Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Electors first to disappear during mass extinction?

- Massachusetts is trying to pass a law stating that the winner of the presidential national popular vote will get all of the state's electors.  This is earth-shattering and could completely change how presidential politics are done in the U.S.  For example, in 2012 if Barack Obama lost the popular vote in Massachusetts (a virtual impossibility), but won the national popular vote, Massachusetts would award it's 12 electoral delegates to Obama, despite the fact that Obama lost Massachusetts.

Five other states are trying to pass the same law.  This kind of electoral reform seems monumental, but it would be quite easy to force this new system on the whole country.  The constitution clearly states that it is up to each state to decide how to distribute their electors.  It doesn't take a constitutional amendment to enable these laws.  Also, since a candidate only needs a majority of the electors to win the election, a cabal of several states could enact this law and force the rest of the country to abide by their system.  An example of how this would work:  If the following 12 states (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts) passed this law, then 281 electoral votes, more than enough for a majority, would be locked into the candidate who won the national popular vote.  Since a majority of electoral votes would be spoken for, it would not matter how the remaining states distributed their electors.  There simply wouldn't be enough electors left for the other candidate.  In other words, it only takes roughly a dozen states to pass this law in order to make the U.S. presidential election into a national popular vote!

Reactionaries are already pouncing on this, stating that this law is mainly being pushed by the blue states, in order for Obama to run up his vote totals in large cities.  However, in a true democracy, this argument has no merit.  If each vote counts equally (as it should) then if a candidate can draw more voters to his side, he deserves to win.  If Obama can draw out legal, registered voters from the cities, good for him!  That's how a democracy is suppose to work.  The candidate with the majority wins.  The loser cannot complain.  The loser could have used the same strategy, or used their own strategy.  Both candidates are playing by the same rules.  Under such a system, if a republican lost to Obama, perhaps the republican should have spent more time in Texas, the suburbs, or the south, in an attempt to motivate republican voters.

Should America be a representational democracy (republican democracy) or a true democracy?  Perhaps that is the real discussion.  The electoral college was created over 220 years ago so rich, white, educated male landowners could decide presidential elections.  The founding fathers felt that the average American was not worthy of deciding the next president.  Nowadays, not only is that patently offensive, but it's downright false.  With radio, TV, the internet, and the availability of information in all kinds of forms, the average American has the same access to information as any current elector.  In fact, I am quite sure that many of the people who read this website are more educated about political candidates than the electors themselves!

If we want to install this kind of system, then let's get rid of the entire electoral college system, and do strictly a national popular vote.  This is as close to true democracy as we can get.  An article with further details:

- Robotic exoskeleton to make wheelchairs obsolete:

- Ten fun facts about Microsoft:

- A history of mass extinctions:

- A few months ago I started reading science fiction novels.  Specifically sci-fi novels with a futuristic mystery or crime theme.  I have read four books so far, and only enjoyed one of them.  Perhaps I should have used one of the following five book recommendation services to help find books I would enjoy:

- A Google executive complains that the C++ and Java programming languages are unnecessarily complex.  No Duh, but Google's new programming language, called 'Go' is heading down the same path as Java and C++

- Best laptops under $500.  Good list:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Depending on a solar eclipse to break the heat wave.

- Twenty products that are cheaper today than ten years ago:

"We're having a heat wave.  A tropical heat wave..."  The top seven historical heat waves in the U.S.

- In 1776, did people living in the American colonies have British accents?  It depends on your point of view:

- I have been on this nutty planet for over three decades, and I have yet to find someone who can plainly explain when to use the words "affect or effect."  That, and other grammar conundrums:

- Solar eclipse across the south pacific today.  Here is a wonderful map showing future solar eclipses.  North America gets two good ones in 2017 and 2024.