Author Topic: The Trump Presidency  (Read 96856 times)

Online Peter B

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1440 on: October 15, 2020, 06:29:14 PM »
We've got our ballots; I think I'm going to sit down with Simon today and teach him how to vote.  Because that's how you raise new voters, after all; you normalize voting.  Why do I vote in every election?  Because I learned as a small child that voting in every election was just what we do.  He's also going to learn a bit about how I do my research, which is another valuable thing to know, because it's about evaluating sources and so forth.  Something a lot of people clearly cannot do!

But yeah, I wonder if "make voting harder for the elderly during a pandemic" is going to be what turns the tide--I wonder if some of the less hardcore Republican voters are going to realize that their ostensible leadership doesn't care if they live or die so long as there are enough people voting Republican to keep the leaders in power.

We voted a couple of weekends ago in this weekend's ACT election (yes, amazingly, the US Presidential election isn't the only election affected by COVID-19!).

Of course, so much about the way democracy operates in Australia is different from the USA in subtle ways: voting is compulsory, our electoral system encourages minor parties, election day is a Saturday, elections are run by independent government agencies, electoral redistribution is handled independently of parliament, and so on. (And our elections are simply for the government - I get the impression American elections involve voting on a bunch of issues and positions?)

Up until now we've had paper voting, which might be slow but at least the ballot papers can be scrutinised and stored for later re-counting (lost ballot boxes notwithstanding - that was a scandal!). Thanks to the virus, this is the first time we've done touchscreen voting. I think it was available in the previous election but wasn't nearly as widely used.

And a little over half the electorate has already voted...so there won't be nearly as much opportunity for primary schools to make money out of selling democracy sausages! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_sausage)

Online Peter B

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1441 on: October 15, 2020, 06:42:58 PM »
Incidentally, speaking of democracy sausages, you know the pandemic is under control in a state or territory when Bunnings (chain of hardware megastores) starts offering sausage sizzles to community groups (https://www.bunnings.com.au/about-us/in-our-community)

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Bunnings’ community sausage sizzles returned in Tasmania and the Northern Territory on 11th July 2020 in selected stores. They are also back up and running in selected stores in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia as of 25th July 2020.

Sausage sizzles will return to selected stores in ACT from 3rd October 2020 and in selected NSW stores from 10th October 2020.

In Victoria, we continue to follow the latest government restrictions and guidelines and will look to recommence sausage sizzles when possible.

Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1442 on: October 15, 2020, 09:19:48 PM »
[A]mazingly, the US Presidential election isn't the only election affected by COVID-19!).

Wait, you mean there are other countries besides the United States?  Many Americans would be surprised to learn that.

Sarcasm aside...

I think compulsory voting would be a great thing for the United States, if only to defuse all the childish attempts at voter suppression.  Back in the day, I had two Australian nationals on staff -- back in the dot-com boom.  And yes, I had to give them leave to go to Australia and vote.  I was happy to do it.

There is a growing push to make Election Day a federal holiday in the United States.  As it stands, there are laws requiring employers to give employees time off to vote, on Election Day.  We vote on a Tuesday for...reasons. Weekends are out because traditionally government employees get weekends off.  Monday is out because it would have required the colonials to travel to the polls the previous Sunday, the hallowed Sabbath.  Wednesday is out because that's market day for rural folk, which also takes out Thursday.  If you travel on Thursday and vote on Friday, the poll workers have to count the votes on Saturday.  So you travel on Monday, vote Tuesday morning, then travel back the rest of Tuesday.  We've tried to move Election Day to a weekend.  (The Tuesday after the first Monday in November is not constitutional, merely statutory.)  It never passes.  Americans vote on Tuesdays.  We've always voted on Tuesdays.  We will always vote on Tuesdays.  It is thus.

Electoral districts and constituencies are a lightning rod in American politics.  It seems the Framers actually really did consider that constituent districting should be a political decision.  [Here follows a long stream of profanities.  The dogs are now hiding under the bed.]

At the national level, only candidates are voted on.  But federal elections always coincide with state and local elections, for convenience.  There one unified ballot containing all the votable candidates and issues at the federal, state, and local levels.  Those other issues on the ballot depend on state policy.  Some states, for example, have confidence votes for judges.  Our state requires a full plebiscite vote on proposed amendments to the state constitution -- "Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to...," etc.  It also allows ballot initiatives that are essentially legislation; if they pass, they become law just as if the legislature had passed them and the governor had signed them.  If they pass with more than a two-thirds majority, the legislature may not repeal them.  Not all states provide for this.  Our state's city and county governments require a public vote to authorize issuing bonds, and they're generally noncontroversial

Ironically one of our last election's voter initiatives proposed to turn over electoral redistricting at the state level to a non-partisan commission.  This would have prevented the gerrymandering that is so infamous in American electoral politics.  But since it passed, but not with a two-thirds majority, our state legislature moved quickly to repeal it in substance.

As far as polling "sizzles" go, this seems like something Americans should have though of first.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1443 on: October 16, 2020, 12:06:54 PM »
We didn't because, in the old days, the parties offered food and (adult) beverages to people voting for them, and who needed the competition?  Then, it became clear that this was bribery, and I think that's shaded any similar attempt to do fundraisers.

The two US states I've lived in have both had initiative processes, and I didn't realize until adulthood that not all states did.  It's got the failing the Founding Fathers worried about with direct democracy, frankly--my state passed, in the same year, a massive tax cut that we're still not recovered from and a pay raise for state employees without realizing how that would work.  On the other hand, my state also passed legalized marijuana, and we had a formal system of civil unions passed by popular vote . . . and then a few years later passed marriage equality by popular vote.
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Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1444 on: October 16, 2020, 01:12:30 PM »
Our legislature is special.  Many members run unopposed because they come from such staunchly Republican districts that no Democrat bothers.  Whoever the local party committee selects as the candidate is who gets the seat.  As such, our legislature never feels especially beholden to the people, either to serve their needs or hide their corruption.

We passed an initiative to legalize medical marijuana.  It was years in the making, with all kinds of studies and input from all sides.  It had polled to pass with a clear majority. The legislature attempted to change the initiative rules at the last minute.  (They're still trying to make it nearly impossible to get an initiative on the ballot.)  When the initiative passed with just under a two-thirds majority, the legislature called itself back into session to "fix" the new law.  Instead of a competitive market for growers, the "fix" included state bid process, a licensing application fee of $100,000, lots of curiously tailored regulations on applicants, and the number of growers capped to six, which happened to coincide with the capability and number of the agrarian interests owned and controlled by prominent legislators and their friends.  The "fixed" regulations governing who could grow, distribute, sell, and buy medical marijuana were a mess of contradictions, largely mandated by the Mormon church.  The legislature is still fixing the "fix," because they rushed it out without really thinking anything through.  This all happened within 30 days after the election.

The fact is that many state legislatures these days don't even really think about or consider the most important bills they pass.  Most are simply copied from model state codes or activist foundations that write them and mail them out.  It's always embarrassing when journalists ask our legislators in the capitol lobby about some particular legislation, and they can't speak even a single intelligent word about it.

Because our legislature is so inept and corrupt and flagrantly disconnected from the public, we really do need the option of voter initiatives, even at the risk of passing uninformed laws.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Offline raven

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1445 on: October 16, 2020, 06:00:05 PM »
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/california-wildfire-disaster-assistance_n_5f898775c5b6dc2d17f61c28?ri18n=true&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013
There's a simple explanation: revenge. California didn't vote for him last election in any significant quantity, so this is his petty act of retaliation.

Online ajv

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1446 on: October 17, 2020, 01:34:56 AM »
amazingly, the US Presidential election isn't the only election affected by COVID-19!

To emphasize the point, I've just got back from voting in the New Zealand general election. Election day is a Saturday. Voting is not compulsory. Turnout last election was about 80%.

The election had been delayed by about a month due to COVID-19, but now the whole country is back at the lowest alert level and life within New Zealand is essentially back to normal.

I normally vote at a nearby school but it has been undergoing some building renovations recently so, at extreme inconvenience ... I had to go two minutes further away to another school. In order to reduce queues, polling places have been open for a few days earlier than usual and there were more voting places around (I counted six polling place signs driving to and from the supermarket.)

The queues certainly were reduced. When I turned up, the school hall was empty of voters and the voting workers (or observers) outnumbered me six to one. I had to hand sanitise and present the torn-off rectangle ("EasyVote" card) of the election information letter that had been sent out earlier. This isn't really a voter ID card - it's just a page and line number reference that helps the voting worker to quickly look up the voter in the electoral rolls.

I was handed two voting papers with a total of four choices to be made (paper voting).

The first was the vote for the general election. We use a voting system called MMP (Mixed-Member Proportional) to elect the members of parliament so you get two votes. The first vote is an electorate vote to select which of the candidates (11 in my case) you would like to represent your electorate. The candidate with the greatest number of votes is elected. The second vote is a party vote. All the party votes across the entire country are totalled and the proportion of votes each party gets determines the proportion of members of that party in the parliament (after some magic rounding). So if a party gets 4 electorate MPs (from the electorate votes) but get 10% of the total party vote requiring 12 (of 120) total MPs they will get 8 additional members from their party list.

The second voting paper was for two referendums. It is pretty rare to have referendums. One was a vote about cannabis legalisation and a second about a euthanasia option for people with terminal illnesses.

Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1447 on: October 17, 2020, 11:20:57 AM »
On my ballot was a proposed amendment to the Utah Constitution repealing the part that said involuntarily servitude could be imposed as a punishment for crime.  Really.  I had to go look it up in the constitution to convince myself it actually said that.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1448 on: October 17, 2020, 11:28:28 AM »
Ava DuVernay made an excellent documentary on that particular subject that's available on (US) Netflix.
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Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1449 on: October 17, 2020, 12:17:56 PM »
Yes, 13th is in my queue.  It's a very long queue.  In anticipation of another winter lockdown, I've been spending most of my free time outdoors.  Living in a relatively desolate place gives me the opportunity to socially-distance at kilometer scale.  The dogs and I have spent a lot of time combing the lake shore around the ruins of Saltair.  It's like mudlarking, except you can't keep anything: it's a state archaeological site.

I'll work through the queue as the weather turns colder.  Thanks for the endorsement, though.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Online Peter B

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1450 on: October 17, 2020, 08:35:08 PM »
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-18/us-tyranny-of-merit/12774726

I think this article crystalises some of my thinking about the USA - and it's certainly not all Trump's fault.

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Regardless of who wins the US election, one thing is certain: it will be a victory for the meritocracy.

The meritocracy are the elite, the richest, most privileged of Americans who have a stranglehold on power and wealth.

Like the aristocracy of old they are distant from the rest of the population, often looking down on them, mocking them or exploiting them.

Like the aristocrats they party together, live alongside each other in the same wealthy suburbs and attend the same weddings, even if they supposedly represent different sides of politics...

The meritocracy has rigged the game to suit themselves, getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Their children dominate entry to the best universities, a pathway to the richest careers ensuring this new royalty shores up its status for another generation.

Offline raven

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1451 on: October 17, 2020, 11:19:30 PM »
Not sure 'meritocracy' is the right word . . .

Offline Kiwi

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1452 on: October 18, 2020, 05:50:33 AM »
We've got our ballots; I think I'm going to sit down with Simon today and teach him how to vote.  Because that's how you raise new voters, after all; you normalize voting.

Good on you! Excellent thinking.

My vote for the most intelligent answer to a question on TV throughout all of New Zealand's Election Day, Saturday 17 October 2020, was shown on two of our early-evening news broadcasts, Prime News, 5:30 pm and Newshub Live, TV3 6 pm.

Two children are seen leaving a polling booth with their parents. The video cuts to a close-up of the children.
Reporter: “What's it like seeing your parents going in there?”
Boy aged about 6 or 7 looks to his right and thinks for about one second then replies: “Sort of cool, 'cos I want to do it when I grow up.”
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 07:20:08 AM by Kiwi »
Don't criticize what you can't understand. — Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin'” (1963)
Some people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices and superstitions. — Edward R. Murrow (1908–65)

Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1453 on: October 18, 2020, 12:38:51 PM »
Not sure 'meritocracy' is the right word . . .

Definitely the wrong word.
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Offline raven

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #1454 on: October 18, 2020, 01:46:22 PM »
Not sure 'meritocracy' is the right word . . .

Definitely the wrong word.
Aye. Sure, they often claim to be, only getting million dollar loans from their fathers, no biggie, but, yes, most certainly the wrong word.