UK General Election

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grannybear
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Post by grannybear » Sun May 09, 2010 9:13 pm

The U.S. Constitution says you must be born in the U.S. to be President.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Austria and even though he became a citizen he cannot be president.
He can be a Governer, Congressman, Senator but not President. That's what the Founding Fathers wrote and that's the law we go by.
Every country is different and that's what makes us all so interesting.

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Heather
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Post by Heather » Mon May 10, 2010 4:59 am

Sorry! I am all about the questions today! Can you tell me if any of the laws that were laid down by the Founding Fathers have ever been changed or ammended? I remember a few years ago a huge outcry about the gun thing because isint it written that you have the right to bear arms but there was a whole group of people that wanted to abolish this right.

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Post by grannybear » Mon May 10, 2010 11:34 am

Heather......Took me awhile to answer so I could find my copy of the Constitution.
There have been 27 amendments. The last one in 1992. The first 10 were enacted in 1791 and are called the Bill of Rights. The first one guarantees the freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and to petition the government. The second concerns the right to bear arms. The controversy is about whether it just refers to militia or the individuals right to bear arms.
Amendment 18 prohibits the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors and number 21 repeals this amendment. (Whew). So amendments can be repealed.
The is NO mention of equal rights for women. An amendment for equal rights never was ratified by 3/4 of the states. Isn't that a bummer?

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Hilary the Touched
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Post by Hilary the Touched » Mon May 10, 2010 11:45 am

Dude!! I just finished my history final last night (well 3 a.m. to be specific), so I am all about the answers!!
We started off with the Declaration of Independence in 1776. That basically said, we don't want to be part of Great Britain anymore, and here's why.
That left the United States without any formal government, which was actually okay, since they'd never been a country before. They'd been separate and distinct colonies, interacting but not that strongly affiliated. That meant that each had an independent legislation already in place.
So the Continental Congress (meeting in a variety of places, since the Brits kept chasing us out) came up with the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in November 1777. It was ratified in 1781, and served us through the war.
It had a lot of problems, though. Again, since the colonies had never been conceived of as a country, each had its own state laws and powers, and they weren't very interested in giving up any of them. There were terrible problems in financing the war; the country had borrowed something like ten million dollars from France as well as money from Holland and probably other countries too. Soldiers had been fobbed off with promises of eventual land grants. The central government had no power to raise taxes--they could only Ask Nicely, and the states generally ignored them. To make any changes in the Articles also required unanimous agreement, which happened about as often as you'd expect.
So the end of the war found the U.S. in a big hole. No money and no Adult Supervision. Initially the plan, in 1786, was just to amend the Articles, but this evolved into compiling the U.S. Constitution instead. The Constitution lays out, for example, the three branches of our government: the Executive (the prez), the Legislative (Senate and House of Representatives) and the Judiciary (uh, judges. Supreme Court and . . . some others :-| ) and how they balance each other out. It also says how each will get their jobs.
It's a little surprising to us now, but at the time, it was a very controversial document. Rhode Island thought the whole enterprise was so shitty that they never even sent a delegate to attend! Several other dudes who worked on it refused to sign it because it didn't have what are called a bill of rights--it didn't spell out things like freedom of speech, the right to free assembly, etc. THAT'S all spelled out in the first ten Amendments, added in 1791.
So pretty much as it was being written they were thinking about changing it. As of this point, there are 27 amendments. Okay, two of 'em kind of cancel each other out: the 18th says you cain't have no booze and the 21st says okay actually yes you can. Which you might think would result in the removal of the 18th, but no, it's still in there. Being all embarrassing and shit.
The deal with the guns is because of a difference in perspective. In 1790, there were fewer than 4 million people in the whole country, which still only consisted of 13 states, and only 5% of 'em lived in urban areas. They'd just wrapped a big war against a global tyrant. They had no standing army, and didn't believe they wanted one. The U.S. Constitution says this about guns:
Amendment II: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
That's it.
I'm sure at the time they wrote it, they knew exactly what they meant, but now? It seems a little vague. I read it as "nobody gets to shut down the National Guard for purposes of taking over the country," but that's not the universal view.
You can read the whole thing here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Constitution. It's prolly shorter than this post!! but yeah, I believe the Founders (*I just typed "Flounders"*) anticipated that this would be a far more flexible document than we currently regard it, and it has had significant changes already. That whole "for purposes of deciding how many congressional representatives you get, we will let you count slaves as three-fifths of a human being" thing, for example. Got rid of that. Some other stuff too.
Yeah. Go check it out!
Last edited by Hilary the Touched on Mon May 10, 2010 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hilary the Touched
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Post by Hilary the Touched » Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am

p.s. Sorry, I didn't mean to just walk on your response, GB--as you can imagine, that took me a while to type!!! so I didn't see your reply!

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Helen8
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Post by Helen8 » Mon May 10, 2010 12:12 pm

Thanks for the refresher course, Hilary. I know all the main points but not the reasons behind them. It's good to remember the Whys along with the Whats.

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Heather
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Post by Heather » Mon May 10, 2010 4:09 pm

Thanks Hilary and GB, I found that really interesting. I don't know if you have ever watched North And South, they are showing double episodes at the weekend on CBS Drama, I have never seen it before and I am absolutely engrossed! The way the slaves were treated by the South is just shocking I think more so because in the grand scheme of things it really wasn't that long ago.

AND THOSE DRESSES!!! Good Lord how did they even walk? They must have weighed a ton.

I always assumed that The Constitution was set in stone so interesting to know that it is not.

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Heather
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Post by Heather » Mon May 10, 2010 4:32 pm

And thanks for the link Hilary I found The Thirteenth Amendment. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction interesting. I was watching one of the crime channels on Sky and [was it Texas] that has all those criminals working on Chain Gangs. OMG!! We should so have that in the UK but I can imagine the outcry if it was even suggested that prisoners in this country be dragged out of their cosy cells, away from their Playstations and Sky TV. It could very well be the only honest work they would ever do in their lives and for sure it would straighten some of them out. I think it's a great idea.

grannybear
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Post by grannybear » Mon May 10, 2010 5:00 pm

Thanks Hilary for your post. I found it very interesting. You went into so much more detail. I think the early history of our country and how it came to be is a must for all citizens to know.
By the same token I'm ashamed that I do not know much about other countries forms of government. Maybe that's a project I should undertake next.

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