ECLECTICIST: American Politics
Show Notes & Research
From the Show
Broadcast: 12th June, 2016
Last update: 7th June, 2016
Published: 18th June, 2016
- Read the feedback, notes from the last show
- Begin recording
- Introduction and description of the podcast, goals, modus operandi.
- What An investigation of everything from a British perspective by two brothers (who consider themselves to be relatively normal chaps), one topic at a time.
- Who Geoffrey Campos (engineer and devil’s advocate),
Benjamin de-Campos (designer and believer).
- How Choose a topic of interest, spend a little time researching it, have a discussion then publish the notes - which are available on the site to read along!
- Why The main benefits are the fostering of a greater understanding of the world before we die and hopefully, to prompt further thought and discussion from our listeners.
- The topic we will be discussing in this episode is American Politics
American politics as seen from the UK, particularly during the ‘election season’ (a ‘season’ being a few years), is essentially one big sitcom...Palin, Bush, Gore, hanging chads, God, guns, gays, etc. Not a funny sitcom. There’s a kernel of truth to the BBC’s reporting, but it’s more often ‘Isn’t America dumb? Aren’t we wonderful?’ Living in the United States and seeing how the sausage is made, it’s more complicated than a one-note show with an obnoxious laugh track. America is a big country so you’re bound to have huge swaths of smart people along with equally huge numbers of ignoramuses. The latter is the low-hanging fruit, ripe for UK sensational headlines. That being said, Trump really exists.
What we’re not talking about
- cyclical vomiting syndrome
Each bullet is a talking point. Sub-bullets are topics that may or may not be covered. Usage: Read the bullet and sub-bullets then talk about some or all sub-bullets.
- I voted and what that was like
- podcasters predicted last year - very matter of factly - that ‘no one will be talking about Trump next year’
- Phone calls/texts from my good friend Bernie
- Riff off American/British politics
- Media coverage predominately about personalities - assumes I have background info (which I don’t)
- 1140? Iroquois Constitution. Binding document of laws for 5 tribes of ‘Indigenous American Peoples’.
- 1620 (ish. It was signed before the Gregorian calendar kicked in) Mayflower Compact. First governing document for the settlers of the Plymouth colony.
- 1639 Fundamental Orders. A set of 11 laws ratified in the early Connecticut colonies.
- 1765 Stamp Act. British tax code for the New World colonies. Not popular. Taxes paid directly to England.
- 1773 Boston Tea Party. Dumping of tea into Boston Harbour. Terrorists?
- 1775-1783 Revolutionary War
- 1776 Declaration of Independence. Signed by the ‘Founding Fathers’. First couple of paragraphs:
- The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
- 1787 American Constitution. The set of rules by which America is run.
- 1791 Bill of Rights.
- 1861-1865 Civil War
- 1863 (January) Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln’s ‘free the slaves’ statement.
- ‘That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; …’
- 1863 (November) Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln’s 2 minute soliloquy on an ‘our glorious dead’ theme with the contradiction: ‘...this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…’. Led to the 13th Amendment - the abolition of slavery.
- Anti-monarchist driver
- Voting on Tuesday to allow time to get to polling station
- Legislature - Creation. Congress. Creating laws – senators – the senate and the house. Each state has two senators, but can have loads of representatives. Representatives: discuss.
- Executive - Execution. President and cabinet. Employee more than 4M people.
- Judiciary - Evaluation. Courts. Resolution of disputes – supreme court and all the courts – judges
- Electoral college The means by which the president and vice president are elected to office. US citizens may assume they are voting for the presidential candidate on the ballot paper but in fact, are voting for a proxy who could vote for someone else.
- It's possible to win the popular vote and not win the presidency e.g. in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but Bush totaled more that 270 electoral votes (271).
- There is an electoral college for each state + the District of Columbia - 51 in total.
- Electors vote after the popular vote.
- Virginia plan - representation by population
- New Jersey - plan equal state representation
- The Constitution is hard to change and is increasingly difficult to translate
- System is deliberately complicated and slow
- Original intentions being buried under lawyers
- Presidency has become over valued
- Two party system
- Party and presidential election campaign begins halfway through presidential term
- Enormous cost of the Presidential campaign
- Political dynasties
- Campaign funding, PACs, reform
- 21,995,000 to 12,329,000: Government Employees Outnumber Manufacturing Employees 1.8 to 1 - http://cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/21955000-12329000-government-employees-outnumber-manufacturing
- Oil, American interests
- ‘America first’
- Low Intensity Combat, foreign military bases
- ‘The United States Probably Has More Foreign Military Bases Than Any Other People, Nation, or Empire in History’, ‘While there are no freestanding foreign bases permanently located in the United States, there are now around 800 US bases in foreign countries.’ - The Nation
- Republicans created in 1854 by anti-slavery activists.
- The others
- Thomas Nast, a political cartoonist responsible for both party logos in the 1870s.
- Current presidential election campaign
- The 2016 US Presidential race Culminates on November 8th.
Terminology specific to the topic
- Bill of Rights The first 10 amendments to the Constitution
- Caucus A random word meaning 'a political party party’. Etymologically, it's probably a corruption of another term cf. 'collard greens’ a corruption of colewort.
- Constitution A document that spells out the core rights for the citizens of the US.
- Declaration of Independence Statement of independence from British rule signed by 56 representatives in July 4, 1776
- Delegate A state official of some sort who casts a vote
- Founding Fathers Those who signed the Declaration of Independence
- GOP Republicans. ‘Grand Old Party’
- Gubernatorial The adjective pertaining to a governor
- House of Representatives 435 members, each serve 2 years, each represents a ‘district’ and roughly 700,000 people
- Political Action Committee (PAC) A middle man type organisation that concentrates monetary donations and funds complains for/against candidates/parties
- Presidency Leader of the executive branch and commander-in-chief of national armed forces. 4 year term between general elections, maximum of 2 terms. (Roosevelt served 4.) Elected on the first-ish Tuesday in November by the electoral college system.
- Presidential Nominating Convention A shindig held by each political party where ‘delegates’ vote to elect the presidential candidate.
- Primaries All
- Senate Members serve 6 years
- Super Tuesday Delegates conscribed
- Supreme Court Members serve for life
- Swing state A state that may vote either way between the two main parties. Campaigns spend more time in these communities than elsewhere during the run up to an election.
- Details about site, contacts, next show: Television
- Recording ends, postmortem recording begins
- Add intro music, outro, any editing
From the Show
Notes, corrections and further references
Presidential election cycle (from usa.gov)
- Spring of the year before an election – Candidates announce their intentions to run.
- Summer of the year before an election through spring of the election year – Primary and caucus debates take place.
- January to June of election year – States and parties hold primaries and caucuses.
- July to early September – Parties hold nominating conventions to choose their candidates.
- September and October – Candidates participate in Presidential debates.
- Early November – Election Day
- December – Electors cast their votes in the Electoral College.
- Early January of the next calendar year – Congress counts the electoral votes.
- January 20 – Inauguration Day
US Constitution http://www.usconstitution.net/const.txt
Bill of Rights site http://billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/bill-of-rights/
Declaration of Independence http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html
US Senate http://www.senate.gov/index.htm
US House of Representatives http://www.house.gov/
US Executive https://www.whitehouse.gov/
Federal Judiciary http://www.uscourts.gov/
Republican party web site https://www.gop.com/
Democratic party web site https://www.democrats.org/
Obameter - tracking Obamas election promises http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/
PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida, as is PunditFact, a site devoted to fact-checking pundits. The PolitiFact state sites are run by news organizations that have partnered with the Times. The state sites and PunditFact follow the same principles as the national site.