As you know, Pencilstorm stays away from political content. We have way more fun talking about all the good stuff in life. Well, except for the Browns. And besides, why should anybody listen to us anyway? If you want horse race politics, just visit 538 every fifteen minutes like I do.
Still, every four years, against my better judgement, I go public with how I am voting and my reasoning behind it. (click here for my 2012 manifesto) Before you completely lose your mind and blow up my comment section explaining all the ways I am wrong, which you are welcome to do, let's establish some ground rules:
1) I'm not telling you how to vote. Do what you want, I'm totally cool with it. That's called Democracy. It's not personal, it's just politics. Some people prefer Cheap Trick In Color, some prefer The Doctor. Variety is the spice of life.
2) If you emotionally can't handle an opinion different than yours or this might potentially ruin your day, you have the option to just stop reading. You can STOP RIGHT HERE.
Cool? Let's proceed.
In the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I feel really good about voting for Hillary Clinton.
My thinking is primarily two fold. As a small business owner, things have never been better for me than right now. I like the path we are on. I can say without question that my life and business are in much better shape than they were four, and especially eight, years ago. Hillary Clinton's resume is beyond compare and her broad knowledge on such a wide range of issues always leaves me impressed. Most importantly, I like her ability to remain calm and level-headed when under fire. I'll be the first to admit, I have no real understanding of how the global economy works, but I do worry a little about the bottom falling out of the economy on Wednesday November 8th if Donald Trump is elected. That's just my situation though.
As a parent, I often look at things through the prism of "Would I want my child to act that way on the playground?" or "Would I want Owen to see me act that way?" I agree with Charles Barkley that athletes shouldn't be role models, but I believe the President of the United States SHOULD be held to a higher standard than say, Cam Newton, when speaking in public. There have been numerous times this election when Donald Trump acted or said certain things about different people that I found especially mean-spirited and/or disturbing. I tried to imagine Owen watching me say or do the same thing. Or him saying the same thing about a girl or disabled person on the playground. I just can't get past it. Once again, I'm not telling you how to vote, Trump just isn't my guy.
However, in the spirit of being positive, I'll throw you Trump supporters a couple of bones. My Dad taught me to always find three things you like about anything or anybody. It helps you learn.
Three things I like about Trump even though I'm not voting for him.
1) For most of his life Trump was a liberal New York City Democrat and has been on record as supporting a single payer heath care system and how invading Iraq was a huge mistake. He also said during the primary debates that Planned Parenthood provides many valuable services. Since he seems to have no real core beliefs, I think he may be surprisingly flexible if elected.
2) He won't be preaching from the Oval Office. I'm a big fan of separation of church and state and the only three times Trump has stepped foot in church are the three times he has gotten married.
3) His core supporters are less-educated and under-employed white males. If he is truly going to "make America great again", he is going to have to convince a highly hostile Republican Congress to loosen up the purse strings and finally invest in the infrastructure update this country needs so badly. It would be a good thing if he could somehow pull this off.
Bonus reason: Being a casino guy, I bet Trump would make a push to legalize sports gambling nationwide. I could get behind that.
Final vote: Clinton
Grading myself this election cycle.
This is the first Presidential election where social media has truly been part of it from day one. Like most people, I would guess, I struggle with how and when to engage in the never ending online debate. On one hand, just to ignore it all and listen to The Hives is probably the wisest choice. What can I really do anyway? I'm just one dude with one lousy vote. On the other hand, by disengaging, am I just taking the easy way out and conceding the discussion to the hordes of cyber-bullies trolling the internet night and day?
(Before going further, a little background about my upbringing. My grandfather on my Mother's side was the Democratic house minority leader for the state of Illinois. Growing up, my mother (RIP) and myself would constantly argue politics around the dinner table. It was completely normal for us to raise voices at each other but it was never personal. We just liked to debate. I know we would drive my Dad and sister crazy and many times they would tell us to please just shut up. So I'm used to a heated exchange and then...... moving on. To this day I drive my wife and son a little crazy around the election spoiling for a fight. If she were looking down, I'm sure Mom would be itching to join in and remind me to "engage brain before putting mouth in motion.")
So, when I do post politics online, I try to deal exclusively in facts and by sharing information I find interesting from reputable writers and sources. I don't believe in conspiracy theories or rigged elections. I don't share that stuff. I believe man walked on the moon, Elvis is really dead, and that climate change was caused by a combination of Bigfoot and the Chinese. You know, normal stuff that can be easily proven. Word to the wise, "mainstream media" doesn't cover crazy shit because if it's not true, they would get sued. The rest of us "bloggers" don't have to worry about that because we don't have any money worth pursuing in court.
Lastly and most importantly, I do my best to stay positive and respectful of differing opinions, and be a good example for others. I don't want to get drawn into the mud-pit. Many times I write a response to something I find offensive and then just delete before I post. This makes me feel better and I don't run the risk of doing something I would later regret. I hope I haven't lost any friends. I never intended too. (real friends)
It should be noted that as a coffee shop owner who sees a hundred or so real people everyday, I rarely, if ever engage in political talk. Folks are just trying to get on the with their life and don't need an earful from the local coffee guy. I will occasionally ask for a source if somebody keeps repeating an especially ignorant comment but that is about it. The source is invariably "I read it online."
Overall, I would give myself a B-. I could probably shut up a little more. If I could do it it all over again, that would be my goal. In fact, you could probably put that on my tombstone, Colin Gawel R.I.P. "Nice guy, but he could have shut up a little more."
Ohio Senate Race: Portman vs Strickland
I don't know. I guess I'm happy Portman finally got around to joining Governor Kasich in withdrawing support for Trump but was disappointed it took the ill-fated words from Donald, "I just grab 'em by the pussy and they can't stop me" to get Senator Portman to stand up and do the right thing. Unlike Senator Brown, Portman seems to blow whichever way the polls are going. I guess there are worse things.
Still, it's hard to endorse a candidate like Strickland who folded his campaign before it even started.
Final vote: Portman has this thing won so do what you want.
Other Issues I Barely Understand and Candidates I Don't Know.
I don't know who Cathy Johnson is, but somebody is running a world class smear campaign against her. "Cathy Johnson....hates schools, and kids and puppies...". Obviously, some very powerful lobby or corporation has something to fear from Cathy.
I'm voting for Cathy Johnson
I'm voting against incumbents in the Ohio state house races because both Hughes and Kunze hit term limits and now are just swapping offices to avoid them. That's not really the spirit of the law. I may have to run for one of those offices next time with a promise to only try re-election once and then moving on.
Locally I'm voting for Susan Ralph for Upper Arlington City Council. I don't know the in's and out's of the issues but I have two good friends that speak very highly of her on a personal level. That's good enough for me.
Isn't there some Library thing too? I'll vote for that. Books get you learned.
Alright, I better get back to serving customers. Best of luck to all you Democracy lovers. I hope your lines move fast and the sun shines bright. I'm hoping to spend election day doing some hiking in Hocking Hills myself.
Colin Gawel owns Colin's Coffee and plays in the band Watershed. You can read about him in the book Hitless Wonder. He lives in Upper Arlington, OH with his wife and 7th grade son. You can see him in his latest video by clicking here. He once ranked every single Cheap Trick song.
Whenever I get stressed about politics, I just watch The Hives. It's brings me peace.