I cannot say enough about why I'm an optimist. Here is one factor with which I'm familiar. I don't necessarily agree with everything said here, but overall I think there is a lot to learn here. I recommend watching this video. I invite you to take the time. Really.
Hyper partisanship. We see this in Congress, which can't seem to get anything done (for better or worse), and all across the USA, where even the President engages in daily rants against the "liberal" press, which obliges, in a way, by striking back.
Then, I see this article by Amanda Ripley in the Wall Street Journal that I read this morning. People setting up programs to bring others together face to face, to spend time together and discover what they have in common, instead of just focusing on their disagreements.
What she reports is people doing just what I've been advocating for some time now. I'm glad to see other people ahead of me in this! I'm still finishing my book, so I don't have time to start or even participate in an exchange program right now.
Anyway, I have read the whole article and I recommend it!
Instant Runoff voting (otherwise known as Ranked Choice Voting) is a way to keep voters from "wasting their vote" when they vote for the candidate they truly want, regardless of that candidate's chance of winning. See a description here.
A few nations around the world already use this voting method. Even The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts as been using this system for decades, so it's a proven method (scroll down to the section entitled, "How to Vote in a Proportional Representation Election").
But major parties have resisted implementing it, since using it helps to empower third party candidates and reduces domination by the two major parties, who can no longer depend on scare tactics, such as "If you vote for candidate C, then our wonderful major party candidate B could lose, and then the awful candidate A from the other big bad major party will win!"
Now, a decision in the State of Maine has given the green light to implement RCV state wide, for most elections. I found one story here and there are probably other sources.
To me, this is very good news indeed because it helps provide a greater diversity of ideas and candidates and helps unlock government for all.
I'm an optimist. And here's another reason why. No matter what you might hear from Washington, D.C., people are moving away from dirty energy every day. The story above appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe a few weeks ago. You can read the full text on their web site here.
Here's how it works: People pressure big companies to 'go green.' Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, GE, etc. realize that they can attract more customers if they respond. Well, one thing those companies do is buy electricity and they want to buy it from renewable sources because it's good business for them. Electricity suppliers, as a result, are competing for their business, because these are big accounts and there's significant money to be made. So they're retiring coal plants and bringing wind and solar and hydro online as fast as they can.
The federal government is not going to stop this and return us to coal as our primary energy source, no matter what they say.
If anything, the plight of the coal miners and processors has to be solved some other way, not by mining more coal. It's up to us to find new ways to employ, retrain, and otherwise support the people who have been part of the coal industry all along. That's the other half of the equation. So let's not forget the folks who have worked hard in the coal industry and need us now that coal is not the industry that it once was.
In all the commotion in the news about the President's latest tweets, Senate hearings, mass shootings, and a horrendous fire in London, you may not have noticed, ...
... but something significant was going on in Kansas state government the other day. After years of trying to make the governor's "tax rate cuts to stimulate new growth" plan work, the legislature finally put an end to his experiment. The reason? The state was failing to provide basic services, was borrowing too much money, and was failing to maintain its infrastructure. In short, significantly lower taxes was not ramping up the economy nearly enough to compensate for the lower tax rate. Revenues continued to drop the entire duration of the four year "experiment."
And this was voted by a legislature with Republican majorities in both houses! See the full story here.
This might not seem like a big deal at the moment. After all, Kansas is not a very populous state (under 3 million people), and therefore is not a major player in the US economy. But the principle is clear and should serve as an example for other states, or even the federal government, where we often hear similar proposals.