Tag Archives: elections

50 years ago, my heart broke

It seems like just the other day. I was a young newly married man, recently separated from the Army, attending college and working on a political campaign in which I would be able for the first time ever be able to cast a vote for the candidate for president of my choice.

On Nov. 7, 1972, I voted for George McGovern and then went home to watch the returns come in. Then, just minutes after the polls closed back east, the networks called the winner of the presidential contest.

It was not Sen. McGovern!

I … was … crushed. Fifty years later, I remain keenly interested in politics and I await the next round of elections set to occur in about 24 hours.

In those days I took my politics seriously, even more so than I do now. The decades that have gone by have taught me a lesson or two about politics. One is that no matter how hard one works to win a contest, the sun will rise the next morning and the days will go on as if nothing happened at the ballot box.

The other thing is that I rarely see issues in stark colors. I have learned to accept a lot of gray shades in virtually every issue under discussion.

However, I still take voting seriously. So much so that I refuse to vote early, preferring to wait until Election Day. I actually prefer the pageantry, if I could use that term, associated with waiting in line at the polling place.

This election is, shall we say, a big fu**ing deal!

Politicians and pundits ascribe monumental consequences to every election, be it a presidential event or a midterm election, such as the one about to occur. This midterm well might be the most critical such event in my lifetime.

Joe Biden himself has said that “democracy is on the ballot.” I accept that description.

If it goes badly when the ballots are counted, I likely won’t be as heartbroken as I was 50 years ago when my guy, Sen. McGovern, lost 49 of 50 states. It would hurt, but the sun — as we all know — will rise in the east the next morning.


Peaceful transition?

I recently had a chance to watch snippets of every presidential concession speech dating back to 1960.

They all had one message in common. Whether the losing presidential candidate lost by a lot or a little, they all spoke of the marvelous element of our democratic process that has made us proud: that we should honor the results of an election, no matter how much it hurts.

Some of the presidential losers lost by landslides or near-landslides: Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, Jimmy Carter, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, John McCain. They all pledged their support for the men who beat them. Others lost by just a little: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Al Gore, John Kerry, Mitt Romney, Hubert Humphrey, Hillary Clinton. They, too, honored the victors by offering their support.

Where am I going with this? One name is missing. As I listened to all the losing presidential candidates, I was struck by the grace and the class all the losing candidates exhibited in that moment of pain.

Concession Speeches: So Hard To Say Goodbye | NBC News – YouTube

Donald J. Trump didn’t exhibit either of those traits after the 2020 election. His refusal to concede that he lost an election has scarred the democratic process he swore an oath to protect and defend.

This individual’s behavior in that moment when defeat was declared will stand in my mind as the glaring testimony to his utter lack of character. It is the kind of behavior that illustrates in graphic detail this man’s complete and absolute unfitness for the very job he occupied for four years.

I have watched along with the rest of the country how he has denigrated the office with his insults and epithets. Many of those incidents individually would be enough to disqualify this man from public office.

I will circle back, though, to The Big Lie he keeps repeating and his refusal to honor the tradition we all — and this hurts to say it — seemingly had taken for granted. Which was that the individual who loses a presidential election concedes with grace, and we move on to the next steward of the nation’s executive branch of government.

Trump’s absence from that list of concessions is unforgivable.


War on democracy!

House select 1/6 committee chairman Bennie Thompson said it eloquently this week as he opened the latest televised hearing into the insurrection incited by the immediate past president of the United States.

He said Donald Trump sought to declare war against our democratic process, the one he took an oath to protect and defend. Instead, when the results of an election didn’t go as he intended, he summoned the crowd and told ’em to take back their government from those who “stole” it from them.

The televised hearings have informed us of something critical. It is that Trump’s closest advisers, including members of his family, told him he lost the 2020 election to Joseph Biden. Trump knew the evidence wasn’t there. The attorney general said so, as did the FBI director, and so did practically every individual — with a few notable, infamous exceptions, of course — within earshot of the president.

Did he heed what they said? No, he went to war with the very democratic process that has been operating since the founding of the republic.

How in this blessed world does anyone accept a thoroughly discredited notion that the election was “rigged” to secure a victory for Joe Biden?

Indeed, the only thievery being attempted has been done by the guy who lost the election! That, too, has been made abundantly clear during the testimony we all have heard.

A man who swore to almighty God to protect the government from enemies “foreign and domestic” only to declare war on that very institution must not be allowed anywhere near the halls of power … ever again!


Elections do matter

You have heard it said that “elections have consequences.” I have stated as much many times on this blog platform and I still believe it to be so very true.

We are seeing how those consequences are playing out in President Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Biden won the 2020 presidential election and, thus, has been granted the opportunity to find a qualified jurist to take her seat on the nation’s highest court.

This process plays into the notion of “presidential prerogative,” meaning that presidents earn the right to select whomever they desire simply by winning the most recent election.

What you might not remember, though, is that I have carried my belief in presidential prerogative across party lines. I am a dedicated supporter of Democratic Party ideals, but I also recognize that elections that produce Republican presidents also have consequences equal to those that produce Democratic presidents. Accordingly, I recognize that Donald Trump’s election in 2016 entitled him to select the three individuals who currently serve on the SCOTUS.

When President George H.W. Bush selected Clarence Thomas in 1991 to succeed Thurgood Marshall on the high court, I said the same thing. Same with President George W. Bush, when he chose John Roberts to become chief justice and Samuel Alito to an associate justice position.

All of these individuals are technically qualified to serve and the presidents who nominated them were entitled under the Constitution to select them.

I want to revisit this notion because of the hassles that President Biden is getting over his choice of Judge Jackson to join the court. Senate Republicans are digging in for a fight. They belong to a government branch that is entitled under the Constitution to reject or approve any nomination that comes before them. They are fighting Judge Jackson for reasons that escape me.

Joe Biden’s standing as president allows him to find a qualified candidate for a lifetime appointment. He has done so and therefore he deserves to have the individual he has chosen approved by the Senate and then be allowed to take her place on the Supreme Court.

One of the harshest challenges to this prerogative occurred in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. President Obama selected Judge Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell then decided to play political hardball by denying Garland any confirmation hearing, saying that because it was an election year that the winner of the next election deserved to select the individual he or she wanted for the court.

The winner turned out to be Trump. McConnell’s strong-arming of the constitutional process was a hideous display of politicking and I am one American who never will forgive him for denying a sitting president the chance to seat a qualified jurist on the Supreme Court.

Juxtapose that with the speedy confirmation process that McConnell allowed when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died just weeks before the 2020 election; Amy Coney Barrett received Senate confirmation in a record-setting fashion. Any sign of hypocrisy there? Oh, yes! Absolutely!

Elections always have consequences, indeed … and they should.


It’s a never-ending cycle

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It never ends.

We finish an election cycle and the next one begins. Immediately. There is no cooling off. No respite from the rhetoric. No rest for voters or for those of us who comment on these cycles.

As much as I enjoy being able to offer these comments, I admit that it wears me out.

I am not sure when it began to wear me down and out. Maybe it began with the 2000 election cycle. Or perhaps when social media began to take a firm hold on our attention, providing so much information and pseudo-information. It only has accelerated over the two decades since that time.

We finished the 2020 election cycle, which was a blessed event for those of us who wanted the presidential campaign to end the way it did. But now …

Lo and behold, the 2022 mid-term election campaign has begun. Republicans want to take back Congress from them nasty Democrats before turning their sights on the White House in 2024.

In fact, the 2024 campaign rhetoric already is getting ginned up. GOP Sen. Ted Cruz is seeking to obstruct President Biden’s nominees at every turn, offering pointed and wrongheaded criticism of Biden.

Give me a break … will ya?

It’s only going to ratchet up more rapidly as Election Day 2022 approaches and then, by golly, we’d better batten ’em down in preparation for the 2024 election.

Are you ready? I clearly am not! I had better get ready … or else!

Electoral consequences? Yep, we have ’em!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It has been said more times than I care to recall that “elections have consequences.”

That truism is playing out in real time as I write these few words.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death has opened the door wide for the most unfit man ever to hold the office of president to nominate his third selection to the nation’s Supreme Court.

You want consequences? The court, if Trump’s nominee gets confirmed, will be locked in a solid 6 to 3 conservative majority possibly for a generation.

Yes, this is what we get when we elect someone with no moral compass, no ideological basis, no authentic sense of what justice really means to the nation’s highest office.

Trump says he’s going to nominate a woman to succeed Ginsburg.  I always am struck, by the way, at Trump’s use of platitudes to describe individuals. He calls Judge Amy Coney Barrett, one of the frontrunners to be nominated, as “fantastic,” that she’s a “brilliant lawyer,” that she’ll do a “great job.” What is missing in these platitudes is any sense that Trump knows anything of substance about the individuals he is considering.

How in the name of electoral power do we rectify what’s about to happen? I believe the first and perhaps last option is to ensure that Trump gets defeated, that Americans elect Joseph R. Biden as their next president. I know that electing Biden won’t undo the damage that Trump might inflict on our federal judiciary — given his penchant for heeding the advice of far-right-wing commentators and thinkers. Electing Biden does set the predicate for a longer-term repair of the damage that Trump will inflict.

Thus, the upcoming election — shall we say — has intense consequence on the future of our nation.

If you disbelieve the value of elections and the consequences they can produce, I present to you Exhibit A: Donald John Trump’s fluke victory in 2016.

Do elections have consquences? Yep, they sure do!

You’ve heard it said that “elections have consequences.”

Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States demonstrates it; he has appointed two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, swinging the court balance to the right. Yes, the 2016 election has consequences.

So does the 2018 midterm congressional election. We saw the consequence of that election today. Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm election.

And today, the Democrats convened a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and received the testimony of Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, who then proceeded to tell the world that the president might have broken the law. How? By writing a reimbursement check for what might have constituted an illegal campaign expenditure relating to the payment to an adult film actress who allegedly had a fling with the future president.

We would have heard none of this today had Republicans maintained control of the House in the midterm election. They didn’t. The Democrats took control. They have the chairman’s gavels now.

Let there be no doubt that elections have consequences.

At times those consequences can be profound. I believe we witnessed one of those profound events today.

Every vote counts … in a big way!

Just when you thought your vote didn’t count …

Get a load of what happened in Virginia.

That state’s House of Delegates has flipped from Republican control to a 50-50 partisan deadlock on the basis of a single vote in a race for one of the delegate seats.

Incumbent Delegate David Yancey, a Republican, held a 10-vote lead in the race for his seat against Democrat Shelly Simonds. So they launched a recount as required under state law. They counted the ballots and Simonds has emerged the winner — by a single ballot. Simonds won with 11,608 votes to Yancey’s 11,607.

The GOP held a 51-49 majority in the House of Delegates. It’s now 50-50, or at least it will be when they certify the result of the recount. Virginia has no tie-breaking process in its House of Delegates. If one should occur on a piece of legislation, there needs to be some sort of power-sharing arrangement that the two parties will need to work out.

There is a huge lesson here. I’ve heard gripes over many years covering elections as a journalist from those who say “Why vote? My vote doesn’t matter. It doesn’t count.” These bystanders leave critical public policy decisions to others.

Locally, here in Amarillo, dismal voter turnouts long ago became the norm, to the voting public’s ever-lasting shame.

Does your vote matter? Does it count?

Uh, yeah. It does. In a major way. The balance of power in one of our states has just flipped because of a single ballot.

Still waiting for the mea culpa on ‘rigged election’


Donald J. Trump leveled some pretty hideous accusations at local election officials throughout the country.

The president-elect said while campaigning for the highest office in the land that the election would be “rigged” against him … if he lost.

He, quite naturally, never uttered a peep about such corruption in the event he would win.

Well, he did. He won it fair and square.

Have we heard a sound from the winner about the “rigged” election process? Have we heard him say a word about how at times campaign rhetoric gets a bit overheated and that, well, he was trying to make some kind of political point?

Remember how Trump sought to excuse his anti-woman comments as mere “entertainment,” that he really had “great respect” for women and that he didn’t really mean what he said about how he judged women on their appearance?

He’s capable of taking back these statements, yes?

Trump ought to do so in this case.


He’s likely to finish with more than 300 electoral votes. Hillary Rodham Clinton is likely to finish with more actual votes than Trump.

The system isn’t “rigged.” It never has been. The system has been run at the local level by dedicated public servants committed to ensuring the integrity of this cherished right of citizenship.

The man who benefited most from that system, the president-elect, owes them all an apology.

When in doubt, go with your gut


A young friend of mine is going to vote this year for the first time in her life.

She is 23 years of age. She is torn over this election. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? After visiting with her for a few minutes Tuesday, I concluded she is likely to vote for Trump.

But she said something I want to share here.

My friend said she is reluctant to vote for anyone without knowing all there is to know about the candidates, their views on public policy, their philosophy or their world view.

“I just don’t know what to do,” she said.

Her biggest concern about Clinton? Benghazi. My friend believes Clinton was responsible for the deaths that occurred there during that fire fight on Sept. 11, 2012. We tussled a bit over what Hillary knew in the moment, what she should have known and what she could have done to prevent it.

I told her later I’ve been voting for president since 1972. I cast my first vote that year with great pride and anticipation. That vote — the first one — still means more to me than all the other ballots I’ve cast.

“I voted for the guy who lost … big time,” I told her, “but it meant a great deal to me.”

When in doubt, I ended up telling my friend, “go with your gut.”

It doesn’t really matter that voters get their arms around every detail of every issue. All that matters, in my view, is that they feel comfortable in their own gut and heart with the choice they make.