It’s been my ambition for some time now to dedicate a series to explaining American politics to our substantial audience of non-Americans. While this blog is comprised 50% of Canadians (our frosty neighbors north of the wall), the simple fact of the matter is that the land-the-free has long been the front line of culture war. What happens here affects the rest of the globe.
With the already hotly contested primaries underway and prospects for the 2016 election being widely debated, what better time could there be than now to explain just why it is that we the people are fundamentally screwed.
Let me break it down here.
I. The Person Who Wins Isn’t Always The Person Who Gets Elected
In spite of our praise for democracy, the American republic does not have a one-man-one-vote policy. Every four years, there’s a decent chance that the candidate with the most votes will still lose to his opponent.
See, we have something called the “electoral college”- a staggeringly complex system that not even this succinct TED video can completely cover. At its simplest, the system boils down to states having “points” assigned to them on the basis of their populations and number of congressmen and senators.
This system means that a political candidate doesn’t necessarily have to get a massive number of people to vote for him- just a majority. So long as he or she gets that majority, no matter how slim, they still takes away as many “points” as if they had won a landslide.
What that means is that a person can get elected president in spite of his or her opponent getting more actual votes. Just look at this image below:
While the majority of votes cast in this example are blue, red still wins by virtue of this system. While supposedly protecting states with smaller populations (preventing them from being drowned out by heavily populated states), the result is that a person’s vote can very well be rendered utterly pointless. Plenty of folks simply don’t even bother voting, especially in states dominated by one party. Alternatively, states with greater electoral power (more points, that is) and a habit of swinging between parties (Ohio and Florida, most famously) get disproportionate amounts of attention.
In spite of being viciously despised by folks on both sides of the political spectrum, there’s really very little hope for any reform on this point. While part of that can be blamed on tradition, plenty of it also boils down to a little thing called- Continue reading
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Tagged 4th congressional district, America, American, Ben Carson, Canada, Canadian, citizens united, democrat, elections, electoral college, explained, foreign, gerrymandering, house of cards season 2, Illinois, international, Nebraska, non-americans, pac, politics, popular vote, primary, redistricting, regulation, superpac, system, vote, voting
By request, this Shame Day is going to be a triple-feature, with three of the most insidious corporations out there out in the stocks. Now I’m currently boycotting all three of these companies (and have been for some time) and made banning them from campus the priority of my college activism. That’s all just to say that I’ve had a long time to build and hone my venomous rage and hatred of both these companies, so buckle up- this is going to be vicious one.
Let’s start with Nike.
Even the mildest of the companies many, many offenses is still pretty vile. Take a look at this ad Nike ran back in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics:
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GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen, good evening
KAT: Greetings fellows!
GORDON: This is Gordon of Evan and Gordon Talk, and with me tonight is Kat- filling for Evan who is wandering the Canadian wilderness naked in a desperate bid to find himself.
KAT: We all wish you good luck Evan, beware of bears.
GORDON: Our subject for this evening’s discussion is regulation (primarily of the food and beverage industry, though the subject obviously spans far more than that). Continue reading
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Tagged America, anarchist group, Barber, BP, california, Canada, capitalism, Clarence Thomas, Dumpster Diving, Famer, farm, farming, FDA, food and beverage industry, Food Not Bombs, government, Homeless, law, legal, MMA, Monsanto, Raisin Committee, regulation, USDA
Many people were introduced to the concept of Human Trafficking via the movie Taken where Bryan Mills’ (played by Liam Neeson) daughter is kidnapped and groomed for prostitution and he has to save her by killing everyone who has an accent.
Around the same time I watched the movie Taken I read a book called Invisible Chains by Benjamin Perrin. The book is a well documented account of Perrin’s investigation into human trafficking in Canada, an investigation that began internationally but ended up in his own backyard when he was “shocked to learn of a case of human trafficking in his hometown.” The book delves into several specific cases, and by specific, I mean horrific: “a 14-year-old from Ontario sold for sex on Craigslist; young women from the war-torn Congo and Colombia trafficked to brothels and massage parlours in Canada; a 21-year-old from Alberta who went missing in Las Vegas in 2006.”
Posted in Canada, Europe, morality, politics, sex
Tagged abolitionists, Canada, Culture, decriminalization, feminism, human trafficking, Invisible Chains, legalization, morality, Nordic Law, politics, prostitution, Red Umbrella, regulation, regulation model, sex, sex trade, sex work, sex workers' rights, Taken, victimization, Violence
EVAN: So our good friend Stew mentioned something that I should have when we first did this talk, and it has to do with second-hand smoking.
It’s something I should have mentioned because when I was in middle school a man with a hole in his throat showed up to talk to us; he’d had lung cancer and never smoked a day in his life, just been married to a woman who did often.
GORDON: I’m not going to deny the danger of second hand smoke. However, as the man you mentioned does demonstrate, for that to you happen you have to be exposed to second hand smoke in huge volumes for massive periods of time.
You can’t stand down wind of a smoker one sunny spring day and then BOOM- cancer. Besides, with the vicious regulation we have today, you can go pretty much anywhere and not have to deal with it; smokers can only really smoke in a few places. Continue reading
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GORDON: Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em, folks, this Wednesday Evan and I will be discussing our culture and smoking.
EVAN: This is largely due to us not putting up the poll until days after the last E> was posted, but what are you going to do.
GORDON: I will I take responsibility for this. But back to the topic at hand-
No one here is going to make the argument that smoking is good for you. But speaking as someone who occasionally enjoys a pipe or a cigar and the like, I can’t help but feel there’s a ridiculous amount of discrimination against smokers in our society.
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Tagged America, anti smoking ad, Canada, cancer, carcinogen, cigar, cigarette, cigarette butts, drugs, enforcement, family smoking prevention and tobacco control act, fat, graphic warning, health, krokodil, law, Marlboro, morbid obesity, obese, obesity, regulation, smoking, smoking ad, surgeon general warning, Thailand, tobacco