Friday, July 08, 2016

Rolling the Dice for November

Bad Quaker, bad, bad Quaker.

These are the words of my partner upon discovering I have purchased lottery tickets. Friends are supposed to be against games of chance. They're not fair, they’re a tax on the poor, and they're exploitative in lots of other ways. We have a Testimony of Integrity to speak to that, one that we apply individually to our lives and our life actions. Truthfully, I only play for my father, who lives in a state without its own lottery. For him, I buy about twenty dollars' worth when the jackpot reaches record levels. He never wins, but neither do millions of others.

If any game is truly rigged, it's probably gambling. Lotteries promise only millions-to-one odds, and those who lose can often console themselves that they are paying for college scholarships or some worthy cause. The same cannot be said for casinos, as they rake in tons of pure profit, which is one of the reasons Donald Trump's fingerprints (and tiny, tiny hands) can be found there. The house is always designed to win, with the math stacked in its favor. If Trump could stop being righteously indignant enough, he'd recognize he's benefited from this arrangement more than it has ever hampered him. He’s far from a populist champion, and yet some are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

At the moment, I'm at a small, working class town outside of Pittsburgh. In my travels out to peek around and have a meal, I've already seen four separate people buy lottery tickets. In young professional land, where I live, few people buy them or talk about winning a huge jackpot. The most success I've ever had was in Florida, playing scratch off tickets, winning back the $10 I had spent to buy them in the first place. Around my parts, the only people I’ve ever seen buying lotto tickets are working class black people hoping for a huge payday.

Unlike casino gambling and lotteries, the entire American people have an actual say in who will win the election in November. The odds of Trump winning are much more realistic than a $508 million jackpot. Get Out the Vote is always crucial, but it is especially important today.  The odds will change as the campaign goes on, but here's hoping that the numbers reward Hillary Clinton more. Those who vote for Trump are rolling the dice, expecting great profit when they will only receive minimal returns, if that.

If Trump was a bank, I would not put my money there. If he was a stock portfolio, I would not invest money in a company under his control. And I certainly wouldn’t want him behind the wheel of my country. The truth is, I am not convinced he is a good businessman or that he makes consistently savvy deals. The United States has been run efficiently by people of great wealth and privilege, FDR being the example that comes to mind first.

But FDR had a sympathy for people in poverty or in bad circumstances that I have never seen Trump demonstrate. Trump says he will not touch Social Security, perhaps FDR’s crowning achievement, but neither do I hear any significant policy statements, the so-called red meat issues that are absolutely crucial.

Time is wasting. The GOP convention is not far away. Prime time speeches from substantial members of the party will not conceal the cancer growing within. I hope we see the beginning of the end only a few days from now, the exact moment where a political amateur and blowhard blows a gasket on live television. The odds of that happening may be more likely than we could even imagine.

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