The Government and Economics course I am currently enrolled in has been more beneficial to me than any other class. In Government we learned about things like the electoral college and the voting process. In Economics we have started to learn things like the differences between scarcity and shortage, what an entrepreneur is, and what marginal thinking is.
The first day of the trimester we did a stimulation activity that required us to build the tallest structure from 10 straws, a piece of tape, a piece of string, and one pair of scissors. This activity helped me better understand the difference between land, labor, and capital which are the three factors of production. It also forced us to use marginal thinking because we had to decide whether we wanted to use another straw to have a stronger base or if we wanted to save that straw so we could have a taller structure. We were forced to think marginally because at the time, our products were scarce.
I learn better by doing, so activities like the straw building help me a lot. They help me better understand the terms for the class and they are fun.
From the beginning of trimester one to the end of trimester two, we have learned everything from what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote our constitution, to what is to happen to our economy in the near future with the fiscal cliff the country is going over. What I found most interesting was learning about the voting process. Since I started learning about the voting process when I was younger, I always thought the president was elected only using the popular vote. Over the years I started hearing about the “electoral college“. I never paid much attention to the term and what it meant until we began to talk about it in this course.
The electoral college is a vote compromised between votes from congress and the popular votes of citizens. It consists of 538 electors and a majority of 270 votes are required to elect a president. Each state has a different amount of electors depending on how many members it has in its Congressional Delegation. Under the 23rd amendment, the District of Columbia has 3 electors as it is treated like a state during election time for reasons having to do with the Electoral College. To determine which candidate in an election gets the vote from the electoral college of each state, there is a thing called “winner-takes-all” which is where the winner of the popular vote in a specific state gets the electoral votes from that state. In the end, which ever candidate has the most electoral votes wins the election. Because the constitution established this idea of the electoral college, a candidate can win the popular vote, but still lose the election.
What caught my attention the most was the fact that a candidate can win the popular vote, but lose the election. To me, this makes it seem like the votes of the people don’t matter. If a candidate wins the popular vote, he should win the election. If a candidate wins the popular vote that shows that he or she is the person the people of the United States want in office as the leader of our country.
Recently, NATO has started discussing the plans for the future of the United States and its allies in the near future. They have proposed to keep Afghanistan’s security forces at 352,000 troops until 2018. This plan is to ensure the stability of Afghanistan and to prove the United States and its allies continued support for next year. Last year, NATO made an agreement in the fiscal package that would reduce the forces in Afghanistan to less than 240,000 troops by December of 2014. The NATO leaders made that decision because they felt the United States’ involvement is too expensive for the Afghan government and its allies to keep up with. Thursday, NATO officials said they are examining a plan that will last at least five years and will keep Afghanistan’s troops at a higher level. The alliance has not yet made it clear what the plan is, because they still have to worry about how the cost will be split up. Defense secretary Leon E. Panetta joined his counterparts at the alliances headquarters to start a two-day conference. This is the first conference since President Obama’s State of the Union address where he announced that he would be pulling 34,000 troops out of Afghanistan within one year. After this statement was made, the Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan started to point this out to the Afghan government, making it seem like the United States and its allies are abandoning Afghanistan. Fearing that Afghan leaders and citizens will begin to believe what the insurgent groups are saying, NATO has started discussing expanded financial aid and keeping a small group of American and allied troops in Afghanistan as proof that they have not been abandoned. One NATO official said, “The will and the endurance and the commitment of the coalition equals the confidence and hope on the part of the Afghans.”
In this course, Modern Presidential Roles were discussed according to the ones discussed by Clinton Rossiter in his book The American Presidency. Two of the roles of a President is their role as Chief Diplomat and the Commander-in-Chief of the army. As chief diplomat, a president decides what American diplomats and ambassadors should say when dealing with foreign government. Rossiter says, “his position is paramount, if not indeed dominant.” (pg. 203) President Obama takes this role when he is deciding what to say to the Afghan government. As Commander-in-Chief of the army, President Obama is in charge of all of the United States’ armed forces. According to Rossiter, “In peace and war he is the supreme commander of the armed forces, living guarantee of the American belief in ‘the supremacy of the civil over military authority” (pg. 201).
Events like these help me better understand the jobs a President has. Although Rossiter did a good job explaining the jobs a president has, this event has made it clearer. As Chief Diplomat, the president not only has to worry about the United States, but he must also worry about our involvement in other places. This even has also helped me better understand President Obama’s role as Commander-in-Chief of the United States’ armed forces. Every military general and admiral has to take their orders from the president. Having this power, President Obama also gets to appoint generals and admirals. In this case, NATO representatives believe President Obama is going to appoint General Philip M. Breedlove, who is the commander of the United States Air Force units that are currently in Europe and Africa, as the alliance’s supreme military commander.