Tag Archives: Politics

Faith Demystified – The Root of Religious Discord


Faith Demystified – The Root of Religious Discord

church conflict

Religious discord comes from bumping into belief systems that do not match our own, however illusory our own systems of belief may be. When I was a pastor, there was a young woman who had been baptized and raised Presbyterian. She was marrying a Baptist and joining his church. The problem for me was not that she was leaving the church, the problem was that the Baptists required that she be rebaptized!

The Presbyterians have a view of baptism that made perfect sense to me. Children of believers are baptized as infants. In this baptism both the parents and the congregation vow to raise this child in the Christian faith. This baptism is an act of God, and not human will. In this act God claims the child as part of the community of community. Baptism in the Presbyterian Church is seen as complete and final in and of itself. There is no need to have the baptism “confirmed” when the child reaches the age of consent. We Presbyterians sometimes slip and talk about “confirmation classes” for adolescents, but only because that term is so prevalent in the broader Christian community. What we mean to say is that there are “commissioning classes” for adolescents which signify that the child is now ready to participate more actively in the life, worship and governance of the church. The one new right established at the time of commissioning is the right to vote and hold office in the church.

Baptists have a very different view of Baptism, and it clashes radically with the Presbyterian view. It is not that one side is “right” and the other side is “wrong.” It is just that these two sets of doctrine cannot mesh together.

To join the Baptist Church, this young woman was required to undergo a Baptist baptism. Presbyterian doctrine eschews any form of rebaptism, believing that the first baptism is sufficient for the believer’s entire life.

If this woman from my church did not undergo a Baptist baptism, she would be only a visitor in the Baptist church, and not a full participant. Baptist believe that only believer baptism, entered into by someone old enough to consent to the proceedings, is valid in the eyes of God.

Also, of course, Baptist use much more water than Presbyterians. Baptists generally practice a full body dunking, while Presbyterians simply sprinkle water on the head. I will agree with the Baptists that the very word “baptize” means to dip or dunk. But personally I do not believe that the amount of water used in a baptism is of any more significance than the amount of food consumed during communion, and a church does not need to spread a full meal in order to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

While I fully understood why this young woman needed to undergo a Baptist baptism, it pained me because it felt like it was a denial of her upbringing in the Presbyterian Church. It felt like the Baptists were saying, “Your whole spiritual life as a Presbyterian was not legitimate. Now you must start over as a Baptist, unlearn everything that the Presbyterians taught you, and learn our Baptist ways.” Let me be clear that this message was not coming from the Baptist Church, but playing inside me head.

In summary, there is nothing wrong with the Presbyterian notion of baptism, and nothing wrong with the Baptist notion of baptism. The problem is that when we try to combine them there are discordant notes and emotional turmoil.

As part of this discourse on religious discord, In all honesty I need to raise my personal disdain for the Mormon religion. I am a strong believer in religious liberty, and I would never want to constrain or harm another religious community. I would never discriminate against a Mormon or refuse to vote for them solely because of their religious affiliation. But my personal vexation with the Mormon religion is that it presents to the world a counterfeit version of Christianity. The Mormons have usurped our Christian language, our Christian symbols, our Christian music, and even our Christian sacraments. In places where Mormonism is strong, people confuse the two very divergent religions and hence fail to understand Christianity or its message. It does not help that the Mormons insist on placing the name of Jesus in that religions official title, with the words “Jesus Christ” made bigger than the other words. It feels like they are saying to all of Christendom, “Screw you! We are the real church!”

A good example of this religious divergence is how the Mormon religion practices baptism. The Mormon’s do extensive genealogical research. A large reason for this genealogical research is to create lists of people who are long dead so that these deceased may be baptized. When we hear “baptism,” this sounds like Christian baptism, but in practice this is something very different. Nowhere in the whole history or doctrine of the Christian Church does it talk about baptizing dead people. This is the kind of practice that causes me to say that Mormonism represents a counterfeit version of Christianity. On the outside it looks Christian, but when you dig deeper it seems anything but.

I will cite one more example of religious discord, this time related to Holy Communion (Eucharist). The Presbyterians believe in a free and open communion. Anyone who confesses Jesus Christ as their lord and savior are welcomed to participate. If I think in terms of rules and regulations for a moment, I might also add that the believer should have been baptized. Communion is an outpouring of God’s grace upon the assembled faithful. It is the Lord’s Table and not our own.

Whenever I am worshiping in a Catholic Church there is always a dilemma. I know full well that I am not welcome at a Catholic communion because, first of all, I am not a Catholic. The Presbyterian notion that the Eucharist is open to all of God’s people is shattered.

But furthermore, even if I was a Catholic, I would still not be eligible to participate in the Eucharist. I am divorced, and that is a disqualification. To be restored to the Catholic Church’s good graces, at least in the days before Pope Francis, it was necessary for a Catholic to first pursue and complete the divorce proceedings in the civil courts. And after that, the believer would need to appeal to Rome for an ecclesiastical annulment of the marriage. Such a process could take decades and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

And thirdly, even if I was a Catholic, and even if I was not divorced, there is still the issue of completing all of the pre-Eucharist requirements, such as attendance at Confession. There are sorts of things that need to be done in order for a Catholic to get his or ticket punched so as to be ready for communion. So, the Eucharist is not an outpouring of God’s grace, but rather a reward for loyalty and good behavior granted to Catholics in good standing.

Thus, the Catholic Eucharist turn on its head everything that I as a Presbyterian hold dear. Again, it is not that the Presbyterians are right and the Catholics are wrong. It is just that we have two different and radically divergent versions of what the Eucharist means. Normally, when worshiping in a Catholic Church, I will take communion because I believe in the Presbyterian rules which say that I am eligible, and because I want to share in the Lord’s Table with a larger group of Christians that are beyond my own community.

The sad part of all of this discord is that it really does not mean a thing. It is like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton exchanging insults instead of focusing on policies that actually matter. All of this is a great distraction that keeps the Church from being the Church. None of this is going to feed hungry children, rescue refugees, or free people held in human trafficking.

When the Church cannot come together even over such common themes as the sacraments, what hope is there to talk about science vs. fundamentalism, gay marriage, economic disparities, refugees, or reproductive freedoms?

This article has only dealt with discord within religious traditions. We have not even mentioned discord between various religions.

In short, religious beliefs can create a climate of discord. There are endless disputes over the minutest points of doctrine. There is the obsession with the details of symbolic acts that in reality have no importance. There is the doctrinal rigidity that says that my understandings are correct, and therefore yours are all wrong. Wars have been fought and gallons of ink spilled throughout Christian history just trying to define the Trinity.

Islam was born out of officially Christian territory. An important historical fact was that the nations of Islam generally rejected the officially sanctioned language used to describe the Trinity. Islam recognizes Jesus as a prophet of God. But for the Muslim who could not call Jesus the “Son of God,” or embrace any sort of Trinitarian language, the only solution was to reject Christianity and start their own religion.

DISORDER

 

 

 

We still need to go metric


Metric World

Our US system of measurements makes no sense, even to Americans. We cannot even call it English measurements because our system is different than the pre-metric English system. For example, how many US tablespoons (tbsp.) are there in a US cup? The answer is 16, but no one knows that; I had to look it up. A harder question is how many cups are in a bushel. The answer here is 148.96848 cups per bushel. How many feet are there in a furlong or a fathom? When the cookbook calls for 6 ounces, is it talking about volume or weight? How many gallons are there in a cubic foot? There are 7.48.

What do you do if your 7/8th inch wrench is just slightly too small? Now you have to mess with fractions and come up with an answer such as 15/16th inch. This same situation is made far easier in the metric system. If the 22 millimeter wrench is too small you simply move up to the 23 millimeter wrench.

By contrast the metric system is simple, elegant and highly intuitive. Everything is in multiples of tens, hundreds, and thousands. A meter is a little over a yard long (39.37 inches). A kilometer is 1,000 meters (0.620 miles). It is 10,000 kilometers from the equator to the North Pole. A centimeter is 1/100 of a meter, or .3927 inches. A millimeter is 1/1000 of a meter or 0.0393 inches.

A cubic centimeter (cc) is a measure of volume. This is where things get interesting. One cc is equal to another metric measure, the milliliter. A milliliter is 1/1000 of a liter. Liters and milliliters are used to measure the volumes of liquids. This is also called displacement. In the cubic centimeter = milliliter equality we have the link between distance and volume. And now it gets even more interesting. One cc (or 1 ml) of water weighs 1 gram. Now we have a direct connect between distance, volume, and weight.

1 cubic Centimeter = 1 Milliliter = 1 Gram of water

A thousand milliliters of water equals 1 liter, which is very nearly a US quart (1.06 quarts). One liter of water weighs 1000 grams or one kilogram. A kilogram (or kilo) is equivalent to 2.205 US pounds. You could give your weight as 90.7 kilograms instead of 200 pounds. A metric ton is 1,000 Kilograms or 2,205 pounds.

The US is the only country in the world that uses our goofy and idiosyncratic system of measurements. The entire planet has gone metric except for the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar (Burma). We lost one Mars probe because the scientists at NASA confused meters with feet in their calculations. We live in a global trade environment with one system of measurement. Using a different system of measurements makes us less able to compete in foreign markets. If a company is making anything for export, the company simply must use the metric system. There are no 7/8th inch wrenches abroad.

Most of our measurements could be converted to the metric system within a few years. We could buy gasoline and ice cream by the liter, bananas and potatoes by the kilogram, rope and fabric by the meter. We could adopt metric clothing sizes with little trouble. We could change our road signs and speed limits to KPH (kilometers per hour) with little fuss. We could report temperatures in Celsius, where water freezes at zero degrees and boils at 100 degrees, instead of Fahrenheit, where water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. Body temperature in Celsius is 37.0 degrees. None of this would be overly difficult.

The hardest part of the conversion will be in the building trades, where everything is in US measurements. We have 4 foot by 8 foot sheets of plywood, 3/4th inch pipes. But 2 x 4’s are not really 2 inches by 4 inches. Some conversions will require adapters, such as a water heater built to metric standards will need pipe adapters to fit legacy pipe dimensions. Some items such as floor tiles will create difficulties. Currently tiles come in sizes such as 18 inches square. These 18 inch tiles will be needed for some time to come as people do remodeling projects. But when new floors are laid the contractors may use comparable metric tiles that are 500 centimeters or 1/2 meter square. Again, the building trades will have the most difficult metric conversions. But other countries have done this and we can do this here as well.

Metric conversions will take some time and effort on our parts, but in the end we will be much better served. We need to adopt the world standard of measurement or be left behind.

Celebrity Status and Human Worth


Cosmologist and Science Educator

Cosmologist and Science Educator

America has a very weird way of lifting up the most absurd celebrities.  Justin Bieber was just busted for street racing while drunk and on drugs.  Bieber is also facing felony vandalism charges for an earlier episode where he vandalized a neighbor’s house.

Dennis Rodman just got back from North Korea where he practically gave a lap dance to his “best buddy” Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Un is the most deranged and oppressive tyrant on the planet. Rodman refused to do anything to encourage North Korea to release of Kenneth Bae.  Rodman said that he was in North Korea to play basketball, not to dabble in politics.  In a CNN interview Rodman even seemed to accuse Bae of crimes against North Korea, and implied that North Korea was justified in holding him.  But research in to Bae’s alleged crime would seem to suggest that Bae’s only crime was to carry a Bible.

We are fascinated by the rich, the famous, the outlandish, and the miscreants.  We track their movement in and out of jail and rehab with intense interest.  Prince Harry can party naked in Las Vegas or dress up in a Nazi SS uniform.  His great-grandfather King George VI, who lead the British fight against the Nazis, must have spun in his grave.

What is wrong with these people and what is wrong with us for being their cult followers?

Let us select and follow celebrities who live lives worth living.  Let us celebrate scientist like Neil deGrasse Tyson who are extending our scientific knowledge.  Tyson is also teaching the masses to appreciate the wonders of the universe.  Let us celebrate people like Jane Goodall for connecting us with nature and working to save endangered species, or Al Gore, who is and trying to save the planet from environmental destruction.  Let us celebrate thoughtful commentators like Bill Moyers or Fareed  Zakaria whose profound insights give us a window on the world and what is happening around us.  Let us celebrate novelists like Jean Auel, who helped illumine our human prehistory through her Clan of the Cave Bear series. Through this series Auel  helps us to understand what it is to be human.

Let us celebrate those who feed the hungry, make great medical advances, those who seek to create sustainable economic systems that can sustain us all into the future, those who work with disaster victims and refugees.

Let us celebrate those who work for peace, for the end of tyranny, violence and oppression.  For those who will work for tolerance in a world full of racial, ethnic, economic and cultural divides.  Let us celebrate those who work to end violence against women, and all the oppression and dehumanization of women because of their gender.

It does not matter what your career or walk of life.  There are actors and rock stars that are great humanitarians, and others that are totally self-absorbed.  Some spend their wealth and celebrity in serving the downtrodden, while the others spend their time in endless hedonism and debauchery without a care in the world.

It does not matter whether you are rich or poor.  It is no great honor to be rich.  Many people became rich through disreputable means.  They do not deserve our honor.  Others became rich by doing great things, inventing new industries, addressing great needs, and making our world a better place to live in many ways.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall

Donald Trump may be a billionaire but he is not worth a damn.  The Donald has often been accused of racism.  His political rants , such as his ongoing  “birther” campaign against Obama long after the issue had been settled, make him the laughing-stock of all thinking people.  He is clearly in the game for his own power, wealth and ego.

Author of "Clan of the Cave Bear" series

Author of “Clan of the Cave Bear” series

But others, such as Bill Gates have become world-class philanthropists, using not only their great wealth, but also their global vision, business savvy, and management skills to improve the world.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working to eradicate polio, fight the AIDS epidemic, and to create a viable economic system in West Africa, one of the poorest regions of the earth.

The measure of life is not in our acquisitions, whether our treasure be in the form of wealth, power, or fame.  The measure of life is not in our acquisitions but in our contributions.

Now that the Election is over…


While I will confess to be a very partisan person, I chose never to engage in partisanship on this blog during the election.  There was already way too much partisan hatred and bickering.  There was already a cacophony of voices screaming insults and abuse at each other.  This is no way to run an election, or a country for that matter.  But now we need to sort things out and begin our journey forward.  To do this we must take a painful and honest look at our nation’s troubles, and figure out how we can best come together to solve them.

We need to find a way to come together as a nation and discuss our various issues and their best solutions.  In the present political climate any civil discourse seems impossible.

The Republican leader in the Senate said early on that the party’s primary goal was to prevent Barack Obama from being elected to a second term.  Such a stance can only be described as destructive defiance. It seems that the Republicans, and especially those of the Tea Party persuasion, tried to sink the ship of state because they were unable to set its course.  That is partisanship gone rancid.  Every proposal that Obama offered up, including his quest to find acceptable compromises, were shot down by intransigent Republicans.  And then, to add insult to injury, the Republicans viciously accused Obama of having a failed presidency. A failed Tea Party mutiny is a more apt description of the last two years.

In the kinder, gentler times in Washington, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill declared that, “We are all friends here after 5:00 pm and on weekends.”  If only we could recapture such civility in today’s political life.

Our country is still in a mess.  There is no dispute about that.  We have rampant unemployment, soaring debts, a shaky, unfunded entitlement system, a collapse of the middle class, a large and accelerating gap between the haves and the have-nots.  The middle class is hurting and the poor are becoming ever more destitute.

We need tax reform, immigration reform, and regulatory reform.  We need to create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, rebuild our economy, and rebuild our crumbling education system that was once the pride of the planet and the source of our great economic well-being as a nation that once allowed even our working classes to participate in the American Dream.

On the global front we are in the midst of the largest mass extinction in seventy-five million years.  We need to develop a sustainable economy that does not plunder the earth’s resources or endanger its future to power our economy today.  So, before we build pipelines to move shale oil down from Canada we need to stop and assess the environmental impact.  Sustainability must now be a key component of every decision.

If Mitt Romney ever had a plan to govern this country he refused to communicate it to the general public.  Every question directed to him was answered either by reciting his talking points or by attacking the president.

He spoke repeatedly about tax breaks for the millionaires and billionaires on the grounds that these are the job creators.  But this was also George W. Bush’s line.  It was a failure then and it would be a renewed failure again.  It might be a good idea to give tax breaks that spawn actual job creation.  But without such a linkage many of the rich would simply park their excess cash in their Swiss bank accounts helping no one.

There is already too much idle cash on the sidelines awaiting productive investment opportunities.  What is lacking is not excess cash, but rather consumer demand.  If you want to stimulate the economy and create jobs then put some extra cash in the pockets of the middle class so that they can go out and buy tires and refrigerators, thus creating demand and driving production.

Romney wanted to see financial regulations abandoned to free up business from government interference.  But we have had three major financial crises in recent history that were directly caused by the lack of effective government regulation:

  • The Savings and Loan Crisis in the Reagan era caused by deregulation of the thrift industry.
  • The stock market collapse of 2000-2002 caused by the complete failure of the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate our financial markets.  Elliot Richardson, then the Attorney General of the New York was the only person even trying at that time to regulate the financial markets.  During this time of regulatory abdication, the predators, thieves and con-artists had their field day.  The rogues list includes such names as Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen, and a host of others.  The financial losses from this event totaled over $5 trillion.
  • Finally, we had the global collapse of our financial markets due to the “liar loans” in 2008.  Mortgage companies would give loans to anyone who could fog a mirror.  These trash loans were then securitized with “AAA” ratings and sold throughout the global financial markets.  When this house of cards, built on corruption and regulatory abdication, finally collapsed, it created a global recession from which we have yet to extricate ourselves.

Does any of this sound like we need LESS regulation?

Romney never did explain how he could give tax breaks to the rich, increase military spending by two trillion dollars and balance the budget.  Such nonsense is what George H.W. Bush called “Voodoo Economics.”  He did speak of doing away with almost all federal programs that actually benefit the middle class and working poor.  In a frenzy of social Darwinism he would cut funding for Head Start, unemployment insurance, Pell grants and student loans. The millionaires and billionaires would prosper mightily under a Romney administration, while the rest of us would be floundering in debt and despair, and left with no rope to climb. Even Big Bird had his head on the chopping block.  Excuse me, but is not Big Bird about preschool education?  While government subsidies for public television do not pay for the production of Big Bird, they do go to sustain broadcasts of Big Bird to smaller, mostly rural communities where the need for such preschool education is critical.

And then there is the strange case of Obamacare that was at the center of Romney’s attacks.  Obamacare began as Romneycare in Massachusett.   So, how could Romney attack what was essentially his own plan raised to the federal level?

The American health care system before Obamacare was a disgrace.  The U.S. spends 17% of its GDP on healthcare, while no other country spends more than 12%.  And still our health care outcomes trail most of the world. The leading cause of personal bankruptcy in this country is from medical bills.  It would be hard for anyone to argue that our system did not need a major redesign.

Romney claimed that he would repeal Obamacare his first day in office.  But he never told us what he would do to replace it.

Churches, Politics and 501(c)(3) Status


Churches and other non-profit organizations organized as IRC 501(c)(3) organizations are forbidden to support or oppose political candidates, to involve themselves in legislative issues, or to support or oppose ballot initiatives.  And yet this very clear demarcation in the law often goes ignored with impunity.  Some churches appear to operate as national political parties in total defiance of the restrictions of their 501(c)(3) status.

501(c)(3) status is given to the following types of organizations:  Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations.

While there are many forms of non-profit organizations that are tax exempt, donations are tax-deductible only when given to 501(c)(3) organizations.  Therefore, 501(c)(3) organizations have a privileged place in American law and tax code. Your house of worship typically shares this privileged status along with your little league, community theater group, animal shelter, food pantry, and non-profit university.

In order to maintain this privileges status, any 501(c)(3) organization must refrain from political activity.  Failure to so refrain from political activity may cause the impositions of sanctions by the federal government, including the revocation of the organization’s 501(c)(3) status, plus the levying of excise taxes under IRC 4955.  The question we must ask is, “Why are these legal sanctions so often ignored?”

There is a big difference between a church and a political party (or political action committee), or at least there should be!  Contributions to a political party or PAC are not tax-deductible, while contributions to churches and other charities are fully tax-deductible. When churches are allowed to operate as political parties using tax-deductible donations, this undermines the whole purpose of the privileged 501(c)(3) status and creates an uneven playing field in the political arena. When most church organizations are respectful of their privileged status and compliant with the restrictions entailed thereby, other church organizations flagrantly abuse their status.

The law is clear that any improper political involvement can trigger sanctions.  Quoting from the IRS website:

An organization does will not qualify for tax-exempt status under IRC 501(c)(3) unless it “does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office”.  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopici02.pdf (“I. Election Year Issues” by Judith E. Kindell and John Francis Reilly)

501(c)(3) organizations have every right to advocate for issues and causes.  Such issue advocacy might include homelessness, immigration, environmental issues, reproductive rights, spay/neuter campaigns or any other conceivable topic.  However, there is a very clear line of demarcation between advocacy and engaging in political activities.  The following is a partial list of prohibited political activities:  Endorsing or supporting pro-life (or pro-choice) candidates.  Publishing approval ratings of politicians based upon the organization’s objectives.  Support for (or opposition to) any legislation or ballot initiative.  Production or distribution of voter guides.  Any fundraising for or contributing to candidates.

501(c)(3) organizations have been given a privileged tax status.  They have every moral and legal obligation to refrain from violating that status through their elicit participation in the political process.  We need to hold them accountable.

It Is Time for Civil Discourse


Nothing can be accomplished in government today because of the polarization and dysfunction that has gripped our nation.  It seems like those who seek to steer the ship of state would rather sink it than give up their desired course and heading.  How did we get into this mess, and more importantly, how can we get out of it?

This year’s presidential election will be the most vicious that we have ever seen.  The Supreme Court has opened the door wide to unlimited spending by corporations and billionaires, and political action committees (PAC’s).  High priced television ads will assault logic, truth and the senses with their distorted messages hammered at us over and over ad nauseum.

We can no longer discuss issues, agendas, goals, directions, policies or principles.  The political circus has become a mud wrestling match in a hog manure pit. Instead of discussing the issues and policies, campaigning now is all about the politics of personal destruction.  Character assassination is the order of the day.

Instead of solving problems our main concern seems to be in blaming the other side.  This country is in a mess, and there is more than enough blame to go around.  But blaming will not fix the problem.  It will only prolong the conflict, delay the solutions and deny any hope of returning to normalcy.  There was an editorial cartoon after the earthquake that hit Washington in August of 2011.  The cartoon said, “Some Republicans believe that Obama caused it while other Republicans believe that Obama simply failed to prevent it.”

When Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House, he would tell everyone that, “We are all friends here after 5:00pm and on weekends.”  If only we could bring such civility back into our body politic.  O’Neill has a simple rule throughout his whole political life.  He would never finish work without taking someone out to dinner.  And, in his thirty-four years in the House, including ten plus years as Speaker of the House, there were a lot of dinners.

There is no better means of getting to know someone than breaking bread together.  Away from the office and its daily grind, O’Neill could get to know people, their families, their interests, their visions for the nation.  He ate with friends and political foes, the entrenched leadership and the rookies trying to learn the ropes.  He built relationships instead of just accumulating contacts. This is an art that is nearly forgotten.

If only we could return to the days of civil discourse based upon mutual respect and shared values.  We can all disagree about the solutions, but we all can agree that there are problems to be solved, and fighting, blaming, attacking will not help.

Let us talk about the economy, entitlements, social safety nets, education, immigration, tax reform, our military, big government vs. small, federal vs. state powers, guns, medical care, regulation, and personal freedom.  But let us have a civil discourse without the name calling and blame storming that has kept us mired in dysfunction.

Let us learn to listen to those with whom we disagree.  None of us has all the answers.  Let us learn anew the value of compromise.  In a time of unyielding radicalism compromise is the only way to come together.  No one will get everything that she or he wants.  But together we can work on solutions for us all.

Are there any patriots left in politics who will put aside their personal agendas to work for the common good?  Are there any brave women and men who will agree to put aside their mutual animosities to rebuild this great nation

 

 

It’s time to …


Make voting count.

It’s time to dump the Electoral College (January 2011)

The 2012 presidential campaign will soon be underway, if it is not already.  No one wants to see another Electoral College tragedy like the one that occurred in 2000.  George W.  Bush was elected by a handful of votes in Florida that overrode the choice of millions of voters across the country.  In truth, the election was decided by one vote when the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision gave Florida and the election to Bush.

The Electoral College is full of mathematical aberrations which make for unfair elections.  Wyoming has a population of 563,626 and 3 electoral votes, or one electoral vote for every 187,875 people.  California has a population of 37,253,956 and 55 electoral votes, or one electoral vote for every 677,345 people.  Thus the vote of a Wyoming resident counts 3.6 times as much as the vote of a California resident.

The Electoral College system disenfranchises those who vote for the losing parties in each state.  If you are a Republican in California or a Democrat in Texas you need not even bother to vote for president in 2012.  Your vote for president will not even be counted in this winner-take-all system.  The only way to make your vote count is to move your voter registration to a swing state, like Florida, where it just might make a difference.  But such shenanigans are shameful and ought not to be necessary.

The Electoral College made sense in Eighteenth Century America.  Back then America was much like Europe is today.  The European Community is still a collection of nations, even though there is the beginning of a European government. In the Eighteenth Century colonial America was also a collection of nations.  People were Virginians or Georgians or New Yorkers.  No one thought of us as a federation.  In the Eighteenth Century it made sense to vote for the president by states.

The name “The United States of America” comes from the Declaration of Independence.  But what the Declaration of Independence really says is, “… the thirteen united STATES OF AMERICA.”  The emphasis was on the individual states and not on a union.

It was the Civil War that finally fused this collection of states into a nation.  The Spanish American War in 1898 marked the birth of the American superpower, capable of influencing events beyond our borders.

Now in the Twenty-First Century the Electoral College is a dangerous and destructive historical anachronism.  We are one nation and we need to vote as one nation.  The elected president should be the person who commands the most votes regardless of the states in which those votes were cast.

Greg