Posts Tagged ‘Jackson’

 

Who Counts?

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Interesting, isn’t it, that women fought so long and hard to be allowed to vote, but still must live in the right state for their vote to count. That’s true for men too! If you favor a Democrat, but live in a state full of Republicans, your vote isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. And vice versa. In fact, you don’t actually vote for a CANDIDATE at all, though political campaigns are designed to appeal directly to the individual, coddling us with love and promises, if we vote for THEM.

Once our vote is cast, however, it actually starts a ride through the maze known as the Electoral College, and if you recollect, five times since 1788 a candidate has won the popular vote but lost the election.

  • Andrew Jackson in 1824 had 38,149 more votes than John Quincy Adams, but lost.
  • Samuel Tilden (Dem) in 1876 had 254,235 more votes than Rutherford B Hayes (Rep), but lost.
  • Grover Cleveland (Dem) in 1888 had 90,596 more votes than Benjamin Harrison (Rep), but lost.
  • Al Gore (Dem) in 2000 had 543,895 more votes than George W Bush (Rep), but lost.
  • Hillary Clinton (Dem) in 2016 had 2,868,686 more votes than Donald J Trump (Rep), but lost.

The Electoral College

I’m sure you’ve got this memorized from Civics 101 in 6th grade, but just in case the details have gotten fuzzy, here is where your vote goes. Established in Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution, the Electoral College is the formal body that elects the President and Vice President of the United States. Each state has as many “electors” in the Electoral College as it has Representatives and Senators in the United States Congress, and the District of Columbia has three electors. When voters go to the polls in a Presidential election, they actually are voting for the slate of electors vowing to cast their ballots for that ticket in the Electoral College.

Got that? You are voting for Electors.

Most states require that all electoral votes go to the candidate who receives the plurality in that state. After state election officials certify the popular vote of each state, the winning slate of electors meet in the state capital and cast two ballots—one for Vice President and one for President. Electors cannot vote for a Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate who both hail from an elector’s home state.

But not every state is the same.

Maine and Nebraska employ a “district system” in which two at-large electors vote for the state’s popular plurality and one elector votes for each congressional district’s popular plurality. In the November 2, 2004 election, Colorado voters rejected a “proportional system” in which electors would vote proportionally based on the state’s popular vote.

The District of Columbia and 26 states “bind” their electors to vote for their promised candidate, via a number of methods including oaths and fines. Though still rare, electors more commonly changed their vote in the 19th century—particularly on the vote for Vice President. Such “faithless electors” have never decided a Presidency however.

There has been one faithless elector in each of the following elections: 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1988. A blank ballot was cast in 2000. In 2016, seven electors broke with their state on the presidential ballot and six did so on the vice presidential ballot.

Faithless Electors! But to continue – A Job You Wouldn’t Want

Since the mid-20th century, on January 6 at 1:00 pm before a Joint Session of Congress, the Vice President opens the votes from each state in alphabetical order. He passes the votes to four tellers—two from the House and two from the Senate—who announce the results. House tellers include one Representative from each party and are appointed by the Speaker. At the end of the count, the Vice President then declares the name of the next President. With the ratification of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution (and starting with the 75th Congress in 1937), the electoral votes are counted before the newly sworn-in Congress, elected the previous November. Sitting Vice Presidents John C. Breckinridge (1861), Richard Nixon (1961), Hubert Humphrey (1969), and Al Gore (2001) all had to announce that they had lost their own bid for the Presidency. https://history.house.gov/

There have been a total of 165 instances of elector faithlessness as of 2016. The United States Constitution does not specify a notion of pledging; no federal law or constitutional statute binds an elector’s vote to anything. All pledging laws originate at the state level. In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Chiafalo v. Washington that states are free to enforce laws that bind electors to voting for the winner of the popular vote in their state.

Supporters of the Electoral College argue that it is fundamental to American federalism, that it requires candidates to appeal to voters outside large cities, increases the political influence of small states, preserves the two-party system, and makes the electoral outcome appear more legitimate.

Non-supporters would argue that the Electoral College places powers governing a national election within state boundaries and removes the ability of the individual to select their leader.

 
 
 

Down to Your Last Nerve

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – The weather is hot and the political atmosphere is even hotter as the national holiday celebrating “American Independence” approaches. COVID-19 cases are going UP and not DOWN in many parts of the country, as people clamor for businesses to re-open and defiantly refuse to “mask up” in public places. Jennifer Anniston took to social media yesterday to state: “Just Wear The Damn Mask!”

Chafing at the Bit describes a lot of feelings after four months of quarantine; a restricted way of life is wearing thin. As my dear friend Betty used to say when she just couldn’t take it anymore: I am down to my last nerve.

Politics are even hotter than the weather, raw nerves abound. Yesterday in Jackson the Mississippi state flag came down, permanently. A new design has been commissioned, and will be voted on by state residents in November. Mississippi was the last state to have a Confederate emblem on its flag.In Richmond, Virginia’s state capital (which was once capital of the Confederacy), a statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson came down yesterday as a cheering crowd watched in the rain. In Seattle, CHOP camps (Capitol Hill Organized Protests) were cleared out yesterday after two weeks of standoffs and shootings that were part of the nation’s unrest after the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Add to that – it’s an election year, and voters are questioning the mental and physical fitness of both our sitting president, and the expected Democratic nominee. Both guys are in their 70s, and both have been criticized for their rambling speeches, and frequent gaffes. “We’re not electing a president this year,” the chatter is, “we’re electing a vice president, that’s who will wind up running the country!”

So dear reader, if you feel that you are “down to your last nerve” about how things are going in 2020 in our “land of the free and home of the brave” let me remind you of something terrible and tumultuous that happened 139 years ago on this date in our nation’s capital.

On July 2, 1881, Charles J Guiteau shot and fatally wounded the newly inaugurated US President James A Garfield in the lobby of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Depot in Washington, DC as he yelled, “I am a stalwart and Arthur is now President of the United States!” Guiteau blamed the president for not selecting him for a job at the US Consulate in Paris.

Mr Garfield’s presidency was cut so short there isn’t enough of a legacy to rank him among the worst and best – he was only in office four months. He was the last president to be born in a log cabin, and grew up poor and fatherless. He was bullied as a child, so took up wrestling. He was our only ambidextrous president, and a great multi-tasker. He was also one of the most well-read of our presidents and his background included being a soldier (he was a major general in the Civil War), a lawyer, a politician, and a math and science expert. Maybe his childhood toughened him up against bullying; as soon as he took office he pioneered the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, making it a law that all government jobs be granted on the basis of merit and merit alone.

And then was killed by a man wanting a job. At least, that’s part of the story.

President Garfield did not die immediately, but lingered for eleven weeks, during which time surgeons repeatedly attempted to find the bullet that had lodged in his back. In spite of Joseph Lister’s discoveries regarding the use of antiseptics in surgery, the practice of sterilization had not caught on, and Garfield’s wound was probed by many unwashed fingers. The resulting infection, not the bullet, caused Garfield’s eventual death on September 19, 1881. Vice president Chester A Arthur became president of the United States on September 20.

Garfield’s incapacitation sparked a constitutional crisis, as the Cabinet was divided over whether the vice president should assume the office of the incapacitated president or merely act in his stead. It was not until 1967, with the passage of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution, that the question of the succession of power was fully addressed. Today, the vice president assumes the office of president in the event that a sitting president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

In spite of Guiteau’s manifest insanity at his trial, his attorneys were unable to gain an acquittal on that basis—it was, however, one of the first uses of the modern insanity defense in a criminal court. After a six-month trial that sparked great public interest, Guiteau was found guilty and hanged on June 30, 1882.

Note: James Abram Garfield was our 20th president and was 50 years old when assassinated.

Reference: Library of Congress National Archives

Yes, things are definitely nerve-wracking right now. But July 2 was one heck of a bad day for Mr Garfield and Mr Guiteau, if you want to compare. My suggestions for tackling the heat if you have your own lemons to deal with:

  • Make yourself a nice tall glass of lemonade.
  • Cool down and mask up!
 
 
 

Song of the South

11.Sam Arriving AtlantaLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas –July was Sam Time. Sam is my youngest grandchild, born and growing up in the Pacific Northwest. He went to Juneau with me on the Journey back in 2012 (read all about it in Juneau) where we went whale-watching and dog-sledding and he got to know a capital city up and down. He flew into Little Rock last summer and spent three weeks with me in Arkansas, where we made a quick-trip into Oklahoma and Texas. But I figured it was time this boy had a bona fide real-time southern experience and learned about his roots. After all, he was teetering on the cusp of teenhood, and you know how fast that goes. I planned a full-fledged Journey through the south, worthy of a Fodor review.

I met Sam’s plane in Atlanta. His “unaccompanied minor” status required a direct flight, and we were headed for Gatlinburg anyhow, so that made sense. Did you know that Hartsfield International in Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world? 95 million passengers annually, coming into 7 terminals, exiting through 201 gates. Sam emerged through Alaska’s Gate D3 (at the far end of nowhere), a little taller than last year and wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt. “Welcome to Atlanta, home of the Braves!” I grinned. And so began Sam’s Song of the South, Scott1stSteps66subtitled “Where Your Dad Grew Up.” I’d filled a notebook with pictures of family members he’d meet, and details about each stop we’d make. “First stop tomorrow is South Carolina,” I explained in our Atlanta motel room that night, “Ware Shoals, where we were living when your Dad was born.” I had a picture of his Dad taking his first steps, in our kitchen there on Dairy Street. My plan was to drive by and show him the house. You won’t believe how that turned out. » read more

 
 
 

It’s Called Experience

Brenda and Judy and Nathan at Houma Plantation in Louisiana

Linda Burton posting from Pensacola, Florida traveling from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Tallahassee, Florida – Country music stars travel a lot; so do politicians. Social media and viral videos may add another dimension as to how we share information, but nothing replaces face-to-face. It’s called experience. This year’s political campaign is a good example of the benefits of “up close and personal.” Candidates racked up the miles and people flocked to their rallies, each wanting the experience of the other. (I tried to get into a Denver rally, but tickets were long gone.) Those music stars don’t hide out in palatial music-star homes watching sales of their albums tote up. They tour. They know that people want the experience of them, and they in turn find out how people respond to what they do. And consider the million miles that Hillary Clinton has covered during her tenure as Secretary of State. She has met with world leaders on their turf, in their environment; such efforts not only allow the visitor a better understanding of why the other fellow looks, feels, and acts as they do, it shows the visitor’s respect for the places, and people, visited. And so it is with the Journey Across America, now 40% complete. Twenty capital cities lived in during the last 309 days; twenty capital cities experienced. » read more

 
 
 

All About Fondren

Linda Burton posting from Jackson, Mississippi – “Here’s something about Fondren,” Sandra said, as she pulled more brochures from the shelves at the Jackson Visitors Bureau. “It’s a fun, fine place; you’ll want to check it out.” Find It In Fondren is the name of the magazine she gave me, the Winter 2012/13 edition. The People, Places & Events of Jackson’s Hippest Neighborhood were the words printed across the bottom of the cover photo; Dr Blair E Batson (of the Blair E Batson Children’s Hospital in the Fondren neighborhood) is pictured in a red plaid vest, grinning big as he reads Dr Seuss to the children and nurses and doctors gathered round; the mood comes through. I flipped through the magazine, trying to tune in to the idea of Fondren. Ads on the first two pages promoted the Mississippi Blues Marathon coming up January 5 (hey, hey, the blues is alright) and Babalu Tacos and Tapas, over on Duling Avenue (Eat Here). The index page was intriguing; titles such as “Game of Hope,” “A Noble Profession,” “A Cheerful Heart,” and “Change Maker” lured me further inside with the question, “What is Fondren?” I turned to page 12, “Building Jackson.” And that’s where I learned about Scott Crawford. » read more

 
 
 

Listening For Stories

Linda Burton posting from Jackson, Mississippi – I heard a little inside story about Eudora Welty today but I can’t say who told it. It may or may not be true; but it could be. The story goes like this: Eudora didn’t go to the beauty parlor every week like some women do; but when she went it was always to the same place. One of the ladies who saw her there from time to time commented to another, “She’s a bitter woman. Nothing good to say.” Now, anyone who knew Eudora knew she was anything but bitter. In the years since her death, they have pondered that woman’s comment and concluded it was Eudora’s way of “sparking” a story – throwing out a line that would get people talking. And then she’d sit back and listen! Fodder for writing. On one of the interpretive panels in the Welty Museum I read these words: Welty never stopped listening, her skills at recreating southern life and its stories was based on “eavesdropping” and on living for decades in the place where she grew up. “Once you have heard certain expressions, sentences,” she wrote, “you almost never forget them. It’s like sending a bucket down a well and it always comes back up full.”

Eudora Alice Welty (1909-2001) was a Pulitzer author of international acclaim who was born, and died, in Jackson, Mississippi. Though her stories and novels were set in the south, she did not consider herself a southern writer; she traveled and lived in New York, San Francisco, Mexico, Europe; her friends included authors and artists from around the world. But her love of the south, and the people living there, comes through in every word she wrote; gentle perceptions overlain with a fierce wit, always ringing true. » read more

 
 
 

Outstanding!

Linda Burton posting from Jackson, Mississippi – Some people are born with community spirit, and one such person I know is Ivous Sisk, a member of the Board of Directors of Capital Cities USA. And Ivous lives right here in Mississippi. I was hoping we’d get to visit during my stay in Jackson; I planned to have her do the “victory pose” or at least a “thumbs up” beside the Scion Journey car. But she’s at the far north end of the state and the miles and the family holiday festivities are too many; we haven’t been able to connect so I’m using a photo of us from last year. I felt particularly close to her last Friday evening, however, as I stood in the House Chambers in the State Capitol. Because that’s where the Mississippi Legislature passed House Resolution 26 back in 1998, recognizing her achievements and naming her an Outstanding Mississippian. I’ve known Ivous since we both were kids; I knew she preferred tomato juice and crackers over sweets as a ten-year-old; and I knew she was friends with Elvis back when only his Mama had heard him sing; but I didn’t know all the achievements she has racked up over the years. So I asked for a list, which she modestly provided. An Outstanding Mississippian? I say she’s just downright Outstanding. » read more

 
 
 

Refreshments Were Served

Linda Burton posting from Jackson, Mississippi – I saw the cutest Santa in the world tonight. Never before have I seen Santa Claus with jingle bells around his knees and a wreath around his head. And just look at the smile on this fellow’s face! No ordinary department-store Santa this; and no ordinary evening either. I’m standing in the gazebo in the East Garden of the Governor’s Mansion, my third stop on the “Seventeenth Annual Old Jackson Christmas By Candlelight Tour” that charmed the socks off delighted guests. From the back steps of the State Capitol, shuttle buses ran a constant route for the four-hour soiree, delivering passengers to the Old Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, the William F Winter Archives and History Building, and the Eudora Welty House. The buses were packed with townfolk and out-of-towner’s like me; young and old tiptoeing along candle-lit sidewalks in eager anticipation of the next surprise. A mother and little daughter behind me sang “I love the bus, I love the lights, I love everything I see,” in a self-made tune. We were greeted at every door with welcoming smiles, and, true to southern hospitality, in every place refreshments were served. » read more

 
 
 

Pearls of Wisdom

Linda Burton posting from Jackson, Mississippi – “You hear people say that folks in Mississippi are slow,” Reese said. “We’re not slow, we’re content!” He laughed a little at his own remark and added, “You don’t have to rush around hurry, hurry when you’ve got everything you want. Here family comes first; it’s all about enjoying what you have. We’ve got good food, good music, and a good life.” Reese went on to explain that he’s a transplant from Ohio and moving to Mississippi was a culture shock at first, but now he says he’s adjusted to the pace. “What is better than all the family getting together for Sunday dinner and then sitting out on the porch in rocking chairs and talking? You can’t beat that.” Such was my introduction to the capital city of Jackson, as I chatted with Reese at the front desk of my hotel, inquiring as I always do – what do you like best here? The Visitors Bureau promotes Jackson the same way, calling it “The City With Soul” and emphasizing its family friendliness. I started reading more about this place that started out as LeFleur’s Bluff, a trading post on a “high handsome bluff” on the west bank of the Pearl River. And thinking about Reese’s words of wisdom. » read more

 
 
 

Delta Dawning

Linda Burton posting from Jackson, Mississippi – I’m in Jackson now. Praise be, I got the show on the road without too much fanfare this morning; no cats hid under the bed and commute traffic had thinned by the time I started driving. It’s 265 miles or so from Little Rock to Jackson, depending on where you cross the river, so I knew I’d get to my next new home well before dark. Freeways don’t make a direct connection; state roads lead from one chunk of interstate to another, though not in a straight line. Some of the highways were two-lane but I didn’t mind; the slower pace gave me more time to enjoy the countryside, never far from the Mississippi River, or pieces of it now landlocked in oxbow lakes. Every inch of the rich dark bottomland was either growing something new or just finishing a crop; bright green fields lay beside freshly-plowed brown; dust from tractor tires drifted and mixed with smoke from recently cleared brush; white cotton fluff  lay disappointed beside scraggly dead mother plants. Silos edged these fertile fields; filled with grain? I don’t know which grain grows here, when I think of the Mississippi Delta I think of cotton. And Delta Blues, of course.

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