Vol. 11    No. 22
OCTOBER 27, 2016
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                 Vote In Spite of The Blah
I have to make a confession. Here I am a college graduate who majored in political science and I only really started seriously pay attention to the
presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump just a couple of weeks ago.

Now it doesn’t mean that I didn’t pay attention at all. I kept an ear out to determine if anything new was being said in the soap opera of a
presidential election. And it always seemed that the same old insults and accusations were being made. And with all of the negativity that we
encounter in the world, did I really need to tune in and hear the insults?

But I kept an ear out in case something of substance was being said, like hard and fact positions on issues that matter to me and the people I
know, positions that have anything to do with reality, positions that are little more than a smoke screen for redistributing even more wealth to the
wealthy.

For instance, Donald Trump talks about reducing the inheritance tax, what he calls the death tax. And on the surface, it is billed as a tax
reduction for everyone. But when you look at who pays inheritance taxes now, over 90 percent of us don’t pay it as things stand right now. So
the realistic effect of eliminating the inheritance tax is to allow wealthy people to pass on their wealth from one generation to the next intact —
effectively creating a royalty class in our country, much like they have in England.

And speaking of England, the upper legislative body in England — the equivalent to our U.S. Senate — is called the House of Lords. Its members
aren’t elected and 92 inherit their seats on the House of Lords. It’s a pretty stuffy group that can delay and cause reconsideration of bills passed
by the House of Commons, the elected body.

Well our U.S. Senate is beginning to resemble the House of Lords with each passing election. Nearly 67 percent of our U.S. Senators are
millionaires including Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin. Is it any wonder that little legislation is getting passed these days unless it is
backed by corporate America? Is it any wonder why the middle class is shrinking while the wealth of the one percent keeps rising? Is it any
wonder that the income divide keeps growing? Money has bought the U.S. Congress, unfettered by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens
United.

But the 2016 presidential election is really about none of that. It is about who did what to whom or to what. It’s been personal and boorish, hardly
inspiring. It has lacked vision or belief in people.

The keynote speech at the NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet on Friday night refreshingly reminded us of how inspiringmand visionary our elected
officials can be. In his keynote speech, U.S. Attorney John W. Vaudreuil quoted President Barack Obama when he gave his remarks on the 50th
anniversary of Selma last year in Selma, Alabama. Vaudreuil also quoted President Lyndon Baines Johnson when he asked Congress to pass
the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Both speeches were eloquent reminders to all of us why the right to vote is so important and so precious. There is a lot at stake in this election.
The next President of the United States will appoint 2-3 justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. For the past several decades, the U.S. Supreme Court
has been conservative leaning and gave us the Citizens United ruling that allows our elections to be decided by those who can contribute
unlimited amounts of money. It has severely restricted the use of Affirmative Action in employment and education decisions. It has even allowed
governments to condemn and take private property for private developers if it is deemed that it will increase the tax rolls.

The next President of the United States, through her or his appointments, could set the tone for Supreme Court decisions for a generation, making
it unbearably conservative or moving to the center or leaning liberal. These decisions will impact all of us. That alone is a reason to get out there
and vote.

And I will be voting for Hillary Clinton for President for this reason alone. All of the other stuff about emails — who knows the ultimate truth about
that — doesn’t matter to me as much as those Supreme Court appointments do.

This election is the first time ever that foreign entities are trying to impact the outcome of our presidential election. It appears that the Fancy
Bears, a Russian hackers group, stole the emails of Democratic operative John Podesta and gave them to WikiLeaks to transmit around the
world, sometimes embarrassing emails for the Clinton administration. I’m not sure what political affiliation or nationality the Fancy Bears and
WikiLeaks have, but they are trying to influence the outcome of this election. Could this be the first U.S. election decided by foreign interests?
This is a strange new world.

In the U.S. Senate race, Russ Feingold is seeking reelection to the senate seat he lost to Ron Johnson in 2010. There is a clear difference
between Feingold and Johnson. I haven’t seen much of Johnson in the past six years. I heard that he attended one event at Fountain of Life a
couple of years ago. But I haven’t actually seen him or gotten any press releases from him since he got elected. I know of a couple of groups
who tried to meet with him at his senatorial office in Washington, D.C., but no meeting took place.

Russ Feingold, on the other hand, has been very visible and accessible. Among the people whom he appointed as senatorial aides have been
the late LaMarr Billups and Carl Hampton as well as Janet Piraino. Russ Feingold has hired good people from our community.

Russ is also more in tuned with the average Wisconsinite. Among other stances, Russ wants to protect Social Security, support a public option
for Obamacare, reduce the high cost of higher education to the average student and get comprehensive immigration reform passed. Russ is in
tune with the average Wisconsinite. He was never a member of the millionaires club of the U.S. Senate like Ron Johnson has.

There are many reasons to get out there and vote on November 8th, from those who died so that you can exercise your vote to having someone
who is going to represent your interests in Washington. Your vote could very well determine your quality of life for a generation. Don’t let anyone
decide for you. Get out there and vote.