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LETTER: Obama can't change America on his own

Friday, February 20, 2009 | 12:01 p.m. CST

I feel President Obama wants change. However, he will not be able to obtain much change unless we help him.

As long as members of Congress cater to the wealthy special interest groups by adding so much pork to the bills the president supports that the waste and corruption that our country had under Bush continues, the United States' economy will be pushed further down. All stimulus money bills should have a provision requiring that only American employers and employees be allowed to receive this money. Also, materials used on these jobs should be American produced. However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't want this to happen, which is why it wants Obama and Congress to not extend the e-verify rule that expires on May 21, which helps employers to hire only American workers. The reason for this is so the large corporations can hire cheap labor and in turn kick money to the wealthy special interests in Congress.

In order to give Obama or whoever is president the means to make change, we must make these changes to our political system:

1. Set a term limit for Congress. (With this change, it will have less of a chance of being influenced by the wealthy interest groups.)

2. Begin public financing of presidential and congressional elections with no outside money allowed.

3. Remove paid lobbyists from Congress.

4. Replace the Electoral College with a popular vote.

5. Require all voting machines to have backup paper records.

Please contact Obama and Congress about these items, if you want change. They won't be done unless you do.


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Comments

Ayn Rand February 20, 2009 | 12:24 p.m.

If you replace the Electoral College with a popular vote, the coastal states and Texas will gain even more influence than they already have.

(Report Comment)
susan e February 20, 2009 | 10:45 p.m.

The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and that a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states — that is, a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

Of course, the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely act in concert on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red” states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
● Texas (62% Republican),
● New York (59% Democratic),
● Georgia (58% Republican),
● North Carolina (56% Republican),
● Illinois (55% Democratic),
● California (55% Democratic), and
● New Jersey (53% Democratic).

In addition, the margins generated by the nation’s largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
● Texas — 1,691,267 Republican
● New York — 1,192,436 Democratic
● Georgia — 544,634 Republican
● North Carolina — 426,778 Republican
● Illinois — 513,342 Democratic
● California — 1,023,560 Democratic
● New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 votes for Bush in 2004.

(Report Comment)
susan e February 20, 2009 | 10:45 p.m.

The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

(Report Comment)
susan e February 20, 2009 | 10:46 p.m.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

The National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Miami Herald, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sacramento Bee, The Tennessean, Fayetteville Observer, Anderson Herald Bulletin, Wichita Falls Times, The Columbian, and other newspapers. The bill has been endorsed by Common Cause, Fair Vote, and numerous other organizations.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in Arkansas (80%), California (70%), Colorado (68%), Connecticut (73%), Delaware (75%), Kentucky (80%), Maine (71%), Massachusetts (73%), Michigan (73%), Mississippi (77%), Missouri (70%), New Hampshire (69%), Nebraska (74%), Nevada (72%), New Mexico (76%), New York (79%), North Carolina (74%), Ohio (70%), Pennsylvania (78%), Rhode Island (74%), Vermont (75%), Virginia (74%), Washington (77%), and Wisconsin (71%).

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 23 statelegislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

(Report Comment)

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