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Elections & Democracy, Generally

 
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Sandlynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1852
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:04 pm    Post subject: Elections & Democracy, Generally Reply with quote

I also posted this in the "Entertainment" part of this site because it's from a late night talk show, but it's a semi serious take on citizenship that I just thought was wonderful and fits here too:

The following is Craig Ferguson’s opening monologue from last night’s Late, Late Show (9/10). Stick with it. It’s marvelous! (They featured it on “Good Morning, America” this morning.)

He was on fire!!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdRVQ4xwwmQ

Here's his immediate follow up after the commercial:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1good-Ifdg&NR=1
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Sandlynn! Love this guy, and he''s got it right doesn't he? Good advice...in fact, great advice.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4225
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have never heard or seen this guy before, but he was wonderful. I agree with xina--he has some great advice. Thanks, once again, for keeping us in the know, Sandlynn.

And he brought up many good points, one of which is that we are voting for President, not vice president. I think something has gone very wacky following the RNC in all the excess attention that's being paid to Palin. I passed this on to my email buddies--it was too good to pass up.
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LLB



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 869
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:56 pm    Post subject: Thanks for the video link Reply with quote

Thanks for the video link; I didn't watch the second, but I thought the first was really good. He's a funny guy, and like every transplanted citizen, takes voting seriously. We all should.
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Maggie AAR



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2500

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Elections & Democracy, Generally Reply with quote

Sandlynn wrote:
I also posted this in the "Entertainment" part of this site because it's from a late night talk show, but it's a semi serious take on citizenship that I just thought was wonderful and fits here too:

The following is Craig Ferguson’s opening monologue from last night’s Late, Late Show (9/10). Stick with it. It’s marvelous! (They featured it on “Good Morning, America” this morning.)

He was on fire!!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdRVQ4xwwmQ

Here's his immediate follow up after the commercial:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1good-Ifdg&NR=1


Thanks for posting this. Wonderful stuff!

maggie b.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2510

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very funny and very insightful routine. But, you know, not voting IS a vote; it just doesn't show up in the results. Perhaps ballots could include a box for abstaining, indicating that neither candidate meets a voter's requirements. Might have a good effect down the road; might make political parties more selective.
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Yulie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1150
Location: Elsewhere

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
Perhaps ballots could include a box for abstaining, indicating that neither candidate meets a voter's requirements. Might have a good effect down the road; might make political parties more selective.

We have those in Israel - you can submit a "white note" in your ballot envelope instead of voting for a party. But Israel has a multiparty parliamentary system, so the chances of someone finding no one to vote for are slim. Usually if there's a protest vote it's just picking one of the smaller parties and voting for them (which is pretty much how the Pensioners' Party got into parliament last time we had an election). We don't have direct voting for PM, though it's been done in the past.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1400

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

L. Neil Smith is a libertarian-tending SF writer. One of his early SF novels, I’m pretty sure it was The Probability Broach, has an alternate U.S. history in which NOTA (None Of The Above) is always a ballot choice and the U.S. went without a President for 4 years when NOTA won.
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Kass



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 722
Location: under a cockatiel

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the U.S. would be better off under a parliamentary system. That way we could all vote for the best candidate, rather than the lesser of two evils.
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Yulie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1150
Location: Elsewhere

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kass wrote:
I think the U.S. would be better off under a parliamentary system. That way we could all vote for the best candidate, rather than the lesser of two evils.

I'm not so sure. It's not working out too well for us, though I'll allow Israel is an extreme case: the voting for our parliament is nationwide and you only need about 2% of the vote to get your party in (there are 120 seats). There's no stability, the smaller parties can extort all sorts of things from the person trying to form the coalition government, and there are no-confidence votes about anything and everything. And I still end up voting for the lesser of various evils.

Just to illustrate, here's a brief overview of our Prime Ministers' fortunes in the last quarter century:
1984-88: two MPs from opposing parties were forced to put together a national unity govt. and rotate the PM job (each held it for two years).
1988-92: one PM lasted the full four years, I think.
1992-95: PM was assisinated - a tragedy I'd rather not go into.
1996-99: Couldn't get his coalition to stick and didn't make it past three years.
1999-2001: same, but he lasted less than two years.
2001-06: PM was well into his second term in office (though he was forced to leave his original party), but had a stroke and went into a coma shortly before his third elections in 2006. He has not regained conciousness since.
2006-08: PM is freshly resigned (as of today) amid allegations of corruption and ongoing backstabbing in the coalition.
Now we'll have the Foreign Minister - a woman! - try to form a new coalition govt. I'm not optimistic. It's a mess, nobody can get anything done in the long term, what with ministers constantly moving from one office to another. I might just see my sixth election as an eligible voter at the age of 31. It's ridiculous.

Maybe it's different in other countries - I don't know (apparently not much better in Italy). But I don't think there's a perfect system out there. I'm not sure a multiparty system would work any better for the US: you'd likely get Democrats and Republicans, far right and far left people, religious parties, the greens, plus the occasional weird party in the mix. Good luck getting anything done. The parliamentary grass is not necessarily greener; consider this post a cautionary tale Very Happy .
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Kass



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 722
Location: under a cockatiel

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to point out that at the very least, Yulie, you can't blame the assassinations on the fact that it's a parliamentary system. Smile All systems end up with assassinations at some point.

And of course, the location of the state of Israel means that naturally you'll have instability. Too bad they didn't decide to carve out a nice slice of Wyoming for you guys...I think there'd have been a lot less shooting over the years if they had.
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Yulie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kass wrote:
I would like to point out that at the very least, Yulie, you can't blame the assassinations on the fact that it's a parliamentary system. Smile All systems end up with assassinations at some point.

Oh, that's certainly true - but I thought a three-year unexplained gap would be strange (or too much like the NOTA option Mark mentioned). I do think the problem is our fractured political map more than our location (which presents a whole other set of challenges, of course). But I can't test the question scientifically Very Happy
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 1129
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I vastly prefer living in a parliamentary system to a simple majority system, because multiple parties allow for multiple viewpoints. Plus, there is less of a chance of wasting one's vote, when one does not vote for the candidate favoured in the area where one happens to live. If Germany had a majority vote system, my vote would never have counted at all, because I happen to live in an area where the majority political POV does not match mine (Hey, they voted for a guy who not only looks like Blofeld but also acts like him).

Parliamentary systems tend to have the danger of unstable coalition governments. See Italy's approx. 50 governments since the end of WWII or the Israeli example Yulie gave or indeed the Weimar Republic which died a slow death because there were too many parties in parliament who could not agree on a government. Another possible danger of parliamentary systems is that radical fringe parties can get into parliament and probably even into governments. However, in the US it sometimes seems to me as if the radical fringe elements which would have their own party elsewhere have been absorbed into the two big parties, which can be even more dangerous, because with the rightwing or leftwing lunatic party you at least know whom you're dealing with.

In order to get around the issue of too many small parties in parliament and unstable governments, which brought down the Weimar Republic, Germany introduced something called the 5% clause, which means that a party must have 5% of the total vote in order to get into parliament. At the moment, we have five parties in the federal parliament, two big and three smaller ones (some of the state parliaments have additional local parties). Again, the system is not ideal. For example, if you vote for a party which misses the 5% mark, you have essentially wasted your vote. This happened to me twice (in state level elections) and it was very frustrating. And I didn't vote for one of the really obscure tiny parties such as the Anarchic Pogo Party (yes, they exist. Their slogan is "Work is sh_t") but for one of the smaller parties in the federal government that didn't make it into the state government.

Plus, even this system is no guarantee for a stable government. Right now, we have a big coalition (i.e. the two big parties form a government, because neither could get a majority with their favoured smaller party and everybody hated the fifth party) in federal government and one of the states (Hessen) has been without a government for several months, because the last election ended in a stalemate.

Actually, if you really do not happen to agree with any of the parties or candidates on your ballot, you can theoretically leave it blank or write "I'd rather vote for Darth Vader than for any of those guys" in the margins and it will be counted as an invalid ballot. However, with five parties with chances of getting into parliament and lots of smaller parties with zero chance, it's far more likely you'll put your cross next to someone like the Anarchic Pogo Party.
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Sandlynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1852
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris Rock was a hoot last night on Larry King. Here's the video:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/09/26/chris.rock.lkl/index.html#cnnSTCVideo
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LisaW



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 173

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I received the following in my email. I'm proud to say, I've only missed one off-year primary vote since I first was able to vote at 18 ... the first Presidential Election year where 18 year olds were eligible to vote.



WHY WOMEN SHOULD VOTE

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/nwp/prisoners.pdf

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because -- why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It' s raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more remote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jar ring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.
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