Friday, November 11, 2016

The Problem with Globalism

I sat and listened through a painful segment on MSNBC's "Morning Joe this morning.  They were still wringing their hands about the election. A few of the guests, along with Michael Moore, were discussing how Trump managed to win. They seemed to believe that anyone who voted for Trump was either: a) desperate and struggling and had to vote their own self interest because they've been forgotten, or b) ignorant to the diverse, multicultural world that lies just beyond their middle American, small town reality.

Michael Moore took some offense to that, but then still offered the observation that they (the elites) need to understand that Americans who voted for Trump actually watch shows like "Celebrity Apprentice," "The Bachelorette" and know the Kardashians by name. Okay. I'm not sure this was meant to combat or reinforce the previous concept.

Here again is another example of elites trying to rationalize the results and coming to the conclusion that those who didn't agree with them are somehow dumber or more ignorant than they are. They also offered the very bizarre feeling that while they may lack curiosity to understand how white, middle America thinks, they also feel that white, middle America should make more of an effort to understand how they think.

I thought my head was going to explode.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who sees the obvious. Over the past few months, about three months before the Brexit vote and a few weeks after, had the opportunity to speak to a number of Brits. I would ask "how's that Brexit vote looking?" I would get mixed responses, mostly in support of leaving the EU. I would usually throw in a question that would surprise them, and was rewarded 100% of the time the answered that affirmed my belief. I would ask: "so...this is primarily about having an open border with another country that has pledged to let in over three million refugees, right?"

Usually, the answer wasn't just "yes", it was "absolutely" or "hell yeah." Even those who were going to vote against Brexit would admit that was the only real issue. And yet, our news media kept showing us shopkeepers upset this, or teapot makers upset about pesky bureaucrats in Belgium telling them how to make a teapot. We were shown Brit after Brit with a similar, minor complaint as if the question was about bureaucracy.

It wasn't. It was about Brits feeling like they were losing their way of life.

Its funny. When countries fight wars to preserve their way of life, the combatants are called patriots. When citizens try to formulate immigration policies that will preserve their way of life, they're called xenophobes or racists.

A nation's culture and values are precious. The plot of land isn't the most important feature. America is not some international enterprise zone. This is our home.

There isn't enough time or patience on the part of the reader to go into the many ways how our nation has changed, but I will state just a few very obvious examples. We, Americans, used to all believe in the Constitution and our political discourse was about what the tax rate should be or where to build a new road. Now, we are debating the very validity of the Constitution. Believing in the Constitution used to not make you a reactionary, it made you an American.

It isn't that one side doesn't want to build a wall or deport people that have been living here for a while and have families, it is that they truly don't want to stop the next person from entering illegal. They truly don't believe in the whole idea that nations should have borders. They act like the whole concept is medieval. And for us in the middle, we recognize the REALITY, that if we don't agree on the rule book as to how our government is supposed to function or believe we have the right to maintain a border, you really don't believe in the country.

They want us to live in some fantasy world where an ESPN announcer can say, with a straight face, "you can say many things about Colin Kapernick not standing for the national anthem, but don't call it un-American." The logic is that the right to protest is protected as one of our values of free speech, so therefore even if what he is protesting against is America, his protest isn't un-American. Huh?  By that definition, no form of protest could ever be characterized as un-American. So, burning the flag, wearing a shirt that says "America sucks!," or how about the Imams of Iran saying "Death to Americans!"

The left says that when the right accuses them of being un-American, that this hyperbolic rhetoric. But it has gotten to the point where if we have a standard that anyone, no matter where they are from, no matter what they believe (either religiously, politically or culturally) have just as much to be here and acquire US citizenship just because THEY want to, then you tell me how we can actual have a sovereign nation. Or, ever maintain an American culture or way of life.

To some, they not only support this but they take pleasure in it. They say things like, well, since the white Europeans who came to America did it to the Native Americans who are we to say the rest of the world doesn't have the same right to come here as our early settlers. Who are we to say? We are actually the Americans living here.

This struggle isn't about philosophy. It is about reality. Some may have been convinced that this is a debate somewhere in the margins, fine points of distinction. But that is not true. If you do not believe in the concept of a border, do not agree that the Constitution is actually the rule book on how our government functions, and believe that we have the right to limit and control who is allowed to join us within this are an enemy to me and my way of life.

You are no less than an enemy than any potential invading army who also doesn't believe our border should be respected or our values worthy of continuing. And we spend trillions of dollars keeping our military strong enough to defend our way of life. We don't do that so that we can voluntarily bring in the very element from which we defend ourself.

We have come to the point where these two counter positions are no longer sustainable. The globalist mentality that the world would be a better place if every country looked the same by racial make-up, had similar diversity in world religions, etc, wars would be obsolete. This is a pipe dream, at least at the pace it is occurring now. We are not teaching incoming residents about our values, we are no longer proud of our history. We are now in the precarious position of letting in millions upon millions without a shared culture or values while simultaneously teaching our young everything wrong with America.

Our mainstream culture disproportionately denigrates American values. More and more promotes criminality (again, don't make me list the many examples of when police dramas changed from the central message of "crime doesn't pay" to "where all criminals, really, even the police." I mean, come on, two of our most popular shows where actually told from the perspective of a meth dealer and serial killer). And maybe it is't that Trump supporters are watching "Celebrity Apprentice," the issue is what exactly the millennials who voted for Clinton are actually watching.

If we continue down the pathway of normalizing the world, we will cease to be "great." Not because those who come here diminish or weaken us, but because it is the reality of equality. Those who argue that America was never great, or mixing apples and oranges. They are stuck in this jingoistic world that puts bumper stickers on cars that read "It's nice to be great, but greater to be nice." Well, those are two different things. We don't live in a bumper sticker world.

We are not ignorant, or racist, or xenophobic. We have had enough of the elites putting us in a world we have to apologize for wearing a pilgrim costume on Halloween. We shouldn't have to denounce every aspect of our past. You are not great only because you are nice, you are great because you achieve great things.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why the Electoral College is Still Important

Once again we are bombarded with images of protesters, usually in California, who are angry about the outcome of an election. They are carrying signs promoting two ultimately contradictory positions: 1) the Electoral College should be abolished, and 2) California should secede from the union.

I consider these positions conflicted because one (the idea of secession) is buttressed by the notion that California -- or any state for that matter -- still exists as an independent government in union with a group of other independent governments, while the second (direct election of President) seems to presuppose that there are no state affiliations or divisions.

As Madison argued in Federalist No. 39, the Constitution established a mixture of state-based and population-based governments. Originally, in the legislative branch of government, the Senate was supposed to be selected at state level, while the House of Representatives was supposed to be directly elected by the population. The Judicial branch was to be selected by Executive and then confirmed by Legislative. And then the third branch, the Executive, was also to be elected by a mixture of the two modes. Hamilton wrote about the electors in Federalist No. 68:

"Men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under 
circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the 
reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice."

At a time when the general population had less access to information about each candidate, it was important to provide a hierarchical approach. Remember, at this time all elections were local in nature and the largest voting pool was at the state level.

The Constitution provides the algorithm for determining the number of electors and mandates that to win the Presidency a candidate must receive a majority. Since the election of 1824, most states have appointed their electors on a winner-take-all basis, based on the statewide popular vote on Election Day.  We tend to look at the Electoral College only in terms of its impact on binary, two-party elections, but the true measure or restrictive nature may come in our future if the number of viable political parties or movements expand in America. For example, in a true three-candidate race, the winner would still need a majority of electoral college votes. If such a majority is not reach, the election is determined via a contingency procedure established by the Twelfth Amendment. This process involves the House of Representatives voting as individual states for President. This requires any minority candidate to build some sort of governing coalition of support.

We tend to try to compare American political systems against other nations without real knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of others. For example, in a Parliamentarian government, the Prime Minister is not directly elected either. Each party has a person they would consider their leader, and if that party wins a majority of seats, then their leader becomes Prime Minister. No Brit ever voted for Margaret Thatcher, they voted for her party. In those cases, and even other countries that directly elect an executive leader, they then must still put together a coalition of support within the Parliament.

Direct democracy is not only difficult in a nation of America's size, but can lead to factionalism that is harmful to the running of a republic. The "dual-mode" system put in place by our framers serves a valuable purpose of never forgetting that we are indeed a collection of states. A collection of states that come together as part of highly structured compromise that tries to temper the power of any state over another. To give equal power to Rhode Island as compared to California would be grossly unfair. But, to put forth a system in which a person may get a disproportionate amount of support among a very few states that can outweigh the decision of forty other states would also be just as wrong.

Our system now seeks to find a delicate balance. It usually doesn't come into play, but now twice in the last twenty years, a person has won the Presidency with a majority of electors but failed to win the national popular vote. And not surprisingly, each time it happens, a small group of disgruntled appear argue that the system has failed.

If, of course, the goal of the electoral college was to elect a President that the majority of voters had chosen, then it would have failed. But, if that were the goal we wouldn't need it in the first place. And remember, it wasn't done to limit who could vote, or because we didn't have the apparatus to conduct a nation-wide population-based election. It was an attempt to compromise between population and state's rights.

I would argue that the measure as to whether the electoral college is successful is in those cases when it differs from the popular vote. Did it temper the power of more populated states? In this last election, it appears that Secretary Clinton will win the popular vote by a 0.23% margin when limiting the choice to just those two. Or to put in raw vote totals, among the nearly 120 million votes cast to either of those two, the margin of difference is 283,000 votes. So, if we chose solely by popular vote, Mrs. Clinton would win.

Now, let's look at state dispersion. Mrs Clinton won 20 states and the District of Columbia while Trump won 30. Mrs. Clinton won two with as few electors as three (which is the minimum) while Mr. Trump won four. The largest prize for Trump was 38 for Texas, while Mrs. Clinton won all 55 from California.

This system, is not perfect. But then again, no three people would agree on what perfection would look like. If you want to know what tyranny would look like, imagine a candidate that might win New York, California and DC, by 90%, but then lose the remaining 48 states by a few thousand votes each, and win by a landslide of the popular vote. In that scenario the choice of the three main power centers could dictate to the rest of the citizenry. A candidate's message might only have to address the needs of those powerful states. You could in theory win on a platform of excluding California and New York from federal income tax. Not that it would happen, but it is possible.

Our current system requires our presidential candidates to actually visit the farmlands of Iowa, or the badlands of the Dakotas. They must actually meet the people. Sometime, when they take states for granted like Mrs. Clinton did Wisconsin, they get punished.

In conclusion, we either agree in principle to what the electoral college is attempting to do, or we don't. Stop arguing that it is broken when the two outcomes don't match. It wasn't designed to match. And its value still today in our society isn't in its ability to match. It is designed to ensure that the person who will be President as broad appeal across a majority of independent states.