Tag Archives: President

The Importance of Electoral Education and Voting

Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

(A reflection upon our election…and what the Founding Fathers of our nation thoughts were towards voting and how important it was)

Americans HATE electoral politics. How else can you explain the low turnout year after year and the immense relief that comes on the first Wednesday of November (the day after Election Day)? They are continually bombarded with ads on the television, the radio, in their mailbox and their neighbor’s front yard. Once Election Day passes, they won’t have to worry about being called at night for the sixth time in seven days asking them who they plan to vote for or why they should vote for this candidate over the other. For many, they simply cannot wait until this is over, for life to return to normal. They either don’t plan to vote or they go into the voting booth and check off the most familiar names they see without really thinking about the consequences.

With Congressional approval well below 20 percent one would think that Americans would be energized for change. Perhaps the problem is that they just don’t feel that their votes will matter or they don’t know who or what these candidates really are. Others lament the “dirty politics” of negative ads. The truth though is that negative campaigning has been around almost as long as the nation has existed. Continue reading

Student Loan Debate

When student loan interest rates were temporarily reduced from 6.8%to 3.4% a few years ago, it was to relieve those who had subsidized Stafford loans during tough economic times. The problem with giving temporary relief to group of individuals who are relatively new to creating personal budgets (recent college graduates) is that they rarely ever prepare for when the temporary relief ends. However, the idea of offering temporary relief in this case was that the economy was bad, so we’d make it easier on those with students loans to handle their debt Then when the economy rebounds and things look better for them, we can return interest rates to pre-relief levels.

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How NOT To Make An Example – Warren Buffett’s Secretary

The story of Warren Buffett’s secretary (Debbie Bosanek) has once again become news as she was a guest for the State of the Union last week.  Thrown into the limelight inadvertently when used as an example by President Obama and Mr. Buffett as to how the tax code is unfair (newsflash – it is), the story has caused quite a divide in the public.  The point Mr. Buffett was trying to make was how it was “unfair” that his secretary had to pay a higher tax rate than he did.  He was in the 17% range while his secretary was more than double that, near 36%.  First, let me say that I truly appreciate the point Mr. Buffett was trying to make and in, fact, discussed it here earlier with this column.  However, there is A LOT that is being left out.

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GOP WH2012 – Jon Huntsman

We are going to start doing some intro profiles on the 2012 Candidates and I thought it appropriate to start with Jon Huntsman as he just “announced” this week.  These are just some initial thoughts, no doubt we will delve deeper into some candidates and/or their stances on certain issues as the race evolves.

Jon Huntsman has a very interesting resume when you compare it to the other GOP candidates in the 2012 field.  He is one of a handful of former Governors in the race – something that is becoming a rarity as we continually (and unfortunately) look to those already in DC to lead our nation.  I feel strongly that in order to be an effective President you need to have held a leadership position before – Governor, CEO, or Vice President.  You cannot have been “1 of 100” and even more so cannot be “1 of 435” (the exception to this rule is Speaker of the House – a leader of 435 certainly qualifies as a true leadership position).  Utah is a pretty conservative state and Jon Huntsman was not only elected there, but re-elected to the position while enjoying high approval ratings among his constituents.  He did not finish out his second term in Utah, in fact, he only barely started it before becoming Ambassador to China.  This is both a feather in his cap and a damning move at the same time.  On one hand he has immense foreign policy experience – he has a relationship with basically the only other country on earth that has similar pull to the United States in China.  However, he left his position of Governor at the request of the man he is now running to replace.

While Huntsman can hang his hat on fiscal conservatism, his social record is one that will not play well in states like IA and SC as he is being dubbed the “Moderate” option by most media circles.  I would not completely discount this strategy as MI Gov Rick Snyder moved to the center in a Right dominated primary battle in Michigan and came out on top.  If the primary system in our country was different, I would say the strategy had legs, but with the way it is now I am hesitant to endorse such a move.  Huntsman has gained a student following though with the previously dubbed “Students for Mitch” moving over to his side after Gov. Daniels decided not to run.  If Ambassador Huntsman can capitalize on a youth movement he will set himself apart from other POTUS candidates even more.

Some articles I have read state that Jon Huntsman jumped too early his best time would have been in 2016 with a wide open field and less baggage of being associated with President Obama.  Right now, I am tempted to agree and maybe this is a way to do just that.  I can’t get over the feeling that with his contrast and lack of focus on IA and SC he might actually be running for VP, not President.  As a VP option, he certainly carries significant weight given all that was stated above.  It will be interesting to see how his campaign evolves.

 

The Push for a Presidential “Popular” Vote

For as long as I can remember, there have been complainants about the Electoral College – America’s system for officially selecting its President.  Without going into too much detail about the Electoral College (click on the two links) each states gets a certain number of votes equaling their representation in Congress – 2 for the Senators and 1 for each Representative (so each state is guaranteed at least 3 electoral votes).  This system was settled upon by our founding fathers as a compromise between those who wanted a popular vote (large states like Virginia  New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) and those who wanted equal say regardless of size (smaller states like New Hampshire, Georgia, Delaware and Rhode Island).  Essentially, it was an extended outcome from the decision to have a bicameral legislature – which had the exact same arguments.  Since the 2000 election when Al Gore won the “popular vote” but George W. Bush won the Electoral College, the cries for the popular vote determining the Presidential Election outcome have seemingly increased.

In the past few months, this movement has gained momentum once again.  While it takes a constitutional amendment to formally change the election process, some states are trying to circumvent the process by passing bills in their legislature which dedicate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of how the citizens of their state voted (example – President Obama could take 65% of the vote in Oregon, but if Oregon passed a bill like this and the GOP candidate had won the National vote, then Oregon’s electoral votes would go to the GOP candidate, not the person who the state’s voters actually voted in favor of).  That actually seems somewhat backwards – an ANTI-popular vote measure created out of the popular vote group-think mentality…”it doesn’t matter what you think, people of our state, everyone else has spoken and our votes have to go to this person, regardless of how you cast your ballots”.  Members of both parties are embracing this renewed movement although neither party has officially sanctioned it.  Saul Anuzis, a prominent Republican from Michigan and one-time candidate for RNC chair, is a proponent of this plan and details it in the Washington Times.

Unfortunately, in their quest give people a greater voice in our election process, they could end up doing the exact opposite.  By ceding all of a state’s votes to the winner of the overall popular vote you give more strength to the political parties and their turnout models.  Candidates will continue to ignore the “fly over states” in search of larger media markets they can populate with TV  radio and print ads.  While every vote is technically “in play” with this method, the overall scheme doesn’t change because under our current method, every vote is “in play”.  Yes, you can point to some weirdness that has transpired the past couple of elections with the popular vote totals and not adding up with the electoral votes.  However, the method being discussed further minimizes the less populous state in favor of the top-tier like California, Texas, and New York.  using past election result disparities to advocate for a complete overhaul is faulty logic.  Candidates campaign for electoral votes currently and the popular vote is merely byproduct, not the true intended result.

If we really that the Electoral College is antiquated, then I suggest updating it rather than killing it off in favor of something that is ultimately untested in our National History.  I had thought of and idea which would give more power to our smaller states, essentially redistributing the Senate allotted electors from our top 25% to our bottom 25% thus balancing out the population inequities between some states in my belief that while our President should represent all American’s it is more important to fairly represent all of America instead.  After thinking this over though, it simply is not feasible – the outcry from our larger states would be too great and in the end it is essentially a partisan ideal as states like Wyoming and Alaska tend to be more GOP friendly than California and New York.  When talking with my wife about this the other evening, she brought up another idea I had toyed with awhile ago and which is based on a plan that has worked very well throughout our history – the Congressional District process.

Two states, Maine and Nebraska, have each electoral vote tied directly to the outcome of the Presidential Race results within each Congressional District and have the winner of the popular vote within the state take the two votes tied to the Senate.  So, if the GOP candidate won the Nebraska 1st by 10K votes and the 2nd by 2K while losing to the Democrat in the 3rd by 13K votes, the GOP would get 2 electoral votes while the D got 3 electoral votes.  While the Republican won a majority of the districts, the popular vote swayed the outcome to give a majority of the electoral votes to the Democrat who won 1 district.  If the Republican had either closed the gap in the 3rd a bit or widened it in the 1st or 2nd, they would have received all 5 votes.  Where a concept like this gets really interesting is when you get to larger states where it would be mathematically possible for a candidate to win the popular vote in the state but have a minority of their electoral votes.  Of course, that leads us into a discussion about Congressional District mapping and how it could/would/should be overhauled (we will cover this another time, don’t worry).

The example of Nebraska shows us that this type of system allows for a more competitive field by doing away the winner take all system and showing the truer reflection of the will of the people.  States that would be overlooked in the past because the majority of the state is Republican or Democrat now is in play as Congressional districts are a draw.  In my opinion, if we are going to overhaul the Electoral College, a system like this makes a lot more sense than a straight popular vote where urban areas and large media markets would continue to enjoy the overwhelming presence that already do in today’s Presidential General Election Seasons.

QP: Show Me President Obama

I am normally not one to harp on the President for his overseas trips or vacations or whatever. However, President Obama is currently touring great Britain, our closest ally in every conceivable way while Mother Nature has ripped apart town in the middle of America. While rescue efforts are still ongoing in Missouri, the President is meeting with the Royal newlyweds to discuss…something. As these are the British we are dealing with, they would certainly understand if the President made a return trip across the Atlantic to Missouri, surveyed the damage and showed the symbolic leadership we expect out of a President at a time like this, before returning and resuming his time with them.

In all of this I am not sure what is more frustrating though, the fact that President Obama said he will be there on Sunday (a week after the tornadic devastation occured) or that the media is giving him a pass on this when the same would not have been shown towards his predecessor, President Bush. It sure would be nice if each person who held the office was held to the same standard by the mainstream media.

QP: Capitalizing on a Controversy

Chuck Todd of MSNBC put up a link on his twitter feed to a story that the President is selling t-shirts with his long form birth certificate.  To me, this is not only hilarious, but brilliant.  For $25, the President’s supporters can now continually rub the end result of this “controversy” in the faces of all of those who focused on this, of all reason, as to why he should be President.  Does President Obama need help raising money? Of course not!  But not only does this help him raise money, it sends a message too.  While our Nation is trying to address serious issues both within and outside our borders, a small – yet significant – percentage fought to have his Presidency declared illegal based on the Constitutional rule stating anyone who is President must be a naturally born citizen of the United States (maybe more on this in a later post).

While I do not agree with the President on many policy areas, I think he has a very smart political team and this is further evidence of that.  I congratulate them on a shrewd little jab to the Republican Party and the National Media, both of whom had a few members that chose to focus on the birth location/status of our first non-white male President than on issues that actually matter.