, that they will be secretly voting for Trump, or against Clinton (and Bill too), in November.
The reality of the 2016 campaign is that a good majority of Americans have already decided who they are voting for, or against, for President. And they are not changing their minds, no matter what.
It’s the Election of Dissatisfaction, pure and simple.
As absurd as it is, Donald Trump can and will continue to test the boundaries of decency and truth to win the votes a majority of angry Americans - that strategy will in turn win him the needed votes in the Electoral college in both critical battleground and what were once traditional red and blue states too.
The best thing that the mainstream press can do at this point if they gleefully want to write the Trump campaign obituary is to starve the fire breathing preverbal dragon by not overindulging, or even reporting, on Trump’s hyperbolic messaging and behaviors.
The fewer the Trump headlines and talking points, the better for both entrenched Republicans and Hillary Clinton (and Bill too).
Feminist “Herstory” and the Rigged Coronation of Hillary Clinton:
July 30, 2016
HARRIS, NY - The underwhelming Democratic convention in Philadelphia is over and much of the messaging done by a feminist dominated DNC encompassed that Hillary Clinton was making “herstory” as the first woman to be nominated to run for President in the US.
In highlighting Clinton’s achievement, an article in USA Today entitled “How it felt when America got a first woman presidential nominee” started off by stating:
“Finally. That’s how millions of people felt Thursday night as a woman accepted, for the first time, a major party’s nomination for president. From the floor of the Democratic National Convention to watch parties across the nation, on TVs and laptops and smartphones, Americans beheld history — or, as some feminists would call it, herstory.”
As the New York Times reported, Clinton acknowledged breaking the glass ceiling by stating.
“If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch,” she said, “let me just say, I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”
Despite the achievement, Clinton is a weak candidate that was not supported by probably a majority in her party.
The women of America care more about their pocketbooks-and the future of the American dream for their children than about having a women in the Oval Office.
The reality is that Clinton’s breaking the glass ceiling in 2016 will not lead to her automatically capturing a vote that twice ensured the election of President Obama to the White House.
President Obama brilliantly exploited the gender gap in the last presidential cycle. According to Gallup, Obama won the female vote, and a second term, by 12 points, 56% to 44%.
Clinton does not share such support, even given the fact that she made “herstory.”
A recent poll indicated that while 52 percent of registered women from both parties supported Clinton, that share fell to 36 percent among white women ages 50 to 64 and to only 34 percent among white women between 35 to 49.
As the next phase of the campaign begins, the Clinton campaign will still try to build upon “herstory” to employ a very successful, time tested Democratic tactic of social distraction that played to great success against Mitt Romney in the last presidential cycle.
Clinton has employed this strategy brilliantly before.
Remember when she destroyed Republican Rick Lazio in 2000 when he displayed “sexist” behavior during a debate with Clinton?
You can bet that Clinton will try to exploit Donald Trump’s propensity to stupidly mock his opponents and members of the press in misogynist and physically derogatory terms.
It’s a matter of time before Trump makes a nasty comment about Hillary’s weight, hairdo, or her past tolerance of her husband’s well chronicled philandering and Clinton will be able to capture the hearts and minds of women voters as a victim of sexism.
Trump’s supreme achievement so far is that he is a master of overcoming the power of political correctness on political messaging.
Trump too has brilliantly captured the frustration of Americans with their diminished quality of life that has resulted after 16 years of terrible-and very similar- Bush/Obama big government, Wall Street centric economics and immigration policies that stand as the centerpiece of Clinton policies too.
Given the history of this campaign so far, capturing that frustration will override the significance of his alleged sexism.
Trump’s crass brand of reality politics in 2016 has set a stage to diminish Clinton’s and the Democratic Party’s past success of exploiting the gender gap into capturing the votes of American women.
Thus, Clinton, who had to rig the primary process to get the nomination to beat back Bernie Sanders, should not count gender politics, particularly “herstory,” to win the votes of American women.
In terms of HISTORY that will be learned by today’s young girls, the true significance of the 2016 election will be not that a women won or ran for the White House, but how many disenfranchised Americans, both men and women, stayed home from the polls, fed up with a choice of two terrible candidates and the political parties and process that spawned them.
Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary. He is a communications strategist and an attorney in Monticello, New York, writes for and is a former columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He can be emailed at email@example.com
In Defense of Debbie Wasserman Schultz
By Steven Kurlander
With the Democratic coronation of Hillary (and Bill again too) Clinton slated to begin Monday, it looks like Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz won’t be waiving her very curly hair, or the gavel as Chairwoman of the convention in Philadelphia.
In fact, she resigned her position as Chairwoman before the convention began.
David Axelrod, the former senior adviser to President Obama, stated Sunday "I would ask her to step aside. I would ask her to step aside because she's a distraction in a week that is Hillary Clinton's week,"
CNN indicated that over the weekend the DNC decided not to allow DWS to speak or preside over the convention (the term “quarantined” was used) while Politico reported that DWS herself pulled herself off the convention dias for fear of being booed by Sander supporters.
The latest trouble for DWS as DNC Chairwoman began after the (obviously calculated) leak of over 20,000 email by Wikileaks revealed that DWS and staffers at the DNC were working very hard against Bernie Sanders and his campaign.
There was one particular email that set off its own shitstorm where it appeared to indicate that the DNC was going to play Sanders as an atheist to weaken his appeal to southern voters.
Imagine that. DWS and the DNC working hard to ensure that self described socialist Bernie would not get the nomination?
Jeez, as Gomer Pyle would opine, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!
In reality, the American political system in terms of how we pick our leaders was always and continues to be just plain biased. There’s no fairness about it. Never was. Never will be. The expectation that political operatives like DWS and parties are arbiters of fairness is just plain silly.
Her job, from the beginning of the campaign, was to ensure that Hillary (and Bill too) got nominated. Period.
Whether you like her or not, both in her role as DNC Chairwoman or as the chief Democratic antagonist in the House (particularly after Congressman Anthony Weiner took one too many selfies), DWS has been the ultimate loyal soldier to the “mainstream” Clinton-Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party-whether it meant getting into contentious fights with Axelrod and the Obama White House or doing everything she could to ensure that Hillary (and Bill again too) sailed through a nomination process that was rigged from the get go.
As chairwoman of a splintered and weak Democratic Party, DWS accomplished what Reince Priebus and mainstream Bushy Republicans couldn’t do - keep what would be in normal times a truly unqualified, populist candidate from obtaining the nomination for president.
So whether she never got the chance to step on the floor in Philadelphia to confront the Bernie wing and was forced to resign by her own benefactors, DWS got the job done for Hillary (and Bill too).
She may have in the long run also prevented the Democratic Party from becoming truly irrelevant to the majority of Americans too.
No matter what David Axelrod or any other Democrats say, DWS should hold her curls and head high for a job well done. -SHK
Steven Kurlander is a Communications Strategist at Kurlander Strategic Communications and is an attorney with law offices in Monticello, New York.