Friday, July 22, 2016

Leap-year elections are actually for a lot more than just the president

"The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years, and each Senator shall have one vote."

Article 1, Section 3, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution (later changed by the Seventeenth Amendment from "chosen by the Legislature thereof" to "elected by the people thereof")

The Constitutional Convention, 1787

The elections for the president of the United States of America have always gotten more attention than any other in this country. This is not surprising, given that the presidency is the only office that the entire country can vote on; and as Alexander Hamilton once said, any individual serving as the president, "from the entire circumstance of his being alone, [is] more narrowly watched and more readily suspected" (Source: Federalist No. 70, with an alternate version saying "from the very circumstance of his being alone"). Your typical member of Congress can put the blame for their own actions on someone else, in other words - usually their fellow members of Congress - more easily than the president can, because they are not watched as closely as a single powerful individual (like the president) is. It is thus natural that the elections for the presidency (held every four years) would be watched more closely than any other elections.

Alexander Hamilton

Two-year term for the House of Representatives

Nonetheless, the elections for the United States Congress are still of importance to this country - as is testified by the part of the Constitution about the powers of the Congress (Article 1, Section 8, to be specific; which has 18 clauses in it); so these elections are held more frequently than the elections for the presidency are. The Constitution actually specifies a shorter term of two years for the members of the House of Representatives at the national level. This means that for this house of Congress, in practical terms, the whole lot of them are up for re-election every two years; and not just every four years (as it is for the presidency). I should note that half of these elections for Congress are held simultaneously with the presidential elections, with the ballot being the same one used to vote for the president. The other half of them are held at the midway point between the two presidential elections (hence the popular name that they have of the "midterm elections," since they're in the middle of the four-year term of the president). The next Congressional elections are in the midterm elections of 2018, although the next leap-year elections coincide with the presidential elections of 2020; so if you do want a say in who your Congressman or Congresswoman is, either one could be a great time to get it.

Constitution of the United States of America

Friday, July 8, 2016

A review of “The Men Who Built America” (History Channel)

"The Men Who Built America" is something of a rarity in the world of documentaries, because it is one of the few history programs out there that actually focuses on the private sector. Most history programs focus on either heads-of-state or wars, and there's nothing wrong with this - public-sector history is definitely worthy of study; and it is well that our schools spend so much time teaching it. Nonetheless, there is much of importance that happens in the private sector as well; and our focus on "politics and the military" should not preclude us from talking about these things on occasion, if not frequently.

In that spirit, I set out to talk about this remarkable program; which is one of the few programs that talks sympathetically about the contributions of businessmen. When liberals talk about businessmen at all, it's usually in a negative sense, to paint them as greedy "robber barons" who will stop at nothing to make a buck. Fortunately, however, this show seems far enough to the right that they don't slow down the narrative with inappropriate rants about capitalism, and instead focus on the human story of what happened - showing the considerable accomplishments of these men, while not omitting the more sordid details of how they sometimes went about getting their massive fortunes.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Actually, John Locke DID influence the U. S. Declaration of Independence

"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."

- The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 (first paragraph)

Some have claimed that John Locke didn't have much influence on the Founding Fathers ...

John Locke once wrote an eloquent defense of private property, which liberals enchanted with socialist ideas have long resented. Because of this, there have been some who have claimed that he did not really have much influence on the Founding Fathers of the United States, who are still quite popular in my American homeland.

John Locke

... so it might be helpful to correct the record

Because of this, it seems like it would be worthwhile now to correct the record; and give the evidence that Mr. Locke did indeed have an influence on the Founding Fathers. Most notably, he had a great influence on Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence; and it can be shown that some of the language within it (not to mention the ideas) are a direct borrowing from John Locke.

Thomas Jefferson

Specifically, he influenced the Declaration of Independence, as these quotes will show ...

I will now present the quotes from the Declaration of Independence (which are well-known), followed by the quotes from John Locke's "Second Treatise on Government" (which are lesser-known). These will help to show that not only are the ideas the same, but in some cases, the language is as well.

John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence

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