Archive for the ‘elections’ Tag

Words of Election Wisdom   1 comment

Image result for lysander spooner a man is no less a slave

The blue wave turned out to be a blue ripple. The Democrats won a healthy, but narrow majority in the House and lost seats in the Senate. More tellingly, most state governorships remain in Republican hands. Democrats got a bump, but they didn’t flip big in any state. It was all fairly narrow margins. What does that mean?

Well, people were certainly energized and many new voters turned out to the polls. Democrats hoped they were energized against President Trump, but voters don’t appear to be so upset with President Trump that they are inclined to punish Republicans to a great degree. Suburban voters turned out against Trump — which I find interesting because they have the most to gain from Trump’s economy. Polling out of Texas suggests a disconnect between Democrats and the economic reality. That might change when they file their tax returns in the coming year. For the record, Trump’s tax reform saw a 10% increase in my family’s take-home pay from 2017 to 2018. I’m not a Trump supporter, but I am grateful for that bump which has allowed me to replenish a savings account that had been badly depleted by Obamacare-drive medical insurance premiums.

The Democrats can now exert some power in the federal government, but it is limited and checked power. That means they must either opt for “bipartisanship”, which under Republican presidents generally results in huge spending increases, or in gridlock, which isn’t a bad thing from a liberty perspective. Unfortunately, there are some huge things that need to be addressed – entitlement reform (including Obamacare and Obama’s massive expansion of the welfare state) and the debt being the biggest issues — and I think either way, this election result means those extremely important issues will not be addressed for at least another two years. But, Republicans didn’t exactly work on those issues in the two years they had control of all branches of government, so ….

I prefer divided government and gridlock. More issues may devolve to the states, which I also prefer. The blue ripple is better than a blue wave because it sends a clear message to Democrats that the voters don’t love them, they just don’t like unitarian government. It also sends a message to President Trump that he needs to work across the aisle. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, if he were a fiscal conservative, but he isn’t, so — who’s ready for $30 trillion in debt?

Anyone want to lay a long-term bet on how long the government can sustain deficit spending at these levels?

 

How Is the Fix In?   2 comments

So, the other day, someone on Twitter informed me that all Republic states had done away with paper ballots and that no states do hand-counting.

Last I looked Alaska was a Republican-leaning state and I fill out a paper ballot and feed it into a scanner. I’ve seen what comes out at the other end – a scanned copy of my ballot. I’ve seen the poll workers hand-count the ballots to assure they match the reading on the scanner before forwarding a report that verifies that the hand-count matches the scanner count. Then the paper ballots are forwarded in a locked box with guards to the Division of Elections.

Image result for image of russians meddling with election on facebookSo I went out and checked and 37 states have maintained paper ballots, some with optical scanners, others with a paper ballot that prints out after you use the digital machine, and most states that use electronic methods still have some form of paper trail attached.

Amid all of these ridiculous claims was someone up in arms because “Russia used Facebook to influence the election.”

So what?

I used Facebook to influence the election too. I posted on my social media accounts that I thought folks should vote for Gary Johnson rather than the Donald or She-Who-Would-Be-Queen. I offered reasoned arguments that you were free to accept or reject. I pointed out fallacies that you could believe or disbelieve. I posted scathing memes.

Oh, but wait, I’m an American citizen, so it’s okay for me to influence an election, because we all know nobody takes an American citizen seriously, right. But Russia … Russia … oh, my god, Russian agents expressed an opinion and some people might actually have been influenced by finding out that Hillary Clinton thinks the American people are idiots. The horror! And, of course, nobody can exercise their common sense and decide that they disagree with ads posted by Russians because … well, it’s Russia and we all know they have mind-control powers. The horror!

 

We have been subjected to 10 months of propaganda about Trump/Putin election interference without a scrap of actual evidence being produced. It is past time to ask an unasked question: If there were evidence, what is the big deal? All sorts of interest groups try to influence election outcomes including foreign governments. Why is it OK for Israel to influence US elections but not for Russia to do it? I seem to remember Angela Merkel saying something about how she wanted the US election to turn out. Why is it okay for her to do that, but not Vladimir Putin? Why do you think the armament industry, the energy industry, agribusiness, Wall Street and the banks, pharmaceutical companies, what’s left of the Moral Majority, George Soros, etc., supply huge sum of money to finance election campaigns if their intent is not to influence the election? Why do editorial boards write editorials endorsing one candidate and damning another if they are not influencing the election?

What is the difference between influencing the election and influencing the government? Washington is full of lobbyists of all descriptions, including lobbyists for foreign governments, working round the clock to influence the US government. Actual citizens’ opinions are the least represented in the government because we haven’t got any lobbyists working for us.

The orchestrated hysteria over “Russian influence” is even more absurd considering the reason Russia allegedly interfered in the election. Russia favored Trump because he was the “peace” candidate who promised to reduce the high tensions with Russia created by the Obama regime and neocon nazis like Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power. What’s wrong with Russia preferring a peace candidate over a war candidate? The American people themselves preferred the peace candidate.

Those who don’t agree with the electorate are the warmongers—the military/security complex and the neocons. These are democracy’s enemies who are trying to overturn the choice of the American people by keeping back information we had a right to know. It is not Russia that disrespects the choice of the American people. Russia is not in our streets throwing rocks through shop windows, burning cars and beating up people who voted for the constitutionally-elected President. Russia is busy dealing with its own issues while the utterly corrupt Democratic National Committee with its divisive identity politics, the military/security complex, and the left-leaning media undermine US democracy.

Whoever is producing the propaganda that these people believe about the election process should probably be looked at as someone trying to influence future election results because it is far easier to hack a nation-wide popular election than it is to corrupt 51 state-wide popular votes conducted by a myriad of election apparatuses.

The important question is who is it that is trying so hard to convince Americans that Russian influence somehow prevailed over our collective commonsense? It would appear that at the most, they released information that allowed us more information upon which to derive our opinions. Are we now saying that an uninformed vote is better than an informed one?

 

 

Russians Revealed Truth   2 comments

At this writing, it appears that the Electoral College has settled the matter in favor of the Constitution and Donald Trump will be the president … like it or not.

This entire electoral incident should warn us on just how insane the American elite has become. Presumably, they have access to the same Constitution that I have access to, so why is it that they seem unable to understand this very simple truth?

Image result for image of election interferenceThere has never been a national popular election for United State President. The Constitution provides for the states to elect the President and allows for states to decide what procedures to follow to do that. Theoretically, they could vary the procedures from state to state, but that isn’t the reality. Since 1836, the states have held statewide popular elections for President. Three states allow votes to be counted proportionally. The rest apportion electors according to the winnter of the statewide popular election. Additionally, 30 states require electors to vote with their statewide popular election. The media (and I suspect the public schools since I graduated) has put forth this fantasy of the national popular election, but it is a fantasy. It doesn’t exist. In fact, states should probably just stop giving their vote totals to the media until after the Electoral College meets. This might help with some people’s Electoral Delusional Complex.

On November 8, 2016, the voters in 51 states held popular elections (in accordance with the Constitution) and Donald Trump won 30 of those states. Hillary Clinton lost in a landslide. He may not be the best president we could have gotten. It’s entirely possibly he will not do what needs to be done. I suspect he’s better than Hillary would have been, but I don’t think that’s saying a whole lot. But he won the election and it’s time to move on.

Image result for electoral delusional complexBUT …

 

American elites are working to create a constitutional crisis as I write this, building up an immense head of steam that the Electoral College did not defuse.

Why? Because the Russians allegedly “intervened” in a US election. How did they do that?

They revealed the truth.

Yeah … shocking, right? How dare they!

But … wait … they told the truth and America’s elite overlords are upset about that?

 

Hmmm … maybe that tells us something about the elites that we really ought to pay more attention to.

The leaked emails were true and the truth they revealed ought to be huge news, talked about around every dinner table in America. Instead, the elites are trying to distract us with the revelation that RUSSIANS may have “interfered” with the election.

The inference is that the Russians did more than just reveal the truth at the worst possible time in the campaign for Hillary Clinton. I know people who are absolutely convinced that the Russians hacked the voting machines … even though that would be virtually impossible in 51 separate statewide elections, especially since some states use different systems at the district level … resulting in hundreds of different systems that would all need to be hacked. Yeah … can you say “Conspiracy Theory”?

Image result for electoral delusional complexBut, truthfully, they are mostly upset that the American people learned the truth about Hillary Clinton from her own camp and then voted based on that truth.

 

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. My decision was made months before the emails confirmed what I already knew, that Hillary Clinton is a lying warmonger who hates ordinary American people. But, for half a second in the voting booth, I almost filled in the oval for Donald Trump because I feared Hillary Clinton might win. Why was I more worried about it than I had been since March? I’d read those emails. I suspect a lot of people who read those emails filled in ovals for Donald Trump … because they had seen the truth about Hillary Clinton and they were voting against her and all that she stands for.

Democracy is supposed to be about allowing the people to self-govern through the ballot box. This time around, we rejected a candidate who had revealed herself to be an elitist snob, warmongering liar and enough of us embraced a candidate some of us don’t like. When it was Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012 there was no call to set aside the election results. Why? Because everybody … even the losers … accepted that the US system works and doesn’t need to be “fixed”, but also because most people recognized that Romney’s “49% of the electorate” comment was him opening his mouth to insert his foot by revealing himself to be an elite. So, why is it different now with Hillary?

 

I suspect a lot of Hillary supporters have refused to read the emails. Maybe none of our elites have read them. I did … well, a sizeable chunk of them. They were … damaging. If I’d liked Hillary before, I probably wouldn’t have liked her after reading them. And, I know people who did change their votes after reading them. The emails, because they were truth revealed, had that effect. Yet, the entire elite class, including nearly all major media, doesn’t seem to have read them. Or maybe they didn’t have that effect on them because they already knew that was the prevalent Democratic attitude toward the American people.

So, to my point of view, the Russians did us a favor by revealing the truth. They didn’t tell us their version of the truth. They released elitist emails that revealed the truth about the elites in their own words. So much more damaging than if the Russians had concocted lies.

 

Thos emails are a massive condemnation of American governance, especially in the Obama administration. The voters, now thusly informed, voted in their own better interests to pivot away from DC elites. I still doubt that Trump will “drain the swamp” or “make America great”, but I don’t fault my fellow voters for voting against Hillary. That is how democracy works … like it or not.

The Russians didn’t “interfere” with the election by enlightening the electorate with actual truth. Would we be having this conversation if the New York Times had released the information? I doubt it. We’d be excited to see real journalism back from the dark maze it has been wandering in. Can someone please lower a lantern into that sewer? Really, it would be wonderful to see the return of real journalism.

If you want to know what interference in an election looks like, go back and review what the elites have done to forestall the inaugaration of the people’s choice for President. Remember the riots? Remember the calls for Electoral College electors to disenfranchise the voters of their states and vote for Hillary? Do you hear the continued calls for Congress to step in and overrule the EC?

Yeah, THAT is interference in an election and you don’t have to love Donald Trump to recognize it.

51 Statewide Elections for POTUS   Leave a comment

I hate Twitter debates because you really can’t say what you need to say in 140 characters. So, in lieu of that, I’m explaining it here, where I can make a reasoned, well-rounded point.

Image result for image of 51 statewide popular elections for presidentThe Constitution was created by people who (mostly) saw themselves as citizens of their state of residence. Virginians didn’t see themselves as Americans. They saw themselves as Virginians. John Adams called Massachusetts his “country”. If you read the extra-Constitutional writers of the various Framers, you discover that almost all of them thought they were forming a federation similar to the Articles of Confederation with just a slightly stronger federal government. They expected the federal government to be subordinate to the states, not the other way around.

So they set up the Constitution to reflect that attitude on many levels. One of those points where they did this is elections for presidents. Popular elections were not popular in 1789. The technology wasn’t really up to it, but more than that, our Founders feared the “tyranny of the majority” — low-information voters who would vote according to promises by politicians scared the heck out of them. States were supposed to choose their own electors for the Electoral College which selects the President. Back then, it was mostly done by state legislatures. Today, it is mostly done by popular election. Although the media makes a big deal out of the NATIONAL popular vote, that is really an unConstitutional process. More than that, it doesn’t reflect actual reality.

Instead of a national election for the presidency, we have 51 statewide elections. Each state gets to make its own decision on how to choose electors, but for more than a century, most states have used the popular vote within their state to choose the electors from that state. 30+ states have laws that require electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote within their state.

Sadly, most states have no real teeth to this law, which emboldens people who are unhappy with the current outcomes of the 51 popular elections to try and convince electors to simply ignore the popular vote within their state and vote however they want. By this, they mean “vote our way”.

By the way, this has happened before approximately 157 times, but no faithless elector has ever swung the election result. Most states have simply replaced the elector with someone who understood what state they hail from.

So, maybe it will happen this time … but, I doubt it because the states in which Trump won the popular vote will simply nullify their faithless electors’ votes. It will also probably cause them to strengthen the costs to electors who actually violate their charge from the popular vote of their state.

I know that’s hard for people to hear who are on the losing side of an electoral contest, who believe they have a right to have their preferred candidate in the White House because they won the “national popular vote”. But there is no national popular vote as the Constitution stands. There are 51 statewide popular votes. And Trump clearly won those elections.

 

Gender Betrayal   3 comments

Image result for image of hillary clinton in defeatThere are all sorts of reasons given for why Hillary Clinton didn’t win the presidency and Trump did. Prior to the election, I was pretty certain that Trump’s disgusting behavior toward women would cost him the election. I was wrong. Trump won white women by 53%.

What?! Yeah! You read that right. White women. by 53%.

Many progressives are venting their spleens on Huffington Post, Slate and elsewhere, claiming these women are traitors to their gender.  I’ve even been told I’m a traitor to my gender for voting for Gary Johnson. How dare a woman vote for a man when there was a woman running!

“White women sold out the sisterhood and the world by voting for Trump.” Slate Headline

A former communications director for the Clinton campaign told MSNBC that “internalized misogyny” led white women to support Trump.

Wow, climb out of your safe spaces and confront reality. If progressives want to blame women for Clinton’s lost, they should start with Hillary Clinton.

Clinton repeatedly misled the public about her off-the-books email system and became the first candidate in history to be under FBI investigation while campaigning to be president. That’s her fault. I didn’t do that. She did!

Clinton positioned herself as the anointed inheritor of President Barack Obama’s third term. She didn’t craft her own identity in an obviously anti-establishment year. She ran on all the policies Republicans opposed in previous elections, policies that led to the GOP winning record numbers of state legislative chambers, governors’ races, and control of Congress. That’s her fault. White women didn’t do that. She did!

Clinton never set foot in the state of Wisconsin, even though it’s home state to the Republican National Committee Chairman, the well-liked GOP speaker of the House and a governor who beat the labor unions in a contentious right-to-work battle. According to NBC News, Trump spent 50% more time in battleground states in the last 100 days of the election. That’s her fault. Nobody else did that.

Clinton ran a misguided campaign filled with miscalculations. Don’t say Clinton was disadvantaged because she was a woman, because as a Clinton she had every advantage possible. She had money, the staff, the ads and institutional support needed for a successful run. She squandered all those advantages and she lost.

Instead of reflexively blaming women, Democrats should ask themselves what they did to make Clinton more competitive.

While, both candidates and their campaigns were deeply flawed, there is a gaping difference between the way Republicans and Democrats.discussed those flaws. You can do a media study to prove this to yourself. Many Republicans spoke out consistently and repeatedly about their candidate’s flaws, using their public platforms to challenge the party to be better. The Democrats didn’t.

Even Clinton’s chief primary rival Bernie Sanders stood on the debate stage and refused to hold Clinton to account for her “damn emails.” And let’s face it – a 70-odd-year-old SOCIALIST senator made a credible run and beat the heavily favored front-runner in critical Midwest states. That should have jolted the Clinton team out of their “it’s my turn” stupor, but it didn’t. The Democratic Party protected Clinton like a fragile butterfly every step of the way. In hindsight, it’s no wonder she didn’t break the highest, hardest glass ceiling. She was treated as if she wasn’t strong enough to do so.

Maybe the Clinton camp honestly believed disgust for Trump would magically propel Republican voters to her. They underestimated conservative voters dislike of Clinton. She was a non-starter with actual conservatives a long time before she announced her candidacy. I knew I wouldn’t vote for her for President when she was still the First Lady. I was never tempted to vote for her just because I didn’t like Trump.

I’ve been asking why some of my friends who disliked Trump voted for him instead of her and this is what they say:

  • Clinton refused to call anything a terror attack even as the murderers yelled, “Allahu Akbar!” while committing heinous acts around the world.
  • She, and the Democrats, kept saying, “Obamacare is working!” while American families were being slammed with huge premiums and deductibles increases along with shrinking networks.
  • She didn’t seem to realize that the US economy has only “recovered” if you’re a member of the elite, really wealthy or a government-benefit recipient. For all the rest of us, the recession is still going on.
  • She refused to enforce US laws by promising amnesty to those who flout them.
  • She promised more taxes, spending and regulation even though our government is awash with debt, waste and bureaucracy.

This election proved that voters had bigger problems than Trump’s sexism, such as genuine fear of the future for themselves and their families. The “suck it up, buttercup” caucus prevailed and yes, our country will survive.

I’m not saying I’m not unsettled by Trump’s treatment toward women and minorities. It bothers me to know that a man who has displayed such disrespect for women in both his personal and professional life will soon be leader of the free world. I worry about my daughter, trying to make her way in this world, with a misogynist at the helm.

On the other hand, politics are full of compromises and ups and down and every 2 to 4 years, we get to correct the direction of the country … if it turns out the collective wisdom of the electorate was wrong. Trump won for reasons other than his misogyny and maybe we just need to wait a while and see. If he’s a sexist whose policies pull the economy out of the eight years of morass it’s been stuck in … all, then sexism is a tolerable flaw. I’m not married to him, after all.

The way I look at it, I’m not a traitor to my gender because I didn’t vote for Clinton. Alaska’s electoral votes wouldn’t have changed the election outcome anyway. I voted the way I voted because I have bigger issues than sexism to deal with. I worry about surviving in the coming economy, about whether my son is going to have to march off to war along with his sister. The black President proved what I already knew. The outside package of a candidate means a whole lot less than their policies do in how they will be as President. We need a President who wants to fix what’s wrong. We need a President who … isn’t Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but we didn’t get that this time, so ….

What will we decide to do in 202o? I hope we’ll be wiser than we are this time, but I doubt it.

Posted December 2, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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Diversity Wins   Leave a comment

Getting into discussions with people on the internet over the last week has resulted in being accused of “opposing diversity”. Really?

I am a very diverse person – part-American Indian, part-Swedish, married to an Irishman, and living in the second most-diverse state in the Union. You can look that up. Alaska is second only to Hawaii in racial and cultural diversity.

Still, diversity is a really — well, diverse topic. There are many types of diversity. Diversity of occupation, diversity of art and musical taste, diversity of outlook, diversity of residence, and, of course, varying kinds of racial, religious and ethnic diversity. There are even diversity of economic and political systems. There are literally thousands of kinds of diversity.

The Founders were not majoritarian in their viewpoints, but held the opinion that geographical diversity was important. They enshrined that belief in the Constitution by creating the Electoral College to give special weight to diversity of geography. We know what they meant by it because they wrote about in the Federalist Papers and in their letters. The prevailing view was, “If too many (geographically) diverse voices veto you, you can’t get elected, not even with a majority of the votes.”  Having been brainwashed by a steady stream of “democracy is best”, that view may seem strange to some of us who live in big cities where the population is, but to those of us living in smaller population states, it sounds like wisdom.

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Something that most people do not know is that Democrats now control at least one legislative house in only 17 states. Yeah, the reach of the party is shrinking dramatically. If the Founders, who were 18th century thinkers on the subject of diversity were to see this now, they would say that, in terms of geography, the Democratic coalition is remarkably non-diverse. If you look at the numbers or just this map, you can see that much of Hillary Clinton’s majority came from New York and California. By the way, it also puts to bed the lie that the GOP is just a “Southern rump party,” as some commentators have reiterated nearly nonstop since 2008.

The Democratic Party today is more likely to stress the relevance of ethnic and racial diversity, if the talk is about diversity. Non-Democrats are more likely to count other forms of diversity far more than the Democrats do. Democrats are concentrated in particular cities and occupations, far more than Republicans are. There is nothing wrong with that. I’m really big on the choosing your own lifestyle thing, but it is another way in which Democrats are less diverse.

When it comes to views about the relevant forms of diversity, I have found through personal exploration that non-Democrats hold more diverse views than Democrats do. That doesn’t really surprise me because a non-Democrat is more likely to focus on something other than racial and ethnic diversity while Democrats typically see diversity as only being relevant in racial and ethnic discussions.

Many Americans do not think racial and ethnic diversity is the diversity that should command so much attention. They are more open-minded than that. They voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and then voted for Trump this time around. Twenty-nine percent of Latinos voted for Trump, by the way. I suspect many of those voters do not see Latino vs. non-Latino as the diversity line that mattered most.

I’m not defending the GOP point of view. I’m simply noting that Democrats champion diversity while themselves typically holding a more narrow view of diversity and that it appears to be hurting them in the political arena.  They view themselves as more concerned with diversity, but then they are highly disrespectful of anyone who isn’t like them.

Democrats need to realize that the forces of diversity won when Donald Trump was elected President … not because Trump is the lion of diversity, but because his voters represent many diversities.

 

I know it’s hard for those who have supped too much contemporary political rhetoric to accept that their definition of diversity is what lost in this election, but as the Democratic Party does some soul searching, it might want to consider this critique. They lost the election because they refused to value rural and exurban voters. They called them “clingers” and “religious nuts”, “hillbillies” and “deplorables”. More than anything else, they called them “racists”.  And that highly diverse population of denigrated Americans turned out an incredible election result. I’m not saying it was a good election result, but it slapped down the arrogance of the Democrats and progressives.

 

And, that …. was a good thing.

Posted November 25, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

Tagged with , ,

Why Keep the Electoral College   6 comments

So many people I know are freaked-out-foaming-at-the-mouth upset that Donald Trump won the presidency even though Hillary Clinton supposedly won the popular vote.  There are a lot of people, especially over on the George Soros-financed MoveOn.org, screaming that we need to abolish the Electoral College immediately and have the presidency decided by popular vote. Even people here in Alaska, who SHOULD know better, are calling for it.

In contrast, I support the Electoral College, for the most part. I might change how it is calculated if I were in charge, but I generally approve of it because it is one of the Constitution’s providentially great procedures preventing the concentration of political power and the resulting abuses stemming from such concentrations.

Let’s start with the what makes the Constitution’s voting rules accidentally great.

At the time of the Constitution’s ratification in the late 1700s, its proponents expected federal power to be restrained by having a wide swath of different Americans in a large republic form many factions. These diverse factions would restrain federal action by hindering consensus.

“The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other.” Federalist #10, written by James Madison

According to Madison, having a lot of people with diverse interests restrains federal power and protects liberty by deterring the formation of oppressive majorities. Madison didn’t foresee the two-party voting system that would eventually be the norm in this country. He thought republican democracy would be more like herding cats than sheep.

When designing the Constitution, its Framers spent considerable time considering who voted when. The Constitution makes the House popularly elected by the people, the Senate appointed by the states, the President indirectly elected through the Electoral College, and the judiciary nominated by the President and approved by the Senate. Due to a skepticism of majorities, the Constitution empowers different people to choose different components of the federal government to protect against majoritarian dangers.

While the Framers concentrated on who should be allowed to decide, they largely overlooked how those people should be measured. Kenneth Arrow earned a Noble Prize in economics with his book Social Change and Individual Values. I warn that it’s a snore-fest, but his basic premise is that HOW collective decisions are measured matters more than who should be included in the decision-making process. In other words, the “will of the people” does not exist independently of the voting rules. Voting rules matter because the measure of “the will of the people” determines collective decisions.

For a Madisonian system with many factions that deter majorities, states would need to use a system of proportional representation in voting. Under such a rule, a party with about 10% support would receive around 10% of the seats in Congress, and Congress would need to form coalitions with many factions to pass legislation—just as Madison wanted.

Proportional representation often doesn’t work well. Currently, due to proportional representation, Spain has lacked a government for almost a year because of the inability to form a coalition. Belgium once had no elected government for 589 days. European countries with proportional representation voting systems show how Madisonian inhabitions on government might work. As Madison suggested, a larger, more diverse country with a proportional representation voting system would likely have such restrains more frequently.

Having underappreciated the significance of voting rules, Madison expected many factions and did not intentionally design the Constitution to restrain the unanticipated two-party system. A two-party system poses the danger of one party taking exclusive control and exerting its unrestrained will on the population. This is somewhat mitigated by the Constitutional requirement for staggered elections, but it doesn’t prevent it. We all saw the results of that in 2008-10 and may experience a repeat performance in reverse starting in January.

The Electoral College safeguards against the concentration of political power by one party because of its accidental operation within our two-party system. Many people assume the Electoral College is an arbitrary way of electing somebody to be President based on a close correlation to the national popular vote. For the fifth time in American history, the candidate winning the Electoral College lost the popular vote. So, let’s dump the Electoral College, people shout. But hang on a second.

As originally envisioned, the Constitution includes an Electoral College to insulate voting from the majority and enable wiser electors to choose the President. The Electoral College, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68, would avoid “tumult and disorder” by ensuring that the small number of people who “possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations” would decide the President.

In practice, electors almost always vote based on state popular votes. Trump will win the Electoral College regardless of demands for electors to defect. Despite occasional defections, such as Roger MacBride casting his electoral vote for Libertarian candidates in 1972 (thus giving a woman her first electoral vote), the rare Electoral College defections do not affect presidential elections. Much like the belief that factions would restrain federal power, the belief that the Electoral College would enable wiser elector to decide the President is mostly illusory, but there are other benefits.

The Electoral College within a two-party system acts as a means of restraining voter fraud and the potential resulting concentration of political power.Regardless of the original intention, within a two-party system in a large nation, the Electoral College has the wonderful function of transforming a single national election into 51 local elections. With the elections managed locally, the federal government has little control over the voting process and cannot systemically tilt the election in favor of the party in power, preventing any party from systematically expanding its power through the voting system. The Electoral College protects the voting system from potentially systemic federal corruption by dispersing it across the states.

In addition to federal tampering with the voting system, politicians in red and blue states could have both the political power and the incentive to engage in outright fraud to empower the party in control. Considering how creative and manipulative these politicians have been in gerrymandering, politicians governing a one-party state within a two-party nation would likely manufacture many legal and illegal ways to enhance their party’s national popular vote. By creating 51 contests instead a national popular vote, the Electoral College deters red and blue states from tampering with the voting system and concentrating federal political power within their party.

Interestingly, the Electoral College defense reverses the historical case for it. Rather than having Hamilton’s politically astute elites choose the President, the Electoral College disperses power by protecting Presidential elections from partisan political elites.

Here is a map of the 2016 presidential election by county.

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Wow. That’s a LOT of red. As seen in the above map, Republicans overwhelming won America’s counties and carried rural America. In contrast, Democrats won substantially fewer counties and compensated by winning populous, urban cities. Do we think it’s a good idea for the cities to control presidential politics and electoral outcomes? As anyone read or seen The Hunger Games? Do away with the Electoral College and the cities decide presidential elections from here on out.

 

Contemplating the Future   Leave a comment

Here are some amazing things to think about with the Trump win.
1) It’s highly likely we will never hear from Hillary Clinton again! Yay! Can I get a 21-gun salute? She Who Would Be Queen has been silenced. Hopefully, she’ll crawl back to Chappaqua to lick her wounds and those of us who saw through her will never have to contemplate her existence again.
Image result for image of trump wins
2) Trump won. Okay, I voted 3rd Party, so I had nothing to do with it, but let’s take a pause and note that the polls were wrong. The projections were incorrect. Trump’s victory was the most stunning repudiation of pollster models since Truman beat Dewey, but more, Republicans held the House and the Senate in a wave of change that the “professionals” didn’t see coming. The political professionals are going to be doing some deep soul-search for at least the next two years. How could they have missed it?
It’s called arrogance, pure and simple. The media fell back on their old adage that you shouldn’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, but in the Internet age, that adage isn’t really holding up so well. They picked a fight with someone who knows how to use pixels by the gigabyte.
3) There was and is a Trump coalition. The white, working-class turned out like never before, overwhelming the Democrats “blue wall” of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Democrats won urban areas, of course, but they lost the suburban areas and most all of the rural areas. The “about to be a minority” white voters supported Trump with amazing margins. Trump had claimed he had “hidden” supporters that the polls weren’t finding. I guess he was right.
A lot of them may be folks like my father-in-law … a traditional Democratic voter … who lost his business during the 2008 recession and couldn’t rebuild his retirement in Obama’s “recovery”. At 76, he’s never voted Republican before. He did this time (though, my husband Brad voted for Gary Johnson and snapped a cell-phone pic in the booth to prove it to me). When I spoke on the telephone with him about this, I teased him that it was because Clinton was a woman and he corrected me. “If it had been you running or that HP gal or even that ex-governor of yours … they’ve have had my vote. I don’t oppose women running the show so long as they know what they’re doing.”
Part of the reason for my father-in-law’s dramatic voting switch in his mid-70s has to do with Clinton labeling Trump’s supporters as irredeemable and “deplorable”. Some of those she was painting as evil were people he considers friends and he admired how they claimed the epithet as a badge of honor that just made them more determined to vote for Trump and bring others with them.
4) Clinton lacked a coalition. I think this shocked me more than anything else, because the Clintons have always been good at creating coalitions that make them stronger than they really should have been. Hillary was sure that Latino voters, blacks and college-educated women would turn out like never before to match Trump’s strength with white voters. She failed to recognize that as the Democratic Party has shifted further left, relying on a largely urban base, the “blue dogs” have been moving out of the Democratic Party to join the ranks of independents, Republicans and Libertarians. The formerly ill-informed working-class voters who supported Bill Clinton have discovered the Internet and no longer follow obediently after their partisan masters. Furthermore, they objected strongly to being told that our government must spy on them to make us safe while people like Hillary Clinton make us less safe by insinuating US troops into conflicts around the world. What’s more, Trump experienced a slightly larger percentage of support from blacks and Latinos than Mitt Romney did in 2012, suggesting that even the historically obsessed vote for the black community may be shifting.
4) Campaign tools can’t outstrip what people know for certain. Clinton’s campaign infrastructure was pretty impressive. It had targeted, identified and reached crucial voters in battleground states. She enormously outspent Trump on TV ads, set up many more field offices, and dispatched more staff to swing states and did this much earlier. Trump seemed amateurish in comparison, with his scattershot organization, entirely reliant on the Republican National Committee for all get-out-the-vote operations.
None of it mattered. Organization did not beat message and policy. People could look around at their lives and see that a third Obama term was not in their best interest.

5) There was no down-ballot damage

Republicans in almost all instances assumed Trump would be a drag on the party’s hopes of keeping Senate control. He wasn’t and in some states, Trump appears to have had coattails, outperforming the GOP Senate candidates in Indiana and Missouri. He ran roughly even with those in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
I think this was mostly due to the arrogance of the Democrats, who believed they had the “golden ticket” when Donald Trump officially earned the nomination. “They worked to nationalize every race,” according to Ward Baker, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “[A]nd when the bottom fell out of Clinton’s candidacy, they had no message, no strategy, and no ability to pivot to local issues.”
I don’t think Trump’s victory is anything to celebrate, except … except for this one thing. Well, two … the first being that it is a rejection of arrogance among those who would be our rulers. Donald Trump … beware …

Second, Hillary Clinton represented (still does) the status quo in the country. For all her perceived inevitability, Hillary was precisely the wrong candidate for this election. She was everything people hate about politics — fundamentally dishonest Washington insider, more indebted to the corporate and foreign interests that enriched her family and the Clinton Foundation than to the people she was asking to elect her and running as a third term for the Obama administration. It’s historically rare for one party to hold power in the US for three terms when times are good, but economic anxiety is very real right now. People rightly feel displaced and scared and Obama and Hillary’s insistence that “everything is awesome” sounded tone deaf and stupid. Wake up and smell the economic swamp, blue backs!

And, cue the fireworks – the traditional left-right spectrum doesn’t seem to make sense anymore. Trump is half New Deal populist, half arch conservative. Bernie Sanders sounded like Ron Paul, except on trade, when he sounded like Donald Trump. What is the definition of a liberal? What is the definition of a conservative? Maybe we should start thinking of politics as it really exists — as a spectrum between liberty and authoritarianism.

I don’t think Trump’s victory means we’re moving toward liberty away from authoritarianism. He’s pretty authoritarian, ala FDR, who was one of our more authoritarian presidents. I think we may learn a lot of rough lessons about the dangers of unlimited executive power of the next few years. The results of any one election is not going to fix what is wrong in this country. Maybe 2020 will … maybe.

What is worth celebrating, however, is that the establishment got its bell rung on Tuesday. The people chose change and this time it wasn’t the cozy relationship between the insiders in politics, business, and the media that Obama represented. They chose an outsider. And, despite the overwhelming pressure on social media and elsewhere to pick one of the two evils, Gary Johnson received more votes than any third party candidate since 1996. People are fed up with the two-party duopoly and young voters are not set in their ways or propagandized yet. If Trump doesn’t pull at least a few rabbits out of his hat, I predict a Libertarian sweep and the increasing rise of other 3rd parties in 2020.

So what should we hope for in the next four years. I don’t hope for the “winner” to run roughshod over the “losers”. I hope we’ll adopt some simple rules that treat everyone the same so long as we’re not hurting someone or stealing each other’s stuff. In a deeply divided and diverse nation, tolerance and liberty are our best tools for coming out better on the far end.

Posted November 11, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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Corrupt Elections   Leave a comment

Most people don’t know the name Charles Carroll of Carrolltown, but he was actually an important Founding Father. As a Maryland delegate to the Continental Congress, he became the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Charles Carroll was a Maryland delegate to the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Because he was a Catholic, Carroll was not allowed to participate in politics, practice law (though he studied for years) or vote, but he became known in important circles in a roundabout way by writing various anti-tax/tariff tracts (essentially, early protestations against “taxation without representation”) in the Maryland Gazette under the pseudonym “First Citizen.”
Image result for image of corrupt electionsWith the Revolution gearing up, in 1774, Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Chase approached Carroll to help gain the support of the Canadian government for their cause. The eventual mission was not success, but two years later Carroll was appointed to the Continental Congress, where he was an influential member of the Board of War, an early advocate for armed resistance, and the ultimate severing of governmental ties with England. He was nominated again in 1780 but decided not to accept the post.

 

At the time of the Boston Tea Party, Carroll sought to remind the Crown and Parliament that his fellow American colonists “are not yet corrupt enough to undervalue liberty.”

Ouch! It’s hard to read those words without wincing and thinking about modern politics and a certain presidential election.Charges of corruption are everywhere, but calls for liberty are nowhere to be heard.

Charles Carroll may well have been right about his own time. I wonder what he would think of our era. Could Charles Carroll say that we today are not corrupt enough to undervalue liberty?

The colonists were certainly concerned about London-initiated corruption. The Boston Tea Party was less about the tea tax than the sweet deal that the British East India Company had negotiated with Parliament to monopolize the colonial tea market. To break free from England was to break free from that sort of corruption. We’d call it crony capitalism today.

Five Dollars and a Pork Chop SandwichAre we Americans now so corrupt that we undervalue liberty today? Perhaps we’re just inured by it. A friend of mine spent lunch the other day telling me all the reasons she’s voting for Hillary Clinton. The word “liberty” wasn’t uttered once in that 45 minutes. I can’t imagine Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton even saying the word. One promises strength; the other offers goodies. Where is liberty in all of this?

As for corruption … oh, puh-leese! We’ve had administrations that created clouds of corruption in their wake, but we’ve never had two major party candidates so engulfed in visible clouds of shadiness in advance of their possible presidency. These are two incredibly flawed candidates who are flawed in ways that would have deeply troubled our flawed Founders.

Which one is more corrupt? It depends on the day which way I might answer. Can I “eeny-meeny-miney-mo” them? That’s not even a rabbit worth chasing.

Instead, ponder Charles Carroll’s words and pay particular attention to the last word of his statement … that little word “yet.” Consider our own complicity in all of this. You can’t blame the primary system entirely, but thanks to that system, we are much closer to being a democracy. Our founders envisioned and intended a republic. Our current system means we are more likely to get the sort of leaders that we deserve. They’re the people we think we want as opposed to the sort of leaders that we might need. And we want them because they offer us things we think we want. They in essence buy our votes. Liberty doesn’t sell because liberty is about us pulling ourselves up by hard work and voluntary cooperation with others. Liberty assuages coercing taxes out of our more well-off neighbors to feature our nests. Who would want to buy that?

So if Charles Carroll were to survey America today, there’s a good chance he would say that we are now too corrupt to value liberty. And certainly our voting patterns will show that. We don’t need anyone manipulating the voting machines. We do this to ourselves.

Posted November 5, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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Against Trump   8 comments

National Review argues against Republicans embracing Trump

THOMAS SOWELL In a country with more than 300 million people, it is remarkable how obsessed the media have become with just one—Donald Trump. What is even more remarkable is that, after seven years of repeated disasters, both domestically and internationally, under a glib egomaniac in the White House, so many potential voters are turning to another glib egomaniac to be his successor.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430126/donald-trump-conservatives-oppose-nomination

 

And the leftist Salon claims its evidence of a conservative implosion.

The big release of the latest National Review edition, with a cover declaring “Against Trump,” on Thursday night was above all other things a wonderful gift not just to liberals, but anyone who lives outside of the conservative tribe. Because it gives us a glimpse, however temporary, of what it feels like to be a Trump supporter. I defy readers to take one look at the cover and not feel an overwhelming surge of contempt for these establishment conservatives who love to pander to the camo-crowd when it suits them, but get fussy when the rubes rise up and start demanding real skin in the game. You want to rub their smug little faces right in Donald Trump’s ridiculous hair and ask how they like those apples.

http://www.salon.com/2016/01/22/conservatives_in_a_meltdown_national_reviews_confused_against_trump_issue_is_an_amazing_testament_to_the_rights_implosion/

 

 

What I found truly hilarious was that liberal progressives think National Review represents the Republican establishment. They don’t. If anything, the Republican establishment has more than shown its contempt for the conservative movement represented by thinkers like Thomas Sowell.

 

The National Review message – loud and clear – is that conservatives (not Republicans) should not vote for Donald Trump because Donald Trump is not a conservative. That is a completely correct observation. Trump is not a conservative, though he may be leading the Republican polls.

So why are Salon and the other liberal media cheering the “Republican base” (whoever these people might be) into the Trump camp?

I tend to want to avoid conspiracy theories. They’re useful premises for apocalyptic novels, but espousing them in real life tends to make you sound like you’re crazy. But, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for some time that someone on the left encouraged Trump, probably with large amounts of cash or some iron-clad promise for the future, to run on the Republican ticket. Right now, he’s got folks who claim to be Republican excited, but what happens when he wins the nomination? Will he suddenly do something that makes him thoroughly unelectable and thereby assure the victory of the Democratic candidate?

No! That couldn’t possibly happen.

Right …????

I can write that as someone who is conservative-libertarian and feels no obligation to the Republican party to vote for their nominee. I’m going to vote my principles and if those don’t align with the Republican Party (and they rarely do), I’ll vote Libertarian or some other party that more closely aligns with me. Yes, I may be “wasting” my vote on a non-winning candidate, but I will not be voting for Trump as meglomaniac in chief because frankly, we’ve had 8 years of meglomania and I think we should be done with that by now. I’d rather “waste” my vote sending a message than play go-along-to-get-along with the Republicans.

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