Reflections On An Election

So as we all know by now Barack Obama has become the President elect of the United States and pretty much every blog has sounded off on this with varying degrees of celebration, but I’m going to put a damper on the mood here and mention that despite the candidate I picked getting chosen to be the next leader of the worlds only remaining super power, that several unfortunate things happened during the election that still hint at a continued division and conflict of ideals within the country.

473px-ted_stevens1

One Is That This Convicted Felon Got Re-Elected

Yes, Ted Stevens, the President Pro Tempore Emeritus of the senate and so-called gentleman from Alaska, despite being found guily on all seven of the corruption charges he was facing has been re-elected to serve as Alaska’s delegate to Washington for the 7th time.  Now of course he is currently under a lot of pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike to step down or face expulsion from the senate and while it’s looking possible that this might happen, what does all of this say about the state of things in the country.  Is incumbency so powerful, that even when everyone knows, including the felon himself, that he should by all rights be serving time in prison, that said felon can still have the gall to run for public office and worse yet be supported by a state to serve time in Congress as a national leader instead? 

If this seems as absurd to you as it does to me then perhaps we should all be asking some questions about possible electoral reform.  Something like, IF YOU ARE A CONVICTED CRIMINAL YOU SHOULD NOT BE ELLIGIBLE TO RUN FOR OFFICE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!  Okay, that’s not actually a question, but I mean good god, it shouldn’t matter how long he’s served, is it not an option, that if Alaska absolutely has to have a Republican in Congress representing the state that they run someone else instead once the corruption charges come through.  Or perhaps, and I know this might sound absurd (lol), start voting for the person instead of the party…..I mean I know the announcement of his conviction was close to election day and that there probably wasn’t any way to replace him on the Republican ticket in time, but the message it sends….

Next on the, in my opinion, shitty things that happened during the election list….

prop8_03

No This Isn’t Me Pledging My Support For The Measure, It Is The Unfortunate Reality Of The Matter

Proposition 8 passed in California, meaning that the state saw fit somehow to give gays and lesbians the right to marry and then take it away.  Somehow that doesn’t seem entirely fair to me.  Aside from my belief that no person should have the right to impose upon another a restriction against formal marriage based on sex, the decision had already been made by the Supreme Court that marriage was between two people regardless of sex. Not to mention the fact that this was so close in terms of the yes and no vote and yet still apparently passed because it was beyond 50%.  That also says something about the state of things in the country when 50% on a constitutional amendment, even at the state level is considered a pass.  Shouldn’t something as significant as a restriction on gay marriage that requires an amendment to the text of the California Constituation have to pass a certain quota of “yes” votes, like say 66% or else it fails by default.  For something this close I don’t see how it can be counted as a pass.  Clearly if 48% of the voting population doesn’t support an amendment to the constitution of California then I think the status quo should be maintained as per the Supreme Court’s decision in In re Marriage Cases

Hey though, I’m not one to dictate the way things should be in a country that isn’t my own and this is only my opinion, but I’m suggesting that there are clearly still many issues on which American’s are divided and where reform could likely be introduced in the coming years even as of the very day when people want to believe change is on the way.  I want to suggest that despite the fact that Barack Obama was elected last night, that as he too suggested, change will not come overnight and that people are going to have to come together and set aside partisianship to make real change happen.  And I think that what that means among other issues, and again this is just my opinion, is the will to say no to a corrupt candidate despite your support for their party and to recognize that 52% versus 48% is not a clear and unanimous agreement on how a state constitution should read.  A mandate for change does not come at 51% of the population agreeing on something, it probably doesn’t even come at 66% as I suggested earlier, it comes at something much closer to 100% and that is why I really hope that Barack Obama will be able to truly unite the people under one common banner of the United States of America in the years to come.  Otherwise I don’t see how change can really come about.

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13 Responses to “Reflections On An Election”


  1. 1 Crusader November 6, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Look what the people of Alaska do is their business, as embarrassing as it maybe of the rest of us, only the good people of Alaska can have Ted booted out and only if they deign to do so. Given the overall results in the senate Ted is not going to make that much of a difference. We have had worse incumbents before if you think about it, and not all come from Alaska.

    The issue of Prop 8 (disagreeable though it may be) was brought about because the State Supreme Court made the decision to grant it in the first place without having consulted the electorate. Let’s not forget that just because something comes from a Supreme Court does not mean that it is in anyway more just, Plessy vs. Ferguson is proof that a Supreme Court can be just as dumb as an electorate. Even if it is by the slimmest of majorities, the same bar is set for the next election cycle. The higher you set the bar for “majority” the less things change. California is not just San Francisco, there is a significant number of conservatives in the state that have not changed their minds on the issue. So you can either label them stupid an cry about the result or prepare for the next election and convince enough of that 52% that there is merit in gay marriage.

    Favoring the 48% because of a court decision over the 52% is not very right either, just because you do not agree with the 52% on the matter does not invalidate their vote. Democracy is not rule by an elite whose morals you agree with, part of the imperfection stems from the fact that everyone’s vote is equal it’s something you either live with or eliminate democracy altogether to get your enlightened despotism by x number of “worthy and intelligent” people. If the opponents of Prop 8 work hard and try and engage the supporters of Prop 8 to change their minds then perhaps it will be as easily overturned as it was made into law.

    The point of democracy is not making things right for one person but gathering enough of a consensus on how to handle things. You might be able to force in equality on paper through legislation or court decision, but in reality you have to make social changes, convince others that your cause has merit if you want it to stick. Prohibition was on the books, but little good it did in changing people’s habits.

  2. 2 Kaioshin Sama November 6, 2008 at 2:23 am

    I’m not favouring the 48% because I agree with them (even though I do), but because I believe something as significant as a proposition to amend the constitution should have a higher threshold for passing then a simple 51% majority in a yes or no question. If it were a bill or something I could understand, but a consitutional amendment is universally binding in a manner of speaking and I think should have to be something that a larger segment of the population can agree upon if it is going to be changed. I’m guessing California doesn’t use the same 2/3 majority measure that the federal level uses for amending the United States Constitution and I suppose I’m more interested in knowing why that is the case over anything else.

    Yes it almost certainly had to go to vote after the appropriate number of signatures was raised and the Supreme Court can’t be allowed to decide something of that significance on their own, but how can you pass an amendment like that when just under half of the votes cast on it believe that it should be rejected. That’s what I don’t understand. It seems to close and a clear sign that the issue is still not going to be over with for a long time to come. That people are still divided as much as they could possibly be on the issue of gay marriage and whether it should be legal or not. As you suggest we might be seeing a repeal measure added on to the next state level election being held in California.

    As for Stevens and being insignificant, you do know that being being President Pro Tempore Emeritus of the senate awards one certain priviledges right? While it’s not as significant as the President Pro Tempore being 3rd in the Presidential Line of Succession they are still awarded extra staff and a certain degree of prestige including seat appointments on various committees within the inner workings of Congress.

    There is the option of expulsion, although it’s only been done a handful of times and pretty much only in the case of treason.

    As for where we go from here, or rather I suppose where you guys go, yes only the people can make a difference now and it will have to wait unfortunately. And obviously your last paragraph is something I agree upon. Clear decisive concensus, not merely FPTP on a decision or Supreme Court Decisions is how I invision a good democracy getting things done.

  3. 3 Crusader November 6, 2008 at 3:36 am

    Indeed Mr. Stevens is no longer President Pro Tempore, Mr. Robert Byrd holds that position if I recall correctly and is thus third in the line of succession should tragedy befall the President and Vice President. It is an honorary position, but given how high profile Stevens is and how even his own party turned on him, coupled with the very real possibility expulsion I do not think Stevens is going to cause a disproportionate amount of trouble now that he is under the microscope. It’s too early to tell if Stevens is going to remain anyway given how the Republican party needs to change it’s practices keeping Stevens around is not in their best interest given how they need to change their image after this election, or so I suspect. Ultimately the only Americans who can do anything are those in office in Washington and the good people of Alaska.

    Way back when there was talk of cutting California into two because the California was just so diverse, the northern part is not too similar to the southern part similar to how San Francisco and Orange County are different as night and day. Again given the low bar for “majority” next year there will be another proposition similar to Prop 8. Personally I think California is the most insane state in the Union we are populous, diverse, and encompass such a large swathe of territory that keeping all of us happy let alone reach a firm consensus would require nothing short of a miracle. In any case that is the way we have decided to do things and given how there have been no challenges to the current methods all I can say is that it just is. The full count has yet to be finished and given how close it is it might change.

    Gay Marriage is a rather young issue I am not surprised that there was support for Prop 8 in the short term. Eventually though the only way it can be repealed is for its supports to talk to the conservatives who live outside of the urban centers and convince them to change their minds. I have lived in California most of my life, I tell you now that Prop 8 is by no means permanent. Californians have some habitual fear of stagnation, we don’t seem to mind voting every few years on the same issues at least it keeps things going and dynamic. Who knows in a couple years Gay Marriage will be reinstated and if love is truly lasting then a delay in tying the knot will not make the romance between two people any less enjoyable. It may be a nuisance but there is always the next election.

    I think that because of San Francisco and it’s high profile nationally and internationally that many mistake that San Francisco is a barometer for the political and social climate for California, nothing could be further from the truth, after all we were the ones who brought Mr. Ronald Reagan to national prominence California swings both ways.

  4. 4 Keiichi November 6, 2008 at 4:08 am

    Prop 8 should not even be considered as a proposition, a wealthy Christian church provided the funding and the main support for prop 8, making most who voted yes a Christian. The church, or any religion, should not interfere in the political system, and this should be pointed out in an attempt to repeal prop 8.

  5. 5 Kaioshin Sama November 6, 2008 at 4:39 am

    @Crusader: I thought Reagan had already won enough votes in 84′ to be declared president elect before the polls even closed in California. That’s how much of a sweep it was. Anyway, I catch your drift. Democractic electoral votes, Democractic senators, but Republican Governor.

    As for the Republican party, there’s not doubt that they have to start over from scratch now. People have caught on to the way they’ve been doing things for the last 14 or so years and I think the best option is to come clean, admit that they made some major mistakes and to maybe move a little back towards their roots of being the fiscally conservative “small government” party as opposed to the socially conservative “we’ll do it our way” party.

    Getting rid of Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum has been a good start and after Strom Thurmond died off and Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich retired things had already started to improve, but now I think more then ever they really need to start considering the character of the candidates they are running and the image they present for the party. Bush, perhaps the worst thing that’s happened to the Republicans since Nixon is on his way out now so perhaps they should start from there. They need more Olympia Snowe’s and less Sam Brownbacks.

    @Keiichi: Your forgetting to add the word Mormon to the church that set up proposition 8. Mormons seem to have a continually “interesting” history with the concept of marriage.

  6. 6 anonomyousussous November 6, 2008 at 5:45 am

    well, after looking at this article, you seem to look at a lot of things very negatively. Oh wells…. GO OBAMA! But then again Ted Stevens is a retarded do*chbag, and prop8 sucks, if it makes gays happy, why take it away from them? They are still people.
    And what ever happened to seperation of state and church?

    Let’s hope that America will change for the better, first we need to focus on the economy, it’s almost as bad as the depression(or atleast it will be if things keep going down).

    Kaio, why do you care so much? aren’t you in canada? The US hasn’t really done anything recent to affect canada, directly anyway(unless I have been too ignorant to find out).

  7. 7 Kaioshin Sama November 6, 2008 at 6:14 am

    @anonomyousussous: Actually I just recognize where change is necessary and that as Obama said things won’t change overnight. As for why I care. Well, I’m a bit of a political junkie. All politics interest me regardless of whether they are local to Canada or as far away as Africa.

  8. 8 mechafetish November 6, 2008 at 6:50 am

    “…perhaps, and I know this might sound absurd (lol), start voting for the person instead of the party”

    Just my 2 cents. I come from the Philippines, wherein the politics is light-years away from America (guns, goons and gold and all that), but this is a can of worms. You should be thankful for your strong party system.

  9. 9 mix November 6, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Nyaaaaaaaaaaaa! ^_^

  10. 10 Keiichi November 7, 2008 at 1:15 am

    @Mecha Kaio is Canadian, not American.

    @mix Nyaaaaaaaaaaaaa! ^^

    But Kaio, what also should be changed is the voting system. People have to take their day off from work or get up earlier than usual to drive to a vote center like the local high school, and some even wait 14 hours in HUGE lines. It just does not make sense, at least make it a national holiday. What this is is that the government does not want you to vote, despite the fact that everywhere in America you see “do your country a favor and vote,” or “voting is your duty,” etc.

  11. 11 Crusader November 7, 2008 at 2:47 am

    @Keiichi
    Make it a holiday and people will go off and have fun by calling in sick on Monday to get a four day weekend rather than vote, plenty has been done to make voting easier like absentee ballots and early voting, we call it election day because it is the last day NOT the only day to cast your ballot. Given how much effort voter registration people put in coupled with the obnoxious numbers of automated calls and campaigners the problem is not having election day on a Tuesday, it has and always has been voter apathy.

  12. 12 Kaioshin Sama November 7, 2008 at 5:36 am

    @Keiichi: I don’t know about the U.S, but I have never heard of anyone waiting in line here any longer than a couple of minutes to cast their ballots.

    And if there’s anything that I think could stand to be reformed it is the Electoral College system. It worked fine back in the days when the Union was 20-30 states, but now that the country is so diverse it just doesn’t seem like a very proportional method of representation. Or perhaps just do it so that the amount of electoral votes from a state is proportional to the popular vote there. So if it’s one of the states that has 5 electoral votes and the Democrats get 40% of the vote and the Republicans 60% then perhaps 3 votes go to the Republicans and 2 to the Democrats. I know it gets complicated when you have to round the votes off and it doesn’t exactly streamline the election process, but when 56% of the popular vote translates into a 2 to 1 victor for Barack Obama in the electoral college then something isn’t quite right and it more than likely leaves a lot of voters feeling disenfranchised and like their vote didn’t count.

  13. 13 Full Survey November 28, 2013 at 4:51 am

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