Friday, November 11, 2016


Today is of twofold value to me. In the US, it's Veterans' Day. Overseas, it's Remembrance Day or Armistice Day.

(Memorial Day, in the US, is on the anniversary of the end of the Civil War and has been a holiday here, obviously, longer than Remembrance/Armistice Day has been in the rest of the world)

To my friends, family, and colleagues in the US:

For those of you who have served, thank you. Whether in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, whether based abroad or at home, whether in combat or out of combat, you have risked and given much in the defense of this country and the ideals it holds dear.

For that, you will always have my thanks and appreciation.

To my friends and former colleagues overseas:

Today, we remember those who paid the ultimate price. WWI and WWII exacted an extreme toll on many countries and many communities around the world. Of course, these are not the only wars waged on a global scale. Immediately coming to mind are the Vietnam war and Korean conflict. These men and women gave their lives to pursue and protect the ideals we hold dear in our modern, Western age.

From the rising of the sun to the setting of the same, we will remember.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Electoral College

All right. So, I want to tackle something that it appears many individuals in my generation don't quite get (and, frankly, I didn't fully understand until the night of the election, thanks to a couple friends of mine): Why the heck do we have an electoral college and what is its purpose?

Something that was a big help to me was the following video:

The way I understand it, when we vote in Nov, we're not actually voting for our president. We're voting for our states' representatives to the electoral college. 

To make a comparison to another branch of government: we don't vote as an entire populace on legislative matters. Instead, we elect individuals to vote on our behalf, trusting them to make their decisions on the behalf of their constituents.

Here's the deal, from what I understand, when a party puts itself on a state's ballot (or as a write-in), they must provide a list of individuals who will serve, basically as the electors, or, if you want to think of it this way, the potential ambassadors from that state to the electoral college, should that party win.

So, if I understand properly and if electoral college is done well, we are, in essence, electing our electoral committee who will then elect the president. The reason we tend to think of the Nov election as basically the presidential election is because it's very rare, and in certain states, illegal, for electoral college members to vote for a party candidate not from their own party.

Why do some sparsely-populated states, like Wyoming, have a stronger proportional representation per capita than more populous states, like California?

From what I understand, this was done to prevent the interests of the populous states, and especially the interests of densely-populated urban areas from overshadowing the interests of other, less densely-populated parts of the country. This helps to ensure that the presidential candidates make some kind of effort to reach out to these states.

To put it in a kind of perspective, the system has a measure of short-term unfairness of voter representation in it to prevent a more severe long-term unfairness of votee representation.

Why do a majority of states have a winner-takes-all approach to assigning their electoral college members?

I have no bloody idea. Frankly, that frustrates me, too. If part of the purpose of electoral college is to induce coalition-forming across political lines, then surely a proportional representation would be better for the country overall, right?

As a proponent of third parties, first-past-the-post, winner-takes-all approaches merely secure a duality of dominant parties, because the states then become the filtering ground to snuff out any third party opposition. Would it not be in the interest of the greater populace if, because of third parties, neither major party would alone be able to reach the 270 of 538 electoral college votes necessary to appoint the president? 

My question/proposal is this: 
  • Currently, the wining party being awarded the entire gamut of elector slots for a particular state, gaining disproportionate representation of the state's populace.
  • If the elector slots are distributed proportionally as represented by the state's vote, would third parties be able to gain traction as swing parties, comparable to how certain states are swing states, being able to be the determining factor in which party's nominee?
  • This would necessitate that electors not be under compulsion to vote their party, but be given the freedom to be swayed by argument and debate.
I know that, initially, the electoral college would become a reflection of the popular vote, becoming subject to its "tyranny", but my hopeful vision is of a 40%-40% split in electoral college, with the remaining 20% being a scattering of third-party representatives.

How are a party's potential electors for each state chosen?

Frankly, I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if they're appointed by the state chapter prior to or as a requirement for obtaining ballot or write-in access. Personally, I think it would be beneficial to have greater transparency, for registered members of a party to be able to vote for the electors in their state's conventions. Of course, this is just a speculative example.

In closing, clearly, I am a fan of the electoral college system. I think there are tweaks that could be made to improve it. I also think that we need to stop portraying the Nov election as the presidential election. The Nov election, while currently the de facto presidential election, is actually the election of our electoral college representatives. This false portrayal of the Nov elections needs to stop. We, as a populace, need to educate ourselves into the workings of our representative democracy, to be better informed about the effects and implications of what we are truly voting for. Only then will we be able to petition for reform, if we still deem it necessary.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

As the Dust Settles

So, another arguably successful election season has passed. Someone has won. Many have lost. Some feel vindicated, some disappointed, and some like they've sold their souls (yet justified that they did what was necessary).

All of these sentiments I agree with and understand. Me, I voted for a third party. I was under no illusions that they would win, but I was at least hoping for a major spoiler effect due to the sum total of third party votes. (Props to Utahland for a 20% McMullin spoiler).

For those a little out of touch with the American political race, this was a hugely heated race. As a fan of neither dominant party candidate, I saw, on the one hand, a hardened career politician with pending criminal cases and, on the other hand, a bragadocious demagogue spouting populist rhetoric. These caricatures were and are just that - caricatures. Hillary and Trump are both more and less than their media portrayals, as are every other candidate who ran.

As I wrote I the aftermath of the last election and the one before it, we, as citizens, and we, as Christians, have a responsibility to respect and honour our leadership. I know that sounds archaic and dated in our advancingly progressive society. After all, that's the beauty of Liberalism, right? I am beholden to no one and am completely free to speak my mind and take my own action as best befits what I deem best for myself. And yet, I admonish you to set a small measure of individual liberty aside for the benefit of the community. If we all set aside a measure of "I"-ness, of "Me first"-ness, of "Validate my ideas"-ness, or any other breed of self-seeking and instead seek the benefit of our local and national communities, then we can and will see our nation grow closer in understanding.

How do we do this?

Well, for starters, we can:

I know it seems like a lot, but, please, join with me as I seek to make the best I can of the new, upcoming political and social environment of this country for the benefit of my local community. If enough people from diverse backgrounds and regions begin to carry and act upon these type of ideals, perhaps we will see healing happen within our generation

** For my non Christian readers: I do not and will not apologise for my faith. Active evangelism and discipleship are integral components of Christianity.