Electoral College…

The last time I read anything about the Electoral College process might have been in a middle school civics class taught by a guy in polyester coaches shorts, long tube socks and a whistle around his neck.  Maybe you can relate.  If so, here’s a link to the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration that will give you all the info you should ever want about the electoral college (without the coaches shorts!)
NARA | Federal Register | U.S. Electoral College

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I thought the video below was funny.  It is obviously an pro-Obama video (at least obvious by the end).

However, I watched this video after reading a book excerpt by Vernon E. Jordan Jr. in Nov. 3 issue of Newsweek (The Jordan Gospel).  The first sentence is striking:

“As one born in 1935 in the deep south who saw my father and oldest brother go off to Europe and Asia to fight in World War II and return home to Georgia unable by law to vote in the white primary, I stand here today–astonished, smashed, unbelieving, incredulous–that America has come to this place and time.”

This is history of which I am totally aware.  And yet, I read that sentence and had to read it again, aloud to Susie.  It is difficult for me to imagine such a blatant hypocrisy that would condone or allow such circumstances to persist while claiming allegiance to a Nation alleging liberty and justice for all.  The place and time that Jordan finds America is one in which the three most viable candidates for the Presidency of the United States of America were a woman, a black man, and a former POW who survived 5 1/2 years in captivity…these are truly astonishing, smashing, unbelievable, incredible times.  

As I listened to the closing lines of the little video below, I tried to imagine myself, having lived in the United States my entire lifetime, experiencing for the first time an election in which a candidate of my race actually has an opportunity be elected to the office of President of the United States of America.  I could not imagine such a circumstance.  And yet I have friends who live that experience every day.  Change indeed! No matter who is elected Tuesday in the amazing process we employ to select our leader, I will be proud to be an American.  I hope that pride will never cloud my vision to the point that I fail to recognize the hypocrisies that still prevail.  I heard someone say somewhere, sometime: “Our democracy is not merely a place where majority rules, but a place where it is safe to be in the minority.”  Let’s live up to that!

“Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801. ME 3:318 

My first Facebook Election…

Facebook launched in February 2004, 9 months before the Bush/Kerry Presidential elections.  Unless you were attending Harvard or one of the other Ivy League schools at that time, you probably had never heard of Facebook.  Fast-forward 4 years and Facebook boasts 110 millions users worldwide and has become a fascinating new element to POTUS ’08.  Status updates become running (sometimes hilarious) commentary on the debates.  Wall posts become mini-debates in themselves.  Shared articles and web links broaden our perceptions of the issues on the table.

One of the more interesting things for me has been the exchanges between “friends”.  On the good/fun side, I’ve had friends from completely different periods of my life kicking around opinions and issues (their only connection being my Facebook wall or a blog note). Some of these exchanges are substantive, some merely joking around.  One of the things I’ve noticed as well is the occasional lack of civility fueled by a passionate opinion.  Sometimes, even though an opinion might be directed at a candidate, comments thrown around in the heat of typing would never be uttered aloud in public.  Slurs like terrorist, baby-killer, warmonger, all come spewing forth.  Assumptions about the ignorance or blind loyalty of those holding opposing loyalties are frequent.  LOTS of false information is exchanged, positions are bludgeoned and faith is questioned.

Andrew Sullivan, an Atlantic Senior Editor wrote an interesting article in the current issue about his dive into the blogging pool (Why I Blog, Nov. 2008 issue).  He says that some of the best advice he received was from Matt Drudge who said the key to understanding a blog is to realize it is a broadcast, not a publication…a blog at its best is a conversation rather than a production.”  I think most folk on Facebook recognize it to be something similar but different.  Facebook is a facilitator of conversations and at an even deeper level, a conveyor of thoughts, moods, etc.; ambient awareness is what this is called by social scientists. (check out Clive Thompson’s article in the NYTimes Magazine).    When logged in, we are present with our friend lists, not unlike being in the room with them.  We become aware of their presence.  (At this moment, I have friends from Tennessee, Louisiana, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Bosnia online…in my room so to speak).

Next time you sit down in a room with someone, call them a “baby-killer” (if they happen to be Democrat) or remind them of how “they enjoy killing Iraqi civilians” (if they happen to be a Republican).  …and let the fun begin!!!  The thing with Facebook is that it is a conversation…except the words linger…in print…for a long time…on hundreds of people’s computer screens…all over the world!  I guess I’m not really saying this is necessarily a bad thing.  To the extent it gets up past the BS of much normal, polite conversation and we talk about issues at a deeper more substantive level, its great.  To the point we are verbally abusing friends, acquaintances, and absolute strangers…probably not so good.

Ultimately, we have a week or so before we know who will be replacing W.  If we don’t beat each other do death online, we might agree that at the very least, a new president will be a good thing… (uh oh…here comes the W retaliation comments…)

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