Posts Tagged ‘presidency’

Great Aunt Ada’s Gifts vs. the Trump Presidency

June 2, 2017

 

Watching the Trump presidency unfold is one amazing performance after another. It is entertaining. It is riveting. It has comedy. It has dramatic suspense. And it is personally frightening. Frightening because Trump’s theater is the real world and all of our lives hang on his lines.

I wish watching the Trump presidency were more like opening presents from a great aunt I’ll call Ada. Ada either sends English regimental ties when I haven’t worn a dress shirt in years. Or creative hand-knit socks that are like nothing I’ve worn since my mod phase in the sixties.

Aunt Ada means well and she loves me. She’s just out of touch with my life. When my aunt sends a useless gift, no one’s life is destroyed, democracy is not undermined, and the very continuance of civilization is not threatened. The only note of suspense is “will it be a tie or socks?”

Aunt Ada does no harm. I toss the tie or socks in a bag for Goodwill. Then I write her a little thank-you note, adding I hope she likes the present I sent, which I suspect is equally useless to her. And we both get back to our separate lives. Sort of like my relationship with Trump when I just saw him for a few moments on The Apprentice as I was clicking through channels on a dull night.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Detail from "Sunset" - Acrylic Painting on Wood by Mike Smetzer

Detail from “Sunset” – Acrylic Painting on Wood by Mike Smetzer

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Restore the Electoral College to its Constitutional Purpose

January 31, 2017

Last November the American people decided that an arrogant autocrat who cannot even focus his thoughts, a rude and impulsive man, willfully indifferent to truth, a smirking bully and fraudster who has bloated himself by tricking money out of his victim’s pockets, that this admirer of Vladimir Putin was just the man they wanted to lead them.

Donald Trump lost the national popular vote, but still became president because small states receive greater weighting in the Electoral College. If you include those too apathetic to vote, Trump won with the support of less than a quarter of the electorate. That was enough to highjack American democracy and put us on the road toward authoritarian rule.

Does this mean we should eliminate the Electoral College and have a national popular vote?

Popular-vote democracies all have a weakness. When enough voters are willfully ignorant or ruled by angry prejudice or simply don’t care, dangerous candidates win. This is why the founders of our country chose representative democracy. They reasoned that voters would have better knowledge of the character of leaders in their own state.

The American Constitution specifies that elected representatives, known and chosen locally, not the ill-informed and irrational masses should choose our president. Today we ignore our original constitutional process and pick our presidents by what is essentially a popular vote within each state. The authors of our constitution knew the cruelty and destructiveness of a mob. Democracy by popular vote can turn into witch hunts, lynch mobs, and anarchy.

Instead of eliminating the Electoral College, we should use it the way it was intended. We should vote for people we know and respect within our states to serve as electors. The Electoral College is a part of our constitution’s checks and balances. As the American electorate becomes increasingly fragmented and debased, we need it as a buffer against apathy and uninformed recklessness.