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Remembering Walter Wakelin      Phydeaux Speaks!

Phydeaux Speaks
February 2001

I must begin, loyal readers, by apologizing for my extended absence.

When last we spoke, I was extolling the virtues of living in the woods.

Since then, I have been Thoreau-ly entranced. I have also been amazed and stunned. Nature has entranced me, the seeming return of old weather patterns (as evidenced by the pre-winter snowfalls) has amazed me, and the American political system has stunned me.

I don't know exactly why, but each new fall season I experience seems to be the most beautiful ever. I suppose it's because I always see it from a new angle (metaphysically speaking). This year was a brief but intense color show. I watched the fall colors move down the mountainside, at times almost visibly so. I observed many small animals preparing for the coming cold weather in their helter-skelter way.

It was as though I could hear the squirrels saying, "Oh, my god, do I have enough yet?"

And so, I began preparing myself. It's a good thing that I did prepare, for much earlier than I expected snow began falling from the sky. I may be in the minority here, but I think that a snow-blanketed vista is the most beautiful. I often picture, in the back of my mind, the old farmhouse nestled back in the valley deep in the mountains, smoke curling from the chimney and a full moon causing the snow-covered fields to sparkle. Add a good hill and a Flexible Flyer and I'm in heaven - as long as my Mom is waiting inside with a steaming mug of hot chocolate.

And, of course, there was election month 2000, a.k.a. the Democracy Debacle. American's shining moment on the world stage. "Look, Earth," we cried, "this is how democracy works!" The world watched breathlessly as we performed the Academy Award-winning 4th grade hall monitor election of all time.

As I said, the world watched breathlessly, first in suspense, then in stitcehs as the dead heat devolved into all out warfare (couched in legalese). The Republicans held firm to their beliefs. They reasoned that even the framers of the Constitution did their best to covertly eliminate the power of the masses ("the common man doesn't know enough to cast an enlightened vote"), so, why should this year's voting irregularities be of any more concern than any in the past?

Meanwhile, the Democrats chanted their mantras and said, "Yes, we agree that the system has always been screwy. This is a good opportunity to correct a constitutional wrong."

And actually, the Constitution gives the states the power to delegate electors. It was the decisions of the various state houses (notably the "winner takes all" policies) that precipitated the crisis.

If political parties, at a state level, had not set up such a ridiculous, non-representational method, the outcome of the election would have been immediately clear. The most votes nationwide, taken as a whole, determines the winner. What a radical concept! I get more votes; I win!?!?

It can't be that simple... can it?

Two hundred plus years after the Federalist Papers, one hundred thiry plus years after Appomattox Courthouse, and Federal versus States' Rights is still being hotly contested.

So, there was no decision and we had one candidate pouting (Dubya at his ranch "resting" in seclusion) and the other cyring "He cheated!" and both of them throwing temper tantrums (the multitude of legal challenges).

We should have disqualified them both and given the job to Ralph Nader (as the next highest vote getter)...

Some corrections that can be made before the next Presidential election, but probably won't be:

1) Change, in the state houses, the way electors are allotted. If a candidate receives 30% of the vote, the candidate receives 30% of the state's electors. I realize that this is a difficult concept, but think about it for a minute. In addition, add one "at large" elector, so the total will be an odd number, which will eliminate the possibility of a tie.

2) Draft a law stating that all election boards and precinct workers must be apolitical, non-voting people. This country is overflowing with such people. As a national punishment, or in lieu of jury duty, the penalty for not being involved in the process is to have to count the votes. This way, there would be no partisanship involved in the counting process.

3) As an alternative to number 2, contract the entire vote counting process out to the Swiss. They've been neutral for half a millennia.

As for myself, I am considering a move to Canada, if the Candians will have me.

See ya.

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