Thursday, November 6, 2008

When Is a Majority Not a Majority

Now that the elation of Election Day has faded, things are calming down and I've had a moment to take a closer look at what I'm feeling, and I have to say I am hopeful for the future of America.

I have no illusions that the next 4 years will be perfect or that our nation will be miraculously healed. But I do believe 44 will strive for balance. I'm concerned about the huge Dem wins in Congress and hopeful that 44 will be able to set the agenda for them, and that he will quash any legislation coming through that is way too far left. There must be balance, and if Congress can't find it I can almost guarantee the Dems will lose all the seats they've gained in the next election.

That said, I can't remember a time when I felt this energized about the possibilities. The 1994 Rep. "Contract with America" was a moment (when the Dem-controlled Congress couldn't find the middle), but it can't compare to how I feel now.

I feel like I've been in hunker down, assume the position, and wait it out mode since 2002. There's a glimmer that this long, barren winter of the Bush administration is coming to a close, and I'm optimistic for the blooms of spring. Crappe, I think I just waxed poetic or something.

Then there's the whole Proposition 8 debacle in California right now. Essentially an initiative was placed on the ballot calling for an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman. I have to say I really just don't care who decides to take up a domestic relationship with whom as long as they're both consenting adults. But we sure as heck shouldn't be messing with the constitution. Not for this.

The constitution is there to define the government's relationship to the people being governed. It is not intended to instruct the people on what is and isn't acceptable. And really, should a simple majority be all that's required to amend a document of this importance?

I also think the government should get out of the marriage business altogether; Marriage is not a secular event. The government should only be regulating Civil Unions for both hetero and homosexual couples. Leave the marriage issue up to each couple's individual faith. Many cultures and countries already do this. There's the official civil ceremony with all the paperwork, then there's the religious ceremony with umpteen friends and family to witness before god.

I am pleased that it appears Prop. 11 passed, which amends the state constitution to remove the responsibility for redistricting legislative districts from the seated legislature and give it to a new commission. Politicians should protect their positions by doing their jobs, not by gerrymandering. However, even though I fully support this initiative, I still do not think that the voters should be able to amend the state constitution with a simple majority.

WARNING: Math and Statistics Ahead

So Prop. 8 wins with 52.5% and Prop. 11 wins with 50.6% of the vote. A majority right? Wrong. It would be if every eligible voter cast a ballot, but they don't.

The stats aren't in yet for 2008, but in the 2004 presidential election, California had a turnout rate of 59.6% and assuming 2008 will be similar, that means that 52.5% and 50.6% of the 59.6% are deciding to amend the constitution for 100%.

In California that means that roughly 7,955,000 - 8,254,000, or approximately 30% of the population, are deciding to change the government's relationship to the 26,380,000 people it governs. And that, folks, is why I don't believe constitutional amendments should even be put to popular vote in the first place, and why I don't believe they should be passed by simple majority.

Before I get to the links, a word of warning. I've dug up a different html code for links and from here on out they should open in a new browser window. Unless I forget to use the new code or just get lazy. :)

So just a few links before I head to bed. This article by Chris Jones at Esquire sums up pretty well my conflicted feelings about John McCain the man, and John McCain the politician.

I couldn't read this bit of geek humor straight through without doubling up with laughter at least a couple times. If you've ever been a part of a tabletop RPG group, this is for you. If you haven't, but you've been in a relationship with someone who has, you'll probably still get it. If you don't fall into either of those groups, you probably have a life and have better things to do than read that link.

And lastly, completely unrelated to politics, if you've ever wondered how shopping carts, specifically the shopping cart you're using, got so messed up, watch this video. In honor of my cart while grocery shopping last night. The video also does double duty as an excellent instructional tool on inertia and Newton's First Law of Motion.

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