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Pick a number between one and ten. At the end of this blog post I’m gonna tell you what you guessed. No fair peeking.

Two topics to avoid in mixed company, or so I hear, are religion and politics. I don’t adhere to this social guideline myself, but I rather imagine it goes without saying that combining the two is probably worse than just talking about one or the other. So let’s do that. Sounds like fun.

Lena Thorne of Houston Texas’ World Can’t Wait Movement was quoted in the Dallas Morning News today. “Humanity and the planet come first,” she said. “We can’t accept Obama as the lesser of two evils.” News flash, that’s exactly what people are doing. You can claim we can’t do that, but we are doing that. Also, who died and said humanity and the planet come first? As I tried to explain in yesterday’s blogpost, most of the universe wants to destroy us. This planet is like a pothole and we are like a puddle in that pothole, and it just takes a car driving by or a day in the sun to make both the puddle and the pothole inhospitable to existence. Humanity is a twinkle in the eye of reality, and that’s being kind. We do not come first, no matter how much you believe we do.

I don’t know what Lena Thorne’s politics are (or why a newspaper would bother to quote her) but she said this while protesting at the Democratic National Convention so my guess is we can rule her out as a Democrat; otherwise she woulda been inside with the other crazy Democrats instead of outside with the other crazy Republicans and Independents and Whackamoles getting quoted randomly by newspapers. Thorne may presume Republicans are for humanity and the environment. She may believe this wholeheartedly. There is no evidence supporting that belief, but that doesn’t seem to matter to people who barter in belief, does it?

I’ve only skimmed the recent DNC and RNC crap enough to know that I’m so not their target audience. The leadership on both sides of ‘the aisle’ know they can’t convince people like me who have already made up our minds, so they’re preaching to their respective choirs. I guess they hope one of their own will somehow reach out to me and make me a convert. Fire up your base, get a grass roots fire burning, and see if you can’t make blue states red or vice versa. This political tactic is just like how religious leaders send their followers out while carrying pamphlets and flowers to airports and bus depots and any place where there’s a lot of people. Send out your gullible to fish for the even more gullible. Be “fishers of men.” You’re not even gonna catch flies with that, honey.

However, I am precisely the kind of person these two opposing sides would target if in fact they actually had real answers. I’m still a registered voter, but I’ve stopped voting by choice. I used to vote until I realized it doesn’t matter. Even when my guy won, it wasn’t cuz I voted. The conservatives in Texas have made damn certain the liberal voice is not heard. I’ve heard liberals respond to that by saying, “that’s just what they want you to think.” No you don’t get it. They rigged it so that even if you jump up and down and wave your arms, you will not be heard in the state of Texas. Democracy simply doesn’t work down here anymore, and it hasn’t at least since Carter beat Ford; possibly even before that. I bet if you dig around in how districts were decided in your neck of the woods, you’ll find similar bullshit: politics is a game of three card monty in a dark alley, and someone’s about to run off with your cash.

They know this. Both sides know this, but they also know YOU “believe” American politics still do work, and they don’t want to mess with your beliefs, do they?

One word I have noticed consistently used in practically every speech given the past few weeks regardless of which convention. That word is “belief.” In the first ten minutes Bill Clinton used it so many times I lost count. The republicans talked about what their parents believed and what they believed and what their children believed and what they know Romney and Ryan believe and oh it’s all over the place. Belief. Faith. Don’t have to actually guarantee a belief. Don’t have to make promises. Just believe fervently in your heart that it will be so, and God bless America.

You believe we’re gonna get out of this economic downturn. You believe we’ll get more jobs in the next four years but only if you vote for that guy. You believe in an America like it used to be, or you believe in an America we can build upon starting today. You believe in the past and the present and the future and mankind and that person over there and you believe in fried jambalaya and you believe in peace love and naked rabbits and apple pie and the star spangled banner and my country tis of thee and you believe if a woman who got shot point blank in the head can now recite the pledge of allegiance with a smile on her face wow anything is possible isn’t it?

Even I almost believe that last one. Almost.

They believe in their guy. They believe their guy will make things better. They can’t prove it, but they believe it. They believe that other guy is gonna make things worse. They believe the other side got us in this mess and their side will get us out. History and evidence show a less bias and also less comfortable answer. Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan preached something now known as “Trickle Down Reaganomics.” The idea is if you give the richest people in your society tax breaks and lessen regulation on their corporate behavior, they will prosper and their prosperity will trickle down to the lower classes. Thirty years later, the vast majority of US wealth is in the hands of a very small percentage of rich Americans.

There is no trickle down. This is not an opinion. This is not a belief. This is fact. Trickle down does not work.

Before that though, a Democrat named Franklin Delano Roosevelt came up with a lot of programs designed to help the American people. It was supposed to work like a bridge to get the downtrodden back on their feet. Sometimes this does work, but sometimes people take advantage of the system and use it to their advantage, so they can milk off the public teat indefinitely, and not actually contribute to society. Not every single person who partakes of government programs is purposefully gaming the system, but a lot of people are. And still other people intend to use it as a stepping stone and they want to get back out into the real world and become a positive productive part of the system, but one thing leads to another and no matter what they try, they get stuck.

It’s a bridge back to prosperity for some, but for others, its still a dead end street with no way out. Now, both Reagan and Roosevelt looked at the economic problems facing their society and they both came up with solutions, and they intended for their solutions to fix the problems facing America. Neither man woke up one morning and said to himself “I’m gonna be a communist fascist dictator crazy person.” They honestly thought that was the best answer and they did their best to implement their solutions. You can argue all you want which one’s better or worse and you can try to demonize the other guy. The reality is this: we’re still in a big hole, and we’re like a silver-back ape held in captivity in a public zoo scratching his head looking up at the human beings, trying to figure out how to get out so he can maul them.

Both sides blame the other side, but neither side really has a solution for fixing our economy. They have a lot of beliefs, but not a lot of truth. They say their beliefs are truth, and demonize the beliefs of the other guys, but that’s rhetoric. It’s not reality.

Bill Clinton has gotten to closest of all recent convention speakers on both sides to giving us an actual answer. Granted, he’s taken the United States out of debt before. He actually balanced the books and had a surplus for four years straight. G. W. Bush took that surplus, gave Americans a check for a couple hundred dollars each and then gave the rest in tax breaks to the rich again. So now we’re in debt again, and the work Clinton did turned out to be for naught, but at the time Clinton did it. That’s evident. That’s in the record of history. No one is disputing that. So if anyone has an answer to this, it’d be the guy who did it once before already. So, when asked how Bill Clinton fixed our economy the first time back when he was president (for eight years despite impeachment just sayin), Bill Clinton has a one word answer: and that word is “arithmetic.”

He did the math until he got an answer he liked. I guess that’s as good an answer as any. However, it’s not showing your work, it’s just saying you will do the work. Ask any math teacher how far that flies in the classroom. Ask her if she gives an A+ to a student who says he’s gonna do the math but hasn’t actually done it yet and probably doesn’t know how. She’ll tell you you don’t even get a gold star until you show her your work. Admittedly, when Bill Clinton starts delving into details, which he can do of course, and begins describing facts and figures, that’s when my eyes glaze over and I start fantasizing about fruit topping pizzas. Cherry. Apple. Peach. A la mode. Mmmmm..

…where was I?

Obama said he believes we can meet the challenges we face. That’s not a belief. We’re doing that now. That’s reality. We’re meeting these challenges. We can’t do anything about them. You can walk up to the hotel desk clerk and demand a room and he can say they’re booked solid. That’s meeting your challenge. Can’t do anything about it, but go to another hotel. You can claim that G. W. Bush got us in this mess. You can claim Obama can’t get us out. You can believe he will if given another four years. You can believe Romney will somehow magically pull a rabbit out of his ass in the next four years. The fact is, the problems facing America were not caused by any one man, or group. Nor will they be solved by either party alone.

Both sides blame the other, but neither side offers any inarguable solutions. Nobody in any position of power knows how to fix this. If they did, we wouldn’t need an election. Everybody would turn to the guy who can show his work, and we’d draft him if we had to — there is no guy like that anywhere. Okay well, if there was, the two parties each made sure we never heard from him. They woulda bought that guy if he existed, and they woulda used his solution one way or the other, if it was an actual solution where you could show your work. All they have are platitudes, rhetoric, beliefs. They got nothing substantial. If they did, we’d know it. What we have are guys in power who can’t fix it, but manage to stay in power by focusing on how much the other guy can’t do anything. Fixing the problems America faces is not in the best interests of those gaining power and influence by accusing others of causing these problems.

People on both sides of this have told me, “how can you not vote this November? You’re going to let the other guy win?” Of course not. That’s absurd, and neither are you going to get the right person in office by voting. That’s not how this works. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’d trust Obama with my tax returns more than I’d trust Romney, but that doesn’t make either of them a better man. I don’t believe either of these guys is good for America. I no longer believe the Democrats are better for America than the Republicans. I think they’re both part of the problem. Cogs in the machine that’s strangling us as a society. Voting for the lesser of two evils is STILL voting for evil! Evil minor over evil major is STILL evil. As Bill Clinton himself admitted in his speech, a broken clock is right twice a day. These are things I CAN PROVE. You still don’t use a broken clock to actually tell time, do you? Of course not. Why should you? You CAN prove it only works twice a day!

You can’t prove your beliefs. You can’t show your work. You can’t rock my vote.

Claiming your opponent is incorrect does not magically make your guy correct. Any more than saying cuz I can’t prove your god doesn’t exist that somehow magically means he does exist. Same crap thing happening here. You believe in your guy, like you believe a horse is gonna win in a derby. You put your money down and you watch the race, but even if your guy happens to win, that doesn’t mean you were correct. If you believe in something but can’t prove it, and the answer you made up in your head happens to be the right answer, you didn’t show your work. You did not come to that conclusion with any reasonable forethought. Did you pick a number between one and ten? Here it is: Seven. Did you win? Lucky guess.

It will never mean you are right.