Posts Tagged ‘USA’

The United States and Changes in Global Paradigms: US Elections 2012

Following the invitation of the US Embassy in Madrid to travel to the United States to for the 2012 Elections in October, I was asked to prepare a Conference for December 4rth at the Political Science Department of Universidad Autónoma de Madrid –the department ranks first among poli science faculties in Spain.

I have chosen to speak first about the political system, focusing specifically on those things I did not know about the system. Secondly, on the electoral system with with a special attention to the micro level. Thirdly on marketing politics; Fourtly, on politics and the youth; and finally, on the global implications of having a democrat versus a republican president.

Let me start talking about the United States Political System, stresing specially things I did not know –despite my in depht knowledge of regulatory policy in the US:

For the following insights I am greatful to Dr. Jeremy Mayer, Director of the Public Policy Program at George Mason University, who gave us a witty and sharp Overview of the US Political and Electoral Systems.

Things I did not know about the United States Political System:

Two principles make federalism in the United States different from others:

1. In the realm of political diversity<br
The structure of government is diffeent across states. The power of the governor is also diferent in each state. The Federal Constitution does not make indications on the governance of the States. Therefore, States does not neeed to have a governor. Texas is the example of the weakest governor in the country, because the state cobstitucion heavily restrains the power of the governor… Thus we could conted that when George W. Bush said that being the governor of Texas was good preparation to become President of the United States… he has betting high.

2. In the realm of olitical freedoms

Political freedom is the reason why the constitution of Massachusetts allowed gay marrige, while other states did not.
Virginia laws are very different form other state laws: if you ever break the law, you may not vote ever again. Florida has also a similar law.
Laws are harder on blacks, and state laws in both states might change the outcome because… 90% of black turn out is for Obama.

There is not a National Register for voters. Thus, there are 30.000 people registered in both New York *and* Florida at the same time. 2.000 are stimated to have voted in both.

A few states have holiday to vote, but most states do not.

State have different ways to select their candidates for a presidential election: Some choose primaries, other caucus, and another prefer state conventions.

1) Primaries might be closed, were only party members can vote. Primaries can also be semi-closed, with members of the party as well as friends. There are also open primaries, where any citizen can vote. One migh well be strategic, inn states with open primaries, such as Ohio.
2) Caucus, where Iowa is example. Caucus are low turn out events because of time schedule and the time they take, over three hours. The meeting is held in a small place, where people step close to the representatives they like more, the winners combine the attention first shared among the varius representatives. Pasion of representatives for Obama favored his candidacy against Hillary Clinton. Rules of democratic caucus and republican caucus might be different.
3) State conventions

In 1998 Obama supporters studied the rules of all states. Hillary Clinton, in turn focused on New Hampshire and Iowa. Obama looked into everything, and to the log view.

In the 2012 election 70% of US citizens are registered to vote. However, since many people work clock ticking, they have to be back to work, thus long lines are discoraging. Furthermore, some states decide to close polls at six, thus many voters cannot arrive to vote. 358, a polling aggregation website offered quite accurate information balancing out the polls with comparative demographic data, and weighting each poll based on the pollster’s historical track record, sample size, and recentness of the poll.

Electoral laws have attempted to be changed at a late statage in Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin –some of these states being swing states.

The Federal state and the member states have fiscal independency. Both levels may decide to have taxes and to what extent. There not limit writen in the Constitution. However, raising taxes in one state may incentivate people to move to a less taxed state. States can be bankrupt and the federal government is not supossed to help. In 1964 NY city went bankrupt. President Ford said: you are spending money like European socialist and drug traffikers, with all those universities free. When NY city asked for hel his answer was: “drop dead.”

As a percentage, 70% of the taxes go to the Federal State Government. 30% go to the states and the local governments. From this 70%, seven hundred millions a year go to the military. About 25% of the Federal budget is distributed among states and local governments according to an existing formula that the President may not change without Congress overview.

Only military academies are national universities. Public Universities are funded by the States.

As for the electoral system. The base is very undemocratic. The winner takes all the votes in each state. And the system grants two minimunn votes to each state, disregarding the population. This makes Wyoming with about half million population and 3 votes (2+1) overepresented with regard to Caifornia, 36 million people and 55 votes (2+53).

Florida, Ohio and Virginia have been deciding who the next President would be. Obama was pull out of North Carolina. Mayer says that the election we can compare with is the 2004, because that was also a very tight one for both candidates.

Jeremy Mayer says the system “is very anacronistic, not corrupt, but it might be bettered”

The system alienates low information voters.
However, one good thing is that it leaves room for qualified talent to raise -as opposed to Europe- But also for the low qualifyed such as Palin. Money permeates because of weak parties, compared to Europe. Three million of US citizens gave money to Obama in 2008. The ability of small donators raising money thorugh Internet brings hope to the system.

On the positive side, the US Constitution and the political system have guaranteed peace and little conflict (just a civil war) from 1777. It has prevented the raise of religious, racial and regional issues beuase it has not rewarded the second or third place. This is embeded in the Constitution.

Each of the following themes deserve an article of their own. For the moment I will offer a documentary and some spoken comments:

On the electoral system with a focus on the micro level, I have prepared this documentary showing interesting mecanisms of citizen participation.

On marketing politics, the meeting with Evan Sutton from New Organizing Institute (NOI) fosused on citizen mobilization during elections and the use of social media to organize during elections.

On politics and the youth, pictures show the talks with volunteers working for both parties. Aditionally, my students at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Universidad Carlos III made comments, sent questions and held debates on the trip. Some of them might be read here –see specifically the comments to the linked post on how the youth in Spain sees the elections in the United States.

Finally, a reflection on the global implications of having a democrat versus a republican President. Lack of new ideas for the challenge representing the change in global paradigm was paramount during the debates previous to the election. Thus, the implications of having one or the other are quite tied to the personality of the Commander in Chief as well as his personal abilities and capacity to build teams to negociate in the international arena. Lack of new ideas, however is a challenge for western democracies. In any case I am still reflecting on this late subject in which I plan to publich some articles both in Latin America and Spain in the following months.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Politica Comparada, Trends, Viajes 2 Comments »

Elecciones presidenciales en los Estados Unidos 2012

Desde el 21 de octubre de 2012 tendré la oportunidad de vivir en directo las elecciones presidenciales de los Estados Unidos. La oportunidad me la brinda @USembassymadrid Creo que mi trabajo siete años como voluntaria en la Asociación de ex-becarios Fulbright, como parte de la Junta y de algunas Comisiones ha sevido para que me conozcan y para que decidan invitarme. Viajo a Washington con cuatro talentos, algunos de ellos jóvenes políticos: Juan Manuel y Luis. En la Embajada estamos coordinados por @aslevia que se ha encargado de que la organización hasta la fecha sea impecable.

El programa, que puede estar sujeto a algún cambio, es muy ambicioso. Vamos a vivir la semana inténsamente. Incluye encuentros con especialistas, con políticos, jóvenes políticos voluntarios, organizaciones no gubernamentales especializadas en activar a la sociedad civil… y vamos a ver a Obama en un mítin en Tampa!

Estados Unidos desde estos últimos puntos de vista es algo insólito para una española.

Os dejo la agenda completa al pie, y si estais interesados que centre mis reportajes en alguna parte específica, dejadme vuestras sugerencias en los comentarios ¿Algúna curiosidad o interés especial?

Siete días en Washinton y Florida (Tampa):

I. Washington, D.C. (Sunday, October 21 – Wednesday, October 24, 2012)
Theme: Introduction to 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. The Media, The Global Economy, and the Elections. Monday, October, 22 – Wednesday, October 24

Federalism Overview/Overview of U.S. Presidential Election Process (with emphasis on understanding the Electoral College) – Professor Jeremy Mayer of George Mason University will be invited to provide the participants with an overview of federalism, the United State federal government structure, separation of powers, and political processes. The discussion will also include the relationship between the federal government and the states.

The Economist – In a meeting with an editor or journalist from The Economist participants will have an opportunity to discuss multiple topics including the publications coverage of global economic challenges focusing on the United States and Europe, how these challenges are impacting the 2012 Presidential election, and the role of the media in general in covering important issues during the election. The meeting will be requested with Mr. Edward McBride, Washington Bureau Chief or Mr. David Rennie, Lexington Columnist. This video, prepared by AFP and published by The Economist overviews these issues.

New Organizing Institute (NOI) – Mr. Carlos Odio, Director of Special Projects at NOI, or one of his colleagues will be asked to invite some of his colleagues to meet with the group to discuss the role of citizens as organizers and agents of change and how they can and do impact elections, including the tools that NOI supplies to do help them do so. He will also be asked to focus on the increased use of social media as a tool for community organizing during elections as well as the role of youth during the election season, and reaching out to the Hispanic voters in the 2012 election. NOI is a community of organizers committed to solving the biggest challenges that stand in the way of change. Their basic belief is that if people have the skills to engage others, the tools to build powerful campaigns, and a community of practice to help them learn and grow, they can win real change, make measurable improvements in people’s lives, and restore faith in the government and democracy. They train organizers to build and manage effective movements by integrating tried-and-true community organizing, cutting-edge digital strategy, and data-driven decision making. They provide free access to revolutionary tools, technologies, and research to help campaigns reach the next level, and build a community of practice that connects organizers across issues, creating a more integrated, more diverse, and more dynamic movement for change.

Georgetown University – To engage with young political leaders and observe the enthusiasm on a major U.S. college campus in the nation’s capital, participants will spend time at Georgetown University where representatives of the College Republicans and the College Democrats will dialogue with them about their efforts to support their respective parties, and how they are encouraging the youth vote and participation in the political process. This is an excellent opportunity for us to discuss the uses of social media in elections, what issues are of most concern to young voters, and volunteerism and political activism among young voters in the United States. Finally, for an academic perspective on the elections, faculty representatives who work with the College Republicans and the College Democrats will be asked to join the discussions at some point.

Alexandria Democratic Committee – This committee will be requested to assist with arrangements for a visit to the Obama for Re-Election Campaign Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. This will include discussions with key campaign staff available, to discuss the operations of the campaign as well as issues such as media relations for the campaign, volunteerism in the campaign, the use of social media, outreach to targeted populations, and other relevant topics. We will request a brief discussion with the Vice Chair for Communications, Mr. Elvis Cordova, or another key member of the campaign staff.

Alexandria Republic City Committee – to assist with arrangements for a visit to the Romney for President Campaign Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. This will include discussions with key campaign staff available, to discuss the operations of the campaign as well as issues such as media relations for the campaign, volunteerism in the campaign, the use of social media, outreach to targeted populations, and other relevant topics. We will request a brief discussion with Ms. Anne LeHuray, Chair of the Outreach Committee.

Wednesday, October 24
II. Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, Florida (Wednesday, October 24 – Sunday, October 28, 2012)

Theme: Elections Process and Issues in a battleground State
Many people would argue that the road to the White House runs through Florida, which happens to be the largest swing state in the country. For example, with the exception of the 1960 and 1992 races, ever since 1928 the winner of Florida won the White House. With 11.2 million registered voters and 29 electoral votes this November, whichever candidate wins Florida has an easier path to victory. Therefore, a program focused on the U.S. elections will be greatly enhanced by a visit to this important swing state. For this reason, we will spend several days in the state, and particularly in the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, Florida area. For Spaniards Tampa has a special meaning, since it was a embarquement point for the American troops departing for the Cuban War in the XIX century.

In Florida we will focus on the themes above, in meetings and discussions with the following (or similar) list of resources:

B. Thursday, October 25 – Friday, October 26

Honorable E.J. Salcines
, Senior Judge, District Court of Appeal, Second District – In this discussion the participants will receive an overview of the election process in the State of Florida and have a candid discussion about the state’s role in the overall U.S. political system. This will include a review of the 2000 Presidential election in Florida, the results of which were well publicized across the world and which created numerous debates around the election system in the United States. Besides his duties as a Senior Judge, he is also an adjunct professor of law at Stetson University College of Law.

He lectures in Spanish on American law and the American court system in Spanish-speaking countries. In 2008 he received the “Champion of Justice Award” from the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association, and the “Good Government Award” was presented to him by the Board of County Commissioners from Hillsborough County who annually awards the “E. J. Salcines Lifetime Leadership Award” to outstanding leaders in the community. He is also a member of the Knight of the Royal Order of Queen Isabella, Spain and Former Honorary Vice Consul of Spain for the Central West Coast of Florida.

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office – To help participants better understand the technical aspects of the U.S. election system, and specifically the process of voting, collecting, and tallying votes, a meeting with the County Supervisor of Elections Office will be arranged.

Former Governor Charlie Christ – To provide a unique perspective on the U.S. Presidential election, as well as the role of local and state elections and how they impact and are impacted by the Presidential elections, Governor Christ will be requested to meet with the participants. Governor Christ was also a U.S. Senate candidate and recently spoke at the Democratic National Convention, and has over 25 years of political experience which he will be able to share with the participants to help them gain a better grasp on the complex U.S. political and election systems.

Florida Campaign Headquarters of Romney for President
– Here, participants will have an opportunity to speak with key campaign staff and local volunteers about the organization of the state’s efforts to elect Governor Mitt Romney as President of the United States. This will include discussions on organizing techniques, the role of social media in the campaign, outreach to rural areas, volunteer mobilization, and some of the key differences between Governor Romney’s plan and that of President Obama.

Tampa Campaign Office for Obama for America
– Participants will also visit the Tampa Campaign Headquarters of the reelection campaign for President Barack Obama –see their work in Facebook. Similar to their visit to the Romney for President headquarters, there time at the Obama campaign office will include discussions with key campaign staff and local volunteers on organizing techniques, the role of social media in the campaign, outreach to rural areas, volunteer mobilization, and some of the key differences between President Obama’s and Governor Romney’s visions for the United States of America.

Mr. Peter Schorsch, Professional Blogger – In this meeting, participants will be able to discuss the role of bloggers and other media professionals in informing the public on the elections and raising key issues that are of concern to the public. Mr. Schorsch will also invite some of his fellow bloggers to join the discussion to provide multiple perspectives. Mr. Schorsch is President, Extensive Enterprises Online, LLC and Executive Editor, Mr. Schorsch launched a private firm to provide clients with a success-oriented, diverse team of artistic, media and government affairs experts. He offers expertise on complex issues for clients facing challenges on a variety of governmental and public affairs levels. As his firm’s principal, his responsibilities include client development and servicing, creative direction and internal operations. Mr. Schorsch’s firm specializes in the conception and execution of strategies involving direct mail, collaterals and online media.

Ms. Amy Rettig, the Nielsen Company – Ms. Rettig or one of her colleagues will be asked to discuss the 21012 election’s media measurements in the online and digital age. A tour of the Nielsen campus will also be included. The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek).

Saturday, October 27

Opportunity to attend a local campaign rally in the community or on one of the local college campuses.

Excitante ¿verdad?
Pues sigue nuestras huellas en @olgag y a través de!!!

Se me ocurre que me encantaría haber llevado de fotógrafo acompañándome a @victorianoi ¿porqué? qué fotos hace este jóven estudiante de UC3M!. Me voy a guardar la idea para la proxima oportunidad que surja. Tal vez si lo sugiero hasta me dan un sí. Por el momento, invitados especiales son mis alumnos en las universidades Autónoma de Madrid y Carlos III, a quienes dedico el viaje y a quienes invito a estar en contacto a través de la web.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Economy&Trends, Olga Gil, Politica Comparada, trips, Viajes 13 Comments »

4 de Mayo: Worcester, Boston, NY, Baltimore

Desde Worcester a Boston viajo con Dex en la mesa de al lado del mismo vagón de tren. Dex nos regala los oidos con una música estupenda, y me cuenta que está involucrado en tres proyectos que le entusiasaman, y que tiene que ver con las música:

Como Dex está escuchando una música estupenda en su ordenador le he pedido que me grabe algo. Una hora después llevo ¡un giga de rock and roll de Boston y alrededores en el usb! Estupendo para el resto del viaje, porque mi ordenador, muy ligero, no lleva ni música, ni ranura para Cds. No puedo escuchar los que compro. Y en los hoteles no hay canales de música/video en la televisión. Es increíble ¿Cómo se puede vivir (bien) sin música? Un modo de hacerlo es aprenderte las letras y cantar. Lo malo es que creo que la SGAE no permite reproducciones. Yo soy una tía muy legal. Si no se puede cantar, no se canta. (more…)

Tags: , , ,
Posted in trips, Viajes No Comments »

Estados Unidos: Diario de un viaje. Carolina del Norte, 24 de abril-1 de mayo

La vuelta a North Carolina ha sido magnífica veinte años después. La Conferencia WWW2010 ha merecido mucho la pena por el nivel de las ponencias, los contactos y las entrevistas sobre tendencias y tecnología. Ha concidido con otras dos conferencias celebradas de forma paralela: Web Science y Future Web.

Ver de nuevo a mi supervisor de tesis, Jonathan Hartlyn, ha sido un placer. Tuvimos la ocasión de ir juntos a la recepción VIP en el museo de arte moderno de North Carolina. Me presentó a cargos de UNC que habían hecho donativos para hacer posible la conferencia. Entre los asitentes, Vinton Cerf.

La organización de la Conferencia, fantástica. Los sureños, que son tan amables, se han volcado. El concierto de los Chocolate Drops, muy bueno. Les he comprado un CD de recuerdo, a ver qué tal suenan en España. La comida, para tantísimas personas, muy buena. (more…)

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Branding, Economy&Trends, Trends, Women&Men public sphere 3 Comments »

The present Economic Crisis: the World, Europe, Spain, a conference by Jonathan Story (INSEAD)

Madrid, January 21th at Fundación Rafael del Pino, and Story starts by saying that the current crisis is opened to many interpretations on causes and remedies. Since venues of interpretation are so far apart,  getting close to a solution is difficult.

In the most pessimistic scenario of several analyzed by Jonathan Story, he envisions a problem of trust on institutions: Agents may become conservative and decide to invest on real state, withdrawing liquidity from the financial system. Why so? The poacher has also been the gate keeper (i.e. people ask themselves how has Madoff been able to get money as well
as being at the regulator, the FDIC?)

Story believes there is room for optimism. Historically he recalls cases in the 1970s, when governments at either side of the spectrum in Spain, UK and USA opted for acting. They did so with a recycling policy (such as subsidizing housing), transferring funds to less favoured. He also states that people are keeping their money in deposits.

The US is still the key state in the global system, although with much less room of manoeuvre. This has implications for the new scenario under a severe economic crisis. However, locally, the US has a very fragmented financial and regulatory system, which Story sees as a problem.

In Europe he sees the problem of leadership, and somehow lack of ambition. Story belives that the United States may afford to have an insulae approach to global problems. It is a country big enough, and key in the global system. Europe, however is not developing an European pride (education is a main cause). European countries have a real problem acting as insulae.

Story pinpoints some long term shifts:
1. In Italy, current labor cost are 30 per cent above those in Germany. Spain is in the middle. Germany has excelled (at managing in detail all the outsourcing (to eastern Europe), three times per capita than EU number two, becoming a manufacturing champion). In no way Latin countries are catching up with this. Manufacturing is (terrible) in Spain.

What to do for Spain? Very little. Easing the labour law will panic workers. If anything, massive investment program at the EU level, but through direct involvement of the heads of government, not through European institutions. Serious leadership and not provincial mass is needed. For Spain there is a tough test lying ahead for the monetary union. He see the
way out in Spain is promoting big programs  at the EU level.

2. Europe needs leadership: it is heavily underperforming playing prestige. Europe is more than it believes of itself (just count on the Olympic medals for Europe, close to two thousand, but not sold as European).

3. Russia has become European. Russia prefers Germany to China. Russia is scared of China for two main reasons: Siberia is the key asset of Russia -close to China- and the demographic implosion of the frontiers with China. China is the American friend, and beside, China´s economic implosion in the last 20 years.

4. The United States will not be able to pull apart from global problems, as it did from the 70s, but Story stresses that Obama´s plan is to get back to the USA as an exporting nation, and less focus on the global financial system as a source of growth. The message is: nations should rely more on themselves since the American yard will not be the consumer place the world has been used to.

He concludes that fear is what is moving the tectonic plaques right now. And fear is based upon greed, (not a good world to live in, he concludes).

Tags: , ,
Posted in Economy&Trends, Finance No Comments »