Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kevin Rudd

I hope this post will get me caught up on current events. I'm confused about the elections and all that. Are they coming up? What's the chance that Tony Abbott will be Prime Minister #27?

What do I know about Kevin Rudd?

He's from Queensland.

He speaks Mandarin...oh, and English too. HappyOrganist, if you're reading this, I figure you'd be excited about that.

Rudd was caught eating his own earwax, but denies the allegations. I personally think he should just admit to it. It's a bit gross, but not unethical or anything.

He acted angry at a flight attendant for bringing him the wrong meal.

He gave a formal apology to the Aborigines.

He has an Asian relative...maybe a nephew?

I like Kevin Rudd. I think he's adorable. When we got to see him live in Parliament, that was one of those most exciting moments of my life. All we saw was the back of his head, but that's okay. It was great anyway.

I fear I'll dig up stuff about Rudd that will make me lose my love for him. I doubt it though. The guy's a politician. Of course, he's not going to be perfect. No one is perfect, but politicians are especially not. I don't think I'll end up being too disillusioned.

So. Let's begin.

I'm going to start with the National Archives Prime Minister site. Here's the Before Office page. They have an awesome photograph. It's of Kevin Rudd as a teenager. He has fairly long hair, and doesn't look like someone you'd expect to become Prime Minister. He looks like the type of kid who'd star in a 1960's Disney Movie. Oh, and there's this older man in the photo who totally looks like the Dad on Fraser.

Baby Kevin was born on 21 September 1957. He's young. He wouldn't even be old enough to be a teen in a 1960's Disney movie. It would have to be a 1970's one instead.

The National Archives doesn't say where he was born, but they do say he grew up in Eumundi. I'll ask Lord Wiki about the birthplace. He says it was Nambour, Queensland.

I'm going to look at Google Maps.

The two places are right next to each other....maybe almost one and the same. Eumundi is about twenty minutes north of Nambour. They're both in the Sunshine Coast.

Rudd grew up on a farm, and says his childhood was idyllic.

He had three older siblings.

He went to Eumundi Primary School. I found a website for an Eumundi State School. I wonder if it's the same place. It might not be. I'm seeing stuff on Google that makes me think there's a separate primary school. They might just not have a website.

Rudd's happy childhood ended when he was eleven. His dad died in a car accident. That's horribly sad. I wonder if tragedies like that enhance the happy memories of your earlier childhood. If you don't have something bad happen, you might take the easy times for granted. Although I see part of my childhood as idyllic, and I didn't have any big tragedies. It was the time we lived in Madison Wisconsin. I was there from kindergarten until third grade. But although I didn't have an awful tragedy, I did have a rough adjustment to the move to St. Louis. I never loved any of my childhood/teen places as much as Madison. So maybe I see Madison as idyllic because I have something to compare it too. If we stayed in Madison, maybe I would have taken it for granted.

After Rudd's father died, his mother went to retrain as a nurse. While she did that, Rudd was sent to boarding school at Marist College. He did that for two years. Then his mother got a job in Nambour, and Rudd went to Nambour State High School. I'm guessing they might have lost their farm.

I was wondering if the school's website would mention Rudd. They do, on the very first page. And Wayne Swan went there as well. The National Archives says that Swan was two grades ahead of Rudd, and he was the school captain. I wonder if they were friends at all.

Rudd joined the Labor Party when he was only fifteen.

In 1975, he was dux of his school. I think that's equivalent to our valedictorian. Yeah, Lord Wiki says I'm right.

After Rudd graduated, he didn't run off to a university. He spent a year in Sydney. What did he do there? The National Archives doesn't say. I think it's top secret. Or maybe he did go to school in Sydney. Maybe they're saying he did a year at a Sydney school, and then transferred.

Anyway, he ended up at the National University in Canberra. His degree was in Asian studies. I love that. It's so different from the usual Prime Minister degrees, law, business, economics....

While in school, Rudd did a thesis on a Chinese man named Wei Jingsheng. I'll ask Lord Wiki who that is.

Jingsheng is a Chinese democracy activist. He spoke out against the communist government in China.

I wonder how Rudd became interested in him. I wonder how he became interested in China in general. Was his love of Asia like my love for Australia?

After Rudd graduated, he got married to Therese Rein. Then Rudd joined the Department of Foreign Affairs. He became what's known as a cadet diplomat. That sounds fun.

Rudd and Rein spent time in Stockholm and Beijing. While Rudd was there, he became fluent in Mandarin. That's so cool.

In 1986, Rudd and Rein returned to Canberra. It looks like they were gone from 1982 to 1986. I'd love to spend four years living in another country...especially Australia. Sweden would be too cold for me, probably.

While Rudd and Rein were living abroad, they had some babies. First came Jessica, and then Nicholas. I'm trying to do some math now.....

I think Jessica is about twenty-six now, and Nicholas would be around twenty-four. I wonder if they speak Chinese at all. Did Rudd talk to them in Mandarin when they were young?

My nephew's dad is fluent in Spanish, and both his parents are trying to make the baby bilingual. When they talk to him, they use a lot of Spanish words. Hopefully, it will work. I think it's much easier to create a bilingual child if you're actually fluent in another language. If you're not, I think it would be hard. Does anyone have any success stories regarding this?

Oh wait. I should have read down a bit. The National Archives says that Nicholas ended up attending University in Shanghai. I bet he speaks Chinese. Hey, that gives me hope that my Australia obsession will continue to rub off on Jack. We joke that he's going to go to university in Australia. Maybe it will actually happen.

Rudd continued to work for the Department of Foreign Affairs. Then he took a leave of absence to help with the campaign of Wayne Goss. Goss was trying to be Premier of Queensland. He won. It was a big deal because he was the first Labor Premier since 1957. I'm getting opposing information though. The National Archives says, Wayne Goss became the first Labor Premier of Queensland since Joh Bjelke-Peterson had wrestled government from Labor 33 years before. But Lord Wiki says there hadn't been a Labor government since Francis Nicklin became Premier. The dates are pretty much the same, but there's disagreement on the who aspect.

Well, I'm not going to worry about it too much. I'll add Wayne Goss to my list, and I can learn more about it then.

After Goss won, Rudd continued to work for him. He became Chief of Staff, and Director-General of the Cabinet Office.

In 1993, the Rudd's had their third child. This was Marcus. He'd be about seventeen now.

At this point (1990's) the family lived in Brisbane.

Rudd started doing some Federal stuff. He chaired a committee regarding teaching Asian languages in school.

From 1994 to 1998, Rudd got to be president of his local Labor Party branch. In 1996, he had tried to get the Federal seat of Griffith, but that didn't work out. He tried again in 1998, and this time he got it. By 2001, Rudd was Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In 2006, he replaced Kim Beazley as leader of the Labor Party. About a year later, he was Prime Minister.

I'm going to take a break, and then I'll read about Rudd's time in office. Oh, I just thought of it. There won't be an After Office page to read. That hasn't happened yet. And I hope it doesn't happen anytime soon.

I'm back.

When Rudd took his oath on 3 December 2007, he didn't mention the Queen of England. Paul Keating was the first to make such an omission.

The National Archives takes up a lot of space on this page just listing all the members of Rudd's Cabinet.

I have to take another break. Jack has decided he wants to eat.

Okay. I'm back again.

Rudd's first big official act of business was signing the Kyoto Protocol...that environmental thing. Australia and the United States had been the only members of the United Nations not to sign it. That's so embarrassing. Has the United States signed it yet? Well, this New York Times article from 2009 says Obama didn't sign it, but there was plans for a new treaty in Copenhagen. They sound optimistic. Unfortunately, from what I remember hearing, Copenhagen didn't really have great results. I'm not sure if a treaty was developed, and whether Obama signed it.

On 13 February 2008, the Australian Aborigines were finally given a formal apology. This was done on the opening of Parliament. Does Parliament usually open in February? That's when we were in Canberra. We were actually in Canberra for the year anniversary of Sorry Day. Although we started driving to the South Coast on the 13th. But we were in Canberra that morning, at least.

The Parliament of Australia has a page about the opening of Parliament. It looks like it's not always in February.

There's something called prorogation. I think it just means that a session of Parliament has ended...kind of like the school year ending for the summer holiday. After the prorogation, Parliament opens. It's a tradition for the Governor-General to make an opening speech. The website names all the dates of Parliament's opening, but stops at 2008. So I don't know if Parliament had opened the week that we were there.

Anyway, back to 2008. That opening was unique because it involved an Aboriginal ceremony by a Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder. The Ngunnawal were the original owners of the Canberra area. Maybe Ngambri were too? Yeah, Lord Wiki says they are. Although it's all a bit confusing. There's some controversy. I'm not going to go into that now. It just seems there might be some argument about who is the traditional owners of the land.

Here's a video of the opening ceremony. The Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder, Matilda House, says the apology is tomorrow. So I guess this opening was done on the 12th. Anyway, it's beautiful. I have tears. I don't think I've ever seen that before today. I have seen the apology speech though. Here's the transcript.

And I love this video. It's almost always guaranteed to make me cry. The part starting at :27 really gets to me. Who is that? I also love the part beginning at 1:26. I don't know who that guy is either. And my other big crying part starts at 2:40, and moving into the Keating lines.

Missy Higgins is adorable like always.

I do disagree with the guy at the end. What's the deal with blood color? If we're not to judge people by the color of their skin, why should we judge them on the color of their blood? Willie and Martin from V had green blood, and they were very good people.

A few months after the big apology, Rudd did some major traveling. He met with George W. Bush, and then went to Brussels, London, and China. Then later, they went to Indonesia and Japan.

In April, Rudd stayed in Australia for that big 2020 summit. This is where various important people from the community got together and made plans for Australia's future.

Well, I'm pretty much done with the National Archives page.

I guess I'll go elsewhere now.

Here's Rudd's Parliament page. They have a link to his Prime Minister page where you can email Rudd. That is so cool. I totally want to email him, but I don't really know what to say. Maybe.... What does your earwax taste like? That's kind of a dumb question because if I want to know I can taste my own earwax. I bet all earwax tastes the same. Although there could be ethnic and geographical variations. Maybe age and gender as well.

I'll have to come back to this page in a minute. I want to look at his first speech on the Parliament site. This occurred on 11 November 1998. I lived in New York City at that time. 1998 was the year of Armageddon, Mulan, and There's Something about Mary. I was thinking about There's Something about Mary the other day. I was putting hair product in my hair, and it kind of left little white clumps in my hair...reminded me of a certain scene from the movie.

I like the first lines of Rudd's speech. Politics is about power. It is about the power of the state. It is about the power of the state as applied to individuals, the society in which they live and the economy in which they work. Most critically, our responsibility in this parliament is how that power is used: whether it is used for the benefit of the few or the many.

Rudd talks about how the left and rights of politics have moved into some kind of mythical center. He disagrees with this, and says, I believe that there remains a fundamental divide between our two parties on the proper role of the state in a modern economy and society.

Rudd says his dad was a member of the Country Party. He talks about being a young member of the Labor Party in a community in which such a thing wasn't exactly popular.

Oh! It looks like his dad's death was what changed him. He says, But when my father was accidentally killed and my mother, like thousands of others, was left to rely on the bleak charity of the time to raise a family, it made a young person think. It made me think that a decent social security system designed to protect the weak was no bad thing.

Amen to that. It reminds me of a book I read that was written by one of the widows of September 11. She and her husband were both Republicans, but after the husband died, her experiences with the Republican party, made her convert to the left.

Rudd says, We are all the product of our own experiences and the ideas with which we have been confronted. These are the simple experiences and unremarkable beliefs which cause me to sit proudly here rather than on the benches of those opposite. I love that. I don't know if Rudd always lives up to these things he says in his speech. I'm sure he's not perfect. I'm sure he's made mistakes. But I think he does have good intentions.

I also love the conclusion of his speech. I do not know whether I will be in this place for a short or a long time. That is for others to decide. But what I do know is that I have no intention of being here for the sake of just being here. Together with my colleagues it is my intention to make a difference.
I should just go ahead and join the Kevin Rudd fan club. If he became a cult leader, I'd probably join that too.

Okay. This is a bit overwhelming. There's a Kevin Rudd Labor Party website, AND the Prime Minister site. I'm thinking it would be redundant to look at both sites, but I'm not sure which one to choose.

Instead of deciding, I'm reading Facebook updates, and watching the video again.

Well, maybe I'll look at both. This page of the Prime Minister site has photos of The Lodge, and Kirribilli House. I'm saving the photos to my screensaver slideshow. Yes. I do know I'm a total geek. This page has a photo of all the Ministers at a meeting. It's cool. Of course, I saved that one to my slideshow as well.

All right. I think the other site is going to have more stuff. I have to pee. After I do that, I shall have more fun with Rudd.

The front page of his site says he's on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. That guy really gets around! I'm going to join his Facebook page. See, now I AM an official fan of Kevin Rudd. I'm also a fan of Obama.

Awesome! He also has a Flickr page. Here's a photo of Rudd and his son Nick at Cradle Mountain.

Now I'm watching his Australia Day speech. He talks about how he spent his summer holiday in Tasmania. He talks about how Australia has natural beauty, but also has some scary natural disasters...like fires.

This site has less Rudd stuff than I thought. I think it's mostly a page to link to his other sites.

I'm going to look at some current events on Google News. I want to get myself up to date on stuff.

Here's something about Obama's canceled trip. Well, maybe my president didn't go to Australia, but my parents did! They're in Melbourne today....or maybe Hobart. The problem is my mom is sick, and might miss the tour. Hopefully, she's better by today.

The article is saying that the Liberal Party wants an upcoming debate to be done in prime time...Tuesday. Rudd is saying no to that. He wants it done at lunch. Is he trying to hide something? Or maybe he just wants to watch Lost on Tuesday. Is Lost on Tuesday there, or Wednesday? It's Tuesday for us, but I think last year it was on a different day.

Obama called Rudd and said he'll be coming in June instead. I hope he doesn't cancel that trip as well. That would be really embarrassing. Speaking of travel change, Tim and I have decided to change our Australia plans. We were going to come in December 2012, but I'm worried it will be way too hot. So I think we're going to do February-March. We did that in 2009, but did beginning of February to early March. I think this time we'll do mid/late February to mid-late March. So now that means we have only two more years!!

Here's an editorial by Peter Hartcher about Rudd and Abbott. Hartcher talks about how Abbott is doing negative campaigning, trying to make Australians lose faith in Rudd. He's going for a tactic of Rudd being all talk, and no action. And the campaign is working somewhat. Polls show that Australians are losing their Rudd love.

Hartcher points out that Abbott might not be the sole contribution to Rudd's sinking rankings. The whole Copenhagen mess might have caused problems as well. Hartcher suggests that Rudd and his campaigners start focusing on their positives. One of those is the economy. Unemployment has decreased. Taxes have been cut. The childcare rebate has increased.

Hartcher says, You've probably forgotten most of these Rudd government achievements. But I bet you were able to recall the big failures..... Isn't that how it always goes? We forget the good stuff when we're thinking of the bad. When I'm mad at someone (including myself) I have a hard time remembering good things.

I'm trying to figure out when the next election will be. This Wall Street Journal article says it has to be before April 2011, but is likely to be this August. They say that Rudd has dropped in the polls, but Labor is still ahead of the Liberal Party. They mention the health care issues. I should probably read about that. Here's an article. I guess basically Rudd's trying to fix hospitals that are in bad shape. This article might have more details. It says Rudd wants to make budget adjustments to pay for six thousand new doctors. He also want to increase the amount of training facilities for doctors.

I'm trying to figure out the state thing I've been hearing about. I guess Rudd wants the hospitals to be mostly funded by the Commonwealth? Am I getting this right?

I think now I'm going to watch some videos....see what fun stuff YouTube has.

Here's the infamous earwax scene.

And Here he's interviewed about the event. Rudd doesn't specifically deny the allegations here, but he suggests he was scratching his lip. Possible.....

Here's Rudd speaking in Mandarin.

I'm already tired of videos....

Here's an article about Kevin Rudd's nephew. He's Vietnamese-Australian. He was in the news this year for protesting racism by dressing up in a KKK outfit. Kevin Rudd responded in the way I recommended in my John Howard post. Rudd defended his relatives' right to free speech (as Howard defended Hanson's) but he also vocally disagreed with his nephew's views. He also said, I just want to put a bit of context in this, that it's a wide and broad family.

Yeah. I don't agree with all the viewpoints of my nieces and nephews. Well, one is only thirteen months, but I'm sure I'll disagree with him on something one day. A few months ago, I argued with one of my nieces about peppers. She didn't believe me when I told her they were fruit.

Seriously though. I disagree with a lot of stuff that my relatives say, and they disagree with a lot that I say.

One thing about Rudd that disappoints me is that he does not support gay marriage. Here's an article about that. It was written before Rudd won the election. He was interviewed by Kyle Sandilands. I'm not a fan of the guy, but must admit he brought up a good point. He asks Rudd his views on the thing. When Rudd says marriage is between a man and a woman, Sandilands points out that at one point, black people couldn't ride on the same bus as white people. We now look back and realize this was wrong. How long before we look back, and realize our current laws of homosexual discrimination are wrong?

This article from 2008 has good quotes from a gay rights advocate named Rodney Croome. He says, The Prime Minister never provides justification for his opposition to same-sex marriage or civil unions, other than to say that marriage has been traditionally known as a union between a man and a woman. Croome points out that in history there was a tradition of slaver, and a tradition of not allowing women to vote. Wasn't there also a tradition of stealing Aboriginal children from their families?

Yeah. I agree with Croome. Tradition alone is not a reason to keep things going, especially if causes hurt to someone.

On the bright side, this article says that under Rudd's government, fifty-two laws have been reformed in support of gay rights. We're getting there. It's not something that happens overnight, but at least it's slowly happening.

I'm reading what Lord Wiki has to say about the laws.

Yeah. It does look like some good stuff happened since Rudd became Prime Minister. In May 2008, the ACT started to formally recognize same-sex unions, and gay couples can adopt children there as well. That's really great. To me, the adoption issue is more important than the marriage one. I think marriage is more symbolic. Is there really that much difference between a legalized union and marriage? But there are so many children who need parents. And I think it's horrible to deny a happy couple the chance of giving them a home. It's crazy that the people who'd probably most likely protest against gays adopting are also the same who'd protest abortion. If gay people are allowed to adopt, maybe there'd be less women feeling their only option was to abort the pregnancy.

Here's an article about the flight attendant issue. Really. No one knows what truly happened. Basically, Rudd didn't get the airplane meal he ordered, and complained about that. The flight attendant felt he acted abusive. This could be true. He might have insulted her, and or used offensive language. If he did, I'd just hope this was a rare slip of character. We all have our moments. We all slip up. As Rudd said, All of us are human, I'm human, I'm not perfect... Maybe he IS an asshole...most successful men are, in some ways. Heck, I think almost ALL men are. So why should Rudd be differently. But if he did frequently behave with an aggressive sense of entitlement, maybe this incident will inspire him to be more careful.

On the other hand, maybe the flight attendant was over-sensitive about what happened. I think serving someone like a Prime Minister would be very nerve-wracking, although she's probably used to it. Rudd might have acted angry at the situation, and she perceived it as an attack on herself.

The other possibility is that the flight attendant flat out lied. It's horrible to think that's possible. But it is. Why would she do that? It could have been to smear Rudd's reputation. It could also have been to get attention.

About a month ago, there was news about a poor mother being thrown off a bus for breastfeeding. I read it, and was horrified. I felt sorry for this mother. I felt angry at the bus driver and passengers. A few days later....after an investigation, the truth came out. The mother had lied. So.....

You never know.

Anyway, I think I'm going to quit here.


  1. that's a weird story (breastfeeding on the bus story). So she wasn't forced to get off (nor did anyone complain to the driver) as she claimed? How strange to believe that happened when it didn't (but I guess the brain can play weird tricks on a person. I would know.. ) still strange.

    If it had happened, I would be outraged, too. I breastfed in public all the time. I really didn't have a problem if it made an occasional stranger uncomfortable (it's called "feeding my baby.") And if that's hard to handle in our culture - maybe we need to change.


    speaking of breastfeeding, I had a dream just last night or the night before that I was breastfeeding (and kind of in public, at that). uh.. yeah - nice dream.

  2. HappyOrganist,

    Do you think she lied, or imagined the whole thing? I guess she could have had some massive delusion. The one thing that makes me lean that way is wouldn't she have been aware of the security cameras? I would think someone would plan out a lie like that. But I'm not an expert on those things.

    I also think liars will continue to lie and seek sympathy after getting caught.

    I breastfed in public too, a lot. I would even do it while walking. Did you ever do that? I don't think I ever had any overt criticism. Once a family member suggested I might want to go to another room. At the time, I took it as being very rude and uptight. But now I try to look at it in a more generous light. Maybe she worried about my own comfort and modesty. Although I kind of think if a woman whips it out, she's probably comfortable enough. I'd more likely offer a room to someone who's saying "I really should feed the baby," and she's kind of hesitating...not lifting up that shirt.

    Once I fed Jack at the zoo, and this woman came up to me and asked "How old is he?" I thought she was just trying to make conversation, but when I told her, she walked away...it seemed she was bothered. And Jack wasn't even a year yet!

    But you never know. I interpreted it one way. Maybe she was just really shy, and socially awkward. Maybe she was sad and jealous because her baby died. You never know.

    When my sister had her brain injury, my parents would sometimes totally STARE at people who were brain-damaged. It looked kind of rude, and was a bit embarrassing. They weren't doing it to be cruel though. They were trying to learn and understand, because it was part of their life now.

    I'm really rambling here.....

    Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is unless someone directly says "Please don't do that" or "You're not allowed to breastfeed here" you can't really know for sure they have a problem with it.

  3. It sounds like she might have lied (and didn't know there were cameras). But who knows. The brain can do weird things sometimes. Maybe she was depressed (or something) enough that she really was confused about what did and didn't happen.

    I had a distant family member once talk to me about "please don't breastfeed in front of my two boys." I wasn't that happy about it. Wasn't super upset either, but I didn't feel comfortable (as comfortable) at her house anymore (well when breastfeeding anyway.)
    You know - if breastfeeding were sex or something I could totally see "please - I'm trying to protect my kids from seeing.. "
    But it's not!

    some people..

    I should probably learn to be more tolerant.

  4. HappyOrganist,

    I think that's close to impossible to tolerate. It's sad when parents don't want their kids to see breastfeeding. It's usually so discreet!

  5. In Oz Kevin Rudd is 'affectionately' called K Rudd, which alludes to crud.

    I used to be a fan of his. He stated out as being quite a good PM. But then it's not that difficult to be a better PM than John Howard. (Yeah, I guess my political leanings are quite apparent.) As his term has progressed though, I've become somewhat disillusioned. I'm having trouble with the idea of voting for Labor at the next election (whenever it will be). At this stage, I just can't do it.

    So much promise, just evaporated. Despite his claims about there being a difference in the political parties, he is correct, but he is still playing straight down the center, and even a little to the right, to keep support from those that used to like Howard.

    At the moment, I can only see K Rudd and the Labor Government as the better of two evils. Not exactly inspiring.

  6. Stephen Moore,

    I think that's often the way of politics. People have great ideals and plans BEFORE they get into office. Then it all gets thrown out the window.

    I belief that Rudd at one time WANTED to be on the left. But I think the job of Prime Minister, President...whatever....pushes you to the middle. Then you have two sides fighting you.

    The same is happening with Obama. I think a lot of people lost faith in him. Tim and I haven't though...well, because we never had that much faith in the first place. We hoped for some miracles, but we didn't really expect any. We kind of just figured he'd be better than Bush.

    Obama though has to fight the right who hate him for being too much of a socialist. Then there's people on the way left like me who wishes we could have a president that was more left. He's torn in two directions.

    I liked this guy named Kucinich. He's much more left than Obama. He would probably be my ideal President. But I'm pretty realistic, and realize that's not going to happen. He'd never get voted in.

    At least in Australia, you guys are not totally dependent on two parties. The other parties get some power, and so do independents. You could NOT vote for Labor or Liberal, and it could actually mean something. In America, that's not the case. If you don't vote Democratic or Republican, you're essentially throwing away your vote. Some people do it...feeling they don't want to choose between the lesser evil. They want to make a stand. But if you do, you're pretty much helping the "more evil" one win.

  7. I do dislike the idea that one throws one's vote away by voting for a minor party. It's that type of thinking that keeps the majors in power. An individual vote, important as it is in the democratic process, does mean relatively little, but it's the accumulation of votes that make the difference. Kind of like environmental concern: The issue is so large, what can I do that would make a difference? Individually, nothing, but when all the individuals act in the same manner big differences occur. It can seem hopeless on the individual level - and that's what those in power count on you thinking - but when enough people act in like manner it matters.

    Someone has to make that first act. After all, the Greens were loony fringe once, but now they are growing in power. Indeed, in Europe, they're major players able to make or break governments.

    Once that snowball gets rolling down that hill...

  8. Stephen,

    Well, I think there IS an accumulation of voters going the independent route in America. But it doesn't do much, because our voting system is not like yours.

    We don't have preferential voting like you do. For us, it's a choice of one or the other. Even if you convince a huge amount of people to not vote Republican or Democrat, it won't likely work, because all these people won't agree on which non main-party person they want to vote on. Some people are going to want someone on the far left. Other people are going to want someone on the far right.

    I do agree that people can make a huge difference in the world by working together. I just don't think it can happen in the American voting system. But people can band together, and make differences in other ways.

    And although I think it would be throwing away a vote, in terms of presidential elections, there is hope for the American Senate, House of Representatives, mayors, etc.

    Although as far as I know, right now the Senate and House of Representatives do not have any members that are from the smaller parties.

    I think in America, the best thing to probably do is pick one of the "lesser evils"...Republican or Democrat. If your party gets into office, then you try to persuade them to make the decisions you prefer. Americans can do this by making phone calls, writing letters, going to protests, etc.