Deciding in a topsy-turvy election year | Rich Elfers

As you may have surmised from my last three columns, I will not be voting for Donald Trump if he is the Republican nominee for president come November. Because of that, I decided to attend the Democratic caucus. I know the Democratic primary election will not be used for determining this state's nominee; only the caucus counts. Not very democratic of the Democrats, but, hey, it's politics.

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  • Friday, April 8, 2016 2:13pm
  • Opinion

As you may have surmised from my last three columns, I will not be voting for Donald Trump if he is the Republican nominee for president come November. Because of that, I decided to attend the Democratic caucus. I know the Democratic primary election will not be used for determining this state’s nominee; only the caucus counts. Not very democratic of the Democrats, but, hey, it’s politics.

There were lots of people at the caucus, probably at least 300, maybe as many as 500. The leader of the caucus said it was the biggest turnout since he started attending back in 1985.

It immediately became evident to me that Bernie Sanders was the overwhelming favorite over Hillary Clinton. Another thing that was obvious was that most of thosewho were going to vote for Bernie were between 18 and 45. Most of those voting for Hillary were 60 and older. In my precinct the numbers for Sanders were 19, with six for Clinton and four undecideds.

We all sat in a circle and had a chance to try to convince the undecideds and those favoring the other candidate to change their minds. I was impressed with the level of knowledge my neighbors had about the two candidates. One of the precinct speakers openly calculated that while he knew Clinton had the better chance of winning the nomination, he felt that having Washington state go for Sanders would send a message to Clinton about her over-coziness with Wall Street, and perhaps modify her position.

Another speaker noted that Sanders had 30,000 people attending his rallies when he came to the state recently, while Clinton could only muster a few thousand. While my fellow citizens did not agree on who would be the best Democratic nominee, we all did agree with a resounding cheer that no one wanted Donald Trump to win the election.

The Sanders’ supporters strongly favored their candidate’s honesty and consistent care for the average young person with their college debts, and for the middle class who have seen their jobs disappear. One man was frustrated that the Republicans would likely retain control of the House of Representatives, making a President Sanders just as frustrated as Obama has been with Republican obstructionism.

I argued that the real strength of any president, no matter the political party, is not bringing about domestic change, but in foreign affairs. Sanders’ focus is on domestic issues. He has little experience dealing with other nations while Clinton is much stronger in foreign affairs in such situations as Syria, China’s encroachment into the South China Sea and terrorist bombings.

Some argued back that Sanders could choose someone as secretary of state who was an expert. The problem with that approach is that the same argument could be made for voting for Donald Trump. That line of reasoning is that it’s based on hope, not observed experience. As they say about the presidency: “The buck stops here.”

Tellingly, no one altered their position at the end of our precinct discussion.

To give a bit of balance to this week’s column, a month or so ago, I went to hear Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant speak at a local restaurant.

I’m frustrated with Gov. Jay Inslee and with the Democrats who have controlled this state since 1985. Just like with products sold at grocery stores, political parties get stale if they’re in power too long. The Democrats have controlled this state well past their “sell by” date. Any line of thinking, be it Democrat or Republican, has inherent flaws that are only multiplied over time.

A friend who attended Bryant’s talk with me noted that Gov. Inslee is a legislator, not an executive. He recently vetoed 27 bills that came to his desk, not because they were bad, but because he wanted to force the legislature to be more disciplined and to end on time. That kind of thinking is nutty and immature.

Bill Bryant is a long-range thinker who has had political experience as Seattle port commissioner. According to a friend who worked at the port, he has done a good job. He has also been a business executive and run his own business. Republican Bill Bryant is the best candidate for governor this November.

There you have it: anti-Trump and pro-Bryant. This is a topsy-turvy election year and my choices thus far are just as paradoxical.

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