Weed, Slavery, And Condoms… 9 Things That Americans Will Vote On Today
It’s still the wee hours of the morning in the US of A, but today, as the newsfeeds show, will be all about who’s going to be the next President. Trump is predicted to lose, but we all knew that years ago when ‘Trump or Monkey’ was a regular feature on The David Letterman Show.
Little known to most people outside of the States, Americans will not be directly voting on who will lead them but rather on an invisible Elector from the Electoral College. This person is either pro-Democrat or –Republican, or a third party. It’s them who will cast votes for either Clinton or Monkey-in-a-suit. In the last election, Obama got to serve a second term not from the 129 million public votes but rather from the 332 electoral votes he received. Despite all Trump’s claims of election-rigging, only 3 American Presidents in history have lost the popular vote but won the election via electoral votes – the last being the controversial George Bush, Jr – remember that Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11? Not unlike Malaysia, where most of the people voted for Pakatan Rakyat recently but were still denied a new government due to gerrymandering.
If it’s very confusing, fuck it. All you need to know (as Malaysians) is that Americans get to vote for more than just their President. Far more! They get to decide on several life-changing matters from recreational use of marijuana to supporting the homeless to the faith of prisoners on death row or otherwise to whether porn stars have to use condoms. And that’s a heck lot more than what we get to decide for our own country!
Here’s what’s in the air for Americans to decide today…
More Than Medicine
Currently, you can use weed for recreation in the states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska. Today, 5 more states – California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada – will vote on whether to go full-green (recreational use with safety restrictions – like limits on quantity carried per individual and restrictions for smoking in public) while four other states will vote on whether to join the 25 states that have already legalised medical marijuana.
California alone has an estimated legal marijuana market of USD2.7bn and is projected to grow to $6.4bn by 2020. Depending on whom you ask, America is either turning into a paradise reminiscent of the Summer of Love or a hell that needs Prohibition back badly.
An average American consumes a trump load of resources. If you scale it out, it’s about 1 American to 30 Indian Nationals as not-so-kindly depicted by pro-environment political activist Sunita Narain recently to global warming-poster boy Leonardo DiCaprio in NatGeo’s Before The Flood.
In Florida, the effects of turbulent hurricanes caused by global warming have left the city with no option but to spend USD400million to raise the land and build pumps in case of flooding. With Tesla pushing solar and the resurgence of the issue of global warming, more American homeowners have been tiling their rooftops with solar panels. Yay! But to poo on their parade, backed by Florida’s largest power providers, Amendment1 seeks to restrict homeowners’ ability to sell electricity they harnessed through their rooftop solar panels to the grid.
Meanwhile in Washington, a measure called I-732 that will establish the first carbon tax in the US is being voted on. Large carbon emitters will have to pay a tax of USD25 for each ton of carbon dioxide from 2018, which will eventually be risen over the course of 40 years to USD100 a ton. A good move however some are unhappy that the tax money doesn’t necessarily go back to helping environmental causes.
America is the land of the free. And while slavery is supposed to be a thing of the past, the 13th Amendment of the American Constitution on slavery has one exception — it does not apply to inmates or criminals. That exception has been exploited by the overcrowded prison system and to the point where the excess of the 2,220,300 inmates end up being ‘subbed’ out to private companies as slave labour.
In the true sense of the word ‘slavery’, inmates were forced to work under harsh conditions such as not having protective gear while doing toxic work, receiving little to no medical attention and not getting paid. As shown in the new Netflix documentary 13th, the ban on forced labour does not apply to convicts.
Colorado’s Amendment T will revoke the exception to this. Considering the prison strike across 22 states earlier this year that had echoes of Attica, it’s a start.
In California, 741 death row inmates are waiting anxiously. Two extreme outcomes are possible. The best case scenario, Proposition 62 is voted in effect. This would mean the state will abolish the death penalty and make life in prison without parole the maximum punishment for murder. They will live, all 741 of the death row inmates. Proposition 66, on the other hand, will keep the death penalty and hasten the process of appeals.
Amidst the debate, Nebraska will vote on whether to reinstate the death penalty while Oklahoma is voting on reaffirming its commitment to it after a botched attempt at a lethal injection in 2015 forced the state to cease the penalty and punishment.
Healthcare (Fuck Evil Corp – part 1)
What is more important than Education? Well, Healthcare is right up there. Bernie Sanders may have been our favourite candidate who didn’t make it but his spirit of fighting for the little guy carries on. In Colorado, voters will get a choice to support Amendment 69 aka ColoradoCare. With grassroots support, 100,000 signatures were gathered to table this measure that would ensure a USD36bn healthcare system to insure every resident of Colorado, paid for by a new 10% income tax. As usual, socialism doesn’t benefit big players, thus private health insurance providers like Anthem and Kaiser have spent more than 4 million trying to stop it.
Homelessness (Fuck Evil Corp – part 2)
At any given point in recent history, there are at least 1 million Americans living on the streets. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called it “the greatest moral crisis we face.” By allocating USD1.2bn to build housing for the poor and to introduce bond programmes, LA hopes to solve its homeless issue with dignity and support from the denizens.
In the same state of California, San Francisco, the artsy city that has always contradicted Hollywood’s glamourous image, is uncharacteristically balloting a measure that would outlaw homeless tents and force them to sleep on cold, hard concrete. Supported by a group of tech billionaires such as venture capitalist Michael Moritz, angel investor Ron Conway, and hedge fund manager William Oberndorf – each of these unceremonious corp-types have donated USD49,999 to make sure the homeless suffer more in order to keep the city ‘cleaner’.
We know it’s a joke in Malaysia, but in America, the Fight for $15 movement is gaining momentum and increasing wages across the country. Today, Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington will vote on whether to increase minimum wages above the USD7.25 federal rate.
In South Dakota, voters will decide whether to lower the minimum wage for workers under age 18 after increasing it in 2014, and then revoking it at state level before this election. South Dakota youth will not have any say in this as voting is for those 18 and above. Sorry kids!
Condoms X Porn Stars
To think that America is still on the subject of safe sex while pushing for recreational marijuana use and legalising LGBT marriages really leaves you confounded. Isn’t this the country that brought us the concept of ‘Free Love’ in the ‘60s?
It seems that even a country as liberal as America, which gave us Playboy, Sasha Grey, and furries, is still way more concerned about sex education and the image of safe sex than somewhere conservative like Malaysia.
Proposition 60 in California for porn performers specifically states ‘no glove, no love’. Well, not really. But it will require each performer to wear condoms during their shoots to which the performers argue there are already industry testing protocols and that the mandate would push the industry underground or into Nevada – where prostitution is permitted.
America was born with the gun or so the saying goes, although the NRA could use a reality check. Likewise, hunting has been a main part of American traditional culture for a while. As early as 1996, 18 states have amended their right to hunt to the level of life and liberty – meaning the right to hunt is as natural as the right to live, or the pursuit of happiness.
Indiana and Kansas hope to join the hunting trip today and forever have the right to kill unarmed animals enshrined in their constitutions. And with most of the world’s food supply controlled by those assholes at Mosanto, making like Leo in The Revenant might be an improvement. But didn’t Americans (nearly) wipe out the buffalo?
So who’s going to win the election and what do you think of American democracy now? Leave your comments below.