Friday, October 3, 2008

Confused about American Vice Presidents, and politics in general?


So am I.
Last night, I went to bed with a Michael Connelly book while the debate rambled on in the other room.
Because I think it just doesn't make a difference what I think or even how I will vote.

The electoral college is the formal body, created by the Constitution (Article 2, Section 1), that elects the President of the United States. Each state has as many electors in the electoral college as it has senators and representatives in Congress. When citizens participate in a Presidential election, they are actually voting for electors pledged to vote for their candidate.

The choices have already been made and they all suck.
Before you blast me, understand I am the first to say, I am the most politically dumb person in the world. So, for the sake of my citizenship, I did a little research.

This morning, I read about previous VP's. Most of them I've never heard of.
Alben Barkley Alben W. Barkley
Henry A. Wallace Henry A. Wallace
Charles Curtis Charles Curtis
Charles G. Dawes Charles G. Dawes
George M. Dallas George Dallas

some of them I remember for their multiple faux pas, not their politics and I felt even more like a strung along citizen, like:
Nixon, Agnew, Quayle, Cheney.

All were listed by TIME MAGAZINE as worst Veeps, among others. ( see article here.)


I learned some more.
Listen to this:
In the United States the Vice-President has few formal duties, and the importance of the position relies almost solely on the fact that the holder takes over the Presidency if the incumbent dies, retires, or is impeached; they are ‘a heartbeat away from the presidency’. The Vice-President presides over the Senate, and votes in the case of ties. Presidents have tried to give the Vice-President roles in specific areas of policy, as roving ambassadors, or as heads of ad hoc agencies to deal with domestic issues.

Vice-Presidents are often chosen, not for the qualities they would bring to the administration, but in order to present a ‘balanced ticket’ at the election, broadening the appeal of the presidential campaign. The balance may be geographical—a Southern President choosing a Northern Vice-President—ideological—a conservative being paired with a liberal—or another consideration (e.g. religion, government experience, gender, ethnicity)


okay. now I get Palin and Biden.
Plus, what I read about the electoral college and the way votes are cast which made Cheney move out of Texas, finding a "folksy" gal from far away Alaska makes sense.
(more here about VP job requirements)
Also, know this:
The VP is not automatically President if the President dies or is impeached in office... there is always a back-up plan. The American version of political CYA.

So, if the old white guy dies or someone shoots the green black guy... we may not have ditsy mom or dumb grandpa as president. whew.

I have to say, I was never one of those people who thought the election of a single person or persons would turn a nation around. There are way too many cooks in the White House kitchen for that. Case in point. Bush's recent economic bail-out attempt. See, he's the President of the US of A and it didn't mean squat. Someone wrote the speech he read to us, someone designed the financial plan and proposed it to another group of someones and he and we had nothing to say about any of it.
aside: I love that commercial where the firemen take over the senate and solve all the problems in minutes- on walkie talkies, if only it really worked like that. Imagine what could get done.

So, you ask...All that reading, and what did I learn?
That I still want to retire abroad.
That going to bed with Connelly was a good idea and
that yes, this year's presidential election is just like the one
that happens at my daughter's elementary school every year for Student Council officers.
No matter who runs, how many friends they have, how good their speech and poster is or how much crap they hand out, the kid whose mom works at the school, donates her time or runs the PTA always wins.

And yet, every year they can, I encourage my kids to run for office, to try to make change happen, to rock that mother fucking boat.


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