in hawaii, absentee ballots have already been mailed out. but if you’re like me, and prefer voting in person, early walk-in voting begins on tuesday, october 25.

you can check here, http://elections.hawaii.gov/voters/early-voting/early-walk-in-voting-locations/, for locations on your island.

a doctor’s appointment and the day job have prevented me from completing a proper post today, but i have started to write something up on the proposed honolulu charter amendments that will be on the ballot for oahu voters.

it will likely come in two parts over the next few days, but definitely before early walk-in voting starts on tuesday.

have a good weekend!

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over the weekend, i had a conversation with a woman who had started an organization that works to eliminate super delegates from the presidential primary process and eliminate the electoral college for electing a president.

maybe it should go without saying, but this woman had been a sanders supporter in the presidential primary….

with respect to super delegates, i have no strong feelings either way. i knew long before sanders ran for president that the dnc is a corrupt organization that is just another lapdog for wall street and corporations, so it was hard for me to feel outrage at how the dnc treated sanders and his supporters. that’s how they do business.

and though i don’t have strong feelings about the electoral college either, i’ve had numerous conversations over the years, mostly with my mother, about it. i was reminded how a lot of people feel about it and so i thought i’d try to lay out both sides here; why it’s useful, why it’s bad.

first, a little history.

the electoral college is an institution established by article ii, section 1 of the constitution:

Each state shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislation thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United State, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons vote for, and the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the Whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the Greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

that second, italicized portion was amended by the 12th amendment, which was then subsequently amended by the 20th amendment….

the framers, fearing “an interested and overbearing majority” and seeking to strike a balance between direct and representative democracy, initially believed it should be the congress that elects the president. however, it was argued that doing so could result in “intrigue” and weaken the independent nature of the presidency. with these concerns in mind, the structure of the electoral college was approved.

so, what’s so bad about the electoral college? well, as the woman i spoke to over the weekend says, it’s an affront to democracy. or, as my mom, a rare democrat in kansas puts it, “my vote doesn’t count.”

i get their point, but consider the potential result if we were to do away with the electoral college. its possible the entire middle of the country may very well be ignored entirely. more than half of all the u.s. population lives in either the ease or west-coast states. and while statistically this could bode well for democrats, one could argue that those living in the midwest, my mother included, would be disenfranchised. the electoral college lends greater weight to votes cast in less-populous states, like kansas. or hawaii.

opponents of the electoral college like to point to the 2000 presidential election, in which bush won the required number of electoral votes, but Gore actually won the popular vote. don’t think any sane, reasonably intelligent person would argue that was a travesty. still that result, which has only happened a few times in more than 200 years, is less a result of the electoral college directly, and more a consequence of the winner-take-all approaches of so many states.

despite all this, the electoral college in the modern era is largely a formality and, with just a few exceptions, follows the outcome of the popular election.

the electoral college, enshrined in the constitution, cannot be eliminated without the passage and ratification of an amendment to the constitution. this would be no small undertaking. the last time a proposed amendment to the constitution was made (and ratified) was nearly 50 years ago.

to me, the question is less, “should we get rid of the electoral college” and more, “will the nature of our government and democracy fundamentally change for better with its elimination?” my instinct is no. electoral college or no, the deep structural problems that exist in american politics and government won’t be improved by removing the “in name only” representative election of the president and vice-president.

you want to fix politics in this country? you want to make the system more fair and responsive to ordinary people? endeavor to fix deeply rooted gerrymandered districts. work to seriously improve our education system, not to mention how news is gathered and shared (i.e., fix sensationalist and gossip-driven news). or arguably at the root of it all, work to get money out of politics by amending the constitution to nullify the citizens united supreme court ruling; the same herculean effort would be required, but the positive impact would be immeasurably greater.

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as i come to the late afternoon, i’m still struggling to materialize a worthwhile post for today; i’m feeling overwhelmed.

it happens occasionally. my brain goes into overdrive on so many things at once, that it becomes hard for me to focus much on anything at all. life pressures, reminders of things i want to do, or put another way, things i haven’t done or things that are absent in my life.

over the years, i’ve learned this is a symptom, at least for me, of the mild but chronic depression (dysthymia) that i struggle with. so no real post today, instead just a list of topics, thoughts, ideas, feelings running through my head:

money and debt… online dating and relationships… photography… writing… graduate school… work… career… health… weight… smoking… presidential election… productivity and organization… home ownership….

throwback thursday should offer me a relatively easier post, though i’ll have to find a good picture. in the meantime, the best thing for me is to keep my head down and ride out this temporary disfunction until my brain quiets down a bit.

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if you’re like me, and something like 100 million other americans, you sat down and watched at least part of the debate yesterday. though, admittedly, i couldn’t get through the whole thing….

in this age of short attention spans, sound bites, and emotion-based voting, the debate was little more than a show; it was a presentation of the reality-tv type of conflict to which the american people have become addicted. from the few people i’ve actually talked to about the debate, there were two general responses: pain or amusement. Continue reading clinton vs. trump: 1st debate

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so, i saw this article this morning while browsing my emails: Hillary Clinton Takes Aim at Voters Drifting Toward Third Party. two thoughts immediately came to mind.

one, where is bernie sanders, who said he’s go on the campaign trail for hillary? partly, this comes to mind because of a conversation with my father (a moderate liberal) the other day in which he asked the same question. so, has he been campaigning and i’ve just missed it, or has he changed his mind, or focus?

admittedly, i’ve withdrawn my attention largely from the presidential race; it a circus with two clowns covered by media only interested in the stories in which one of the clowns are gored by a bull, or miss landing in a safety net. yes, one is clearly better than the other, but in the realm of terrible clowns, it’s not saying much.

this, in a ‘round about sort of way, brings me to my second thought; typical. just as at the democratic national convention in july, the dnc and clinton campaign is only interested in what they can get from us (though i’ll vote for clinton, i put myself with the third-party voters because i understand their passion, point of view, and anger). clinton isn’t truly interested in WHY we are so opposed to voting for her so much as she is convincing us that she’s better than trump. for the begrudging pragmatist in me, that’s enough, but for the millions of sanders and stein supporters (johnson is closer to trump on the spectrum, so i’ll ignore him here) it’s not even close to enough.

neither the dnc, the clinton campaign, or her die-hard supporters seem terribly interested in “negotiating”. they’ve made no effort, zero, to try to understand where we’re coming from. sure, clinton has made strategic compromises on certain policy positions, but even the political newbies in the sanders camp weren’t fooled by the politically motivated, half-hearted attempts to be more progressive.

you’d think, looking at national polling, which has scared the utter bejesus out of institutional democrats and clinton supporters, they’d attempt to move closer to bernie’s positions. consistently throughout the primary season national polling indicated sanders would fair far better against trump that clinton would. now that democrats are scared that might be the case, it seems to me the answer is clear. still, when living in an echo chamber, as so many democrats seem to (too many sanders supporters live in a separate, but equally dangerous echo chamber), it’s hard to see, what to me, is the most direct solution.

i’m not sure that much less than a fundamental shift in clinton’s demeanor and policy positions will do the trick. but, let’s see how clinton and the dnc approach this problem. let’s see how they plan to try get support from the very same people the shrugged off almost two months ago at the democratic national convention. they’ll almost certainly need more than millions of dollars of fancy targeted online messaging.

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