Q&A:Fact check: What is actually going on in our election?
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Levin: Hi what’s your name?
Harrington: Frank Harrington
Levin: What subjects do you teach at Woodbridge?
Harrington: I teach college prep U.S. History and AP U.S. History
Levin: So how do you view this presidential election compared to previous elections?
Harrington: It is unique in that, at its essence, you have two candidates that both parties don’t seem too enthusiastic about, but that is basically who the parties have provided. So with this lack of enthusiasm, you have a sort of unique display on both sides of almost having to apologize for each of the candidates. It has made it interesting, and I am sure just as much frustrating for people that are engaged in politics.
Levin: What do you think of people voting for third party candidates?
Harrington: I think it is fine. I think voting third party is an excellent way to vote. You should have your options, and just because your particular party chooses someone you do not agree with, your only other option might seem like the other major candidate. That is where third party candidates come into place, and we have had that in elections where the third parties have had a real effect on the election. Unfortunately, usually when there is a third party, whichever major party that seems to align with it, seems to suffer the most. I’m thinking of for example, Ross Perot, when he ran that actually hurt George Herbert Walker Bush’s reelection campaign against Bill Clinton. So that is sort of a negative to it, but I do like the idea of third parties, especially when you feel your particular party has provided someone who you’re disenfranchised with or disillusioned with.
Levin: What would you say to seniors that are voting for the first time, since you have much more experience in politics?
Harrington: The influence of your vote is local and then it goes out gradually to state and national, so I know the national gathers the most attention, but you can make the most difference in your life in your local vote. I’m sure most seniors, who vote understand the electoral college and that idea that if you’re voting in California, for the most part, California is already determined for who will get those electoral votes in the general election. It’s for senator or congressman, even someone who is going to be in charge of say a water district, if you will, or even the propositions, that’s where you can really make a difference. Those are things that affect you on a daily basis, while it might seem the national government dictates a lot, it’s really the state and local that influence the lives of people more on a daily basis. You want to think that the national voting has a bigger effect on your life on a daily basis, but it really is local, and out to national, and that direction, instead.
Levin: So do you think the electoral college is fair?
Harrington: No, I don’t think it is fair, but it is an understandable negotiation that the founding fathers made because they didn’t want the legislative branch to pick ahead of the executive branch, like they do in England. On the other hand, they did not want a direction election by the people because one, which we’ve discussed, they didn’t think the people were that intelligent, and two, they thought that, that would sort of hurt the influence and power of the smaller states. You kind of see that today with the electoral college, you have a lot of these underrepresented states that get almost too much attention, whereas a state like California gets almost no attention from the candidates. Do I think it should be whoever gets the most votes? Sure, but again you’ll need an amendment to change that, and I thought our best chance was in 2000, but we didn’t do it. I don’t expect it to be coming up anytime soon.
Levin: What do you think this election means for the future of the United States?
Harrington: This particular election is, well usually you want to say that, like I previously said, the national doesn’t have as much influence, but this one could be big. The reason why I say that is not so much domestic policy because you still need Congress to play ball to with you to get anything done, internationally, in terms of our perception abroad and how other countries will treat us. How we treat other countries is kind of important in 2016, so in terms of the general election for president, yeah this is a big one.
Levin: Lastly, do you think Trump has changed the rhetoric in politics for the time being?
Harrington: Yes and No. I think yes to the effect of just brazing criticism, backed by being backed by absolutely no facts whatsoever. But in terms of personal attacks by candidates to each other that sort of are an attempt to disguise the real issues, that’s every election. I mean that happens all the time because what they’re basically doing is that if you’re sort of frustrated with all the content and all the language of these debates, all the American public has to do is take out a mirror and look at themselves. It’s a representative democracy, so this is kind of what you have asked for, to be completely honest. That is lowest common denominator, whatever that can be something that can fit into a five second bite because we’re not going to take the time and effort
Levin: Hi, what’s your name?
LePage: I am Dr. LePage.
Levin: What is the point of voting in a state, like California, if one party has a clear majority and you’re from the minority party in the state?
LePage: It lowers the sense of the individual voter’s political efficacy, which is the degree to which they feel their vote matters. Myself, I would like to see a proportional electoral system, much like Nebraska and Maine have because I don’t feel it does much to inspire the minority party’s reason to vote. So like California, we have 55 electoral votes, divide those up by districts, and whoever has the most in each district, gets one electoral vote. That’s how I would take care of that. So what’s the point? I am focusing on the positive of what we could do for the system.
Levin: Do you think in future elections we’re going to move towards a more democratic process?
LePage: After 2000, with the election of George W. Bush over Al Gore, though Al Gore had more votes, I thought that change would occur. But it hasn’t occurred and we still have some irregularities going on with our voting. For example, in that election, you had one county, Volusia, which had negative 22,000 votes for Al Gore. We have some problems with our voting and this election, you have accusations of democrat recruiting.
Levin: Lastly, what issues are most important to you?
LePage: I always say that the number one issues should be the economy, which we don’t really hear too many facts about. All we hear about is lowering corporate and individual tax rates, and that our jobs are going to Mexico and China. But what are we going to do incentivize corporations to keep jobs in America at a much higher pay rate than what they would be paying workers in other countries to do the same labor? So I think we need to incentivise with maybe tax reductions that do give jobs to Americans and maybe tax fines for companies that do use outside labor. I would say economy, and personally, dealing with education, something along the Bernie Sanders lines of maybe not having such a high interest rate for student loans. I always thought it was quite odd that you get a home loan for three percent, but you can get a student loan for eight percent. That’s supposedly the future of our nation, having an educated workforce, so I don’t think we’ll ever have free college or anything like that, but I think we can not punish people for not having the money to go to college. Whether that’s an interest free loan, or not having the government benefit from student loans, I think that’s something that can be a compromise.