Saturday, December 10, 2016

Guest Post: Why Lord of the Flies is the perfect Christmas gift for 2016


Matthew Whittle, University of Leeds


It’s the story of a society in which democracy descends into tribalism and tyranny. One of a civilisation built by those committed to the rule of law who turn on each other, scapegoating the marginalised and powerless. Ultimately, it’s a reminder of a human barbarism lying just beneath the fragile veneer of decency.

Sound familiar? That’s right: it’s the plot of Lord of the Flies, a novel about a group of English boys who survive a plane crash and are marooned on an island in the South Pacific. After a short period of harmony, a power struggle between the two leaders, Ralph and Jack, causes the group to split. Jack wins out by promising to hunt and kill a common enemy – the strange phantom living in the jungle known only as the Beast. It’s a successful campaign of fear and division.

Lord of the Flies
was first published in 1954, largely in response to the rise of Nazism and the horrors of World War II. And yet, in many ways, it speaks directly to the world of 2016, where austerity, the refugee crisis, Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump have emboldened nationalist fervour and stoked societal fragmentation.

The racialised language of tribal “savagery” in the novel quite rightly makes contemporary readers bristle. It marks author William Golding’s failure to move beyond a fundamentally eurocentric and colonialist view of the world. But ultimately, the book’s message is that “savagery” is universal. It is not racially or nationally defined. It’s a moral that encourages us to reflect on just how far-right extremism has crept back into mainstream politics throughout Europe and America.

The far right traffics in the populist language of national allegiance to legitimate racism. America’s so-called alt-right, France’s National Front, UKIP and xenophobic Leavers in Britain all feed off dissatisfaction with globalisation to create enemies within. The solution to complex economic and political realities for these groups is as simple as hunting the Beast. Jack lives on in Trump, Le Pen, and Farage.

The voice of reason


In counterpoint to Jack’s sloganeering and scaremongering, Lord of the Flies gives us Piggy and Simon. The former is a firm believer in scientific progress, but he is also aware that human progress will be halted if “we get frightened of people”. Piggy is debilitated when the boys steal his glasses – his means of vision and clarity – and use them to start a fire. They instantly lose control of the flames, leading to the destruction of part of their new home. Rather than representing the first act of a united civilisation, the making of fire signals the disunity that splits the group and leads, finally, to Piggy’s death at the hands of Jack’s tribe.

If Piggy is “progress” then Simon is “reason”. He knows that the Beast isn’t real and is in fact borne of the boys’ own fear. “However Simon thought of the beast,” we’re told, “there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick.” Despite this insight, Simon is regarded as weak and is shunned.

After a lone expedition, he discovers that the Beast is no more than a dead airman – a casualty of the war raging far off in the distance, whose parachute has swept him onto the island. Simon returns to camp to share the news, but the boys’ imagination awakens a blind desire for blood. They no longer see a fellow human being, only a threat to their society. Simon’s screams are drowned out by the “tearing of teeth and claws”.

During his 1962 lecture tour of American universities, Golding discussed his reasons for writing Lord of the Flies:

My book was to say: you think that now the [Second World War] is over and an evil thing destroyed, you are safe because you are naturally kind and decent. But I know why the thing rose in Germany. I know it could happen in any country.

So far, so bleak. And yet, while Golding depicts humankind’s propensity for prejudice, there is a small glimmer of hope. After fleeing the manhunt ordered by Jack, Ralph encounters a uniformed naval officer whose vessel has landed after seeing the smoke rising from the scorched island. As Ralph weeps “for the end of innocence”, the officer turns around to let his eyes rest on his warship in the distance. This final image of the book is a moment of self-reflection. In the savagery and environmental catastrophe of the boys’ rudimentary civilisation, the adult world is afforded a vision of its own folly.

The moral of Lord of the Flies isn’t just that barbarity knows no borders. It’s also that it can be prevented from flourishing through the commitment to a shared humanity. “If humanity has a future on this planet of a hundred million years,” said Golding in his 1962 lecture, “it is unthinkable that it should spend those aeons in a ferment of national self-satisfaction and chauvinistic idiocies.”

The novel may not be a heart-warming Christmas tale, but it gifts us an unflinching portrayal of a society driven by fear. For readers in 2016, it remains both an urgent warning and an invocation.

The Conversation

Matthew Whittle, Teaching Fellow in English (Contemporary and Postcolonial), University of Leeds

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

What Was Daily Life Like on December 7, 1941?

Seventy-five years ago today, an attack on a remote American naval outpost – Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – rousted the United States out of its confidence in its own isolation from the world war that was already two years old.

True, politicians and military leaders were expecting an attack sometime soon. The date and time were unknown, but relations with Japan had deteriorated enough that some kind of assault was considered inevitable.

On the home front, however, people went along in their daily lives, made somewhat nervous by news reports from the war zones. Recovery from the Depression was moving along, although the pre-war growth of defense industries was largely unacknowledged as a stimulant.

Conditions on the home front during World War II have always been fascinating for me, more than the war overseas. This may be because, as a child, the stories I heard from my parents – who were still children in the 1940s – and my grandparents – who did not serve in the Armed Forces – were all about the war at home: ration cards, civil defense drills, shortages of consumer goods, scrap drives. Movies like Woody Allen’s Radio Days or Meg Ryan’s Ithaca pull at me.

So on this anniversary of the Japanese Empire's attack on Pearl Harbor, I want to look at the normalcy that was disrupted that Sunday morning. For this, I turn to three historians.

Five years ago, I reviewed a book by Stanley Weintraub called Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941. Here’s an excerpt:

I picked up Pearl Harbor Christmas by chance at a local bookstore and bought it on a whim, thinking that it primarily would focus on the home front in the weeks following the Pearl Harbor attack and how Americans adjusted their holiday celebrations to the new realities of having been thrust into war.

Pearl Harbor ChristmasThe book has some of that, and Weintraub is able to draw an adequate picture of what the Christmas season of 1941 was like.

Wartime black-out rules had not yet dimmed Christmas lights, and Christmas trees themselves, Weintraub says, “were plentiful, seldom priced at more than a dollar or two.” Rockefeller Center presented its annual Christmas show, featuring the Rockettes, and people were still reading comic strips and going to the movies.

“The hit book for Christmas giving,” he writes in a prelude, “at a hefty $2.50, was Edna Ferber’s Reconstruction-era romance Saratoga Trunk. For the same price, war turned up distantly yet bombastically in a two-disc set of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, performed by Artur Rodzinski and the Cleveland Orchestra.”

Weintraub goes on to list the prices of crates of citrus fruits (“$2.79 at Bloomingdales”) and new cars (“soon to be unobtainable”) for $900. Silk stockings were $1.25 a pair, and nylon stockings – which would also quickly disappear as the fabric was needed for parachutes – were $1.65.

In a clever turn of phrase, he writes about upscale clothing shops:

“Hattie Carnegie’s designer dresses began at $15. The upscale Rogers Peet menswear store offered suits and topcoats from a steep $38. (At recruiting stations nationwide, the army was offering smart khaki garb at no cost whatever to enlistees.)”
Craig Shirley, who is best known for his books about Ronald Reagan, wrote December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World. In his chapter on “The Seventh of December” he describes the normal atmosphere that prevailed even in the Hawaiian Islands that day:
Craig Shirley December 1941Most American newspapers Sunday morning were by and large quiet when it came to the Pacific crisis. The Honolulu Advertiser was covering local news involving housing issues, a display by the Shriners, and the typical international war news coming from Russia, Germany, and England. There was also a special feature on where children could see Santa Claus – from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. that day – in front of a fake fireplace in the lobby of the newspaper. Another front-page story reported on the newly formed “Razor Blades for Britain Committee in Hawaii,” which was taking up a collection because blades could no longer be purchased in England as all steel was being devoted to their war effort. “All razor blade donations … must be new,” the story cautioned.

Inside, stories and features favorably reviewed the movie A Yank in the R.A.F.; announced clipper tours between Hawaii, the West Coast, Midway, Wake Island, and the Philippines; and detailed the ongoing prostitution problems on Hawaii.
Note how all those Pacific places would become acutely known in the coming year.

Half a world away, Shirley notes what was going on in the nation’s capital:
In the Washington Star, only one story was devoted to the Far East while the rest of the war and foreign news was about the Russian Front, North Africa, and the North Atlantic. The other news of the day covered sports, the weather, traffic reports, human-interest stories, metro articles, editorials, and columns. The most human of human-interest stories ran across the wires on Sunday morning about the death of a ninety-seven-year-old man, “Ray Fritman, who had spent a lifetime seeking his true identity…. He became lost during a parade in New York in 1852 and never saw his parents again.” He got his name from an orphanage in New York, fought in the Civil War, and later taught school in Indiana.
(I interviewed Craig Shirley about December 1941 at the 2014 Virginia Festival of the Book.)

In God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War, a book entirely about the home front (and about an even narrower niche than that), historian Kathleen E.R. Smith of Northwestern State University of Louisiana also writes about the morning of December 7:
God Bless America Kathleen Smith Tin Pan Alley Goes to WarEarlier that fall and winter of 1941, when America’s war against Japan had not yet begun, preparations for the holiday season had overshadowed the threat of war. On the first Sunday of December 1941, newspapers carried the usual pre-holiday stories and advertisements. The New York Times filled dozens of pages with gift suggestions. W & J Sloan invited shoppers to visit their “Gay Main Floor” for Christmas presents that ranged from crystal seahorse bookends at $3.95 a pair to a $160.00 coffee table made from a drum used in the War of 1812. The Davega Music Company reminded shoppers of the big sale on Emerson “Miracle Tone” table radios at $34.95. Liberty Music Shop extolled the Deluxe Capehart radio-phonograph as “a time-proved record-changer that turns the record for listeners.” It played twenty records (forty selections) on both sides, providing three hours of uninterrupted music. Prices started at $595.00.
Newspapers weren’t the only medium that revealed more about the normal than the nervous. Smith recounts what the entertainment media had scheduled for the day:
December 7, 1941, began for most Americans as another early winter Sunday morning. Radio programs on the major networks for Sunday afternoon offered a wide choice for the listener: popular music (Sammy Kaye’s Sunday Serenade); drama (Great Play’s version of Inspector General); symphonic music (the New York Philharmonic with guest pianist Artur Rubinstein); pro football (Brooklyn Dodgers vs. New York Giants); and current events (Wake Up America’s panel discussion on “Can There Be a Substantial Reduction in Nondefense Expenditures of the Federal Government?”). And in a twist of irony that would not go unnoticed at the time, on their 5:00 p.m. show the Moylan Sisters planned to sing a favorite tune, “The End of a Perfect Day.”
At the beginning of December 1941, Americans had no idea how long they would be at war. Fortunately, World War II lasted less than four years, unlike the perpetual war that has engaged us since September 2001. Yet, culturally, those four years continue to fascinate and inform us.

Cross-posted from Bearing Drift, where this essay first appeared in slightly different form and under a different headline.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Who Are You Voting for Today? It's Not Who You Think It Is

As noted not long ago, elsewhere in these pages, when voters go to the polls today to cast their ballots for President and Vice President, they are not actually voting for Donald Trump or Gary Johnson or Hillary Clinton. Those candidates receive votes only indirectly.

Voters cast their ballots, instead, for slates of electors selected by the political parties (or, in the case of independent candidates, by the campaign organization).

electoral college t-shirtIn Virginia, each party selects two at-large electors and one from each of the eleven congressional districts. The Republican Party (and, I would guess, the Democratic Party) selected its slate of electors at the state party convention (for at-large slots) and at congressional district conventions.

The executive committee of the Libertarian Party selected its slate late in 2015 because all 13 names had to be included on the ballot access petitions that were circulated for the purpose of collecting a sufficient number of signatures to qualify the LP’s candidates for the ballot. The ballot petition included "stand-in" candidates for president and vice president, because Gary Johnson and William Weld were not nominated until nearly six months after the petitioning process began; their names were substituted after the petitions were turned in to the State Board of Elections. Presumably the Green Party followed a similar process.

Evan McMullin’s elector selection process was more opaque; even his running mate listed on the ballot, Nathan Johnson, is not McMullin’s actual running mate (Mindy Finn), although it’s unlikely that will matter by Wednesday morning.

Names of electors this year may be more relevant than in past years because of the possibility that one or more of them may go rogue and cast a ballot for candidates other than those who win the popular vote in their states. Two Washington state electors, who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, have already announced that they will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she wins in the Evergreen State.

For the sake of full transparency in the electoral process, and to document this election thoroughly for future historians, here are the names of the 65 individuals who have agreed to serve as electors if their favored candidate wins the popular vote in Virginia on November 8. (Names are followed by “city of record,” as noted by the State Board of Elections.)

Green Party electors: Audrey R. Clement, Arlington; Becker Sidney Smith, Pamplin; Clifford Barry Anderson, Radford; Daniel A. Metraux, Staunton; Edmund E. Dowe II, Virginia Beach; Gerald L. Anderson, Fredericksburg; Jana Lee Cutlip, Charlottesville; Jeffrey B. Staples, Chesapeake; Kirit Mookerjee, Washington, DC; Patrick O. Hopkins, Herndon; Richard D. Johnston, Louisa; Ryan R. Ruff, Portsmouth; William Michael Lupinacci, Oakton
Notice that the “city of record” of one Green Party elector, Kirit Mookerjee, is listed as “Washington, DC.” Is this legal?
Democratic Party electors: Bethany J. Rowland, Chesapeake; Debra Stevens Fitzgearld, Harrisonburg; James Harold Allen Boyd, Culpeper; Jasper L. Hendricks, III, Pamplin; Jeanette C. Sarver, Dublin; K. James O'Connor, Jr., Manassas; Kathy Stewart Shupe, Sterling; Keith A. Scarborough, Woodbridge; Lashrecse D. Aird, Petersburg; Susan Johnson Rowland, Chesapeake; Terry C. Frye, Bristol; Virginia L. Peters, Alexandria; Vivian J. Paige, Norfolk
Here’s an oddity: Both the Democratic Party slate and the Green Party slate include an elector whose city of record is Pamplin, a postal designation in Virginia that I’ve previously never encountered. Is that coincidence?
Republican Party electors: Alan John Cobb, Falls Church; Anne Taetzsch Fitzgerald, Staunton; Cynthia Marie Miller (Byler), Virginia Beach; Donald L. Boswell, Glen Allen; Erich D. Reimer, Charlottesville; George William Thomas, Jr., Richmond; Henry Michael Ziegenfuss, Norfolk; James G. Huber, Leesburg; John V. Rainero, Bristol; Laurie K. Tryfiates, Fredericksburg; Lynn A. Tucker, Richmond; Samuel A. Howe, Lynchburg; Sean M. Spicer, Alexandria
That last name listed for the GOP, Sean Spicer, is principal spokesman for the Republican National Committee. He’ll probably be too busy today to campaign for himself outside his home precinct in Alexandria.
Libertarian Party electors: Alvin Scott Bandy, Charlottesville; Brian A. Hiner, Roanoke; Constance Hannigan-Franck, Broadlands; David W. Saum, Falls Church; Donna L. Grebas, Chesterfield; Gregory Ivan Lloyd, North Chesterfield; James J. St. John, Norfolk; James W. Lark, III, Free Union; Juanita A. Walton Billings, Fredericksburg; M. Anne Panella, Pembroke; Robert F. Shuford, Jr., Hampton; Sanford Brotman, Fairfax; William B. Redpath, Leesburg
The Libertarian Party slate includes two former national party chairmen, Jim Lark and Bill Redpath. (Full disclosure: I was on the LP elector slate in 1992 and again in 1996, but the GOP electors were chosen by the voters those years.)
Evan McMullin/Nathan Johnson electors: Andrew Hemby, Henrico; Annie H. Pratt, Gainesville; Bruce M. Andrew, Fredericksburg; Daniel Martin Eaton, Charlottesville; Deborah Kathryn Strader, Newport News; Jonathan C. Morris, Norfolk; Joseph R. Mayes, Chester; Kelsey C. Carreon, Clifton; Matthew Phillip LaPointe, Falls Church; Monica G. Shafer, Smithfield; Nanette M. Gagnon, Woodstock; Steven D. Bridges, Marion; Wilson R. Dodge, Jr., Burke
The McMullin/Johnson slate contains nothing noteworthy, from what I can see – but if it does, please tell us in the comments section, below.

Whichever slate of electors is elected by voters tomorrow, the lucky thirteen will meet on Wednesday, December 19, at 12 o'clock noon in the Senate Chamber at the Virginia State Capitol. A limited number of tickets are available for members of the public to watch the balloting ceremony.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Today's RTD: Should presidential electors exercise independent judgment?

In the commentary section of today's Richmond Times-Dispatch, I argue that presidential electors can, and should, exercise independent judgment when they cast their states electoral votes in December.

In "Electors should vote their consciences," I begin by telling the story of Roger MacBride, a Virginia elector in 1972 who was pledged to vote for incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon. MacBride chose, instead, to cast his ballots for the Libertarian ticket of John Hospers and Tonie Nathan.

The Libertarian Party had been founded barely a year earlier, and its presidential ticket appeared on the ballots of only four states. (Nixon, you may recall, thumped George McGovern that year, winning every state but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. He went on to resign in disgrace two years later.) The notoriety MacBride achieved by this brazen act catapulted him, four years later, to become the LP's second presidential nominee.

While "faithless electors" may break the law in some states, what few court decisions that have addressed the matter indicate that presidential electors may vote their consciences:

State laws (like Virginia’s) that bind electors to particular candidates have rarely, if ever, been tested. An Oklahoma elector in 1960 who voted for Virginia Sen. Harry F. Byrd rather than Richard Nixon did so even though he was threatened with a $1,000 fine. “I am not worried about $1,000,” he said, and the only penalty imposed on him was a refusal to pay his travel expenses to Oklahoma City.

Few court decisions have addressed the independence of presidential electors. An 1896 Kansas court decision said that electors were under “no legal obligation” to support any particular candidate and were “authorized to use their own judgment as to the proper eligible persons to fill these high offices.” In 1948, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that all electors were free to vote as they pleased, because it was “only by force of a moral obligation, not a legal one, that the presidential electors pledged to certain candidacies fulfill their pledges after election.”

Each elector can make up his or her mind about whether to follow the election returns or to vote independently, but this year's decision making process carries unusual moral and ethical weight. Both of the two largest parties have nominated flawed presidential candidates. While Democratic electors are, for the most part, satisfied with Hillary Clinton (if not enthusiastic about her) as their party's candidate, Republican electors are, like Republicans at large, conflicted about Donald J. Trump.

So, I argue:

The electors’ right to independent judgment may be most pertinent this year, when GOP presidential electors are expected to vote for a nominee who has brought shame to their party. The vulgar and impolitic Trump has expressed contempt for the Constitution, undermined confidence in the integrity of the electoral system, dismissed any interest in the legislative process, and been at loggerheads with time-tested conservative, Republican values.

A Republican “faithless elector” in 2016 will bravely and astutely avoid the future taint of association with Trump, the most unfit character ever to seek the presidency, simply by casting his ballot for Gary Johnson (my choice, and the choice of this newspaper) or another suitable person.

If either Democratic or Republican electors, in Virginia or elsewhere, choose to vote their consciences on December 19, I'll give them full credit for having moral courage. It would be nice to think my op/ed piece influenced their choices -- and perhaps some of them will have seen it, since (if the metrics app is believable) more than 3,700 readers have recommended the article to their friends on Facebook.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Gary Johnson on Donald Trump's contempt for democratic transitions: 'Unbelievable'

Last night, in the third and final Democratic-Republican presidential debate, GOP candidate Donald J. Trump suggested that he may not accept the results of the election on November 8, continuing his theme of asserting that massive electoral fraud will take place and that is the only reason he will lose to Hillary Clinton.

Today, Trump doubled down on his refusal to accept the central tenet of American democracy, that when a person or party loses an election, they become the loyal opposition and wait for another opportunity to win public office.

According to the Associated Press:

Trump kicked off a rally Thursday in Delaware, Ohio, by saying that he "would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supports and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election."

But he added: "If I win."

In response to Trump's bizarre break with tradition, the Libertarian Party's nominee for President, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, issued this statement:
Gary Johnson
“As a former Governor, who was elected and served as a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, I have to say that Donald Trump’s refusal to say he will accept the outcome of an election is just one more straw too many. It’s offensive to the thousands of election officials across the nation, and it’s offensive to a nation for which the integrity of elections is what sets us apart from much of the world.

“Peaceful transition of power, which depends entirely upon honoring the results of elections, is as fundamental to our greatness and Constitution as anything else we do in America, and Donald Trump can’t even accept that fundamental without hedging.

“Unbelievable.”
Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, have achieved ballot access in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia -- the first third-party presidential ticket to do so since Libertarian Harry Browne and his running mate, Jo Jorgensen, did it in 1996.


Guest Post: Vote Against Both Evils, by Will Hammer

This November 8th, if you decide to vote, you have a huge choice to make. You can either vote for a corrupt crony politician, or you can vote for a vulgar corrupt crony reality TV star. Because of the media, the partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, and the two major parties who have a vested interest in only having two parties, you would think those are your only choices.

Will Hammer, left, with Robert Sarvis in Buena Vista, Virginia
Well, you actually do have a choice at the ballot box this November. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, is on the ballot in all 50 states and D.C. He is an honest and a great man, not your typical crony politician or a bigoted, morally corrupt, gaudy salesman. Do I agree with Johnson on everything? No, but he is leaps and bounds better than Clinton or Trump and represents real change from the business as usual in Washington that has gotten us here. Is Gary Johnson perfect? No, but he actually admits that and it’s refreshing when a politician admits their humanity. Will you agree with him on everything? Probably not, but at least you know he does not have an agenda and he’s not speaking out of both sides of his mouth, or other orifice.

The biggest smear the media can come up with for Johnson is his ‘Aleppo moment’, in which he didn’t know what Aleppo was when randomly asked during a live interview. Should he have been able to answer that question? Of course, he’s running for President, but it’s definitely not a disqualifier. I’d rather have someone whose foreign policy won’t cause Syrian and other middle eastern strife, than someone who would know, but only because she was part of the administration that caused the major humanitarian crisis. He had another moment where he couldn’t name a foreign leader he respected. A week later, he still can’t. The media would have you believe that he couldn’t name ANY foreign leader, but that’s untrue. He cannot name a current foreign leader he admires and he explained that he doesn’t want to defend them against things that he’s not even aware of. Again, this was an unscripted, live question. The other candidates NEVER have unscripted questions. They are screened, planted, and given well beforehand to prepare.

So those are Gary Johnson’s big ‘scandals.’ Now, let’s compare those to Trump and Clinton. If I were to include all of them, this article would take up the whole newspaper, not 1600 words. Trump and Clinton are different sides of the same corrupt, crony coin. One sells her political power and influence and the other buys it. Trump is definitely no outsider, and Clinton is no progressive politician putting people before profits.

Trump has a horrible temperament and would be a disaster diplomatically, saying whatever came to his head on a whim in public, completely alienating us and quite frankly being a national embarrassment. He has spoken about media organizations such as the Washington Post having issues if he becomes President because of stories they have written about him. He has spoken about companies such as Amazon (both owned by Jeff Bezos) getting taxed essentially out of business. His careless speech may even incite violence, with him making suggestions about gun owners taking care of Clinton and many other situations. Trump has exploited horrible eminent domain laws to obtain private land to build his developments. He scammed people with Trump University, used bankruptcy to screw people and contractors over while walking away with millions, and the list goes on. He’s a bigot, demonizing Mexicans and others. And he’s a misogynist, saying crude and horrible things to and about various women. That’s bad enough, but we have just found out that he sexually assaults women and brags about it in private. This latest revelation was caught via a hot mic. Some are defending him, saying that it’s ‘locker room’ talk. Of course men do that, just as women do the same. But, there is a HUGE difference between what Trump said and ‘locker room’ talk. Trump actually talked about how being famous and a star allows him to sexually assault women and get away with it. I could care less about the “lewd language”, I care about the actions he described and he gets away with. This is DISGUSTING. This is it, this is your moment of truth. Are you going to defend and vote for this loathsome egomaniac?

Gary Johnson and William Weld at Libertarian Party Convention, May 2016
Clinton is definitely no saint either. Clinton is about as hawkish as they come. She voted for the Iraq War, costing thousands of US lives, an estimated 250-500k Iraqi lives, instability, and nearly $2 TRILLION. She was Secretary of State while the Obama administration bombed at least 8 countries, thousands upon thousands of innocent lives. She was part of regime change that created more and more instability, which led to the rise of ISIS. Simply put, she is one of the biggest advocates for and participants in our horrible foreign policy that has cost us US lives, innocent foreign lives, trillions of dollars, created more terrorists and allowed for ISIS to fill the void, and so on. War is a racket and Clinton is no peace candidate. The Clinton Foundation and pay to play with foreign governments/leaders. Recently she has also had some scandals involving emails. A leak revealed the DNC conspired to make sure Bernie Sanders did not receive nomination and that Clinton would. As a Ron Paul supporter in 2007 and 2012, I feel your pain and disgust Sander supporters.There is also the private email server that was in a bathroom that Clinton used instead of secure servers provided by the government for classified and official business while Secretary of the State. The FBI decided not to pursue charges against Clinton, but made it clear that she was extremely careless and frankly inept at handling classified information. But, why the double standard? Others have been charged with mishandling classified information, not intentionally. 30,000 emails deleted with BleachBit, 30 new emails recovered by FBI recently related to Benghazi, Clinton IT specialist asking Reddit how to alter ‘very VIP’ emails, and the list goes on. And now, the same day that Trump’s sexual groping audio comes to light, Wikileaks has released emails from Clinton’s campaign manager, revealing excerpts from Clinton’s Goldman Sach and other speeches, where she has earned more than $22 million, such as “If everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”

I recommend voting against both evils and voting for Gary Johnson. He is a two term Republican governor from a heavily Democratic state, as is his running mate Bill Weld. They will bring sanity and non-partisanship to the office, reaching across the aisle and working with coalitions of all parties. They are fiscally responsible and socially accepting, like the majority of Americans. They do not want to continue our failed foreign policy of drone strikes, invasions, backing various rebel groups, and overthrowing governments. They want to balance our budget and stop the growing $20 trillion deficit, which has doubled under Bush and then again under Obama. Reject both of the two major party Presidential candidates, the most hated in US history. The Democrats and Republicans believe they own your vote. They do not, you own your own vote. A vote for anyone is not a vote for someone else, like the narrative they are trying to play right now. Gary Johnson is polling roughly 10% nationally. But these are polls that do not include people under 40 (which actually favor Johnson) and/or have only Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the top line, head to head. In reality, they are not going head to head. This is at least a 3 way race in all 50 states, and a 4 way race in most states with Jill Stein. Johnson is polling over 19% in five states, over 15% in 15 states, and over 10% in 42 states. He currently is actually polling within margin or error to Trump in New Mexico. If Gary Johnson does get 10% in Virginia, then the Libertarian Party would get major party status and be able to run candidates within obtaining the ridiculous amount of signatures required currently. There are many other states where Johnson’s success would create more choice on the ballot as well. If he was allowed on the debate stage, run by the Commission on Presidential Debates which was founded by former Democrat and Republican national chairs, then I have no doubt that he would be even higher, and possibly overtake both candidates. But thanks to Ross Perot’s success, who was polling lower than Johnson and was allowed to debate, the CPD raised the arbitrary percentage to be in the debates. It’s a scam and even the League of Women Voters, who used to run the Presidential debates, dropped their sponsorship because they did not want to help “perpetuate a fraud on the American people.” Even dozens of major newspapers and publications are calling for Gary Johnson’s inclusion into the debate, with over 60% of polled Americans wishing for Johnson to be included. Gary Johnson has even received six major newspaper endorsements, to Trump’s zero.

Will Hammer is a Libertarian who ran in 2014 for U.S. Congress and 2015 for Virginia House of Delegates. Hammer was the sole recipient of the Libertarian Party’s Patrick Henry award in 2016, which recognizes a very effective campaign for public office at the state or federal level, while communicating Libertarian ideas, principles, and values.