The Primary System Confuses the Heck Out of Me. Does It Add an Unnecessary Layer to the Voting Process?

The deeper we get into this ridiculous election cycle, the more I learn about delegate apportionment. It makes no sense to me.

I thought my annoyance related to media reports that the vast majority of this cycle’s Democratic superdelegates pledged to Hillary Clinton, giving her an advantage right out of the gate. Then I learned that Bernie Sanders actually lost in the delegate count despite winning Wyoming. Really? Just how does that work? How is that fair?

Circumstances force me to admit that I agree with Donald Trump that a system that allows Colorado to circumvent the primary voting process entirely is inherently wrong. Instead of letting the voters decide, the Colorado GOP gave Cruz the win in order to deny Trump a win.

Why can’t our system reflect one person, one vote? The size of each state’s electoral college delegation is based on the total number of its representatives and senators. If the number of representatives is based on population anyway, doesn’t our current system add an extra, unnecessary layer to the whole process?

In my state, voters in my party of choice elect delegates that represent each of the candidates. I guess I don’t understand why we can’t just vote for the candidate? Whoever gets the most votes wins. Simple.

I may be missing an obvious point. Bottom line is, this election cycle has engaged me more than I’ve been in decades. And that’s a good thing.

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Bodhisattva. The Art of Compassion.

18 Arms Cundi Bodhisattva. From

The renowned Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield describes the Bodhisattva life as “a life dedicated to the benefit of all.” (Taken from The Wise Heart.)

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Spending your life helping others. Showing compassion. In a perfect world, it would be. But it’s not. And we’re not. Perfect, that is. We’re human, after all. To be selfish is easy. Putting others first is not.

I struggle daily with my desire to have everything my way. But you know what? Winning that argument is a hollow victory. I don’t feel any better than I did before. It’s when I put someone else’s interests before mine that I feel good about myself. Still … I can be stubborn.

That’s the human thing, isn’t it? That’s what we’re here to learn. That the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. (Thank you, Mr. Spock.) Our time here isn’t supposed to be easy. Life is a challenge, a continuous stream of teachable moments designed to elevate our spiritual selves to a higher level. Compassion is its own reward if we stop putting our own self-interest first. That’s the challenge.

These are my beliefs, anyway. Everyone has their own. Or not. I choose to help spread good energy to offset all the negativity we find on the evening news. To make the world a better place. Otherwise, I might just crumple up and let sadness take over.

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Superdelegates. I don’t get them.

Image result for democratic national committee The news of Bernie Sanders’ landslide political contest wins out West should encourage me, and it does. The movement is spreading! More victories like those should guarantee a spot at the convention. The delegate gap narrows, but then there’s the superdelegates. I don’t understand why the DNC came up with that strategy.

Usually picked from a roster of DNC members and state and federal officials, superdelegates to the nominating convention have the freedom to switch allegiance from candidate to candidate if they choose. Isn’t this an unfair advantage? As it was explained to me, one candidate can start the primary process ahead of the others by virtue of their pledged superdelegate count. Even if said superdelegates switch to another candidate, the perception of front runner stands. Most of the country doesn’t follow politics closely enough to carry the latest delegate count in their heads. Perception is reality is perception.

Those with influence in high places undoubtedly do whatever they can to sway the delegates’ loyalty one way or the other. This presents one more opportunity for dirty dealings. After all, what is politics without corruption?

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Je Suis Brussels

Once again, we turn on our televisions, or radios, or devices, to learn that suicide bombers have attacked another European city. Stricken, sad, and frightened faces fill my television screen. I want to scream. ISIS monsters! Vile, vile monsters!

This crime affects us all, as Paris did. How can we cut off the head of the snake before it bites again? It strikes again and again, and again. Religious extremism does that to people. It twists and distorts beautiful, peaceful faiths into instruments of judgment and hatred. Extremists wield scripture like a sword, demanding adherence to their ugly interpretations.

The rest of us say No! You will not force us into subservience! We want to live our lives in peace. Now, go away!

I am one of them. You attack one city, you attack us all. But we will not falter in our belief that everyone, everywhere, deserves to worship in their own way. I will not falter. You will not get me. In spite of you, I will live my life. I will worship as I please. And someday, you will slither back to the ring of Hell you came from.

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When a Well-Ordered Life Turns to Chaos

Three weeks ago tomorrow, life threw me a curve ball. I watched my husband collapse not once, but twice, in front of me in our kitchen that morning. He had just sat down at the table when it happened, right after he came home from work to pick up something he had forgotten. I try hard not to think about what would have happened if he had been behind the wheel.

EMTs were called, pet sitters alerted, children contacted, and off I went, to follow the ambulance to the ER. Never mind that our furnace had decided to stop working that morning. I arranged for a repairman from the hospital.

The long and the short of it is that my husband suffered a bleeding ulcer and lost a fair amount of blood. He remained in the hospital for two days and home for two weeks. He has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

He is still not strong enough to drive on his own. I drive him back and forth to work each day where, despite my strong protestations, he insists on going if only to relieve the boredom of sitting home in his recliner day after day.

I am more than up to the task of caring for him. I’m just astonished at how quickly things changed that late February morning. Once I set my priorities, though, it was a matter of keeping one foot in front of the other.

A dear friend sent me this quote:

“You might be tempted to avoid the messiness of daily living for the tranquility of stillness and peacefulness. This of course would be an attachment to stillness, and like any strong attachment, it leads to delusion. It arrests development and short-circuits the cultivation of wisdom.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

Nothing more needs to be said.

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Justin Trudeau for President

And why not? He’s genuine, idealistic, progressive, energetic. Wants what’s best for his country, not what’s best for him or his party. Kind of like my man Bernie Sanders.

There are times when I wish my country were more like Canada. More open to the common good. I don’t want to answer to a king or queen, but I do like having the ability to vote my prime minister out of office sooner than the next election cycle if he or she isn’t doing the job.

Capitalism and individualism made our country great, but so did the society we built. Our government must do a better job looking after the needs of its citizens when they can’t do for themselves. Material success means nothing if we step on others to achieve it. Material success means nothing if we plunder the Earth’s resources for corporate gain in the short term. What will be left for the future?

In my humble opinion, our children’s and grandchildren’s futures and society as a whole carry more weight than one mere individual’s or company’s selfish pursuit of profit. Justin Trudeau and Bernie Sanders get it.

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What’s Up With Trump?

Thousands of people would disagree with me, perhaps vehemently, but Donald Trump is a narcissistic jerk. A playground bully. What does he actually stand for? Does anyone know? Beyond building a big wall that he’ll charge Mexico for, does he have any plan for the country if he’s elected?

I’m afraid for America if that guy gets to the general election and actually wins. Judging from what I’ve seen on television, he’s rapidly dumbing down our culture even lower than it’s been going since the advent of reality TV. Is this the future my granddaughters have in front of them?

The GOP presidential race is nothing more than a cage match. Any candidate with any shred of dignity has dropped out. Regardless, none of them speak for me. I’m ashamed and embarrassed for my country.

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Democratic Socialism and Me

I began to come of age politically in the late 60s. My teenage idealism led me down the rebellious, anti-war path straight into the proverbial arms of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. How I dreamed of running off to join their antiwar protests in Montreal and Toronto!

Then I settled down to the business of growing up and finding a job, then settling down to start a family. Decades later, 1992 to be exact, I fell hard for Bill Clinton’s policies and prosthelytized to anyone who’d listen for half a second. Never mind his personal failings, I said. I’m electing a president, not a husband!

Bush 43 did his very best to kill my idealism and almost succeeded. Along came Obama, and the flame flickered again, hesitantly. Something told me his election was too good to be true. Eight years of arrogance and gridlock proved me right.

Then along comes Bernie. Democratic Socialism, hmmm. What’s that? The economy and the government should be run by the people, for the people? No more billionaires buying influence? Employee empowerment? I like the sound of that! A dream come true for the idealistic teenager that still lives inside me. The one who wore a black armband over the left sleeve of her Catholic school uniform to protest the Vietnam War. The one who believes that everyone should have access to the health care they need and an education necessary to build a life for themselves.

Yes, I know this system isn’t perfect. I did say that I’m idealistic. There’s a lot of arguing and compromise ahead if it has any chance at success. But we can make it work. Isn’t compromise what Congress did back in the days when grownups ran the country? We could blend the best of all our philosophies into a new form of democratic socialism that reflects our uniqueness. I did say that I’m idealistic.

Lest we forget: “We’ve all come to look for America …”

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I have nothing to be sad about today.

It’s no use freaking out over every little news development. This is our new normal. “If you see something, say something” bears repeating every day going forward. But until then, until (or if) we do see something, we cannot give in to fear. I am a fine one to talk. I was ready to move into my closet after Paris and, then, San Bernardino.

The truth is, I have nothing to be sad about. I live a peaceful life. My husband and I are in decent health, as is our family. We all have jobs and a roof over our heads and enough food to eat. Our granddaughters attend good schools. The trouble with me is that I am generally a fearful person. Can I learn to embrace life while remaining vigilant and mindful of the fact that bad things do happen to good people? That’s the challenge.

Living in the moment, that’s the thing. No one is threatening to take my freedom away today. I have nothing to be sad about today.

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Je suis Paris.

Image result for paris peace signThe Paris attacks make me sick at heart. And angry, as angry as when fundamentalists try to impose their beliefs on the rest of this country. No one has the divine right to change or destroy the lives of those who disagree with them. No one. These monsters believe they are the ordained instigators of the end of days. I don’t remember giving them the right to determine my fate.

OK, rant over. But the current state of affairs still distresses me. How many prayers must we say, how many candles must we light, to drive this evil away? I pray for peace every night. With all my heart, I want peace. Peace for all the innocent people, peace for all the plants and animals that share the Earth with us. This world isn’t just for humans, after all. Every suicide bomb, every machine gun attack, disrupts the balance.

The only thing I can control in this new normal is my reaction to it. And earnestly pray for peace. If the good energy my prayers generate can prevent just one attack, then that’s at least something.

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