The crisis from the 2000 presidential election continued to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the voting public during the 2004 election and even the recently removed 2008 presidential election. To the outsider, the hanging chads and the recount after recount in Florida gave the impression that every person’s vote must count. However, everyone knew that it was one of those rare instances in American presidential politics that a single vote could actually make such a dramatic a difference. A single vote that could potentially give Florida’s electoral college votes to the winning candidate, and thus the presidency. When Florida and the presidency finally went to candidate George Bush, people were at least somewhat happy that the judicial and election systems of America had held its ground.
However, another interesting statistic left the Al Gore camp more perturbed. Candidate Gore had won the popular vote over George Bush. That means more people in the country had voted for Gore over Bush. But due to the electoral college system, Bush won the presidency. Mathematically speaking, each vote cast for Gore was actually worth less than one vote. Or, each vote cast for Bush was worth more than each vote cast for Gore. “This doesn’t seem fair”, the Gore supporters argued. Bush supporters responded, “Well, that’s the system for hundreds of years and it’s always worked. Stop complaining.”
Why did the founding fathers use an electoral college instead of a popular vote to determine the winner of the presidential election? In short, the founding fathers were skeptical of the will of the people or their ability to intellectually vote for the candidate of their choice. By inserting a safeguard, the electoral college, the founding fathers believed that if by that rare chance the will of the people was either misguided or that some populated region in America dominated the popular vote, the safeguard would protect American democracy.
Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska
Which leads me to why I think the electoral college, although in many cases a frustration and hints at unfairness, it is a necessary safeguard. Let’s look at one Senate race this year that could have used something like an electoral college. The Alaska Senate race between Republican incumbent Ted Stevens and Democratic challenger Mark Begich.Ted Stevens was convicted of seven counts of making false statements and taking bribes worth more than $250,000 to make renovations on his personal home. The evidence was overwhelming. After the announced conviction, bipartisan calls for Stevens removal were prominent, reaching up to federal level, including John McCain and Barack Obama. Even the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin said at the time that he had broken his trust with the people and she planned to ask him to step aside. However, the news of the corruption did not affect Stevens attempt for an eighth term in the Senate as he won the Senate elections in November! This is a man who epitomizes the corruption in government and the Alaskan people still voted for him!!! He won by a 1.43% margin (roughly 3200 votes) over Begich. To make it more interesting, Sarah Palin switched her tone and declared that the will of the people had spoken and she would not ask him to step aside. In other words, she was okay with supporting the first felon elected to the US Senate in history!! What about the 46.61% of the people? Is the 48.04% that voted for Stevens the “will of the people.” It is not even a majority. However, the question that really needs answering is why did the people still vote for Ted Stevens? Had they no shame that they were electing a felon to the US Senate for the first time ever?
The corruption scandals associated with Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young. The inexperience and ethical issues of Sarah Palin. The hilarious attempt of Mike Gravel to win the Democratic primary. The Bridge to Nowhere. And finally, the “will of the people” voting for convicted felon, Stevens. What is going on in Alaska?? I just think the people there live their own merry little lives and are disconnected with reality or don’t care for it. If the presidential election was ran the same way Alaska is, this country would be in big trouble. Are you telling me that if McCain or Obama was convicted as a felon, that they would still win the general election?
This example clearly demonstrates that the will of the people or the ability of the public to vote with due diligence and conscience is not always dependable. The electoral college works for an overwhelming majority of the time. It is only at times of a close race that it has the potential to rear its ugly head. However, if a race is that close anyways, theoretically it won’t really matter who wins since there is no definitive will of the people.
In the case of Ted Stevens and Alaska, I wish the founding fathers put the electoral college into Senate races as well. But of course they wanted to separate representation at the federal and state elections. Then again, I don’t know if I would trust the electoral college in Alaska either.
Tomorrow is one of the most important days in recent American history. It is a day that will affect the short term prospects of America and the standing of America in the world for the next century. The events and actions of the past eight years have accelerated the damaging path the country has embarked on for the past thirty years. The irresponsible actions have left America crippled economically, politically, morally and psychologically. Both parties have been hijacked by the special interests of corporations, ideological groups and personal interests. The values in which America was founded on have been distorted. The decision made by America tomorrow will go a long way in determining if we continue this egregious path of self-destruction.
The debt at the national, local and consumer levels are not only due to the actions of the past eight years. The decision by the Supreme Court in 1978 (Marquette National Bank of Minneapolis vs. First of Omaha Service Corp.) to deregulate interest rate caps at the state level was the precursor to the inundation of credit cards and the mortgaging of personal futures for the present. Although Reaganomics has been credited with bringing the country out of the vitriolic stagflation of the late 1970s, it has had a long term effect that has eaten away at the fiscal responsibility of the federal government. At the core of Reaganomics was reducing tax rates by reducing government spending which in turn was achieved by reducing costs associated with regulation and social programs. However, unexpected costs from the burgeoning Cold War resulted in large trade and federal budget deficits. In order to cover such deficits, the government began borrowing heavily both domestically and abroad. This decision to mortgage the future of the country for the present instilled a belief that debt is good, even to other countries, such as China, Japan and India. America became a borrower nation instead of a loaner nation, which it had been for decades during its prominence.
The deregulation of these two critical issues are the main causes of the current economic problems. It instilled bad habits at all levels of society. Although quality of life continued to increase the past thirty years, it was mostly at the cost of the future. Both politicians and individuals began feeling entitled to such luxuries and expected it to last forever. However, as analyzed by Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond (Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed), it is this infectious mindset that causes great societies to fail. This country is at that critical juncture. Do we reinstate the values, sacrifices and hard work that made this country great or do we continue down this destructive path?
In addition to the present economic and ideological problems that endanger the quality of life of America, there are many massive elephants in the near future that can derail any sense of comfort in the nation. A fundamental restructuring of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is required in the next one or two presidencies before the effects of the baby boomer population cripple the flow of aid from the system. The high quality of life has left Americans lazy, fat and indifferent, and the medical costs associated with treating related diseases and health issues threaten to destroy the already broken health-care system. The super-highway system that supported the rise of American power is also the bane of the country’s dependence on foreign oil and its lavish automobile lifestyle. Furthermore, the infrastructure of America is crumbling and poses a danger to the lifeblood of a large country like America. A massive government infrastructure initiative is required within the next twenty years. The only question will be where does all the money come from? As globalization continues to redistribute the wealth and power of the world, the education system and America’s ability to compete are also being tested. American children continue to fall behind other countries at all levels of education, from middle school to college to graduate school. This country has been able to sustain its technological competitiveness partly through the immigration of top-level students from countries such as China and India. However, the current backlash on immigration coupled with the increasing prestige of other countries’ higher education systems, begs the question of how America will sustain its technological edge? Corporations and special interest groups as super-humans continue to eat away at the fabric of America. Their selfish narrow-minded view of profit and ideology permeate all levels of society, from individuals to the government. Ideology has especially polarized the country into two hardened stances, secularity versus ideology. The effects of this has left the country fearful and suspicious of each other. Finally, the effects of the internet and other entertainment-related technologies cannot be understated. Although they have created luxuries beyond anyone’s belief and increased the free flow of information, they have also created a schizophrenic society of 24 hour media frenzy and questionable freedoms of morality. The neutrality of journalism and the mental well-being of society are at stake. Coupled with the constraints of global warming and moral responsibility, the above problems must be faced responsibly.
These problems will definitely be difficult to face and resolve. Most of these have been simmering for years, but have been effectively ignored. However, what has always made America great has been its ability to come together as a country and sacrifice for the greater good of the country and the world. The sacrifices by this country during the Civil War and World War II for the greater good cannot be forgotten. Although society was simpler and less polarized then, the country must come together once again to face the unprecedented wave of issues that threaten to send America down the road of self-destruction.
Tomorrow begins that choice. Tomorrow the country decides which path to take, one of sacrifice for the greater good or one of continued wantonness. Tomorrow begins the day where America can begin reinstating the values that made this country so great. A country of uniqueness not found anywhere else in the world. A melting pot that protects individual rights and helps others at times of need. A constitution so strong that the thought of a revolution is unfathomable. The land of opportunity and openness. A land of thousands of parks and natural resources. The separation of church and state and the freedom of religion. The land of the best medical care and higher education system. A land of tolerance and hope. And the land of the free and the home of the brave…
Whomever you vote for tomorrow, please think openly and clearly. Without any bias of age, race, religion, and fear, think who will be better for America. Who will lead America towards a path of redemption and strength. A path that requires sacrifice but cherishes American freedoms. A candidate that realizes that what America needs now is a problem solver with pragmatism and humility, and not one fixated on idealism, intolerance and fear mongering. Look closely at your choice, and know that when you go home afterwards, there will be a better America tomorrow. A better America for yourself and your family, and also for its great citizens of today and tomorrow.
I’ve been so negative on the McCain and Palin campaign (I think justifiably), that I haven’t had too much time to dissect the negative aspects or questions regarding Obama’s campaign. Below I take a quick look at some of the issues that are warning signs or concerns or questions.
Obama once said yes to public financing
1. Any chance of publicly financed campaigns in the future are over – Since Obama changed his mind and refused to abide by the rules of public financing, he has far out-raised McCain because of private donations, each limited to $2500. As a result, due to his popularity and his campaign’s acumen for grassroots fundraising, Obama just announced his campaign raised over $150 million in September alone! That is such an unbelievable figure. John McCain, who does abide by the public financing laws, can only spend $84 million in September and October combined. It makes sense why Obama didn’t want to abide by it because he knew he can easily raise more than that amount by himself. Why limit his campaign to that figure? This discrepancy in financing has proven to be a very important advantage for Obama because he can spend tons of money in states he has only a small chance of winning, where as McCain has to use his money wisely. Obama has also taken out a 30 minute time slot right before the World Series game six! Future candidates will see how effective his internet fundraising strategy was and will believe they can duplicate that. No one will want to abide by the limits of public financing.
2. So where is all the money going to come from to fund Obama’s programs? – Although Obama has clearly been more detailed and specific than McCain has been on what he will do if he is elected president, it is still unclear as to how it will be done and where all the money will come from. He often mentions how McCain wants to use a hatchet but he wants to use a scalpel to cut costs. That means he will do a serious assessment of programs once in office, but as of a right now, we do not know which programs will be affected. The proposals he mentions are a common problem for presidential candidates in previous elections. They say they will spend this amount of money on this problem, but never give details on where that amount will come from. At least this is better than McCain, who has been vague at even what he is going to do. That being said, Obama’s ideas are still more practical and would better serve the middle class than McCain’s.
Barack the Celebrity
3. How far will his celebrity status take him or hurt him? – It is amazing the excitement that has surrounded Obama since he gave that famous coming out speech at the 2004 DNC convention. Since then he has beaten Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and now has a comfortable lead in the general election against McCain. His speech in Missouri last week drew over 100,000 supporters according to a police estimate. Is there some anxiety as to whether this is part bubble? He has led an almost perfect campaign, from his fundraising abilities, to his calm demeanor, to his ability to inspire. Is he truly a “transformational figure”, as well-respected Republican General Colin Powell said this weekend during his endorsement of Obama or is America in need of any inspirational candidate that he has been elevated to a higher celebrity status than deserved? Only time will tell.
A Divided America
4. As much as Obama has inspired the country, can he really unite a very divided America? – The race is still relatively tight (in some polls, only a 48-43 lead) even with all the gaffes and negativity surrounding the McCain/Palin camp. Why is this? Why is almost half the country still undecided or supporting a grumpy old man over a young inspirational man? As some have alluded to, race still plays an issue in present day America, even if it’s now more of a below the surface rumbling. Can Obama unite this country as President even if a good minority just won’t let him? This one seems more out of his hands and more about how much America has changed or hasn’t changed in the last 100 years.
The many non-doctored funny faces of John McCain during this 2008 presidential campaign! If I’m missing one, please let me know in the comments section. Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments section! Check back often, I will be updating them whenever I find more!
Third Presidential Debate (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
In the third presidential debate yesterday, John McCain again used the same logic when asked why the American public has an overwhelming perception that his campaign is much more negative than Barack Obama’s. He once again responded that because Obama declined to accept his challenge to have ten or more town-hall meetings, he had to go negative. Had Obama accepted, the tone of his campaign would not be so negative. Huh? I don’t get the connection or the logic behind that. The only thing I can think of is that McCain is bitter and taking vengeance on Obama for not wanting town hall meetings. That just makes McCain look worse. Like a bitter old man who pouts when he can’t get his way. It’s like a child throwing a tamper tantrum because his friend won’t play with him. So instead he steals his friend’s lunch money, and starts badmouthing him to everyone else. What the… How old is this guy?
I don’t see the point of having so many debates anyways. The second debate was a complete repeat of the first one. Even though the second one was a pseudo-town hall debate, it’s not like McCain did any better. The third one was finally different only because McCain was desperate and had to throw the kitchen sink at Obama, which Obama gracefully dodged.
QUICK TRIVIA QUESTION
ANSWER – Highlight with mouse
The United States presidential election of 1964 was one of the most lopsided presidential elections in the history of the United States. As of 2007, Johnson’s 22.6 percentage point-margin of victory in the popular vote is the fifth-largest such margin in Presidential election history (after the margins of the 1920,1924, 1936, and 1972 elections). Johnson won 61.1% of the national popular vote, which remains the highest popular-vote percentage won by a U.S.presidential candidate since 1820.
The latest cover story of Newsweek titled “The Palin Problem” is an excellent article. It explains in pretty basic terms why Palin’s argument for why she is a great VP candidate because she is a Joe Six-Pack or a Hockey Mom is so illogical and completely absurd. The problem facing Washington is not that America wants a regular Joe Shmoe in the office, it wants an exceptional person that looks out for the interests and fights for the Joe Six-Packs and the Hockey Moms of America. We don’t actually want one in office. Seriously, I definitely do not want a beer drinking, pot-belly scratching smelly Joe Six-Pack as Vice-President. I also don’t want a Hockey Mom in office either! When I go to a bar to watch football, I don’t see a single person I want as potential President of the United States.
Palin needs to focus more on what she has done as Governor and what she has done for the middle class of America. We want our leaders to strive for excellence, and to have a history of excellence. We expect more from them, and that’s the current problem with Washington. Does John McCain, with 7 houses and 11 automobiles really understand the problems facing the middle class? Does George Bush with his huge Texas ranch and political and elitist family connections really understand what the average worker in Pennsylvania is going thru? We haven’t had an exceptional leader who understood middle class America in a long time. Sarah Palin is not the answer. She might understand what middle class America is going through, but she doesn’t have the experience or history of striving for excellence to do what is right. Obama at least offers us that hope. Even Biden and his history of traveling to and from work every day and middle class connections has more of it.
Say no to Mrs. Hockey Mom and Mrs. Joe Six-Pack. So sick of hearing those words. Can’t she come up with better phrases and arguments…And she needs to stop saying she’s a Washington outsider. She’s way too much of a Washington outsider. Seriously, I can’t imagine her as president. It is a really scary thought to think if she is President what she would do to fix the huge economic crisis…
With so much negative attention on Sarah Palin and her obvious lack of experience, it’s time to take a look at who is the worst vice-president or vice-presidential candidate in recent years. Here are the four candidates.in chronological order. Please vote who you think is the worst in the poll.
1. Dan Quayle – George HW Bush’s VP (1988-1992) – Quayle was intellectually incompetent and had the foot-in-mouth disease. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, either one is fine. But potatoe?? What about Quayle comparing himself to JFK during the election campaign? Other funny sayings? “We don’t want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward“, “The future will be better tomorrow“, “I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix“, and “It’s time for the human race to enter the solar system“. Although the country mostly knows him as the vice-president, another interesting question that needed to be asked, what were the people in Indiana thinking electing him to the House in1976 and 1978, and Senate in 1980 and 1986?
Vice Admiral James Stockdale
2. James Stockdale – Ross Perot’s running mate (1992) – Stockdale infamously opened the VP debate by saying, “Who am I? Why am I here?” Initially, the rhetorical questions drew applause from the audience,  seeming to be a good-natured acknowledgment of his relatively unknown status and lack of traditional qualifications. However, his unfocused style for the rest of the debate (including asking the moderator to repeat one question because he didn’t have his hearing aid turned on) made him appear confused and almost disoriented. An unflattering recreation of the moment on Saturday Night Live later that week, with Phil Hartman as Stockdale, cemented a public perception of Stockdale as slow-witted. He was also often parodied for his constant use of the word “gridlock” to describe slow governmental policy. As his introduction to the large segment of American voters who had not previously heard of him, the debate was disastrous for Stockdale. He was portrayed in the media as elderly and confused, and his reputation never recovered. (source: Wikipedia)
The failed bailout plan is another in a long line of political campaign moves that has blown up in John McCain’s increasingly desperate campaign. Here are the top three:
Where is Sarah Palin?
1. Picking Sarah Palin as Vice-Presidential candidate – When McCain saw that a large amount of Hillary Clinton supporters were still upset at Obama’s handling of the VP vetting process and eventual selection of Joe Biden, he took that as an opportunity to kill three birds with one stone. To appease the Clinton supporters and disenchanted female voters by selecting a young female candidate. To fortify his maverick reputation by selecting someone no one expected and is a Washington outsider. And to excite his core conservative base by selecting someone who is pro-life and pro-gun.
This move worked for exactly one week. Although it did and still does excite his core constituency, he has instead turned off the independent voters, women and solidified Obama’s base. Palin has since been exposed as someone completely inexperienced and out of her league. McCain has had to retract several of her public statements. His campaign has hidden her from the public view for fear of her saying something to the detriment of his campaign. While Biden has performed over 100 public interviews since his selection, Palin has done less than 10. He has surrounded her with former Bush advisers in training her to follow his views instead of her own views. Instead of a game changer, she has become a distraction and stress.
McCain hugs Bush
2. Choosing to use lies, misinformation and misdirections in campaign – McCain’s campaign has increasingly used devious tactics in attempts to dishonestly smear Obama. The lies and misinformation have been so obvious that the majority of the media and public have picked this up. McCain instead lambasted the media for being biased, and that has also backfired. Instead of talking about issues, the campaign has used misdirections and attacks instead of responding with what they would do. It is becoming increasingly clear that his campaign is being influenced by the ultra-aggressive campaign advisers from George Bush. The whole win at all costs is backfiring at a time when the country wants honest change and not the same ole political moves.
McCain suspends campaign
3. Suspending campaign to push for bailout plan – The latest move backfiring on McCain might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Because the public views Obama as someone better capable to address the economy, McCain had to do something to show he is more capable at handling the economy. Last week, he decided to suspend his campaign, including the scheduled Friday debate with Obama, to go to Washington and push for the bailout plan. What seemed like a focused move was seen by the media and public as purely a political move. It only accentuated his potential inability to handle multiple crises as president. People clamored that if he was president, he can’t just put one crisis on pause while he handles another. Additionally, the public especially wanted to see the candidates speak at a debate, at a critical time like this. They saw it as a cop-out by McCain to suspend the debate. To make matters worse, legislators from both parties in Washington saw him as a distraction to the experts dealing with the bailout plan. As the bailout neared for a likely success, McCain began attacks at Obama for not doing enough to help the bailout plan and began patting himself on the back for pushing for the plan. However, in a stunning final straw, the bailout plan was rejected in the House yesterday. More than 60% of his party voted against the plan that McCain said he aggressively pushed for. McCain’s ability to even convince his own party had failed miserably. The public was strongly against a plan that seemed to bail out Wall Street and not help the common people. It will be interesting to see the fallout from this in the coming polls.
The McCain-Palin camp is so afraid to leave Sarah Palin alone to speak her mind for fear of her saying something wrong and stupid, it is becoming a debacle for the Republican campaign. McCain was forced to retract Palin’s public statements that she would pursue unilateral strikes of terrorists into Pakistan if necessary. “If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said. This statement is in line with Obama’s strategy but against McCain’s. McCain had to retract her statements with a weak attempt to say that Palin and him were on the same page.
“She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we’re not going to do anything except in America’s national security interest,” McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of Palin. “In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that’s—that’s a person’s position… This is a free country, but I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin.”
McCain emphasized Sunday, Palin “shares” his view on the matter.
Is he kidding? Sticking a microphone while conversations are being held? Jeesh… That is lame. And in other words, don’t listen to her. Listen to me. And by shares his views, it means she can’t voice her own views. What i say goes.
They better get her on the same page as them soon. The VP debate is in a few days, unless they try to delay the debate until after the elections. This is such a joke.