Abolish the Electoral College

Sent to Senator Blunt, Senator Hawley, and Representative Long on 2019-09-02

The electoral college is a holdover from a time when the majority of citizens could not reach a polling place in a reasonable amount of time. It is no longer needed.

Further, articles like this one from the Washington Post highlight the mathematical problems with the electoral college that undermine our democracy: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-electoral-college-is-in-trouble/2019/08/28/ba2b3a8c-c98f-11e9-be05-f76ac4ec618c_story.html

I would like to know your thoughts on the electoral college and what steps you are taking to ensure our elections are both secure and representative of the will of the people.

Thank you,

Matthew Stublefield

On Tue, Sep 3, 2019 at 3:11 PM Senator Roy Blunt <donotreply@blunt.senate.gov> wrote:

Dear Matthew:

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts on the elimination of the Electoral College.  In America, the right to vote is one of the most significant freedoms we enjoy as members of a representative democracy. 

As you may know, the Founding Fathers established the Electoral College in the earliest days of our nation’s history as a compromise on the issue of presidential elections. The Electoral College, outlined in Article II of the Constitution, ensures states’ popular votes are taken into account when selecting our president. 

I appreciate your insight and advocacy on this issue.  Should legislation affecting the Electoral College come before the full Senate floor for consideration, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  I look forward to continuing our conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SenatorBlunt) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/RoyBlunt) about the important issues facing Missouri and the country.  I also encourage you to visit my website (blunt.senate.gov) to learn more about where I stand on the issues and sign-up for my e-newsletter.

Sincere regards,

Roy Blunt
United States Senator

On Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 5:00 PM Representative Billy Long <MO07BLIMA@mail.house.gov> wrote:

Dear Mr. Stublefield,

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the Electoral College. I am glad to have the benefit of your views on this issue.

Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives assigned to that state. These electors make up the Electoral College and cast votes to determine the President of the United States. Electors to the Electoral College are selected at the direction of each individual state legislature. Almost all states have opted to designate their electors by popular vote within the state, with the presidential candidate receiving the most votes receiving all of that state’s electoral votes. As a result, it is possible for a candidate to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote; however this is a rare occurrence. Critics of the current system say it is undemocratic because it is possible to lose the popular vote and still win the Presidency.

While it is true that smaller states receive more electoral votes relative to their population than large states, this is not an accidental feature of the Electoral College system. The Electoral College system strengthens the federal structure of our government by ensuring that rural areas and small states are still important to our nation’s political process. Any change to the Electoral College risks disenfranchising many rural Americans in favor of heavily urban areas. I strongly believe the President of the United States should be accountable to all Americans and all parts of America, not just specific areas or groups. I do not believe that the Electoral College is in need of reform at this time. Hearing the views of all Missourians gives me the opportunity to better understand how important issues could impact the people of the Seventh District and the future interests of the nation.

For additional information regarding current legislation, my representation of the Seventh District, and to sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, I invite you to visit my website at http://long.house.gov

Sincerely,

Billy Long
Member of Congress

No reply from Senator Hawley yet

Subject: What actions are you taking to address the crisis of concentration camps on American soil to detain legal immigrants?

Email to Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Joshua Hawley, and Representative Billy Long on August 5, 2019

I do not believe that the way we have treated asylum seekers, legal immigrants, or people crossing our southern border is moral or representative of American values.

What’s more, I do not think it is in compliance with the spirit of our immigration laws, nor is it compliant with our actual asylum laws.

What actions are you taking to resolve this injustice? What is your plan and timeline to both address the root cause of the immigration challenges and to close the concentration camps and restore humanity and grace to how we work with immigrants?

Thank you for your time,

Matthew Stublefield
Springfield, Missouri

On Wed, Aug 7, 2019 at 8:22 AM Senator Roy Blunt <donotreply@blunt.senate.gov> wrote:

Dear Matthew:

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts on the humanitarian crisis at the southern border.  

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I voted in favor of an emergency funding bill to strengthen security and address the humanitarian crisis at the border.  Thousands of unaccompanied children have come across the border and have been referred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The emergency funding bill signed into law by the President on July 1, 2019, provides $2.88 billion in funding for HHS to provide care and shelter for unaccompanied minors.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  I look forward to continuing our conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SenatorBlunt) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/RoyBlunt) about the important issues facing Missouri and the country.  I also encourage you to visit my website (blunt.senate.gov) to learn more about where I stand on the issues and sign-up for my e-newsletter.

Sincere regards,

Roy Blunt
United States Senator

On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 11:27 AM Representative Billy Long <MO07BLIMA@mail.house.gov> wrote:

Dear Mr. Stublefield,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the crisis at our southern border. I am glad to have the benefit of your views on this issue.

As you may know, our country has a serious immigration problem. Lack of funding has caused conditions at detention facilities to deteriorate while our lax interpretation of immigration law is causing thousands of migrants to swarm our border. The simple fact of the matter is that federal law enforcement agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) do not have the money or resources to stop migrants from crossing the border and to care for migrants who are caught crossing illegally.

This crisis is not “manufactured” as many of my Democratic colleagues have been telling you for years. This is a real crisis that needs real policy solutions. I support bolstering protection of our southern border through the construction of a barrier and an extensive increase in federal law enforcement personnel. I also believe that we need properly fund ICE, CBP, and other related agencies so that they have the resources and manpower to care for and process the overwhelming number of illegal immigrant detainees. Finally, I support making the many incentives that these migrants have to come here, such as sanctuary cities, illegal. Unlawful non-citizens are a burden on the taxpayers and should not be entitled to the benefits of law-abiding American citizens.

My colleagues and I are working hard to make securing our borders and ending the illegal immigration crisis a reality. To solve this crisis, we will need real bipartisan policy solutions that will secure our border and stymie illegal border crossings. Unfortunately, no such solution has been proposed at this time.Hearing the views of all Missourians gives me the opportunity to better understand how important issues could impact the people of the Seventh District and the future interests of the nation.

For additional information regarding current legislation, my representation of the Seventh District, and to sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, I invite you to visit my website at http://long.house.gov

Sincerely,

Billy Long
Member of Congress

On Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 4:25 PM Office of U.S. Senator Josh Hawley <SenatorHawley@hawley.senate.gov> wrote:

Dear Mr. Stublefield,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the immigration detention centers at our southern border. I appreciate the time and effort you took to share your perspective with me on this important issue. Your input helps me stay informed on the issues most important to Missourians.

As you may know, President Trump recently requested an allocation of $4.5 billion from Congress in order to respond to the humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. The $4.5 billion allotment would be used to address the most critical problems created by the border crisis, including the ability to provide higher standards of child care. $3.3 billion would be allocated for humanitarian assistance, which would include funds to increase shelter capacity, to feed and care for migrants and children in custody, and for transportation. $1.1 billion would go to border operations, which includes operations combatting human smuggling and trafficking. I have supported this critical funding request as it equips us with the tools we need to effectively deal with the immediate needs at our border. But simply increasing funding is not enough.

I recently visited the border at McAllen, Texas to see firsthand the crisis we are facing. In doing so, the need for us to act promptly to reform our immigration system became even more clear. The state of Missouri does not share a border with Mexico, but in this present crisis we are a border state. We are a border state because of the drugs that are pouring across the border and flooding into the towns and streets and homes of the people of Missouri. We are a border state because of the families whose lives are destroyed by drugs and crime. We are a border state because of the human smuggling that is becoming an epidemic across the border. If you want to learn more about my experiences at the border, click here. After that experience, I know that we must act to ensure not only the safety of our American families and communities, but the safety of immigrant families at our border as well. As your U.S. Senator, I will continue to monitor this situation closely with your perspectives in mind.

As always, I truly appreciate hearing your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on other issues important to you and your community. It is a privilege to be your voice in Congress. If you would like to get regular updates on my work in the Senate, please visit my website at http://www.hawley.senate.gov or follow me on social media at @SenHawleyPress.

Sincerely,

Josh Hawley
United States Senator

Why I Marched For #NobodyIsAboveTheLaw

When I was in elementary school, I learned about our system of government and its checks and balances. I knew that our democracy had its problems, and we have corrupt politicians and whatnot, but I believed in the system. I think of our government as being resilient, and that as our society and people grow and learn and improve, that our countries policies would too. That’s how we expanded voting rights, and improved equality, and so many other things.

I don’t know what I’m going to teach my son. The next few months and years will determine that. But right now, I see our checks and balances being undermined. The highest court in the land is being stacked with pro-Trump justices, gerrymandering has contributed to Republican majorities in federal and local positions, and now the person overseeing the investigations related to our president has been replaced by a person who is avowedly pro-Trump.

Marching probably doesn’t do a lot of good. At least, not in Springfield. But it is better to do something than nothing, and it gives me the opportunity to write about it. If nothing else, I can teach Simon about why we fight losing battles. It is important that we communicate our ethics, morals, and values.

Culture change through collaborative storytelling

I was dismayed by the results of the presidential election. I wasn’t upset just because I dislike President Trump and pretty much everything that he stands for, nor was I only baffled because the majority of people polled said Trump wasn’t qualified to be president and yet at least 16% of those people voted for him anyways. I’m not disappointed just because my side lost and the other side won. I recognize that the other side felt that way the last two elections, and we have some core differences of opinion, and I’m OK with that.

I’m mostly dismayed because this election feels like a repudiation of my beliefs and values. I am a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, cis male, middle-class landowner living in Missouri. I’m practically the poster-child for the Republican party. And at the same time, my wife and I both have master’s degrees, and we believe that education should be higher quality and more freely accessible, and that healthcare should be universal and provide both for physical and mental health, and that people in disadvantaged situations (such as the disabled, those suffering from domestic violence, or abuse, or neglect) should have social services to which they can turn for aid, and that we should, as a society, work to improve the lives of individuals because that will in turn improve the state of our society, and that we should all be treated equally regardless of sex, gender, race, or identity. And it feels like the majority (of the electoral college, anyways) said, “Nope, we don’t want that. We disagree with that. We want the opposite.”

So what can I do? I believe in democracy. I think our system, as flawed as it is, is still the best form of government that humanity has devised thus far. I believe that, following an election, we as a citizenry should coalesce behind the new president and give them a shot. We should hold them accountable and speak our minds and write our representatives, but there’s no going back. Not for four years, at least.

But if I think that the direction we’re going politically is a bad one, what can I do to change that? The standard advice is to be active at the local and state level. If we change local politics, we’ll change national politics. Except my local and state elections all sided with a man I find morally reprehensible and who advocates policies that I perceive as anti-American. I don’t feel like I have any power to change local politics because, again, the majority of people appear to have repudiated what I stand for. Nearly every down-ballot election in Missouri and Greene County went to the GOP, frequently by a landslide. If the majority has said that they disagree with me, what can I do about that given my support for our system of government?

I was walking yesterday and thinking about how I manage culture change at businesses, and my preferred method is through collaborative storytelling. I believe that we become like the stories we tell ourselves, both individually and culturally. If we tell ourselves we are weak and incapable, we will become those things. If we tell ourselves that we are strong and righteous, we will live our lives that way (for better or worse, for we may not actually be right, but instead tyrannical).

We have been told a story of fear. There were a lot of factors at play in this election, but a common thread over the last year of campaigning has been fear, abandonment, and oppression. People are afraid of losing their jobs and their rights. They’re afraid of terrorists. They’re afraid of change. They’re afraid that the political system has abandoned them and their beliefs. They’re afraid that a party will be elected who opposes their views. And a majority of people got out and voted for the person they think will best address those fears.

I can understand that. I totally get it. And I’m not going to speculate on whether those fears are right or wrong. I think some of them were justified. But I also know that God does not want us to fear. God does not call us to live our lives that way.

So what can I do to fix things? How can I change our society? I am very limited in what I can accomplish. I am not a political scientist or politician. I’m not particularly charismatic. I don’t have billions of dollars. But what I can do is be positive and encouraging. I can tell stories that highlight the good things happening in our society.

I haven’t figured out what this looks like yet; I’m still processing. But I may start writing poetry again, because I don’t think people really want to read my long-winded blog posts, and I’m not fond of the idea of writing in to the newspaper regularly (for myself personally; other people do well at that). I don’t know much about journalism, but I think I need to learn a few things about it. How can I tell stories with which people will connect? How can I encourage people given my limitations?

If we change the story that we tell about ourselves and our nation, and we make it a story not of fear but of hope, and a story that highlights people who are different from us and yet so very similar, and stories about people’s families and hopes and dreams and loves and losses and fears and their journey to overcome those fears… well, maybe that’s something I can do. I don’t know, but if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got. Voting isn’t moving our country the direction I want to see it go. Neither is posting on Facebook and trying to have conversations with people about the things our politicians do. Maybe telling stories about the good things happening around us will help. Maybe it won’t, but I think it’s a place to start and a thing to try.

Voting Against Discrimination – Vote No on April 7th

On Tuesday, Springfield has an opportunity to vote on the Sexual Orientation and Transgender Anti-Discrimination Ordinance (SOGI) that was passed by city council some time ago and which some people now want to repeal. Voting no means we won’t repeal it, and the ordinance will remain. I will be voting no for a few different reasons that I want to share, but I’m not looking to convince anyone about how they should vote with this post. Rather, my hope is that people who agree with me, and who also think that we should not discriminate against people as a general rule, will be reminded and motivated to go vote on Tuesday.

It is tempting to remain silent and to not vote. A lot of people I know are conservative Christians who believe strongly that homosexuality is a sin, and while they may not be comfortable with the idea of discriminating against people, it’s so much easier to just stand on the sidelines. I feel strongly that God calls us to speak out. We cannot remain silent. Jesus surely did not, and while he was clear about what he viewed as sin, he welcomed sinners and lambasted those who sinned sexually far less than those who persecuted others.

One of the arguments against this ordinance is that there’s no proof that discrimination has happened. I agree, there isn’t, but the debate and furor that has arisen while this ordinance has been under consideration demonstrates two things. First, there are clearly negative feelings towards homosexual and transgendered people in our community. Not long ago, I don’t think people would have thought about discriminating against a gay or lesbian person in a normal store (by which I mean, not a church or a church-affiliated business, like the Assemblies of God Credit Union or a Christian bookstore), but they surely are thinking about it now. All the town hall meetings and public displays have demonstrated to me that there are a lot of people who want to discriminate, even if they hadn’t thought about it before. That’s unsettling to me.

Second, all of this has to feel threatening to members of our community who are homosexual or transgendered. Like harassment, which is defined by the person experiencing the harassment, I think when the actions of our community make a people group feel threatened, we need to address that publicly and loudly. We need to say, as a community, that we will not tolerate our neighbors feeling threatened.

My job, as a follower of Christ, is to go and make disciples. I am called to love God and love my neighbor as myself. Some might say that holding people accountable and making sure they know their actions are leading them to hell is part of love, and I suppose a case could be made there if you think homosexuality is a damning sin. Except that none of us know the state of a person’s soul. C.S. Lewis writes that we cannot know if a person is Christian or not, only if they are good or bad at being Christian, and we know that by the fruits of the Spirit. And I will say, as someone gifted with discernment and prophecy, as a Christian for the last thirteen years or so, and as someone who has studied the Bible critically and academically and prayerfully, I have met gay and lesbian people who are bearing fruit.

What do you do, when you think someone is a sinner, and yet God is investing in their life, gifting them, loving them, and working through them? I suppose only two reasonable conclusions are possible. Either God is more gracious than me, and I ought to learn to become more like God, or maybe I’m wrong about this act or lifestyle actually separating people from God.

All of that is in the back of my mind, but it’s beside the point. More important to me is that I’ve had LGBTQIA friends since before I became Christian. I have watched a transgendered man struggle for years with gender dysphoria who is an upstanding person, wonderful to his husband and two children, and struggling with a society both offline and online that insults, marginalizes, and discriminates against him, inflicting more suffering than I know my Lord and Savior tolerates for any of the people for whom He died. Jesus came to build bridges, bring healing, and help us learn to be in relationship with one another.

Check out the links below for the full text of the ordinance and for a great article in our local newspaper that explains some of the nuances of the ordinance. If you read the ordinance itself, though, you’ll find it’s not very nuanced. It’s really quite straightforward. Religious organizations like churches can still discriminate all they want. Pastors aren’t going to be fired for preaching against homosexuality. Landlords and realtors cannot refuse to work with homosexual people or rent/sell them property. Non-religious businesses in general have to serve homosexuals, just like they have to serve Jews, and Blacks, and Italians, and the Irish, and Catholics.

The only negative about voting for this ordinance is that businesses and individuals can be challenged if they are discriminatory. That’s the only thing being taken away: non-religious businesses can’t act like homosexuals aren’t human beings. That is a very fine thing to stand up for, in my opinion. All people deserve dignity and respect, and to be treated with love and care. We have a Servant King, and we should not hesitate to serve anyone. Instead, we should serve them with prayers in our heart and songs on our lips. We should serve people smiling and joyous that we get the opportunity to be like Jesus.

Mark it on your calendar. Set a reminder. Vote against discrimination on Tuesday, April 7th by voting no on question 1.

Divisions in the Springfield Church

I probably don’t follow local politics as closely as I ought. I met the council member who represented my zone of the city once. I will occasionally hear about stuff that the city council is discussing, and I vote regularly, but I don’t really have my finger on the pulse of the city. If the city had low blood pressure and an arrhythmic heart, I might not notice for a while.

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