The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection and resolutions for future improvement. Looking back over the past political year, I think it is important to try to gather the lessons from the recent cycle, and hopefully, improve the process for the future. Here are my thoughts.
We Need Political Foresight
Remember when you were young and you wanted sweets? If unsupervised, you ate and ate and ate sweets until you felt satisfied. However, an hour later you became so miserable you couldn't stand it. Your belly felt like it was swelling and swelling and you became sicker and sicker. Why did this happen? All because you lacked the foresight to understand where a large consumption of sugar was headed. Unfortunately, this seems to the pattern of an alarming number of our fellow citizens. Recently, we held a vote for president. We followed the same process we've had for years. Voters from all 50 states went to the polls to choose electors: they did so and Donald Trump won the majority of those electoral votes, the requirement for being elected president. However, a certain number of people could not accept the results. But I jump ahead. Before we consider this destructive mentality, let's review the process.
The Electoral College came into existence after a long negotiation process at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. In fact, the presidency almost didn't happen, but after debate on several different scenarios, the delegates decided that the states, through the Electoral College, would select the chief executive. One of the reasons for having the states vote in this manner is akin to the reasoning for each state having two senators, the Electoral College gives weight to the smaller states. This became a bedrock principle in the formulation of the Constitution because the smaller population states could easily be overwhelmed if all institutions were to be based on population. The bottom line of the Electoral College became that all states could maintain their influence within the executive selection process. So, this brings up the real question for us; does the Electoral College still perform a vital function? Let's quickly review the process.
There are 538 total electoral votes: 435 for the congressional districts, 100 for the senate seats, and three for the District of Columbia (23rd Amendment). California currently has 11 percent of the U.S. population, but 10 percent of the electoral votes. Therefore, California is weighted slightly less than their actual population when it comes to the Electoral College. However, they still have more votes than states of lesser population. In comparison, California has a population of nearly 39 million, whereas Missouri has slightly more than 6 million. You don't need to be a mathematical genius to realize that Missouri would be overwhelmed in an election based on population, but the president is our president too, so shouldn't we have a say in the selection process? As Missouri cannot compete with California in population, it seems that the Electoral College is representing states just as the Founders intended. However, some people are not satisfied with the process.
After Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump on Nov. 8, her supporters seemed stunned, but that did not last for long. Soon a stream of excuses for the loss hit the media. Finally, the dissatisfied seemed to settle on a scenario where the leaking of emails from Democrat operatives had an undue, negative impact on the election. The solution for this proposed problem led the Hillary supporters to call for an overturn of the vote in the Electoral College.
During the weeks leading up to the Dec. 19 registering of electoral votes, protests were held around the country. Celebrities, in their infinite depth of political knowledge, developed a video lecturing us on the role of the electors and how they should do their duty in light of a moral imperative to pick a qualified candidate. How ironic it is that Hollywood, the land of self-indulgence, would lecture the rest of the country on moral imperatives! However, the absurdity of the scenario is not the worst result of the protests. A system of self-government requires the rule of law. This is a term we often throw around, but seldom take the time to define. In essence, it means that we agree to a set of rules, just as the Pilgrims did with the Mayflower Compact, and we abide by those rules even if they don't always end in results that fit our personal preferences. This is the problem with the activity of the recent protests.
The protestors in Jefferson City, and across the rest of the country including the all-wise celebrities, were asking us to throw aside the rule of law and elect their candidate. They ignore the fact that our system has been in place for over 200 years. This system has lead to the peaceful transfer of power for more than two centuries. Sadly they ignore that this is a set of rules that has worked for us for so many years. By seeking instant gratification in the recent election, these extreme Hillary supporters ignore the instability that would result from overturning the results of our constitutional system. They only know that they want what they want. The craving for candy ignores all reasonable evaluation of the consequences. The resulting problem is that when the belly is miserable, the patient will do almost anything to find relief. With just a bit of thought we realize the real prescription for a cure is the foresight to understand that instant gratification is a road to misery, whereas a renewed respect for moderation and following a proven regimen will allow us to maintain, and pass on, good habits that maintain our heritage of self-government. Sometimes you get the candy, and sometimes you don't, but as adults we should recognize that overindulgence is a dangerous path to undesired consequences.
Celebrating the New Year
Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Many of us know that most New Year's festivities begin on December 31 (New Year's Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year's Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year's foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.
However, each new year was not always celebrated in this way.
The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year's arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon! For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox -- the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness -- heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days!
Throughout ancient times, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. With the passage of time, we have come to celebrate the new year in our own way. This year, we must be sure to keep the tradition alive, have fun but above all be safe!