Integrity of the Political System Prerequisite for Freedom – The Affirmation Spot for Friday January 11, 2008

Touchscreen Voting MachineIt is not my intention to write on the subject of politics so regularly on this blog. The primary focus of The Affirmation Spot is positive thinking and motivation.

However, what is happening in our political system does have a huge impact on our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren. To remain silent and not try be a voice for proactive positive change, seems not an option. 

The freedom to choose our own government representatives is a rare thing in human history. The process should be something we cherish, something motivating not demotivating.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich announced this morning his intention to call for a formal recount of the Democratic primary in New Hampshire. The Kucinich move follows that of Albert Howard, a minor but principled candidate on the Republican side, who initiated the process in that party yesterday.

Both men and a growing number of Americans are concerned about the integrity of the voting system and the specific results in Tuesday’s 2008 New Hampshire primary. After the 2000 election and the spectacle of hanging chads in Florida, the federal government funded a program to replace all non-electroinic voting methods with electronic machines. That program is still underway, but has been rolled out to most non-rural precincts nationwide.

Despite concerns by technology experts, privacy advocates, and other concerned citizens many of these machines are “paperless” meaning there is no non-electronic trail to confirm votes. Even the viability of a recount is questionable if there are problems.

Several technology experts have demonstrated that these machines can be hacked. This can happen without well-meaning poll watchers (our traditional method for ensuring the integrity of elections) even knowing it. Many of the people with the time to volunteer for poll observer positions are not familiar with the new technologies. This is a bad combination for open and transparent elections.

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There are several things driving this to a head in New Hampshire right now. First, is the apparent 10-15 point last minute shift away from Barack Obama towards Hillary Clinton. Second, is awareness (even vigilence) about this issue among Ron Paul supporters many of whom believe his numbers were skewed. Third, there is tremendous distrust out there among the electorate on voting system integrity after the 2000 and 2004 elections.

It is baffling how so many pre-primary and exit polls could be so wrong on the Democratic race. National pundits are at a loss to explain it other than to conclude that voters must have been lying to pollsters. CNN political analyst Bill Schneider did go so far as to include vote fraud as a third and reluctant possibility to explain the situation.

Logic dictates that it was Obama supporters, many of whom do not fall into traditional polling samples in such large numbers, would tend to skew polls more in Mrs. Clinton’s favor. Could so many people change their minds so dramatically so quickly?

On the Ron Paul side of the fence, many questions exist. One town – Sutton, NH – had to restate its vote totals after some local voters confronted them with what they knew to be faulty results. The town’s vote totals were turned in with zero votes for Paul. A family who had voted for Paul saw the results and contacted election officials. It turned out that Paul had actually received 31 votes and that there had been “an error” in transferring numbers over to the official tabulation sheet.

Anecdotally, there are numerous voting areas in the state with hundreds or thousands of voters where Paul received zero votes – something unlikely for a candidate consistently receiving around 10 percent of the vote.

There is also a huge discrepency for both Obama and Paul in parts of the state using countable paper ballots and those using electronic machines. Some of the disparity, no doubt, has to do with the “political geography” of the state. Nonetheless, it is discouraging that vote counts with verifiable means are so different from vote counts more difficult to verify.

kucinich2.jpgIn his  comments on a nationally broadcast radio show this afternoon, Mr. Kucinich stated that he was not calling for the recount to benefit his campaign. He admitted his results would probably not change significantly. He said he hears concern about vote integrity on the campaign trail, “more than any other domestic issue”.

I have personally been following this issue for several years and there is so much more to what is going on than there is time to share here.

Kucinich feels like the integrity of the voting system is paramount. I whole-heartedly concur. Democracy, real democracy, is a positive in global society. The ability of ordinary people to choose leaders and direct their own lives is the foundation for any citizen wishing to enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

It does not matter what candidate you support there must be integrity in the voting system. They say perception is reality. The perception on the part of millions of Americans (participants and non-participants in the system) is that our political system is broken.

Voices like Ron Paul’s, Dennis Kucinich’s, and it would appear Barack Obama’s are not very welcome in the circles of status quo. They enjoy broad support among people committed to reforming things. The status quo prefers things to remain, well, status quo.

Every positive stride we have made towards a more just, a more free, a more open nation and world is put at risk when we fail to question. Thank goodness there are some people still willing to do it.

Who knows what the recount will reveal? This is definitely an issue that needs to be in the consciousness of every American voter – Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent.

If there was even a chance your favorite sports team was being treated unfairly, you’d be upset. Why tolerate even the possibility or appearance of impropriety in our political system?

Every voter, whoever your candidate, has a right to be assured that your vote is counting in The United States of America.

I wish Barack Obama or Ron Paul had chosen to challenge this directly. Thank you, Dennis and Albert, for taking a stand for every American who wants to believe!

Be peaceful Be prosperous.

Ray

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Beyond the Survivor China Finale – The Affirmation Spot for Monday December 17, 2007

Welcome to The Affirmation Spot. If this is your first time to the site, be sure to click one of the subscription options (top left) to be notified each time the blog is updated. Thank you for visiting. If you enjoy what you read here, help us spread the word about The Affirmation Spot.

There are direct links to downloadable mp3 affirmations at The Affirmation Spot.com on the right menu. They are set to music and allow you take positive thoughts with you wherever you go all day.

There are new affirmations in the Christianity section, the tennis section, and the Personal Empowerment section.

Enjoy today’s post. 
 


Today’s affirmation is:

“Today I am succeeding in life without compromising my values.”

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Last night was the season finale of America’s favorite reality show – Survivor. I am a passive fan of the show. My wife really enjoys it and so I wind up watching about half the episodes each season with her.

For those of you who are regular viewers, you know all about the final tribal council. Let me catch up those readers who don’t watch the show. The goal of the show is to become the sole survivor and to win $1 million.

On the final show each season, the jury – comprised of the last seven people voted out – has an opportunity to question the final three survivors as to why each deserves the jury’s vote for the million dollars.

Invariably, the subject of deceit and lying comes up. The accepted wisdom of the show is that these characteristics are necessary to advance in the game. Generally, those players who are most adept at duplicity and use it without compunction are contenders to win the show.

The jury is comprised of people victimized by the treachery. Often they are understandably bitter and chastise the finalists for this behavior. The response is always the same. “Hey, it was just ‘game’. It’s not who I really am outside the game.”
Afterall, lying, cheating, stealing, and stabbing in the back are not only the norm in the game, but the only way to have a chance to win.

The Survivor book of wisdom says that honesty, concern for others, and integrity are characteristics that demonstrate weakness and are likely to get you eliminated.

This season, as is often the case, the biggest schemer in the game was awarded the million dollars. At the end of the day, the jury normally recognizes and rewards that person’s behavior. The jury develops A kind of awe of the person’s ability to “play the game”.

The message is clear. It is not that the game should have been conducted more honorably, but that whatever expedient means are necessary to win, are acceptable. Vice becomes virtue.

Of course, ‘the game’ in survivor is only a thinly veiled reference to the game of life we all play every day. The fact that these values are rewarded in a microcosm representing our world is troubling. This is a highly popular show watched by millions of children and young adults.

Is Survivor unwittingly teaching this generation that the fastest way to success is to abandon a positive approach to life and do whatever you must to achieve? Is the take away that as long as I can separate who I really am from what I have to do to win, it’s OK?

The news has recently been filled with information that some of baseball’s most respected icons may have been cheating the system and skewing the record books. This generation’s top hitter (Barry Bonds) and its top pitcher (Roger Clemens) have been implicated in the scandal along with a who’s who list of the games brightest stars. Are we seeing another
version of the same mentality – “I’ll do whatever I must to be on top?”

Are Survivor and the baseball scandal broadcasting a warning to us? I want to shy away from empty moralizing here, but taking the shortcuts or the easy way is always a temptation in life. We’ve gone beyond “me-first” to “me-only” thinking.

However,when this mentality rules in a society that society is risking collapse. No one trusts anyone else and every one hunkers down in a bunker mentality. People become short-sighted and the ability to cooperate lessens.

We need to ask ourselves whether or not this message represents the society we all want to live in.

We are capable of so much more! There is a superior way to achieve in life. We can build our skills, improve our outlook, and work towards our goals. We can learn to work towards goals that benefit me, but don’t tear down your dreams in the process. We can, indeed we must, pursue our dreams without leaving footprints on the backs of our colleagues
and friends.

I’m not advocating a world where there are no winners and no losers or where everything is “fair”. Such a world does not really exist. I’m also not saying Survivor isn’t tantalizing entertainment or pushing the idea that it should be off the air.

What I am suggesting is that we remember something clearly forgotten in Survivor and the baseball scandal. We cannot separate who we truly are from what we are willing to do to win. The real “game” we are here to play is one where we must learn to maximize our own potential without hurting others in the process.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Be peaceful Be prosperous

Ray

The Affirmation Spot

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