February 25 - Direct & Indirect Democracy
I would like to go to my usual task of trying to get you to get an A in the class. The next question on the interface was to deal with positives and negatives of a various list of things including the first one which says bicameral legislature. I use that to a very important factor for pushing in taking an exam and doing well and that is reading the question carefully and responding to the question. One of the rules I'm going to give you is that more students don't get a decent grade because they don't read the question carefully. They often read into it or they don't read it in a wide range. They narrow it through what I would call tunnel vision with blinders on and that can be extremely dangerous in referring to exams. Now note, I am well aware that most of you are here because it's a required course. I do my job as best I can without giving you straight A's because we set standards to try and let you know that you can do it, but once again, only about a few of you seem to be able to analyze these things in that light.
So, what's the issue? The issue is why it's a bicameral legislature. The first thing I would do is define it. Otherwise you couldn't answer it. So what is it? Made up of two houses. Two separate houses. Bicameral. Two houses. What's unicameral? One house. But of course you have to answer that and of course if you didn't know what a bicameral legislature was you couldn't answer it without looking through the dictionary.
Then we have to get to the question that follows next.
well what's positive and negative? You better think about it a little. So a little critical thinking here. Where is there a bicameral legislature? In the United States? Where? In this classroom? In Washington D.C. What about the state of Washington? Yeah, probably. So both were actually accurate, you're perfectly right. Well of course you knew I would have hassled you, but yes both Washington D.C. And the state of Washington have bicameral legislatures.
In Washington D.C. it is called the House and the Senate and we use the term for both houses, Congress. In the states we don't call them a Congress. In the states we call them a legislature. A bicameral legislature. Only one state does not have a bicameral legislature and that's Nebraska. Don't ask me why. I'm not even sure where Nebraska is. I'm not sure it exists. What do they have? They have unicameral.
What are the two houses on the state level? What is the two -- anybody know what the two houses in California are? Well, state senate and a senate assembly. Most states it's a senate and assembly. I won't say all because I don't know. For the 64 thousand dollar question, who is your state senator from this area? No, Stark is the congressman, right? That means he belongs to the House of Reps? States, the state senator.Boxer is a federal senator. it's not Liz Figueroa -- Who is the state assemblyman from this district? Dutra. Now you've seen the realty signs around? That's Dutra.
Where else is there a bicameral legislature? in Britain. Yeah and what are the two houses called? House of Laws and the House of Commons. So, we've got a lot of bicameral legislature, so now answer the question. What is a positive attribute of a bicameral legislature? Separation of power at least checks and balances. Why? Because you always have a second opinion basically. Or a first. You have two different deliberating bodies which means that perhaps the legislature will be examining more carefully and that is an excellent answer to the question. However looking at most of your papers you didn't put that down. What did you put down for the positive attribute of a separation of powers without -- many of you put down that it gives the states representatives and it gives the people representatives and so the people have representatives in the house and the state has the representative in the senate or words to that effect. That is absolutely incorrect; why? Because I didn't ask you about the federal legislature in Washington. I asked you the positive attributes of a bicameral legislature. I didn't say our Washington federal bicameral legislature and when you answer a question incorrectly like that on the exam you're going to lose points because you're not reading the question. Following me? You have to be extremely cautious. Somehow or other we have this image when we talk politics it only pertains to Washington and the president. Which may explain why more people vote on federal than state. Politics includes everything from local on up. And you know, I really do get very upset. It happens every semester when somebody talks about why we're not democratic because we elect people through the electoral college. Who do we elect to
the electoral college. Just the president and vice president. They're the only two people elected through the electoral college. Who were elected by the people? Thousands. Okay only the president -- I don't think we are democratic at all -- I don't think we really have a say because we have an electoral college. Well, you know, but that has nothing to do with the whole country. it has to do with the president of the United States. So you'd have to explain it further.
What is a negative attribute of a bicameral legislature? Checks and balances. Well that's positive. Why would that be negative? Because if you want to get something passed you have to bribe two sets of people? Why else might that be negative? Notice I'm not arguing you're wrong. Another negative reason for the bicameral legislature? The point is well taken. Why? What's another negative attribute of it? A lot of people going after their own personal states -- the big picture or their own regions or -- they're own constituents' goals? I think the easiest response is that it's time consuming most of the time. When you have to go through two bodies rather than one, it takes more time generally. Not always, but general. And what might be needed rapidly may take quite awhile.
We now move onto that one area that I absolutely hate lecturing on; the electoral college. Or talking about it more than I used to, well maybe not more -- I think in all my experience of teaching the thing that I hate most or trying to explain was the international time zone. And why we lost a day or gained a day. I'm still not sure I can do that. The electoral college ain't much simpler. You'll understand it better and more specifically maybe you'll understand why.
The electoral college was a strange compromise set up by the framers of the constitution. Does any other country have an electoral college? There have been countries that have copied us, but not kept it. And some countries that have electoral colleges but they don't work the same. It's not important because most of us never think of another country with it. I think Brazil's congress the legislature elect the president. Which is sort of like the prime minister situation. So when you asked yourself where is there an electoral college, the answer is in the United States. When you defined it, how would you define it? Sit here and we're all talking about it. How do you define it if it were a five point question on the mid term? How would you define it? Simple as that. You would -- people elect the president. if you don't say president and vice president I won't take any points off, but it is the group of people who elect the president and the vice president of the United States and that's all you need to say. Do we then not elect the president of the United States? Well basically yes. We don't. It is not a democratically vote. If it were, we would be voting directly. But we vote representatives to vote the law for US. So maybe it's not anybody undemocratic then the house of reps or the house to the senate. Actually we elect them directly, but they're making the laws for us. It used to be that we elected the members of state legislature and they elected the senators, but in 1913 that was changed. So why did the framers set up the strange electoral college system where -- does anybody know how many people elect the president today? 438 people - I'm sorry. 538 people only get to vote. 538 people get to vote for president only. Am I saying that you don't vote for president at all? Legally, yes. You don't vote for president. Who do you vote for? The electors who then vote for president. So what is that saying? Don't you see the name of the president of the -- the candidate? No. Actually you are voting for people who were going to vote for that person. And they haven't put their names on the ballot. You actually aren't voting for the person whose names is on there. usually.
Now, was that the way it was originally? Yeah. More or less. However, let's explain it further. The framers of the Constitution almost as a body believed that the people could not participate in politics because they didn't know very well what was good for the country, no less for themselves. And so the attitude was to elect somebody that knew better than you, what was good for you. And more specifically, one, you could elect somebody to the house of reps because area and your money need representing. The reason was to represent the whole country and you might not know who was best for the whole country, but people in your community who knew politics would probably know more about what person would function best for your community in the whole country as president. And could get elected president.
So they set up a strange indirect system to avoid mobocracy. They used synonymous as democracy. They believed. Was when the people ruled through passion rather than reason. They said the same about democracy. It creates irrational election. Therefore, we allow the emotion on the local level because it will be less of it but they would be elected by people who would know in their states who was best throughout the whole 13 states. Let's say Fremont, the city, most of you live in, not all, was a state and it's population by the way is probably larger than -- of the states we have 185,000 people in the city of Fremont, not many states have them. Maybe Pennsylvania and New York and Virginia the largest city at the time the constitution was written was Philadelphia. And it had a population of 35,000 people that was the largest city. Now 35,000 is probably -- I'm not even sure of Union city is probably bigger probably more like 50,000. Pleasanton maybe 25? 56,000? Is it? So you know, it's hard to even find a city today with 35,000 people. The city of Boston, the city that helped inspired the revolution with the Tea Party and the massacre had a population of 10,000 people; that's the population of Ohlone college. It's time for an Ohlone college massacre. No, I do that when I give you your grades. Got to watch what you say now a days.
So in Fremont on the ballot, you'd see the names of the people who knew best, what was good for the country because they were known in politics. Their names would appear on the ballot. I think that's the names. Who were these people? City council. Morrison is the mayor. So these are the people who would know best what was good for the country. So now you have to choose who you're going to vote for. Well, you look at the ballot and you say who were you going to vote for? Kirshner? Well Kirshner will vote for Kirshner, but I'm not sure about Morrison. They don't tell you, do they? Because you knew that they knew better than you, right? Well Americans don't buy that. You know, we want to know who people are voting for and so very soon if not immediately, they began to insist on the ballot the people tell you who they were going to vote for.
So, on the ballot we have Morrison said he'd vote for Jefferson. Wasserman says held vote for Madison. Zlotnik says she'll vote for Betsy Ross. Pierce said he'll vote for King George the Third. Ziegler. Well, you know, I said so. So who were you going to vote for? Well? Some of you vote for Washington, but you're not voting for Washington. We don't even have Washington up there? You don't get the vote for Washington for first president none of these people are going to vote for Washington. Obviously, times have changed. Okay so let's get realistic. Let's go to the year 2000. They say there are 123 people whether to run for president. I'm not going to list 123. I'm going to attempt to be realistic.
In the democratic party who will probably be the candidate? Gore. Bradley will challenge him but -- Dan Quayle - is he going to run, but I don't think he's got a chance of getting the nomination. Who probably will if he runs? Bush is leading by far. In fact, the polls show Bush leading Gore in California which is strongly democratic. We're talking George Bush Jr 4th, 5th, or 6th. I don't know. And of course we'll probably see, Ross Perot. So these are the people who are going to run for president in the year 2000.
Let's take California. How many people get to vote for president in California? I said there was 538 and there are 54 who get to vote. 54 only. Those are the electors. How do they term the number? They do that based on the House of Representative California they're not the same. They're not supposed to be the same but the amendment is the same. There are 52 members of house of reps, so we get 52 plus two senators. So we get 54. So California has 54 electors out of the how many did I say were there? 538. We get 10%. To get an elected president we need an actual majority, so California votes since it is win or take all, whoever wins California gets 20% of the number of votes to be president. Does it therefore make sense to go to Alaska with three votes? I ain't going to spend my money in Alaska when I can get 54 votes in California which let's you know why candidates come to California. And don't go to Hawaii or Alaska as nice as it's supposed to be there, I suppose.
So, I said 54 people vote. And the person who wins the vote, their people vote. Does that mean that there are more than 54 electors? It sure does. Gore has 54 people Bush has 54 Perot 54 people. , What do we got here? Okay we have a ballot here. How are they chosen? Well 54 people for Bush or Gore will probably be chosen by the political party after the convention. These are people whose only job it is to vote for president if their candidate wins. They are being rewarded because they work hard in the party or gave a lot of money. It's a reward. At the -- the ones that win get to go to Sacramento in mid-December to vote for president. So the actual election takes place in mid December and then it is counted on January 3rd in front of the House and Senate. The official count. Is that making any sense? I see some strange looks out there. I thought it was pretty simple.
So, the democratic party and Gore select 54 people they figure will vote for him. Bush and the republican party select four people that will vote for him. Perot will select 54 people that would vote for him it's itself. On the ballot today if they want to put down the names of people to vote we would have to put if they had four candidates there 216 names is that right? Now that's a long ballot, so when you vote for Bush, or Gore who were you voting for? Your voting for 51 -- 54 of their bodies or friends who say they're going to vote for you. When the time comes. Do they have to? In most states, no. The Supreme Court did rule that it was legal for the political parties to mandate and this is recent, that the electors voting for the president, however most states do not mandate it. Most parties did not. Leaving them the option of not voting for the person they said they were going to vote for. Will they change their vote then? No. Why? Because they are men and women of honor. They will get their ass kicked out of the party. They will embarrass themselves. Has it ever happened? Yes. It has. A number of times. Last time it happen was ten years ago in 1988. In the year 1988, an elector from West Virginia who was scheduled to vote for Michael Dukakis instead voted for his vice president candidate Benson. she wanted to prove how stupid the college is if I really thought about it, I would have voted for Kitty.
In 1976, a elector from Oregon who was suppose to vote for Gerald Ford. So it has happened. Has it effected the outcome? As I said, it is unlikely that it would. What is more the question is the winner take all and every state but maybe it is a winner take all primary. Meaning, the person who gets one more vote in California will get all their 54 people to vote.
So, if Gore gets 7 million votes and Bush gets 6,999,999 99. Perot gets a hundred thousand. Kirshner gets one. Okay. He has to vote for himself. All 54 of whose people vote? Gore. Bush gets no votes. Be in the electoral college when they meet in December in Sacramento. Any questions so far?
How would you go about changing that? You'd have to change the constitution. The question I'm going to pose in a little while is why hasn't it been changed. Well not the electoral college, but the winner take all. Oh, that's a good question. It can be done through the state legislature. What they did in Maine was they divided the state into two districts, half and half, and what happens is they have five electoral votes. So two go to the individual from one half if they win the other two go to -- if one area of course they get four. One individual is elected to vote from the top vote throughout the whole state. So that was down through the state legislature of Maine. Is that something we do with a ballot measure? Yeah. Actually you could do it with a proposition on the ballot as far as I understand it. There's no reason why we - California has an extensively large constitution because we do allow initiatives which allow for constitutional amendments. I am not a constitutional scholar of California. I am assuming the answer is yes. It makes all the sense in the world to me. It can be done that way considering what happened in Maine. It does not have to be done through the federal government. I'm sure it will be challenged.
California has got the problem now that will be challenged in the courts. We passed a constitutional amendment to get rid of what is called closed primaries. In California, up until 2 years ago you could only vote in your own parties primary. Two years ago we passed a proposition that said that people from other parties can choose which party they want to vote in. Based on the laws of both the republican and the democratic parties any delegates elected to the democratic convention will not be allowed there. In other words, California will not be allowed to send to vote for a candidate to run for president. The reason is because we have an open primary. Now that's going to be challenged. It makes all the sense in the world to me candidly. Why should a republican get to vote for a democrat? Why should - it's not voting for the person when we go to the polls we vote for the person and that's what most people in California do. We should allow most people to vote for whoever they want to when you choose it should be the members of party voting.
So the closed primary made a lot of -- the open makes no sense on that basis, but most people want the open primary because they were deprived of voting for the better candidate in November. So the parties themselves were opposed to it in fact. Probably put a proposition on the ballot to change it for presidential primary in the year 2000. It was divided by the people. Close, but defeated. So California will run into trouble in the year 2000 it will appear in the courts and it will be interesting to see what compromise. They're going to have to come up with something because the party rules say that you have a closed primary.
Any questions on the electoral college? It's different from the primary. Because in the primary, what are you electing? You're electing to choose a candidate for president. When are the primaries usually held? Usually the year of the election and usually in February, March of that year. California used to run it in June, but it's moved it to March and then where are the convention held? They are held in the summer before the election. The party empowers convention is first. The
party out of power second. Or the party in power second, the power out of the power first. Right. -And usually the party out of power will have it's convention at the end of July. The party in power will have it in August where they will select a candidate for running for president.. Well, one of the. problems because of the primary system is and it's happened three times in our history that people have gotten the most popular vote have not been president. Let's say New York which has 37 electoral votes. In New York, Gore gets five thousand, five million votes. And Bush gets seven million and Perot gets a hundred thousand again and Kirshner gets five. He's got relatives there. who's going to be president if there were only two states there? Well Gore would be president because he's got 54 electors, Bush only has 37, but who's got the more popular vote? Bush. But Bush has 14 million, Gore has 12 million. By far.
So the popular vote does not determine the president by any means. As you can go see. Last time the conflict happened was in the year 1888 in the Cleveland, Harrison election. Cleveland got a popular vote majority. Or plurality more than the Harrison. But Harrison got the necessary majority in the electoral college. In those years we didn't have the 50 states. So the number for the electoral college -- speaking about the college, how many senators are there? 100. Two for each state. There are 50 states. How many representatives? 435. Could have said 4 -- thinking it is 538 electors Kirshners that the electors number are determined by the members of house and senate which make it 438. No, there are only 435 which leaves you how many extra? Three. Where do they come from. D.C. By constitutional amendment has three as if it were a state. They don't have any in the house or senators they have observers. But they don't have a vote you about they do have a vote by president by amendment.
If Puerto Rico were elected as a state and had two senators and a representative, how many electors would there now be? 541? There would be 540 not -- why 540? 541 sounds logical, but there won't be, it will be 540. Because we would have two more senators making a hundred and two, right? However, the number of members in the house is limited to 435 by law. It can never go up. And so, where would Puerto Rico gets its one representative there? Possibly California, but it can be any state depending on the proportion of California. So it would have to come out of the 435. Do you follow that? Is that why like Puerto Rico isn't it will be blocked from allowing Puerto Rico from becoming a state? No. There's pressure. It's a pretty close vote. There's many people that want to maintain the non state system because better tax benefits for some reason, but apparently they're better benefits for businesses by not being -- as big as it was in the 1950s there was an attack and an attack planned on president Truman for an assassination by Puerto Rican nationalists but in 1950, a number I think it was three, Puerto Rican nationals went into house of representative and open fired. Killing one or two representative at the time. Three of them went in and only killed two guys? You know, it's always amazed me when you open fire and even the weapons weren't as strong, but even today you see these people shooting all over the place and it's amazing how few people rarely get killed in those kind of massacres in school areas or whenever like the Stockton school years, the guy should have mowed down everybody there and you know irrationality of it is what happens, but they are not aiming and that's the difference. When a guy gets up on a tower as they did at the University of Texas and just start shooting one shot at a time, that's another story.
It's the same thing you know in prisons. I had a prison guard in class one day and they talked about stabbing. See, when they stab in prison, they usually do it out of anger and they'll stab you 23 times and people don't die because they never hit a vital stop. When a person stabs you once, you're dead. Because that person is rational and knows where he's going with the knife. Makes some sense. I hope I don't ever experience it. Things make sense sometimes. They don't make sense, like burning high schools to the -- I was going to say most people use assault weapons, and they're defined to leave the body lining to just exist out the back and the stopping power from guns and the killing power come from when the bullet stops and expands in the body. Well that's what they do. There's a big sting to it.
San Jose police just accepted or are now permitting the police to use hollow point round because apparently they will open up in the body and because of that it will have a greater stopping power and that's apparently a number of police force now allowing police to use the hollow round for just that reason. Obviously with assault weapons many are allowed to carry them. Where previously they were carrying .45s which were less accurate than assault weapons. Six shots instead of -- or .38s which are fairly accurate. The -45s are not. So the police are getting some fire power but it's an expense proposition.
What are the positive and negative attributes of the electoral college? Well I think all of us can name the negative? Popular vote doesn't matter. It's not democratic. What is the positive and that of course might be questionable, what is it? Balances out the stupid factor. That's certainly not wrong for the people who set it up, but there's actually a more logical reason. The states receive perks, The larger the state the better the perks. The small states don't get as much, What does that mean? I just alluded to it earlier. If I'm running for president. California lots of times.I'm going to go to
And when I go to California I got to give something to the state to get a state leader to give me support to get out the vote. So I'm going to promise them to take care of, protect against, off-shore drilling, to save the spotted owl, make sure that the companies here get the super conductor or whatever -- that was one of the big issues a number of years ago. So with those kind of promises if I get elected, I better damn well adhere to many of them or try to. Otherwise not a second time because patronage and they're take care of big states so beneficial to the local states and the local politicians of states to get those kind of benefits.
Obviously the small states aren't going to get benefits but they don't matter as much. Out of the electoral college - ten states can elect the president of the fifty. You could lose every vote in all the other forty states and still become president. Losing millions popular votes and still become president with one vote in each city getting a majority. So, the electoral college does benefit. What happens if this were a direct vote for president? Well, the states don't benefit as much. Because generally a candidate for president is not going to make trips as much to the states. He can make general statements on the TV through the media. He'll talk about more general subjects like no new taxes. Or education, that's the biggy now. And these are nice, general things that will hit everybody, but they don't necessarily mean more money to the states. So changing the electoral college is detrimental to the big states immediately. It also has a certain impact in other small states.
If no candidate gets a majority of the electrical college, how is the president elected? Congress? Well, House of Reps. The House of Reps elects the president, the Senate elects the vice president. In the House of Reps, the vote is cast one for each state. How many votes then does it take to elect the president in the house of reps? 26. How many members of house? 435. So each state gets one vote. Which means Alaska is then equivalent despite California's 52 reps. So there's a little benefit if it had happen and 1876 and 1824. The house of reps elected the president basically. You said that Cleveland had the popular vote, but Harrison won the vote. Was Cleveland president twice? Yeah. Cleveland was president. He's the only president to be elected twice to different terms. Twice but not consecutively. He lost to Harrison and came back again in 1892. At which time he married a 23 year old woman in the white house. And had a baby.
Clinton's got another scandal. Are you talking about Jane Doe No. 5? Oh, well she was Jane Doe No. 5. That is congress was able to see, but the press was not, her name. She was saying he really has done worse things. They were trying to convince people in the house, and in this case they're charging him with assault, but it really amounts to rape if the charge is carried out, it was one of those -- you know it's not easy like Paula Jones. They called her Jane Doe No. 5 so she doesn't look like Paula Jones. -- well, in any case. The more that the republicans bring out people to attack Bill Clinton the greater chance Hillary has getting the senate from New York. It's really strange. I think they're hurting themselves in the long run. Why do I say that? Well Time Magazine recently had a graph to show that every time he gets accused the sympathy for her, she was one of the most hated women in this country, Bill Clinton was loved and every time Bill Clinton comes through as a bad guy or unfaithful husband, everybody gets this sympathy for Hillary. So she's way up here now in the popularity in the polls and she's showing that if she were to run for senator she would kill the New York incumbant by - only 29% of the New Yorkers would vote for, what's his name? Whatever the name of the -- but he said he doesn't want to. He would consider not running, yeah, he may run instead for governor, he might - - the farther you get away from the states the greater the popularity. I'm sure Willie Brown's popularity is greater outside of San Francisco than inside. And while New Yorkers like him as mayor the farther you get away, the better. Because I really like Willie Brown. I think he's done a great job for San Francisco, but boy is he getting attacked? You know that's the Mayor of San Francisco, right? We've got two Browns as mayor. One in San Francisco and one in Oakland and the only thing they agree on is the bridge. They don't want that bridge to be where it's going to be and they don't like the design of the bridge. I like the design.
I think the reason that the popularity for Hillary is going -- , is because of the equivalence of the cry wolf factor. The fact that the reps keep saying that this guy is bad. I think the people feel sorry for her that she is a - what's the word I'm looking for? She's been - that her husband cheats on her, but it's not like she didn't know that. But it doesn't matter. Especially with people who always believe - you know Americans take the side of the under dog. So it has been traditional in this country that you know nobody's going to argue that she didn't know or she wasn't aware of who she was mayor and so they weren't doing it for her own power or real his -- it's just that she's now the underdog. Did they say that she wouldn't go get a divorce yet? Not at all. There has been no implication. They were in a legal separation for a short period of time in Arkansas. That does not mean they filed for divorce necessarily. Not that I know of. But there was a separation. It may not have been legal. I think Chelsea should run for office. Sympathy vote? Student body. There's no such thing as a student body. Well there are student bodies, but -
Any questions on the electoral college then? Hopefully you understand better. Most of the you will agree that it should go bye bye. But there has been no successful movement even if you asked politicians, 80% of them would say get rid of it, but too much tradition and the fear of what you might bring instead. What might happen, as we point out in my text book, in San Diego county a number of years ago there was a split between the major candidates in the democratic parties, and the minor candidate who was head of KKK got the nomination for congress. And the fear is that that could happen at the presidency level. If you don't have strong parties, you might have some strange third party person whom the Americans don't support, pull out the popular election by a small plurality. Not a majority not even a -- by 1% or 2% of the vote let's say all 123 people decided to run.
Recall next? On the sheet? Plurality. What is that? What's a plurality vote? When you have more than the other person but not necessarily the majority. Simple definition? What is the positive attribute of a plurality vote? Positive attribute is the election is over with and the person who may not have the majority vote but the most votes win. The negative? The person who doesn't have the most votes you could get a candidate who is a fringe candidate doesn't get the support of anybody near the people most areas of the world and in the US as well where there is a plurality vote for election for mainly positions like governor or president in other countries have a run off election. So that the two or three top candidates compete, gets each other for the majority to make it a majority. However, that will mean a second election. And we're usually so tired of those ads and the negativisms, forget the millions upon million of dollars that are spent for the election. Most persons are not supportive of a popular vote and then a run-off election - they wouldn't support it very much.
What do we mean by recall? The ability to remove the people they elect out of the office during their term of office. You can always remove somebody out of the other, so it's the ability to remove people out of the office during their term. Where does recall exist? Yeah in California. Actually anywhere almost in California has recall. It does not exist on the federal level. I guess I should have said where doesn't it exist? It does not exist on the federal level and in many states. It is very popular in western states, but does not exist in many states. It's one of the four or so direct democratic reforms introduced at the turn of the century in the states. The political parties never liked people to control what's going on in the party they want to control it so recall wasn't very popular back east. It did not exist in New York state when I was there. It may have some now. But recall is the ability to remove somebody from office by popular vote during their term of office. On the federal level how do we get somebody out of office? Well we don't, who does? Congress. Through impeachment process. So we don't have anything to do with the impeachment process beyond expressing our points of view on talk shows.
However, in California and many western states we have impeachment for the legislature to carry without but we have the capacity of individuals to circulate a petition stating reasons why the person should be removed. The reasons don't have to be valid, we just need to state it. And if there are enough signatures on the petition on the ballot people get to vote to remove somebody. The person is not removed by the petition, they may be able to defeat the election and state in office. We have had recalls here in Fremont, the city counsel, and certainly the school board twice has had recalls.
There was a talk last night of recalling members of Ohlone college board of trustees because the classified, the secretarial staff, the skills staff, has not received a raise in about 6 or 7 years and they haven't followed through on their studies and they're -- I don't know why they're treating them the way they are. It's really absolutely atrocious. They're by far the lowest pay in the bay area. And I'm talking for the sake of it, is that a young man from the business was who was in my class last semester got so tired of what was going on here he took a job at another community college the same position
and is getting fifteen thousand more a year. Now, that just gives you a picture. I'm serious of what the pay is. Is almost nonlivable for our staff and they haven't -- they gave the maintenance worker and staff an increase. I don't know what they got against the secretaries. And the records office. And it's not all women either. Well, in any case there is talk of recall. So recall.
What is a positive attribute? People don't like them they can get them out. Well it's not so much -- but if they're not doing their work after they've been elected people decide they've made a mistake, they don't have to decide to the next election. They can get them out right away. So you can remove somebody when they're not doing their job anymore rather than have to wait. Forces people to keep their promises.
What's a negative? Forces people to keep their promises. Negative? A negative aspect of recall is that in most cases it could be frivolous meaning that people can get together get enough signatures cost a lot of money and people really don't want to remove the person. They might do it because they don't like the person which has nothing to do with the way they're doing their job. Which was, of course, one of the criticisms of the congress impeachment process. Many people felt that Clinton is doing his job and felt what happened in the white house had nothing to do with his job at all so t was a frivolous kind of charge just his family and his moral leadership programs. Right or wrong, that's the way the American public responded in the press and I guarantee you that if after elections had taken place as to recall Clinton or not if the polls were in any indication he will have won over well mainly to remain in office. Despite the charges. But as I've indicated before I think that could have changed if the economy were bad if his foreign policy had not been as successful as it has been. It's really strange how he has come through even though it look like nothing's going on there the reality is that he's very well respected. Maybe because of Albright and her hard nosed approach. I don't know. But many people forget that his foreign policy and his military background which was had hurt him internationally. I'm still not a Clinton fan, sorry. I express my personal point of view.
Equal opportunity. What do we mean by it? That everybody should be allowed to achieve their full potential. Everybody should be given the opportunity to achieve their full potential. That's better. Positive attribute? If people achieve their full potential, we have a healthier and more protective society which benefits all of us. So equality benefits all of us. What is the negative of the principle of equal opportunity? Brings some people down like the people who really excel. It may bring down people to mediocrity. We talked about that. In the demand for equal opportunity it may cause some people to be requirement in what they can fully achieve. In other words, that's one process. The other could be the issue of liberty. Equal opportunity may take away from others, their liberties. Their freedom of choice when we try to create potential for all people. And of course if you've ever read any books by -- that's the whole major element of the thesis that people who were creative should have a right to determine their own creativity. But in a society where we demand equal opportunity we may determine that the store owner can't run the business the way he wants because he has to serve people he does not want to serve and feels it will be detrimental to the business. Any questions on equal opportunity? Or the principal of it?
Let's go back to your chart then. I identified to you that liberty meant taking into account others and the impact you had on others. I said liberty was not license. That equality was equal opportunity. Not equality of condition. But people had a right under the law to be treated equality to express themselves equality. However one of issues that I pointed out when we were talking about the interfaces was the congress that something arises between equality and liberty. And perhaps the biggest in recent years has been a term that has caused a lot of stir; affirmative action. Now, I didn't define that in here yet did I? I don't recall doing that. Let me start out by saying that sometimes the way you define something helps you win an argument. So I can say by my definition that I am a firm believer in affirmative action. I do agree that there have been abuses. I don't agree that it should be ended, but amended. But we cannot amend it if people have a mentality of abuse. And see affirmative action or carry it out in a abusive faction. Affirmative action has no quotas. It was never quotas.
One of the applications in some businesses and in government has at times led to quotas. But quotas can create inequality rather than equality. Affirmative action was defined to level the playing field and make up for past grievance. Another question that appears is how long do you continue the process of making up for the past? Well if it was 200 years in the past, maybe it will take 200 years to make up for it.
But let me define one of the first words in affirmative action definitions creates most of the conflict. rPreference. Affirmative is giving preferences to individuals from groups that are under represented or have been denied access to power. It's giving preferences to groups who have been denied access to power or under represented. If, and here's the kicker, that also causes problems. If they are equal or near equal, inequal if they have equal or near equal qualifications, if they have equal or near equal qualifications, we no longer use the term minority. It becomes a hot word for many people. We mention the Irish. Well the Irish are a minority. There are Irish folks that are insulting, but the Irish are not under affirmative action, why? By that definition why aren't they? They don't seem under represented. If they are anything maybe over represented at sometimes considering the number of Irish in our country. So they're not represented in the hauling of power even though they may be a minority in the families that have immigrated to the United States.
So the term minority would be incorrect. The women are actually a majority, but they are under affirmative action because they are under represented in power and they had been denied access to power.