Speaking Event: The Electoral College

The Williamsburg-James City County Indivisible group has invited me to speak about the Electoral College at their meeting on 29 August.  This talk will take place at the James City County Library at 7770 Croaker Road in Williamsburg from 6:30 to 9:00 PM.

Here’s a link to the Facebook Event page.

I’ll discuss how and why the men who wrote the Constitution settled on this method for selecting a President, including how slavery created the conditions that made direct election of the President all but politically impossible.  I’ll also discuss efforts to eliminate the EC or render it moot.

Please join me and the WJCC Indivisibles for an informative evening and a chance to meet new Democratic activist friends.

Mea Culpa

I’ve never been very prolific with respect to posting on this blog, and certainly not consistent.  Even an election campaign featuring one of the most obviously unfit candidates for President in American history didn’t change this pattern much.  Still, I wrote two posts arguing that Donald Trump could not possibly win the election.

Well, I damn sure got that one wrong. I simply could not bring myself to believe that American voters would elect a incompetent buffoon* President simply because he promised things no one actually believed he would or could do and said the quiet racist and xenophobic parts out loud.

Like many liberals I checked out of politics for a while after the election.  I simply could not stomach watching Trump’s Keystone Cops transition.  And of course I went into yet another blogging hiatus.

Until, a week or so ago I took a look at Foggy Bottom Line to make sure everything still worked and noticed a rare comment – this one from a Trump supporter:

HaHa! Don’t you feel stupid.

He won and you haven’t had much to say since.

Liberalism is cancer. Hell, you guys can’t even determine how many genders there are. Yet, you’re so scientific and stuff.

It’s time we move on. Nationalism today. Nationalism tomorrow. Nationalism forever.

You’re losing progressives. Your powers are receding. Your spell casts upon humanity is vanishing. Your grip on Western Civilization is weakening and the forces of the Right are prying it from your pale bony hands. Your protest and lamentations are convulsions, the last final death throes of a rotten and corrosive ideology soon to be erased, replaced, and forgotten.

We president now.

Not much here but name-calling and unfounded assertions about where American voters are politically.  Yes, Donald Trump is President now, thanks to an anti-democratic election system designed to protect the political power of slave states.  But it’s important to remember that no liberal Presidential candidate has lost the popular vote since 1988.  And if winning the Presidency demonstrates primacy of a particular ideology, I would have been right about Trump – Barack Obama, after all, won the Presidency – twice – in the name of liberalism (albeit not the most progressive kind).  So it’s not clear how this very close election – won more or less on a technicality – demonstrates an ideological wave moving right.  And it begs the question: how long before Trump’s “spell casts (sic) on humanity” vanishes?  How long before (white?) “Nationalism” loses its new “grip on Western Civilization?”

Nevertheless, I do indeed feel stupid.  Stupid because I seriously never saw President Donald Trump coming.  Stupid because I never dreamed that “nationalism,” (white nationalism?) had gripped so many Americans as a governing philosophy.  But mostly stupid because I didn’t raise my voice loudly or often enough to help prevent it.

If progressive liberal ideology is in fact “soon to be erased, replaced, and forgotten,” I don’t intend to remain silent as it does.  No, I have not had much to say since Donald Trump won the Electoral College.  I aim to fix that.

*I mean…the man lost a billion dollars running a casino.  You have to work hard at stupid to make that happen.  The only case in known gambling history of the house losing – and bigly.

The Tea Party Misrepresents the Founders, Henrico County VA Edition

This sign, place by the Henrico County Tea Party, stands on highway 156 north between I64 and I295 in eastern Henrico County, Virginia:

IMG_1053In case you cannot read the text, it says “Dependence and entitlement were not concepts of the Founding Fathers.  Self reliance was.”

Except maybe not.  Prominent Virginia Founders like Washington and Jefferson owned slaves.  These men did not rely on their own ingenuity and hard work to make themselves successful in life.  They relied instead on the hard work – and reproduction – of the human beings they held in human chattel slavery.  These men did not start businesses or farms, employ others, and make a profit.  They purchased – or mostly inherited –  human beings and then worked them almost literally to death so they could live a comfortable life.

Thomas Jefferson wrote that “…a child raised every 2. years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man.”  He relied not on his own ingenuity and hard work but on breeding human beings like livestock.¹

Washington and Jefferson, along with the other men who signed the Declaration of Independence and wrote the Constitution, indeed began a bold experiment in republican government – at least for the time.  And I expect they believed in the virtues of hard work.  But many of these men, including all of them from Virginia, did not rely on their own selves.  They relied on, and built their wealth on, the backs of human beings who worked as slaves in labor camps.

The Henrico Tea Party should remove this sign.

¹Wiencek, Henry, (2012).  Master of the Mountain, Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves. New York, NY: Farrah, Strauss and Giroux, page 259.