Election 2016

Beyond the Presidency, Reasons to Go on Living

There's more to life than who is sitting in the Oval Office.

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Trump
Paul Hennessy/Polaris/Newscom

Monday's presidential debate probably did not cheer up voters who see the election as a choice between diabetes and terminal cancer—an awful affliction versus a fatal one. But at times like this, it is useful to remember that many things are beyond the control of the person occupying the Oval Office, some of which are welcome.

The chief source of alarm today is that one of these two will have many opportunities to interfere with our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. But in many ways, citizens are gaining control rather than losing it.

On Election Day, voters in four states will decide on medical use of marijuana. Better yet, five, including California, will decide whether to allow, um, nonmedical use. Four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational cannabis.

The trend is in keeping with a public that has decided adults should be free to decide for themselves whether to use pot to treat pain or illness or to get high. A Gallup Poll last year found that 58 percent of Americans support full legalization—up from 36 percent a decade ago.

None of this affects the federal ban, which will remain in place. But both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have indicated they would let states do as they please.

Their acceptance of change is also on display with regard to same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court granted it constitutional protection in 2015, but Supreme Court rulings sometimes inflame rather than quell controversy.

Not this time. At the beginning of Barack Obama's presidency, just 40 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage—Obama not among them. Today, 61 percent do.

The next president will have to contend with a public that is weary of fighting costly wars that don't directly advance our national security. Clinton, whose record has been biased toward military action, got surprisingly little attention a few weeks ago when she steered conspicuously the other way.

"We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we're not putting ground troops into Syria," she declared. "We're going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops."

During the debate, Trump faulted her for making public her plan to fight the Islamic State, but not for rejecting the use of ground forces. Though vague on his own plan, he stresses his (fictitious) claim that he opposed the Iraq War before it began, and he says, "I am going to have very few troops on the ground."

Fiscal realities will the limit the ambitions of the next president. The profligacy of the past mandates frugality in the future. It will not be easy to find money for the new ventures the candidates have in mind.

"By 2022, nearly every dollar of revenue the U.S. collects will have been committed before Congress even takes a vote, according to an analysis by Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute," The Wall Street Journal reported. "With more and more federal spending on autopilot, there is 'almost no discretion or flexibility to act to address new challenges without having to renege on past promises to the public,' says Mr. Steuerle, a Treasury official in the Reagan administration."

The swollen federal debt will discourage extravagance. Trump's fiscal plan, which the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says would add more than $5 trillion to the debt, would have trouble getting through Congress.

Clinton plans to pay for almost all her new spending with tax increases, which might also be dead on arrival at Capitol Hill. A 2013 poll found that only 20 percent of Americans favor a combination of more government services and higher taxes.

The space for personal freedom has expanded in some significant realms. All but two states now have legal gambling. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft enable urbanites to move about more conveniently and less expensively.

Life is getting better in ways that even a terrible president is not likely to ruin. Infant mortality has fallen; violent crime is only half as common as it was in the early 1990s; and teens are less likely to drink alcohol, use other drugs and get pregnant.

If the wrong candidate wins, a lot of Americans will yearn for an option that is not on the ballot: Sweet Meteor of Death 2016, which would end our misery by wiping out the human race. But even with

Trump or Clinton in the White House, there will still be reasons to go on living.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. We really dodged a bullet with Trump. Hillary will get elected and we’ll vote in libertarians/principled conservatives and we’ll have gridlock for 4 years until the presidency can be handed to its rightful heir – Rand Paul. Don’t worry we’ll be fine I promise. 🙂

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  2. Yay, we’ll get to smoke pot, but we’ll be disarmed.

    Not exactly the old school definition of free men…

    Oh and that shit about the deficit constraing spending. Nice one!! You must already be high to think that’ll happen…

    1. Someone will be disarmed perhaps, but I predict a LOT of new “criminals” if the Second Amendment gets crushed…

  3. It’s funny how perspective works.

    I can imagine this world compared to what it could be if people were more economically and socially free, and it’s depressing. Hell, the status quo, minus the drug war and the MIC would be a huge level up. And, even for the brave little socialists out there: when your big problem’s the fact that the US isn’t exactly like your favorite Euro nation, then, truly, that’s a first world, white person problem.

    It would be nice to see the drug war end in my lifetime. It would be nice to see the idea of 15-50% tax brackets rejected as an unnecessary crime against humanity.

    I have some hope for the former.

    1. It is incredible how much economic progress is still being made despite (not because of, like Hillary thinks) government intervention.

  4. Maybe I’m weird- I would 100% vote for a measure authorizing recreational use of marijuana, though I don’t use it myself, but the whole “medical marijuana panacea” thing is so outrageous that I’m not inclined to vote for it.

    1. I agree with you on that. Which probably does make us weird in this crowd.

  5. “The swollen federal debt will discourage extravagance.”

    [citation needed]

  6. “By 2022, nearly every dollar of revenue the U.S. collects will have been committed before Congress even takes a vote”

    So, we can safely abolish Congress, saving *lots* of money in salaries and pensions.

    1. Drop in the ocean.

      1. Journey of a thousand miles ….

  7. “the election as a choice between diabetes and terminal cancer?an awful affliction versus a fatal one.”

    Sorry reason, but as bad as Trump is, Hillary is still terminal cancer.

    1. Unpossible. Tony says this is the most importantest election ever and the fate of the world literally hangs in the balance, and Tony would never lie or be stupidly wrong, right?

    2. Thanks Rich.. I’d forgotten how much I like the little icelandic elf.

      *Cranks up the Sugar Cubes*

  8. Oh. My. Lord. Johnson is a fucking moron. Talk about reinforcing narratives.

    Chris Matthews didn’t acquit himself well either, apparently thinking Canada and Mexico are continents.

    1. Well, how many foreign leaders would be good libertarians given the general trend of politics.

      Quick name one you really admire. I can name several leaders but I’m not sure I want to attach my name to them, you’d probably get a flippant sarcastic answer from me at best.

    2. I must be the drugs, really, and as time has passed he has confirmed my initial suspicions that he doesnt take the process seriosuly (have you seen he TV spot with weld? Vote for us because….c’monnnnn!) I am not the UN Secretary General, but along with him I can at least name several, and a very easy, low hanging fruit answer would be Bibi because, if nothing else, he is fiercely defensive of his country’s national interests.

    3. “Any one of the continents, any country. Name one foreign leader that your respect and look up to. Anybody,” host Chris Matthews pushed during the event

      The correct answer: “That I respect and look up to? None.”

    4. Also, Johnson is a fucking moron, but I’d rather have a fucking moron as president who at least somewhat understands the concept of personal freedom and liberty than a fucking moron who thinks that my business is somehow any of there’s.

    5. It was a bit of journalistic trickery, since either he A) indicates respect for a world leader who will invariably be a shitbag, looking like a tool, B) list some leaders and say they suck, thus creating a narrative of being undiplomatic, or C) be diplomatic and say nothing, thus creating the narrative that he can’t list a world leader.

      About the only way to come out ahead would be to turn it around, openly acknowledge that you see the trick, then ask Matthews which world leaders he likes and make it multiple choice so you can show you do know them.

    6. Speaking of fucking morons, imagining Chris Matthews could be seen as acquitting himself well…pretty much ever. Please note my insult is aimed at Chris Matthews – in case that’s not crystal clear.

  9. The chief source of alarm today is that one of these two will have many opportunities to interfere with our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

    It’s not a fear that they’ll have “many”, it’s a fear that they’ll have unlimited opportunities. Sometimes I’m hopeful this will be just another election we’ll have an opportunity to undo in four years, other times I fear this may be the last election the Republic ever sees – and then sometimes I despair that 2012 was already the last gasp. When Hillary is declared the winner and the vote fraud is so plain that it can’t be ignored and Trump refuses to accept the rigged results and he’s backed by the mob – who is going to have any sort of moral authority to declare what the outcome shall be?

    You’ve got Comey on Capitol Hill telling Congress to eat shit – and Congress is eating shit because they can’t even pass a simple resolution to make him stop telling them to eat shit. Does anybody think either Comey or Congress is speaking with any sort of authority which must be respected? They’re useless, the whole lot of them. So’s who’s running the circus? Whoever’s got the balls to step up and say they’re the boss and the muscle to make it stick – which is how a dictator runs a banana republic, not how a people run a real republic.

  10. But even with Trump or Clinton in the White House, there will still be reasons to go on living.

    I’ll stick with Gary Johnson, even though you didn’t mention him.

  11. It’s OPTIMISM that the Federal budget/apparatus is so HUGE and BLOATED, and so much of the Rule of Law we live under has been handed over to the Bureaucracy, that the President is so “restricted” that they can be terrible candidates and it’s not a “problem”?

    LIBERTARIAN MOMENT!!!!!

    Pathetic.

    Life WILL go on, but when 60+% of it is taxed, debased, and regulated and it is on the down stroke to slavery one has to ask if it’s worth it.

    But there’ll be weed, so,,,,

    Again, pathetic.

    We’re at this critical stage in our history, and we get THIS from Reason.

    Life WILL go on, but coming here won’t be a part of it.

  12. But both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have indicated they would let states do as they please.

    It doesn’t matter what they do, what matters is what will Attorney General Chris Christie* (or whatever statist fuckstick Hillary appoints) do.

    *I’m still working on the assumption that that was the deal that got Christie to drop out of the race and endorse Trump.

    1. Just imagine, Attorney General Chris Christie and Secretary of Homeland Security Rudy Giuliani…….”vomit”

  13. “We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we’re not putting ground troops into Syria,” she declared. “We’re going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops.”

    I’ll try and pretend to be shocked when President Clinton orders the deployment of 10,000 troops to Iraq/ Syria to fight ISIS, and while they’re at it, topple Assad.

  14. Fiscal realities will the limit the ambitions of the next president. The profligacy of the past mandates frugality in the future. It will not be easy to find money for the new ventures the candidates have in mind.

    Oh, I get it now: this is a comedy piece. I thought maybe it was supposed to be serious until I got to this line. That one had me ROTFLMAO.

  15. “Trump or Clinton in the White House, there will still be reasons to go on living.”
    Trump win- Any crazy schemes will be definitely challenged by Democrats in Congress and possibly challenged by Repubs.

    Clinton win- All her crazy schemes will not be challenged by Democrats in Congress and probably will not be challenged by Repubs.

    How few reasons we will have to go on living if Hitlary wins.

  16. RE: Beyond the Presidency, Reasons to Go on Living
    There’s more to life than who is sitting in the Oval Office.

    The main reason to keep on living whether it is Laurel or Hardy gets into office is to watch the comedy routine one of them is going to perform.

  17. On Election Day, voters in … five [states], including California, will decide whether to allow … nonmedical use [of marijuana].

    Yeah, that’s a law to vote for, but we’re also going to asked whether we want to ban fucking grocery bags.

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