Presidential Politics 2016

This is probably the only political statement I’ll make on the internet this year, and it’s not telling you who to vote for or pushing a particular issue in your face. I want to introduce some perspective.

Everyone is worried about the presidential election this year — will it be Trump or Clinton, I can’t vote for him and I don’t like her, if X is elected it will be a disaster for the country, what about these very fine 3rd party candidates, etc. You’re all barking up the wrong tree, you’ve forgotten how the government really works, and that the occupant of the oval office has limited powers and doesn’t really matter. What matters is the Senate, and we should be talking about senatorial candidates.

The president doesn’t install justices on the Supreme Court, judges on the Court of Appeals, or more than 6000 people onto various agencies, and the president doesn’t decide who sits in their own cabinet. The president may nominate people for these positions, but the Senate confirms those appointments. If the Senate doesn’t consent to a nominee, that nominee will not be appointed.  These appointments have lasting effects long after a presidential term is up so the appointment really matters, but the field of unappointed nominees are irrelevant.

What about the House of Representatives? Their districts are fairly gerrymandered so individual representatives aren’t all that responsive to national politics, and the House’s power is somewhat limited by design. They do play a role in budgeting and legislation, though — along with the Senate.

The president doesn’t set the federal budget, Congress does. The president does proposes a budget (and only does so because Congress can’t be bothered — by law they are supposed to make it and they can always change anything proposed by the president) but the budget is voted on and set by Congress.

You may object that “my senators are fine, and they’re not even up for election this year!” This may be true, but it’s not a good objection. We all have friends and family in other states, you can discuss the issues and candidates across the nation, and persuade them to take an interest and vote. (But never brow-beat or fight, please, that’s neither respectful or respectable.)

So in this election cycle, lets talk about the things that matter. The president isn’t one of them.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

A thought for anyone who asks “Can I stop paying taxes because of this thing I don’t like/can’t use?”

There are lots of things that you pay for but will not, choose not, or hope not to use. Your tax dollars go towards welfare, unemployment, drug treatment programs, prisons, nuclear bombs, and foreign countries. Do you expect to take advantage of any of those programs in the near future?

Taxes pay for things that benefit the public at large, but don’t necessarily benefit you.  That’s a price we pay for civilization.