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Tuesday, 04 November 2008

On being a fly on the wall for the 2008 Presidential Election...

(or Taxation without Representation)

Wow, it's finally over, and best and right man won. I'm very excited and happy with the result.

It has been very interesting being able to observe the entire process from start to finish. All the primaries and caucuses, the protracted battle between Clinton and Obama in the Democratic primaries, the record breaking money Obama raised, the campaigning, the misinformation.

It'll be very interesting to see what the next four years brings. It's an exciting time to be living in America.

California is an interesting state. It has "ballot initiatives". Its constitution can (and has been) amended by essentially referendums whenever there's some other excuse for a vote. Anyone can propose a ballot initiative with sufficient backing by petition. Wikipedia has a good writeup of all of California's propositions. Probably the most controversial one this time around is Proposition 8, which seeks to essentially reverse the same-sex marriage right that the Californian Superior Court ruled on earlier this year.

This concept of ballot initiatives seems to trickle all the way down to the city level, where they're called Measures. San Francisco has some ridiculous number of them this time around. They use letters, and I think they go all the way to V. There's one to rename a sewage treatment plant after George W Bush, there's one to decriminalise prostitution. A co-worker who lives in San Francisco brought the official voter guide book to work with her today. It's about the size of a phone book and about 1.5 centimetres thick. I don't see how it's possible to make an informed decision on everything you're expected to vote on, when there's that much reading.

The observation I've made is that Americans seem to have an inherent distrust of their governments, so that's why so many bits of it are directly elected by the people. Judges are voted for, county sheriffs are voted for. You vote for your school board. It seems like very few positions of any power are appointed by someone.

Coming from Australia, where it's really the opposite, I'm not sure what I think is better. I think I like the simplicity of the Australian system. You vote for someone, and you essentially delegate power to and place trust in them.

[22:38] [life/americania] [permalink]