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    • #28199
      James Lillard
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    • #28208
      James Lillard
      Participant

      This evening I attended the Zoom presentation “Elections and Voting in America with Jennifer Nicoll Victor”, put on by the George Mason branch of Fairfax County Public Libraries. In this presentation, Professor Victor covered a comprehensive range of topics related to the process of American elections, including the theories behind their function, the context in which elections currently take place, and an assessment of the current health of the process. Given the timing of this presentation, special attention was paid to the upcoming elections here in Virginia, which hold special significance on both the state- and national-levels, given their timing one year after the presidential election.

      As noted above, Professor Victor’s presentation covered a lot of ground, but the subject that appeared most significant was the assessment of the health of American elections at this time. Attendees were educated on the roots of the political polarization that colors so much of the civic discourse today. Particularly noteworthy was her explanation of how the seeds of this divide were planted in the 60’s and 70’s by the parties’ responses to the questions of civil rights and racial justice, and how these differences have been both exacerbated and entrenched in the intervening decades. This appears to be one of the primary underlying causes of negative partisanship in the present day.

      This of course led to the question of what can be done to stave off, or hopefully reverse, these trends and the accompanying degradation of American democracy. Various courses of action were touched on, most of which should be characterized as parts of an eventual solution rather than solutions in their own right. The the presentation’s end, I asked the professor which proposal she found most promising, and was very interested to hear her name Proportional Representation. She acknowledged up front the difficulty in having such a system implemented, as it would require elected officials to agree to alter the system that got them elected, though she also noted that these changes would not require a constitutional amendment, making the task at least somewhat less daunting. Such a change would also most likely spell the end of the two-part system that has dominated American politics since its inception, but this may be a necessary adjustment to break American politics out of the polarization and degradation trend.

    • #28211
      CJ Nicholson
      Participant

      Earlier this week I went to Jennifer Victor’s presentation on Elections and Voting in America hosted virtually at the George Mason Regional Library. I found, like Jim, Professor Victor’s presentation to be rather comprehensive. Professor Victor began the presentation with multiple theories relating to Democracy, and transitioned to topical issues facing democracy and election systems in the US. She incorporated a look at factors that are causing shifts related to polarization and some possible democratic backsliding that is occurring in the States. We ended with a look at VA’s current elections, and questions on how to stay positive in the face of warning bells of doom and gloom for US Democracy (one of mine), as well as ways to help protect Democracy against autocratic and populist trends. Ultimately, the lecture was incredibly insightful and I appreciate the time Professor Victor gave to share the information, viewpoints, and knowledge that she had.

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    • #28234
      James Lillard
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    • #28235
      James Lillard
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      Today while researching my state representative, Charniele Herring (D- Alexandria), I noted that she will be running unopposed for reelection this fall, as the Republican challenger, Kyle Rooney, has withdrawn from the election. When this happened is unclear, as Ballotopedia does not give any further information and the candidate’s campaign websites is still live, though rather spartan and with no evidence of recent activity. Further research uncovered an article in the local paper dated from June of this year listing Rooney amongst the Republicans running for office in November. What stuck me as unusual about this situation was the lack of available, or at least easily accessible, information on the candidate’s status. I discussed the matter with my father (also a resident of the same district). We noted that Delegate Herring has run unopposed in every election since her initial election in 2009 with the exception of 2015, where she defeated the Republican challenger by 38 points. Taken together with the dearth of information about candidate Rooney this election, we wondered whether the current situation was indicative of a lack of popular support/grassroots efforts towards conservatives generally in the district, the result of the State GOP essentially writing the district off, or some combination of the two?

    • #28236
      CJ Nicholson
      Participant

      Today I looked at Todd Gilbert’s page on the Virginia onAir hub, as he is the VA house delegate in Richmond for my district. I previously knew very little about him. I met him once when I was younger, and I had a class with his mother in high school, but beyond that I knew very little. Reading about his past, his experience, and who he is was interesting, despite the fact that I disagree with a large number of his views. It gave me better insight into who was representing me and how my county and district was voting. Reading the page certainly gave me a better perspective into some of the local/state politics of my home county.

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