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I just read that the Guardian, in the UK, is having a whole Clark… - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
I just read that the Guardian, in the UK, is having a whole Clark County Project to try and get Americans in a battleground state to vote for Kerry. Particular note to UK Kerry supporters: Don't. Just don't. If you really, really, really want an American to vote for Bush, tell that person, "The rest of the world thinks Americans are too stupid to decide things for themselves, so vote for Kerry." We're aware of world opinion (contrary to the study referred to in another post, it's hard to avoid--you can't walk out the door without someone saying, "G-d, we need to elect Kerry, so the Europeans won't think we're rubes anymore, and bin Laden will send us flowers on Valentine's Day").

I'm not a Bush supporter and will probably vote Kerry despite my status as a Republican--I'm not impressed with either, so I'm willing to give the new guy a chance, and (blasphemy coming, fellow Republicans) I think that Dems are better on the economy. But honestly, this kind of stunt would push me the other way, as it would anyone who didn't already agree.

ETA: Apparently, the argument goes that this is based on the Declaration of Independence stating that we should have a "decent respect for the opinions of mankind." I get a kick out of that, as the point of that statement was not to solicit said opinions, but to concede the point that the rest of the world might not immediately understand why a rasonably affluent bunch of colonies was telling George III take his toys and go home, and would appreciate an explanation of said decision. The Founding Fathers were not actually planning to open an international debate on the subject.

I feel a bit...: amused amused
Soundtrack: The title insists it's "Dracula," but I can't see it

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leeflower From: leeflower Date: October 21st, 2004 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
yeah, that's not so hot, honestly.

Personally I think our whole electoral college thing is outmoded and favors smaller states (and I jumped on that particular bandwagon BEFORE th '00 election. Unfair is unfair, people. Waiting until the unfairness hurts you instead of others to complain about it is just hypocritical), but for heaven's sakes, vote in your own silly elections, ne?

I don't think England would find it terribly amusing if we started trying to find loopholes that allowed us to register to vote there...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2004 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
They weren't too hot to give us that right when we were still a colony. I seem to remember some troubles over that. (Catchy slogan... something about taxation and representation, if I recall correctly... ;))

I think the Electoral College does reasonably well at balancing the interests of the small states against those of the large states, which was what it was instituted to do--so that New Hampshire wouldn't be crushed by Virginia and so on. Abolishing the electoral college would be a major reconception of the very idea of united "states," rather than provinces.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: October 21st, 2004 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, by and large, I don't think that the Electoral College helps small states at all (though, I don't think they would be helped by changing either).

Having grown up in Nebraska (5 EV), it's my experience that presidential candidates don't much bother with the state. They may do a quick rally in Lincoln or Omaha (especially if there is a chance to fundraise along the way). Otherwise, the simple truth is that 5 votes isn't enough to make them bother. Instead, they'll go focus on the medium to big states, where winning them has a deeper impact. So, the "extra" votes that Nebraska might give them a bit of disproportional representation, but it doesn't work out that way in actuality.

On the other hand, if there were no EC, they wouldn't pay any attention to Nebraska either (last I knew 1.4 million total population, so no idea how many eligible voters). In that case, it would make sense to focus on large states, even where there is no chance to win the state (a Republican in Illinois for example), as a 1% change in Illinois would be worth far more than a 10% change in Nebraska.
leeflower From: leeflower Date: October 21st, 2004 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
would they really need to focus state by state if there were no electoral college, though?

They could hit regions that weren't necessarily defined by state lines, allowing them to capitalize more on where thier constituent base is going to lie.

I'm not entirely coherent at the moment, 1 AM and all. I apologize.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: October 21st, 2004 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's true enough, but even looking at it like that still wouldn't work for states like Nebraska. The overall rural/farm vote is small enough in the larger scheme of things that it would be a pretty low priority. It would most likely help states like Delaware or Rhode Island, as their concerns mesh naturally with the more populous states in their region, so they could appeal across the board.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2004 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that hits on the whole point of the electoral college, which is a question of recognizing the states. Concentrating randomly on regions basically negates the concept of states, which was a major sticking point in getting the Constitution accepted in the first place--people were afraid that the individual states would cease to matter.
leeflower From: leeflower Date: October 22nd, 2004 07:58 am (UTC) (Link)
True enough.

I suppose I just no longer really see the distinction between the interests of smaller and larger states. We used to measure wealth by land a lot more than we do now.

While it might not help rural areas get a grab at the campaign trail, a less states-centered focus in campaigning might allow them to unite their interests into one more solid voting block. Also, the rural vote often gets ignored in states that also contain population centers-- Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince George's Counties have been deciding how Maryland votes for years. A popular vote system would mean that people in the rest of the state would actually get their votes counted, and prevent the votes from huge city centers from overwhelming their entire state.

I just see it as a more representative form of government. With no electoral college there's not middleman, and your vote actually goes to who you want it to go to. Counting people for population purposes when you aren't willing to listen to do any more than pay lipservice to their interests smacks of the 3/5 rule to me.

But again, this is just my opinion. I don't live in a rural state, and so my entire experience is based on a place where we have a large portion of the population essentially disenfranchised by the electoral college. Sensus data indicates that roughly half of maryland's population lives in Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince George's counties (out of 22 counties). That's enough to carry the state in damn near every election, but half the votes? That's a whole lot of people's opinions that aren't being heard.

And a lot of the people in the aformentioned weighty counties, who tend to be muuuch more likely to vote democrat than their rural neighbors, saw absolutely nothing wrong with this system until 2000, when it cost them an election.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: October 21st, 2004 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have friends living in China right now in an international neighborhood. It seems the neighbors have been rather insistent in their urges for my friends NOT to vote for Bush. This started before Kerry was nominated. They didn't care who became president, as long as it wasn't Bush.

My friend and I were both offended at the presumption, and it didn't take Trelawny to know that these were French neighbors.

Kizmet
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2004 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
The funny part is, foreign policy--their supposed bone of contention--isn't likely to change a whit, once the honeymoon is over. Foreign policy really doesn't respond to vaguaries in the political climate that well. Gore would have done the same as Bush in this situation, and Kerry will more or less have to keep to the road if he's elected.
neotoma From: neotoma Date: October 22nd, 2004 10:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Foreign policy might not be much different in content under anyone else, but you do have to admit our current president seems to have gone out of his way to piss off other nations simply with his manners. The whole "freedom fries" silliness, for example.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2004 10:27 am (UTC) (Link)
That was so dorky that I assumed it was a joke. I figured it was poking fun at politically correct campus speech, sort of like the Buffy line, where she asks if vampires should be referred to as Undead Americans.

Then again, the joke comes from a stupid thing people do, so maybe it was real.

I just think that outside the country, people are putting a little too much weight for foreign policy decisions on the president, who mostly reacts, and has a limited time in office. Look at the Pentagon, the Congress, and all kinds of other offices. Bush's personality rubbed the rest of the world the wrong way long before bin Laden decided that the U.S. should stop being isolationist.
neotoma From: neotoma Date: October 22nd, 2004 10:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Unfortunately, it was a joke. Two senators forced a change to the Senate dining room menu listing, and people picked off the news and ran with it. To the point where my local deli was selling "Freedom Cruellers".

And no, the general thrust of foreign policy doesn't change that much -- American interests come first, of course -- but the president gives the tone and empahsis to it.

For example, Clinton was plodding along on international cooperation for things like the Kyoto Protocols. When Bush came into office, he decided that America could go it alone much more than his predecessor -- and this has colored how America and American policies are perceived abroad.
ladylisse From: ladylisse Date: October 21st, 2004 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking as a die-hard Dem -- WTF? Dude. UK Kerry people. Worry, gripe, complain, debate all you want, but don't do that.

I need a "stop being on my side" icon, stat.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: October 21st, 2004 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking as a die-hard Dem -- WTF? Dude. UK Kerry people. Worry, gripe, complain, debate all you want, but don't do that.

I need a "stop being on my side" icon, stat


Me too! Sheesharoonie. I can understand their not wanting another four years of Bush, given the US's role in world affairs - but don't tell us how to vote! That's just - gah.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: October 21st, 2004 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've seen some blogs that quote some of the responses The Guardian received. My favorite angry rant came from a guy who wrote something along the lines of "shut up, you stupid limeys" and "go brush your yellowed teeth!" I would've been a little nicer, addressing them as "Dear Redcoats," attach a copy of the Declaration of Independence and remind them they no longer run America due to their defeat in the Revolutionary War. Then I'd rub in the War of 1812 (the last time France ever did anything for us and it was unintentional), another defeat despite their Canadian second-stringers burning down Washington, D.C..

Seriously, this is just stupid and condescending. Oooh, us here 'Murican hayseeds need those Euro 'lectuals tellin' us here what to do. Yeehaw! Lemmee go guzzle some Jack Daniels, hop in my pickup, and go shoot me possum!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2004 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, if they're really interested in voting in our election, we could always offer them statehood. They've got a healthy population, and should be able to get a good number of electoral votes if they signed on...

(Eek, my brain is frying and I'm waiting for lightning to come out of the clear blue sky and strike me down.)
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: October 22nd, 2004 08:40 am (UTC) (Link)
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myf From: myf Date: October 21st, 2004 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sort of conflicted. I can see the thinking behind it, but I agree that it's an idiotic way to go about things.

It's easy to see that the decisions that Americans make on polling day have an effect on other countries of the world, and it's not surprising that when people are unhappy with the way the US gvt has been acting, they wish they could influence it. Of course, Americans have every right not to be happy about this - I myself had a rant on my LJ about Richard Armitage (or someone) coming over to Australia and mouthing off about who he thought Australians should vote for in our federal election. Similar to lazypadawan, it felt like, "Now, you hick Aussies, put down that snake and/or surfboard and listen to your Big Important Friend, America. We're going to tell you what to do." Of course Americans shouldn't tell Australians how to vote, and vice versa.

What does grate, though, is knowing that there are people in the US who have the right to influence the outcome of the next election, and who either don't vote, or don't think about who they're voting for, and the international ramifications. Voting is compulsory in Australia, so it's odd to see people handed the opportunity to change the gvt in the US and not use it. It makes us feel... impotent.

That's why I think the approach of contacting Americans and saying 'Vote for Kerry!' is ludicrous. What I'd prefer is to appeal to people and say, 'Are you voting? Please vote - because there are millions of people not in the US who are going to be affected by this election, and we'd really like you to have a say in it. I won't tell you who to vote for, but I urge you to think about the candidates, educate yourself about their policies and vote.'

Stupidity.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2004 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't so much mind an individual Brit coming over and doing this. I also understand the frustration--there are plenty of world elections (*cough*Spain*cough) I'd like to have had an influence on, but due to not being a citizen, I had no control over. There's nothing particularly wrong with stating one's case. In this case, it's not exactly telling anyone anything we haven't heard about fifty times a day since we elected a Texan cowboy, but what the hey, go ahead. Explain what the consequences of our votes are for people everywhere--do it publicly. But this letter-writing approach is just stupid and, I promise, counter-productive.

The place where I end up at odds with conservatives is in believing that it's time to have some kind of responsible world body--I just think that our current version, the UN, is too totally whacked out and amoral to work. I think the U.S. Constitution is the best model--it requires constituent states to maintain certain laws and types of governments, and to ensure certain rights for its citizens. Otherwise, they are simply not members. The UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and a good handful of other countries would be able to have all the sniping arguments we want (heaven knows, Massachusetts and Texas do), but if Saudi Arabia wanted in, they'd best let women do as they please.
malabud From: malabud Date: October 22nd, 2004 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Hear, hear! When the UN places nation-states known for violating human rights on its human rights commission, you know something is horribly wrong with it. The UN's problem is it tries to please everyone, and thus ends up embracing the lowest common denominator. Sure, every state has a say, but some states really, well, shouldn't.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: October 21st, 2004 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wish voting were compulsory over here! Yes, the process should be made as easy as possible for those who are busy, or are disabled and can't physically get to a polling place, etc. but dammit, voting is something citizens in a democracy SHOULD DO!

And I believe that Britons and everyone else have the right to opinions on the US elections, to debate them, to rant and rave, to say, "We really wish Kerry will get elected," because the US elections are so important on the whole world stage. But actually interfering in another country's elections is a bit much.
malabud From: malabud Date: October 22nd, 2004 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I must partially disagree with your first point. Yes, citizens of a republican democracy such as ours ought to vote, absolutely, but I would oppose any compulsory voting. Voting is a right, and like every right, can be used or not according to each individual citizen's desire.

I firmly believe it is a sign of the strength of our system that people do not vote. I'm serious! Just hear me out for a moment. People are confident enough in our political process that they know that even if they stay home come election day, there will still be a peaceful transfer of power and the wheels of government will continue churning ever on. You don't have situations such as in Iraq, where everyone had to vote, and Saddam Hussian got 100% of the vote. Do not get me wrong; I cannot understand the mentality of someone not wishing to vote. However, that is their right, no matter how much I may disagree with it. Also, I would rather 10 people choose to stay home and not vote of their own free will, than to have those same 10 people forced to vote when they have not given any of the candidates or ballot measures a moment's thought.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2004 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I was never raised to consider voting optional--"Voting is not a right," my mother would say in a disgusted tone of voice. "It's a responsibility of anyone who lives in a democracy, and someone who doesn't do it forfeits any right to gripe about the government."

Yeah, I could get behind compulsory voting.
myf From: myf Date: October 22nd, 2004 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
My parents are very leery of the compulsory voting here, and my own thoughts on it change every day. On one hand, optional voting means that if you vote, you really mean it; you've thought about the candidates and have a firm view. Compulsory voting means that more than a few people will turn up and scribble some numbers without thinking twice about it, so they avoid a fine. But then again, under the latter system, you can't ever make the claim that the government wasn't completely elected by the people. Gah, I don't know what the answer is...

skelkins From: skelkins Date: October 21st, 2004 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can certainly relate to the desire of residents of the UK to attempt to influence the election in whatever way they can. Our national decisions do have an impact on them.

From a strategic point of view, however, it was an idiotic thing to do. A moment's thought ought to have brought them to the conclusion that such a campaign would backfire badly.

I found the news strangely disappointing. I would have expected a bit more savvy from the Guardian.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2004 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)
From a strategic point of view, however, it was an idiotic thing to do.

That's more or less my point. It's just a horrible approach.
(Deleted comment)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 21st, 2004 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here's a link.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1328158,00.html

I can't imagine why they thought it would be a good idea - this kind of thing would raise the hackles of almost anyone. And being told in a fairly condescending manner that the whole world wants Kerry to win (not exactly true, but what the hey) prompts in me an irrepressible vision of my mom saying "And if the whole world was going to jump off a cliff, would you do it too?"

The whole thing's over now, apparently - they called it off on getting a bunch of outraged letters. The line now seems to be that it was just a joke and that we shouldn't get so het up over some mere light-hearted fooling. I don't know, but I got a distinct whiff of "But honey, I was drunk when I groped that other girl. Why are you taking it so *seriously*? You're such a mean spoilsport."

But then, I've never really liked the Guardian, so I'm a little biased :).
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 21st, 2004 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, forgot to add. This link is sort of a summation of the genesis of the whole Clark County bit, though they seem to have conveniently left a few things out :).

http://guardian.assets.digivault.co.uk/clark_county/
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: October 22nd, 2004 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
OK. As a Brit I feel I have to apologise for this whole debacle. It is utterly rude and condescending to tell others, either in your own country or outside of it, how to vote. I have no idea what The Guardian were thinking. Sorry.

But the point I think they were trying to make, although failing very badly to do, was that the rest of the world is very interested in these elections because of the US's position on the world stage. What happens in the US has an impact on us all. So we encourage all US voters to exercise their right to make a choice and to consider the issues carefully before they make that choice. And we ask that foreign policy be one of the things you think about when deciding who to vote for.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: October 22nd, 2004 08:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Want to hear something funny? Right wing Australian blogger Tim Blair actually (in jest) suggested that on Sept. 27, in response to an opt-ed piece by Jonathan Freedland:

Here's a way Freedland and his fellow meddlers can still have their say in the USA: each could simply identify and adopt a random individual living in one of the battleground states and target that person with emails, letters, and telephone calls begging them to vote against Bush. I'm sure average Americans will be pleased to receive whiny 3am calls from people called "Jonathan", and will alter their vote accordingly.

Bah! ;)
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: October 22nd, 2004 11:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Mona Charon http://www.townhall.com/columnists/monacharen/mc20041022.shtml wrote on the topic of voting (compulsory) today, I happen to agree with this particular quote: "Frankly, if Americans want to remain ignorant about the people who have the power to tax their money, condemn their property, declare war, inflate the currency to worthlessness, permit terrorists to prey on innocents and much, much more, that is their choice. But why oh why must the chattering classes ceaselessly urge them to inflict this ignorance upon the rest of us?"

Personally, I hope the uninformed stay home in front of their televisions. If they don't care enough to be informed and vote their consciences, I hope they don't vote.

Fern, you wrote: "I'm not a Bush supporter and will probably vote Kerry despite my status as a Republican--I'm not impressed with either, so I'm willing to give the new guy a chance, and (blasphemy coming, fellow Republicans) I think that Dems are better on the economy."

I don't think we can safely assume that Kerry (or Gore) would do things similarly to Bush. Democrats tend (historically) to throw too many troops at things, handicap them, and then pull out when the winds of political opinion change. I much prefer the more direct Republican approach, with the Democrats breathing down the collective GOP neck to cause them to work a bit better and a bit tighter. I'm not pro-war, and have never been, but I do have a vested interest as my husband's little brother is over there.

As for the economy... sigh. My husband's job is with one of the major (in trouble) airlines, so we've certainly felt the pinch over and over, but the overall economy HAS improved under Bush. My biggest fear is the Kerry will actually implement his government health-care system which will be of the (intentional or not) bait-and-switch variety. It'll be a program which begins so wonderfully that no one can resist, and then things will change and we'll be in a similar situation as the UK NHS with waiting lines and denied medication. I already detest HMOs and tend toward alternative medicine, the very idea of putting (what is already a bloated mess) into government's hands (which bloat and mess as matter of course) is truly frightening. LOL. ;)

I really don't like Bush, but I don't want Kerry's "plans"... unless he gets me a pony. I've always wanted a pony. I'll hold my nose and vote Republican, but more than ANYTHING, I just want a true and final result by the next day. I can't bear weeks of hanging chads again.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 22nd, 2004 05:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm with you on the vested interest - I've got a brother in Iraq right now, and another who was there until a little while ago and may be off to Afghanistan next. I am afraid that Kerry, in the interests of trying to make the whole world happy, would handicap them terribly by changing direction every ten minutes whenever some random prime minister makes a less-than-approving comment. There's nothing wrong with getting along with other countries, but Kerry's got an awful lot of that "Everyone's friend is everyone's fool" vibe about him with regard to that. Sure, be nice to the EU, but don't feel like you have to bow to them in *everything* military.
lothi From: lothi Date: October 22nd, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Brits and the French want us to vote for Kerry, but it seems that Iran favors President Bush:

LINK


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