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#58251 - 11/27/00 12:28 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
mclarke Offline
Member

Registered: 09/19/00
Posts: 179
Loc: Arlington, VA
I am a naturalized citizen. I found voting in the U.S. so relaxing without fear that I could be shot. I come from a country that during election year especially for presidency, my country or origin would experienced the highest death rate for that year! When I was a recent U.S. citizen, I did not understand the importance of the electoral college. In this country it does not mean when presidential candidate gets most of the popular votes, it really does not represent the will of the 50 states. For example, New York and California has more voters than West Virginia, Virginia, North/South Carolina combined. If we depend on the popular votes, the states with smaller population would be totally ignored! The candidates would only concentrate on the states that could give them the most popular votes and probably would not even campaign in West Virginia. Did either Bush or Gore campaign in Alaska or Hawaii to get their votes? I believe not because the number of electoral votes is irrelevant.What prevents bloodshed during presidential vote is the presence of the electoral college. In my country of origin, the popular votes is the one that determines who wins the presidential election. As I told my daughter who is in Spain, despite the presence of heightened bipartisan, there is no need to call on the National guard to protect peace and order. Can you imagine this situation occuring in some other countries -- the soldiers would be out to stop violence. In my country of origin, there is this saying from old folks during election that "Politicians are the same dogs with differenct collars." Viva U.S.A.!

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#58252 - 11/27/00 12:50 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
Puna Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/07/00
Posts: 1437
Loc: Charlotte, NC. U.S.A.
I understand what you are saying but the crux and heart of the issue is "It doesn't matter" - one man - one vote is what the basis of democracy is about. Because a candidate does or does not go to a smaller populated state to campaign mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (sorry to use caps but can't figure out how to bold certain words). Individual states best serve their interests via their US representatives and senators - i.e. some above-board and some back-handed politicing.

Believe me, the smaller states are heard. I come from one. All the states elect senators and reps based on what they feel that senator or rep can do for the particular state (or area of the state) - this is where state interests are served .... not by an electoral college.
_________________________
emotionally & mentally in Spain - physically in Charlotte
http://www.wendycrawfordwrites.com/

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#58253 - 11/28/00 02:49 AM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
Shawn Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 308
Loc: mentally - Spain, Physically -...
Myth : Eliminating the Electoral College would eliminate the current politcal confusion.

Fact: The mess would be multiplied by a factor of 20. We would be recounting every precinct in every state of the union. One corrupt ( e.g. Tammeny Hall, Richard Daley) political machine in just one city could alter the outcome of the entire nation. The current system would require a conserted currupt effort accross the nation to guarantee an outcome. The 100,000 plus undercounted ballots in Cook County alone could be treasure chest for a crafty politician with superior operatives. There are nearly a million uncounted ballots nations wide that will never be counted, but these ballots are in states where the outcome is clearer than in Florida.

Myth: The United States is a democracy.

Fact : The USA was established as a republic, the capricious whims of the masses are blunted by cooler heads who represent our long term interests. The electoral college is one element of the founding fathers' design.

Myth: People elect the president.

Fact: States elect the president. The name of the nation ( The United STATES) should make it abundantly clear that power flows from states to Washington, not the converse. The Constitution decrees that sparsely poulated Wyoming gets 2 senators, an equal sum that California enjoys. That the sole member of the House of Representatives from Wyoming has a district with 475,000 people, whereas, a California member of the House reprsents 850,000. Smaller states benefit from disproportionate representation at all levels of government, the executive is no different. Is this fair? That is an answer for Solomon, the important point is that it is law. A remedy would require significant amending of the Constitution, an unlikely event.

I did not vote for either leading candidate, but I fear now that this bitter election will provoke knee-jerk legislation that will cause greater harm than the original difunction. I remember vividly during the O.J. trial that many began to campaign for changes in criminal law that would permit guilty verdicts with less than unannimity. Fortunatley, this passion subsided. The O.J. case was no more representative of the judicial system, than this presidential election is of the electoral sytem - they are both anomalies. I take solace in the aftermath of the O.J. trial as the pleas for radical systemic changes were fleeting. The upshot from the most recent national soap opera, I hope, will be similar- no change.

Combative in L.A.


[This message has been edited by Shawn (edited 11-28-2000).]

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#58254 - 11/28/00 05:51 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
alejandro Offline
Member

Registered: 06/21/00
Posts: 71
Loc: Texas
Well put Shawn. In fact, I recall hearing about 1.2 million absentee ballots in California that had not been counted. It would not have been enough for Dubya to win CA, but it could have turned the popular vote.

It is not enough for small states to have a say via members of Congress. They need to have a say for the executive too.

I am not sure who would be a better president or who should be president. But I do enjoy the fact that this controversy is providing everyone with a great civics lesson. Hopefully, it will make people better citizens.

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#58255 - 11/28/00 08:04 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
Castiza Offline
Member

Registered: 09/11/00
Posts: 176
Loc: Madrid
I don't know if it's appropriate to say this but here you have it.

A recent survey made in Holland about who the Dutch people would want to win in the US elections said that 80% prefered Gore, 15% Nader and only 5% Bush. I think that if this survey had been made in Spain the results would have been more or less the same.

What do you think about it? Why are Dutch (and EC by extent)people so pro-Gore or anti-Bush?

[This message has been edited by Castiza (edited 11-28-2000).]

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#58256 - 11/28/00 08:43 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
Nicole Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/24/00
Posts: 583
Loc: Los Angeles
I think to other developed countries, issues of health care and education are basic. To them it is absolutely fundamental that those needs be taken care of, and that they are at times more important than other issues.

From what I have seen public education in europe is far superior to that in the U.S., up to university level, where it appears to be about the same, and some say better at graduate levels, here. There is a sad, sad disparity in the quality of education and vocational training in our system (this is true of both poor urban and rural areas, of course). Hopefully that will change. It is unwise to under-utilize the brain power of so many potentially contributing members of society...

I had dinner with a French friend the other night, and he admitted that he was baffled that we Americans are so reticent regarding health care for everyone. Having worked in the inner-city, I can attest to the unbelievably substandard quality of health care given to poor Americans - a recent report rated it parralel to the poorer African countries. For wealthy Americans, it was among the best in the world. Disparities likle that are a little shocking to other developed countries. I think sometimes, people outside the States are more aware of how our systems work or fail than our own citizens. We, like many countries, have alot of illusions about ourselves, and that, coupled with the fact that the Average American isn't that interested in the news, etc, means we tend to vote more on these illusions of what we think is really going on that on real investigation and information.

Also, did you read that we were determined to big the worst of the worlds polluters at the latest conference in Hague. There is no way to think that in that respect we can believe oursleves to be isolated. Our envornmental practices affect the lives of millions of other people (as theirs do ours).
[a side note on environment : There is a hole in the ozone layer over Santiago, Chile. Believe me, you could tell. I never sunburn, but there I couldn't be out even in cooler weather w/o sunscreen for more than 15 minutes without getting crispy red due to the lack of ozone filtering. Same problem in Australia). can't get away from the fact that we are all connected, whether we like it or not.]

So I would imagine, those issues speak to european countries, because they are more along the lines of current thinking and values there.

[This message has been edited by Nicole (edited 11-28-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Nicole (edited 11-28-2000).]

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#58257 - 11/28/00 08:59 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
Diana Offline
Member

Registered: 06/18/00
Posts: 506
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
This is interesting, Castiza!
I agree with Nicole. I think her points are on target.
I think the Dutch are not so much pro-Gore as they are pro-Democrats. Socialism is a nasty word in the US, but it describes Europe - Holland in particular - fairly well. The Democratic party is much more socialistic than the Republican. I believe the Democratic platform is more appealing to the Dutch because it's more similar to what they want/have. (Actually, the Dutch would probably consider the US Democrats still too conservative!) I think you're right about the rest of Europe, too, for the same reason. Also, Bush, regardless of whether it's true or not, stands for what so many non-Americans hate about the US - filthy rich capitalists raking in all the money for themselves without a thought for the welfare of the working classes. I think many people over-simplify this view, but it's definitely out there. And the Europeans don't bat an eye about scandals. Nothing Clinton or his people have done will matter to them. (Apparently Felipe Gonzalez had an active extramarital thing going on that seemed to bother no one in Spain.)

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#58258 - 11/28/00 11:16 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
Shawn Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 308
Loc: mentally - Spain, Physically -...
There is no doubt that the average European secondary school student outperforms his/her American counterpart. European educational models are far more austere than those here in the States. In Germany middle school aged student are tested to determine wich academic course the pupils will follow- the Gymnasium, or the vocational path. That is to say that the academicly capable student is sifted from the trade school student at a young age. Consequently, the curriculum for the university bound student is more rigorous than our own.
The United States is unwilling to except an educational system that leaves less gifted students with a predetermined career. Who does better on nearly every standardized measurement of academic skill? The answer is obvious, but can this nation swallow the grim reality that lower income, disproportionately minority citizens would have career doors open to them in the trades, but not to the professional pursuits? Clearly, the university students would be better prepared for the university demands, and the number of students seeking remedial instruction in the universities would be erased. Likewise, many of our nonacademic minded classmates would receive practical career instruction that would help them avoid the plight of poverty in exchange for a skilled trade.
The United States loves to perpetuates the egalitarian ideal that everyone should have equal educational opportunities. If we are willing to admit that we all possess different talents and abilities, then we can adopt the European model. In the meantime if you compare apples with apples, you will see that American students who undertake a rigorous high school curriculum( Calculus, AP Physics, AP Chemistry, etc.) meaure favorably with our European friends. The problem is that only a small percentage of our students undertake the demands of this path of study. Many of our school districts design a curriculum that is crafted in order not to leave the less bright behind while reatarding the growth of our talented pupils.
If you wish to see European results, then we must be capable of radical systemic changes that tear asunder the egaltarian myths in exchange for an educational system that dosen't pull the weak up, but rather propels everyone according to their talents.

Longing for " What is the best way to get from Barajas to the Puerta del Sol?"

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#58259 - 11/29/00 01:42 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
Nicole Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/24/00
Posts: 583
Loc: Los Angeles
Yeah. it would be interesting to find a unique way of taking the best of both worlds.

One thing that i personally prefer is the flexibility in our educational system. I know in France it was virtually impossible to change career tracks once you were in one. What I would love see here though is the sense of honor in what one does, regardless of whether or not one goes to college.

I was listening to this rap a few years ago, and it said "Do you wanna go to college, or do you wanna be garbage." I thought it was cool that this person was using music to promote education but felt that it also represented a larger feeling that if you aren't "white collar"/wealthy, you don't count.

I was one of those lucky ones that got a good education in the college-prep track at a public high school though. I noticed that those not in college prep not only did not receive much of an education, but also left without a trade, skill or preparation for a next step (and yes there was an unfortunate and VERY marked socio-economic difference in the people in the two tracks). I think some of that is changing, with schools like Devry, that actually have a really good international reputation, but not enough yet.

Nonetheless, how do you balance that freedom to study literature, and end up working successfully in Marketing or the travel industry if you want, that we have here (particularly useful to indecisive folk like me), with a real sense of skill and trade that prepares our younger compatriots to feel proud in whatever they do? Interesting question.

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#58260 - 11/29/00 02:31 PM Re: U.S. CITIZENS: PLEASE VOTE!
connie Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/00
Posts: 153
Good points, Diana. As European living in the US, it was a fascinating experience to observe the entire presidential campaign. And I must say, I am very happy that I live in Massachusetts where people are predominantly Democrat. The Republican party is just so far from anything I can relate to as a European, it would have been a culture shock to live in a heavily Republican Southern state. Their approach to social policy, distribution of wealth etc. is extremely different from Europe. Take, for example, the Bush proposal for a substantial tax return to the wealthiest 1 % of the Americans in a time where still a substantial part of the population is without health care. It seems that a huge part of the US population does not regard this issue as scandalous, but agrees with his idea of "return the money to the people who payed the bills", and believes in the primary responsibility of the individual for his or her own fate.
Without wanting to start a discussion on this point, I just want to state that there are true differences in mentality. I know many Europeans here and have not found a single one who was not convinced that Gore is far the better man for the job and Bush is not up to it. Most notably, we all agreed on our evaluation that Gore was far better than Bush in the presidential debates. I was baffled when I heard the comments on TV after the debates and many commentators' positive assessment of Bush's performance. It is not only a question of subject-matter, but also of personal presentation. People seem to like his "ordinary guy from Texas with the Cowboy hat" approach, and despise Gore's "lecturing" style.
I also agree with Diana's assessment of the European attitude vis-a-vis Clinton. The vast majority of Europeans regarded the entire Lewinsky affair as ridiculous and a waste of money and resources, hence the Bush campaign's claim of "restoring integrity to the White House" also seems weired to them.

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