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Tag Archives: 2012

“Hot in my backyard” – This American Life – Video Blog

MAY 17, 2013
After years of being stuck, the national conversation on climate change finally started to shift — just a little — last year, the hottest year on record in the U.S., with Hurricane Sandy flooding the New York subway, drought devastating Midwest farms, and California and Colorado on fire. Lots of people were wondering if global warming had finally arrived, here at home. This week, stories about this new reality.

Source: ThisAmericanLife.org

More about Nolan Doesken

AASC President (2008-2010)temp
Colorado State Climatologist and Senior Research Associate
Director, Fort Collins Weather Station
nolan@atmos.colostate.edu
970-491-3690 (phone)
970-491-3314 (fax)
Location Annex A 201

Source: Colorado Climate Center

More About Bob Inglis

tempRobert Durden “Bob” Inglis, Sr. (born October 11, 1959) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 4th congressional district from 1993 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party. Inglis was defeated in the Republican primary in June 2010. In July 2012, Inglis launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, a nationwide public engagement campaign promoting conservative and free-enterprise solutions to energy and climate challenges. E&EI is based out of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and is working to build support for energy policies that are true to conservative principles of limited government, accountability, reasonable risk-avoidance, and free enterprise.

Source: Wikipedia.org

More about “The Energy and Enterprise Initiative

The Energy and Enterprise Initiative (E&EI) is a campaign to unleash the power of free enterprise to deliver the fuels of the future.

America needs a long-term, stable energy policy to achieve energy security and avoid the unnecessary risks of a changing climate. E&EI promotes conservative alternatives to big-government mandates and fickle tax incentives: set the economics right and get the government out of the way.

Conservatives can take the lead on energy and climate by embracing solutions that are true to conservative principles. Conservatism is not about passing problems and costs down to the next generations; conservatives want to solve problems efficiently while protecting liberty. E&EI is a campaign rooted in conservative principles.

Source: Energy and Enterprise.com

More About Bill McKibben

tempBill McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him ‘the planet’s best green journalist’ and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was ‘probably the country’s most important environmentalist.’ Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, he holds honorary degrees from a dozen colleges, including the Universities of Massachusetts and Maine, the State University of New York, and Whittier and Colgate Colleges. In 2011 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Bill grew up in suburban Lexington, Massachusetts. He was president of the Harvard Crimson newspaper in college. Immediately after college he joined the New Yorker magazine as a staff writer, and wrote much of the “Talk of the Town” column from 1982 to early 1987. He quit the magazine when its longtime editor William Shawn was forced out of his job, and soon moved to the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.

His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 by Random House after being serialized in the New Yorker. It is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has been printed in more than 20 languages. Several editions have come out in the United States, including an updated version published in 2006.

His next book, The Age of Missing Information, was published in 1992. It is an account of an experiment: McKibben collected everything that came across the 100 channels of cable tv on the Fairfax, Virginia system (at the time among the nation’s largest) for a single day. He spent a year watching the 2,400 hours of videotape, and then compared it to a day spent on the mountaintop near his home. This book has been widely used in colleges and high schools, and was reissued in a new edition in 2006.

Subsequent books include Hope, Human and Wild, about Curitiba, Brazil and Kerala, India, which he cites as examples of people living more lightly on the earth; The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation, which is about the Book of Job and the environment; Maybe One, about human population; Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously, about a year spent training for endurance events at an elite level; Enough, about what he sees as the existential dangers of genetic engineering; Wandering Home, about a long solo hiking trip from his current home in the mountains east of Lake Champlain in Ripton, Vermont back to his longtime neighborhood of the Adirondacks.

In March 2007 McKibben published Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. It addresses what the author sees as shortcomings of the growth economy and envisions a transition to more local-scale enterprise.

In late summer 2006, Bill helped lead a five-day walk across Vermont to demand action on global warming that some newspaper accounts called the largest demonstration to date in America about climate change. Beginning in January 2007 he founded stepitup07.org to demand that Congress enact curbs on carbon emissions that would cut global warming pollution 80 percent by 2050. With six college students, he organized 1,400 global warming demonstrations across all 50 states of America on April 14, 2007. Step It Up 2007 has been described as the largest day of protest about climate change in the nation’s history. A guide to help people initiate environmental activism in their community coming out of the Step It Up 2007 experience entitled Fight Global Warming Now was published in October 2007 and a second day of action on climate change was held the following November 3.

March 2008 saw the publication of The Bill McKibben Reader, a collection of 44 essays written for various publications over the past 25 years.

Bill is a frequent contributor to various magazines including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone, and Outside. He is also a board member and contributor to Grist Magazine.

Bill has been awarded Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships, and won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000. He has honorary degrees from Green Mountain College, Unity College, Lebanon Valley College and Sterling College.

Bill currently resides with his wife, writer Sue Halpern, and his daughter, Sophie, who was born in 1993, in Ripton, Vermont. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College.

Source: Bill McKibben.com

Compiled By: Josh Martin
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Unlikely stars emerge from Super Bowl ads – Video Blog

The little-known actors and actresses who star in Super Bowl commercials have one chance to make a career move after their brief but massive moments of fame. Some do. Some don’t.

Besides the endless hype, one thing, for sure, emerged from Sunday night’s Super Bowl commercials: unlikely stars.

Such as the pudgy geek who locks lips with the Go Daddy supermodel.

Or the super-friendly, super-happy white dude who fast-talks Jamaican dialect for Volkswagen.

Or the sexy robot who beats the stuffing out of the guy who touches her Kia.
Source: USA Today

About the “Space Babies” Commercial:

Kias Space BabiesFeaturing an awkward “birds and bees” conversation between a curious son and his side-stepping dad, KIA’s Super Bowl “Space Babies” ad has all the trappings of a viral smash.
Mixing sci-fi elements with tongue-in-cheek storytelling, the ad — one of the more elaborate narrative ads of Game Day — stars cute babies and baby animals galore.
Source: Huffington Post

About the “Hotbots” Commercial:

Hotbots Kia Super BowlKia made a statement with its Super Bowl ad for the 2014 Forte with a little help from former Miss USA Alyssa Campanella and a handsy, disrespectful media reporter.
The futuristic Forte is unveiled at a media event by a group of sexy cyborgs born from the likeness of Campanella as a slovenly news writer smears his greasy paws all over the vehicle’s pristine body. The cyborg unleashes a fury of quick strikes that send the reporter flying from the pedestal as she offers him a warning to “respect the tech.”

It’s probably safe to say he’ll never make that same mistake twice.
Source: Huffington Post
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
 

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Kia Becomes a Time Machine in Run Up To Super Bowl Commercial


Kia Becomes a Time Machine in New Ads With Blake Griffin
By STUART ELLIOTT
temp2A child actor appears as the basketball star Blake Griffin circa 1995 in a commercial for Kia in a campaign that features Mr. Griffin and debuts as the N.B.A. 2012-13 season begins. A child actor appears as the basketball star Blake Griffin circa 1995 in a commercial for Kia in a campaign that features Mr. Griffin and debuts as the N.B.A. 2012-13 season begins.

In basketball, traveling violates the rules. But in advertising, sending a basketball star on a time-traveling odyssey, inside the sponsor’s product, makes for clever commercials.

In a humorous campaign, Kia Motors America and its agency, David & Goliath, are reteaming with Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers for a series of commercials in which the basketball star drives a Kia Optima sedan as if it were a time machine.

The campaign is to begin on Tuesday, to coincide with the start of the 2012-13 National Basketball Association season. The 2013 Kia Optima is the “official vehicle of the N.B.A.”

The commercials feature Mr. Griffin using the Uvo voice-activated entertainment and information system inside his Kia Optima to send him back to different years from 1995 to the early 2000s.

The years, it turns out, are his “Wonder Years,” to borrow the title of the TV series, in that in each commercial Mr. Griffin meets a young actor playing a younger version of himself.
Blake Griffin in the Kia advertisement. Blake Griffin in the Kia advertisement.

For instance, in the first spot Mr. Griffin asks to go back to 1995 and Uvo summons up the song “This Is How We Do It” from that year. He meets up with a version of himself who, based on his birth date in 1989, is about 6 years old.

“Who are you?” the child asks Mr. Griffin, who replies, “You, from the future.” The child wonders if Mr. Griffin’s Optima is his spaceship, to which the grown-up replies, “No, it’s way better.”

temp2Then, in a dig at Mr. Griffin’s reputation for having problems with free throws, he advises the youngster to “practice your free throws.” On parting, Mr. Griffin takes a shot — and misses.

The Kia association with Mr. Griffin began when he dunked over a Kia Optima at the 2011 N.B.A. All-Star Game.

Sports and music are two of the four pillars of the Kia brand’s outreach to its target audience, along with popular culture and what the company calls the “connected life” — that is, technology like Uvo.

“The immediate impact” that Mr. Griffin had “on our brand was incredible,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president for marketing and communications at Kia Motors America in Irvine, Calif., and “proved to be very successful with the N.B.A. fan.”

“We felt we needed to do it again,” he added.

Mr. Griffin’s family provided images of him as a child to make it easier to cast the children in the commercials, Mr. Sprague said, and “within hours” of the casting calls getting under way in Los Angeles and New York, “we had some great people to represent him.”

A different child portrays Mr. Griffin in the second commercial, which is set in 1997 and uses the song “How Bizarre.” In that spot, Mr. Griffin encounters the younger version of himself playing football with friends.

“Wrong sport,” he tells the child, kicking the football far away. He also offers the junior Blake some fashion advice: “Stop wearing jean shorts. Just trust me.”

There will be three additional spots, Mr. Sprague said, to be released periodically as the N.B.A. season progresses. The five spots will run on networks like ABC, ESPN and TNT as well as on the Kia channel on YouTube.

temp2Although football may be the wrong sport in the commercial set in 1997, it is the right genre for Kia advertising, at least when it comes to the Super Bowl. Kia has announced it would return as a Super Bowl sponsor, buying time during Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013.

Although Mr. Sprague declined to talk about what the Super Bowl spot will be about, he did rule out a couple of possibilities. It will not be a commercial featuring Mr. Griffin, he said, nor, as of now, will it be a spot with the popular hip-hop hamster characters for the Kia Soul.

SOURCE: New York Times
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Automotive, sports

 

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American Voting History

Regardless of you political opinion, it’s extremely important that you vote. Knowing your history is the best way to predict the future. In the spirit of voting and democracy, I’ve provided a brief history of the American voting process. If you’re not a history buff, just watch the video and VOTE!

Video Produced By: Rock The Vote

Voting in Early America

Written By: Ed Crews
Published By: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Election day brings, from left, Colonial Williamsburg interpreters Dan Moore, Jay Howlett, Star Galloway, Barbara Tyler, Phil Shultz, Tom Hay, Jack Flintom, Lyndon Howlett, Greg James, Alex Clark, John Needre, Christine Diffel, and Hope Smith to the Courthouse steps.

Election day brings, from left, Colonial Williamsburg interpreters Dan Moore, Jay Howlett, Star Galloway, Barbara Tyler, Phil Shultz, Tom Hay, Jack Flintom, Lyndon Howlett, Greg James, Alex Clark, John Needre, Christine Diffel, and Hope Smith to the Courthouse steps. Requirements shifted by place and time, but in the eighteenth century, the right to cast a vote belonged largely to white, male property holders. Even John Adams, in 1776, opposed broadening the franchise.
First order of business at Jamestown was the 1607 council president election.

First order of business at Jamestown was the 1607 council president election. Shown here, in the church at Jamestown, colonists gathered for the first representative body in the western hemisphere, the House of Burgesses, in 1619. Darin Tschopp reads the ballots.
Liquid cheer, in the pursuit of votes, was supplied by candidates on election day.

Liquid cheer, in the pursuit of votes, was supplied by candidates on election day. From left, interpreters Shultz, Flintom, Smith, Needre, Moore, Lyndon Howlett, James, Galloway, Tyler, and Jay Howlett gather round the keg.
William Hogarth’s Election series unmasks the follies of democracy.

William Hogarth’s Election series unmasks the follies of democracy. A tub full of beer made sober political judgment hard to come by in An Election Entertainment.
In William Hogarth’s Canvassing for Votes, a farmer is besieged by Whig and Tory solicitations.

In William Hogarth’s Canvassing for Votes, a farmer is besieged by Whig and Tory solicitations.
In William Hogarth’s The Polling, candidates argue to the side as collegians of the asylum surge in to cast ballots.

In William Hogarth’s The Polling, candidates argue to the side as collegians of the asylum surge in to cast ballots.
A manic fiddler leads the victory lap for a Tory candidate, surrounded by a free-for-all of pigs and pugilists, in William Hogarth’s Chairing the Members.

A manic fiddler leads the victory lap for a Tory candidate, surrounded by a free-for-all of pigs and pugilists, in William Hogarth’s Chairing the Members.
Tom Hay, as the sheriff, posts notice of an upcoming election.

Tom Hay, as the sheriff, posts notice of an upcoming election.
English jurist William Blackstone, in Gainsborough’s 1774 portrait, thought the temptations of bribery too great for the poor and supported property requirements for voters.

English jurist William Blackstone, in Gainsborough’s 1774 portrait, thought the temptations of bribery too great for the poor and supported property requirements for voters.
On election day, candidates gave refreshments to all voters, friendly and hostile, in the attempt to win favor at this and the next polling

On election day, candidates gave refreshments to all voters, friendly and hostile, in the attempt to win favor at this and the next polling. Shultz, Tyler, Needre, Moore, Flintom, and James conduct business and greet neighbors during the day of voting.

Among the first things the Jamestown voyagers did when they set up English America’s first permanent settlement was conduct an election. Nearly as soon as they landed—April 26, 1607, by their calendar—the commanders of the 105 colonists unsealed a box containing a secret list of seven men picked in England to be the colony’s council and from among whom the councilors were to pick a president. Captain John Smith, reporting from Jamestown, wrote that about eighteen days later, “arriving at the place where wee are now seated, the Counsell was sworne, the President elected, which for that yeare was Maister Edw. Maria Wingfield.”

Because Smith was at first denied his seat on suspicion of concealing a mutiny, six men—less than 6 percent of the population—participated in the choice of President Wingfield. From such moments in early American history, when the franchise was limited to a special few, grew the vote’s extension to broader ranks of individuals with a stake in their government. Derived from English practice, and refined by American experience, from them evolved our belief in the ballot and our ideas about who is entitled to cast one.

Those beliefs and ideas we have reexported to such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. What may become of those endeavors, time will tell. As we wait to see, we might recall that Americans have been experimenting with representative government for 400 years and are still tinkering with the mechanics. As Hofstra University law professor Grant M. Hayden put it in the Oxford Companion to American Law: “The history of voting in the United States has not been characterized by a smooth and inexorable progress toward universal political participation. It has instead been much messier, littered with periods of both expansion and retraction of the franchise with respect to many groups of potential voters.”

The first representative assembly in English America convened in Jamestown’s church July 30, 1619, with two burgesses from each of Virginia’s twenty-one plantations and corporations. From the 1600s to the 1700s, the republican approach to polity spread along the seaboard and developed. By the mid-1700s, Hayden wrote, representative government had become a tradition in the thirteen colonies that became the United States. Voting was commonplace, though not uniform. Each colony pursued its methods, policies, restrictions, and exceptions. But, by modern standards, the right to vote in colonial America was narrow, and there were fewer opportunities for its exercise.

Before the Revolution, colonists generally did not vote for their governors—the chief executives of what they thought of as their countries. The English king appointed most governors, though there were exceptions. Connecticut and Rhode Island voters elected governors. Many colonists did not choose their local officials. Some governors, like Virginia’s, appointed justices of the peace, sheriffs, coroners, and clerks. Some towns in such colonies as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, however, had local elections.

Colonists could vote for legislators to the lower house of their assemblies. In 1730, the number of those legislators ranged from seventeen in New Hampshire to ninety-one in Massachusetts. Legislatures tended to pass few laws. Their greatest power was their power to tax. Governors needed colonial politicians to provide funds for their initiatives, government administration, and their salaries.

Typically, white, male property owners twenty-one or older could vote. Some colonists not only accepted these restrictions but also opposed broadening the franchise. Duke University professor Alexander Keyssar wrote in The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States:

At its birth, the United States was not a democratic nation—far from it. The very word “democracy” had pejorative overtones, summoning up images of disorder, government by the unfit, even mob rule. In practice, moreover, relatively few of the nation’s inhabitants were able to participate in elections: among the excluded were most African Americans, Native Americans, women, men who had not attained their majority, and white males who did not own land.

John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and later president, wrote in 1776 that no good could come from enfranchising more Americans:

Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.

Colonial Voting restrictions reflected eighteenth-century English notions about gender, race, prudence, and financial success, as well as vested interest. Arguments for a white, male-only electorate focused on what the men of the era conceived of as the delicate nature of women and their inability to deal with the coarse realities of politics, as well as convictions about race and religion. African Americans and Native Americans were excluded, and, at different times and places, the Protestant majority denied the vote to Catholics and Jews. In some places, propertied women, free blacks, and Native Americans could vote, but those exceptions were just that. They were not signs of a popular belief in universal suffrage.

Property requirements were widespread. Some colonies required a voter to own a certain amount of land or land of a specified value. Others required personal property of a certain value, or payment of a certain amount of taxes. Examples from 1763 show the variety of these requirements. Delaware expected voters to own fifty acres of land or property worth £40. Rhode Island set the limit at land valued at £40 or worth an annual rent of £2. Connecticut required land worth an annual rent of £2 or livestock worth £40.

Such requirements tended to delay a male colonist’s entry into the voter ranks until he was settled down and established. They reflected the belief that freeholders, as property owners were called, had a legitimate interest in a community’s success and well-being, paid taxes and deserved a voice in public affairs, had demonstrated they were energetic and intelligent enough to be trusted with a role in governance, and had enough resources to be independent thinkers not beholden to the wealthiest class. English jurist William Blackstone wrote in the 1700s:

The true reason of requiring any qualification, with regard to property, in voters, is to exclude such persons as are in so mean a situation that they are esteemed to have no will of their own. If these persons had votes, they would be tempted to dispose of them under some undue influence or other. This would give a great, an artful, or a wealthy man, a larger share in elections than is consistent with general liberty.

Colonies also restricted opportunities to serve in their legislatures. Immediately before the Revolution, five insisted on significant property requirements for officeholders. But candidates tended to be wealthy anyway.

By twenty-first-century standards, colonial assemblies did not conduct much business. They passed few bills and dealt with a narrow range of issues. They tended to linger, however. Legislative sessions lasted weeks, sometimes months. Tradesmen, merchants, and owners of small and medium farms could not afford to neglect work for extended periods. The wealthy could.

Holding office yielded few immediate benefits and some real costs. Men ran for office from a sense of duty and the prestige associated with a legislative seat.

Colonial elections little resembled today’s. Election intervals often were irregular. Governors called for polls whenever they seemed necessary—though Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, for example, conducted them annually. Sheriffs posted notices of elections in prominent places throughout their bailiwicks. On the appointed day, voters traveled to a courthouse to cast their ballots.

Campaigning by candidates was different from today’s. There were no mass media or advertising. Candidates talked with voters in person, walking a line between undue familiarity and aloofness. Prospective officeholders were expected to be at the polls on election day and made a point to greet all voters. Failure to appear or to be civil to all could be disastrous. In some areas, candidates offered voters food and drink, evenhandedly giving “treats” to opponents as well as supporters.

Some highborn Virginians thought meeting the electorate and making campaign promises were demeaning. In 1776, Robert Wormeley Carter lost an election. His father said his son was defeated even though he had “kissed the of the people and very seriously accommodated himself to others.”

Elections often provided an excuse for people to visit neighbors and to conduct business. Behavior was not so restrained as today. A visitor who arrived by stagecoach on election day 1778 at the courthouse in Virginia’s Hanover County wrote:

The moment I alighted, a wretched pug-nosed fellow assailed me, to swap watches. I had hardly shaken him off, when I was attacked by a wild Irishman, who insisted on my “swapping horses” with him; and, in a twinkling ran up the pedigree of his horse to the grand-dam. Treating his importunity with little respect, I was near being involved in a boxing match, the Irishman swearing that I did not “rate him like a jintleman.”

Diversions aside, the main election-day business was to vote. A few colonies, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, and North Carolina, employed some form of ballot. Others, like Virginia, relied on public voice votes, an English tradition. Voice voting made ballot counts harder to rig and, cast in the presence of friends, neighbors, local officials, and candidates, left no doubt about a voter’s intention. In Virginia, voice voting was a spectator event, every voter occupying center stage for a few moments. In his book Gentlemen Freeholders: Political Practices in Washington’s Virginia, Charles S. Sydnor wrote:

As each freeholder came before the sheriff, his name was called out in a loud voice, and the sheriff inquired how he would vote. The freeholder replied by giving the name of his preference. The appropriate clerk then wrote down the voter’s name, the sheriff announced it as enrolled, and often the candidate for whom he had voted arose, bowed, and publicly thanked him.

Apparently, voter turnout usually was low. Voting, especially in rural areas, took effort. Voters might have to travel a long distance to a courthouse and sometimes paid for food and lodging. The effort and expense, coupled with lost time from shops, inns, and farms, meant some men stayed at home election day.

The Revolutionary War stimulated a desire for reform. Advocates of change said that the conflict was about liberty and representation. They believed in a voting system that embodied those aims for more people. Debates were most intense between 1776 and the adoption of the federal Constitution. The range of disputes was too vast and too complex to cover in depth in this space. The chief concerns, however, focused on extending voting rights to veterans, the implications of a broader electorate, and the validity of property requirements. Property requirements seemed to attract the most attention. They came under attack almost as soon as the Revolution began.

Benjamin Franklin lampooned them when he wrote:

Today a man owns a jackass worth 50 dollars and he is entitled to vote; but before the next election the jackass dies. The man in the mean time has become more experienced, his knowledge of the principles of government, and his acquaintance with mankind, are more extensive, and he is therefore better qualified to make a proper selection of rulers—but the jackass is dead and the man cannot vote. Now gentlemen, pray inform me, in whom is the right of suffrage? In the man or in the jackass?

Property restrictions gradually disappeared in the nineteenth century. Tax-paying requirements replaced property ownership, though they too waned after the 1820s. By the 1850s, most economic barriers to voting had disappeared.

Some Americans hoped the Constitution would clarify, unify, and perhaps expand voting rights nationally. It did not. Hayden wrote: “Under the constitution, then, the breadth of the right to vote for both state and national elections was fixed by state law. And at the time of ratification, this meant that many people—including most women, African Americans, Native Americans and propertyless white men—could not vote.”

By not addressing the suffrage issue more broadly, the Constitution’s authors fostered a long-running battle over voting rights. This struggle lasted well into the twentieth century, forming a focal point for the civil rights and women’s rights movements.

Twenty-first century perspectives on the restrictiveness of early American voting ideas miss a point. By eighteenth-century standards, Americans enjoyed considerable voting rights, according to Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, a University of Virginia history professor specializing in the Revolutionary period.

The 1700s were the time of absolute monarchs in continental Europe. Centuries of skillful political maneuvering by kings had concentrated power in their hands at the expense of their subjects. “All European countries had something like a parliament at some time, but, these began to disappear in the late Middle Ages through the early modern period,” O’Shaughnessy said in an interview. “These groups lost control of the power to tax. Kings found ways to tax without calling an elective body.”

Britain was an exception. Parliament retained the power to tax, ensuring elections and representative government. British voting practices, however, tended to be unfair, uneven, corrupt, and far more restrictive than America’s. Some towns and cities, for example, could not vote, and growing urban areas went underrepresented, though rural areas with declining population retained parliamentary seats. This system, created in the medieval period, remained unchanged in the 1700s. It begged for reform, which came in 1832.

So by comparison, America with its voting imperfections offered a broad-minded and healthy attitude toward the franchise. O’Shaughnessy also argues that representative government and its voting practices served America well in the post-Revolutionary period.

“One reason that the United States was stable after the war was that it did not need to revamp its system of government, and the men in charge had experience in governing,” he said. “This made the country far more stable than places that did not have this tradition and later went through dozens of constitutions and revolutions. In short, when it came to government and voting, Americans had a model to build on.”

Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in current events, History, Video Blog

 

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