Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Line by line

In a press conference yesterday, President-elect Obama had this to say about the federal budget:

"CHICAGO – The economy growing weaker, President-elect Barack Obama said Tuesday that recovery efforts will trump deficit concerns when he takes office in January. Yet he pledged a 'page-by-page, line-by-line' budget review to root out unneeded spending."

All the press coverage I've seen of this don't make the point that constitutionally speaking, the President's ability to formulate a federal budget is pretty much only advisory. Look at who is given the power, under our Constitution, over taxing, borrowing, spending, and the like:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States..."
(Article 1, Section 8).

"No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public
Money shall be published from time to time."
(Article 1, Section 9).

The Section 9 excerpt doesn't specify Congress, as the Section 8 excerpt does, but since it's in Article I, which mostly deals with Congress, and since "Appropriations made by Law" would have to conform to the power to tax and spend, given to Congress, we can safely assume drawing money from the treasury is not an executive power.

As for this "page-by-page, line-by-line" review President-elect Obama promises, that too, is something he can only advise on, and even there he can only do so before a budget is made, not after Congress has passed it. When one hears a President speak of line-by-line review, it actually sounds a lot like he believes he has line item veto authority over spending bills that pass both Houses.

He doesn't; the Supreme Court said so ten years ago when they struck down a bill Congress passed in which they tried to give the line-item veto to the President. The case was Clinton v. City of New York 524 U.S. 417 (1998), and if anybody ever wants to give it a nickname, how about the "Strange Judicial Bedfellows" case. You've got Breyer and Ginsburg on opposite sides, same with Scalia and Thomas.

On the basis of his impressive victory, Barack Obama may indeed have the clout to induce Congress to formulate a federal budget as he would wish to see. But remember: once they've passed it, he can only say yea or nay. If the bill has provisions to spend on fifty different projects and Obama only approves of twenty-five of them, he can't go down the list and say, "This one's fine, no way on that one, cut the funding for this one about twenty percent." He's got to take it all or approve nothing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey, stuffing, and sectarian wishes

The holidays are coming, so get ready for more stories like this one:

"An annual parade of boats on a Long Island river that dropped "Christmas" from its name has apparently lost lots of supporters.About 1,000 people showed up Sunday for the Patchogue (PACH'-awg) Boat Parade of Lights. That's 500 fewer than usually showed up when it was called the Patchogue Christmas Boat Parade."

Isn't it a bit surprising, given the clear religious history of Thanksgiving, that we don't hear the same controversy about the fourth Thursday in November as we do about the twenty-fifth of December? Where Christmas is concerned, the no establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment often winds up being litigated, perhaps most notably when the U.S. Supreme Court heard Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984), a case involving Pawtucket, Rhode Island's display of a nativity scene. But I don't hear a lot of chatter about church/state issues involving Thanksgiving.

This absence of controversy may be a bit surprising. After all, take a look at all the religious words and themes in President George Washington's first Thanksgiving Proclamation:

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and

"Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me " to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness: "

"Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation;
for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and,
in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

"And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us
all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and
constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

- Given under my hand, at the city of New
York, the 3d day of October, A. D. 1789. G.ø WASHINGTON."

Thomas Jefferson, incidentally, did not feel a President had the power to issue Thanksgiving Proclamations, and he issued none while he served as Chief Executive. Jefferson's refusal to acknowledge Thanksgiving probably had as much to do with his limited conception of federal authority as with the notion of separation of church and state. He believed any matter touching religion in any way should be left to the individual states rather than the national government. (See Currie, The Constitution in Congress: The Jeffersonians 1801-1829, 2001, p. 5; and Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, 1987, p. 244: "It is interesting that Jefferson opposed nationally-sponsored days of prayer as President, but supported state-sponsored days of prayer as governor of Virginia." )

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Going forward in Forsyth

A few days ago, I published an entry comparing voting patterns for the recent presidential election in Georgia and Illinois. As something of a postscript, here's a point I thought about putting in that essay but decided it should stand alone for emphasis.

If you're old enough, do you remember this bit of ugliness from twenty-one years ago?:

"In 1987 racial tensions again erupted in Forsyth County. In January a small march in Cumming to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday met with resistance from local members of the Ku Klux Klan, who threw stones and glass bottles at the demonstrators. The event received national attention, and on January 24, 20,000 marchers from around the country converged on Forsyth County. Led by numerous civil rights leaders, including Hosea Williams, the marchers encountered 1,000 to 2,000 counterdemonstrators, but the presence of large numbers of police and National Guard troops most likely kept the event from turning violent. The event was one of the largest civil rights demonstrations since the 1960s and generated so much national attention that talk-show host Oprah Winfrey taped a show the following month in Cumming about the event."

According to a 2006 estimate by the Census Bureau, the population of Forsyth County, Georgia, now is about 2.7% black; that translates to over four thousand African-Americans. This is still an absurdly low percentage for a large Georgia county, but it's a huge increase since Oprah showed up.

Well not surprisingly, John McCain won Forsyth County pretty handily. But not THAT handily. Dave Leip's atlas shows that Barack Obama got over twenty percent of the vote; 15,406 people in Forsyth voted for him.

You could, if you choose, argue that one in five people in Forsyth County voting for Obama is a more striking indicator of how far America has come than Obama simply winning the election.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

James Madison and the French refugees

"In 1792 President James Madison vetoed a Congressional Appropriation to assist refugees. He said 'I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that Article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.'" (Quote taken from this website.)

Well what's wrong with a few errant details here and there, eh? The web page I've linked gets three details askew. The first is obvious if you have a cursory knowledge of the founding generation: Madison was NOT the president in 1792; he wouldn't hold that office for another seventeen years. So obviously, Madison wasn't doing any vetoing in the seventeenth century.

The second little mistake is that the debate concerned took place in 1794, not 1792. Madison was, at the time, a member of Congress.

Finally, the third error--and okay, I'm nitpicking--is that the quote is presented as Madison speaking in the first person, when it is actually a third person report. In its original form, as I'll show you in a minute, it's not "I, James Madison say this," but rather "He, James Madison, said this."

This Madison quotation shows up pretty regularly, and while the first error, attributing the remarks to President Madison, rather than to Congressman Madison, is uncommon, the wrong date and the first person implication appears elsewhere, such as in this recent Larry Elder column. If at this point you question my accuracy, see for yourself; here is the relevant page from the Annals of Congress, with "January 1794" in the upper left hand corner and Madison's words towards the lower right corner. Walter Williams also recently told the Madison tale; he didn't assert that Madison was president, nor did he give a date, accurate or otherwise, for the quote (thank God for small favors), so Professor Williams is only liable for the slight miscue of putting it in the first person.

But alas, all these guys, extolling the virtue of what Madison said, omit the most significant point: in spite of his assertions, Madison, in the very same speech quoted above, nevertheless found a way Congress could get around the Constitutional objections and appropriate money for the refugees anyway. The refugees were French citizens who landed at Baltimore in 1793, fleeing the unrest on Hispaniola, known then as St. Domingo, see Currie, The Constitution in Congress: The Federalist Period: 1789-1801, 1997, p. 188.

Noting the nationality of the refugees, Madison according to the Annals of Congress, declared:

"It has been said that we owed the French every sentiment of gratitude. It was true; but it was likewise true that we owed them something else than sentiments, for we were indebted to them for a very large sum of money. One of the instalments (sic) of that debt would be due in a short time, and perhaps it might be safest for Congress to advance the sums now wanted for the french refugees, in part of that debt, and leave it to the French ministry whether they would accept such a payment or not."

And that's what Congress did (Currie, p. 189). So yes, Madison said what Elder and Williams ascribe to him, but he followed up his objection that the Constitution did not grant "a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents" by finding a Constitutional way of doing just that. Madison simply cited the power of Congress "to pay the debts... of the United States" as a means of helping out the refugees (Article I, Section 8).

Thus, I think the impact of the Madison observation, so lauded by Williams and Elder, is somewhat blunted by the actual facts of what ultimately happened.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Red county, blue county

"In 1259... Supporters of (the King's) cause appeared among the poor and turbulent elements in London and the towns... The Barons (in opposition to the King) commanded greater sympathy in the country..." (Churchill, A History of the English Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1, Chapter "The Mother of Parliaments.")

Suppose the week before the election, Barack Obama had issued his staff a stunning directive. If he won, rather than having his victory rally in Grant Park, in Chicago, he would have it at one of two venues: either at Grant Park, or at Stone Mountain Park, east of Atlanta.

You couldn't pick two more historically distinct settings, one a park named after a Union general and located in a state called the Land of Lincoln, the other park conceived as a monument to the Confederacy with the images of Lee, Jackson, and Davis--who fought to preserve slavery--carved into granite. In this admittedly absurd hypothetical, Obama tells his crew that since Grant Park is in Cook County, Illinois, and Stone Mountain Park is in DeKalb County, Georgia, he will make the call on which of the two places he will speak based on one factor: which county gives him the greatest percentage of its total vote.

Guess where the rally would occur? Here's a hint: sweet tea and pecan pie would probably be served.

Obama received 78.86% of the vote in DeKalb County (p. 8 of the link). It took me a bit longer to find the tally for Cook County; I ended up having to go to separate websites for the City of Chicago and the rest of the county. Add it together and Obama gathered 76.19% of the Cook County vote. (That's a slightly different figure than Dave Leip has--76.48%--but the point I'm making isn't imperiled).

So Obama got about two and a half percent more of the total vote here in DeKalb county, in a red state, than he got in his home county.

What's the significance of this? Well, since McCain's defeat, I've seen articles like this one and this one that essentially argue that the Republican Party has become a party of only the Deep South. They're missing the point, as I hope I'll convince you when I run some of the numbers. What I'm going to do here is make some comparisons between Georgia, which McCain carried, and Illinois, which Obama won. For the remainder of this essay, my source will be Dave Leip's atlas.

The five largest counties in Georgia are, not surprisingly, the five counties forming the core of metro Atlanta. Obama won three of these, taking Fulton and Clayton as well as DeKalb. McCain prevailed in Gwinett and Cobb. We've already seen how well Obama did in DeKalb; he did even better in Clayton with well over 80% of the vote; plus he got over two-thirds of the vote in Fulton. While McCain obviously got slaughtered in DeKalb and Clayton, in the two counties Obama lost, he still got over 44% of the vote. So, if you combined all five counties into one super-duper county, Obama would win it.

Okay, so what was the key to McCain winning Georgia's fifteen electoral votes, seeing as how it wasn't Atlanta? How about all those medium-sized cities in Georgia; he must have won there, right?

Sorry. The three largest counties in Georgia that aren't part of the Atlanta metro are Chatham, home of Savannah, known for its architecture and history; Richmond, home of Augusta, known for the Masters golf tournament; and Muscogee, home of Columbus, known as the world headquarters of the insurance company with the talking duck. Obama won them all.

In addition, Obama won Clarke County, home of Athens where the University of Georgia sits. He also won Bibb County, which is where you'll find Macon. (No, "Macon County Line" fans, Macon isn't in Macon County; although for what it's worth Obama won there too.) This is all similar to what happened in Illinois, where Obama was also the choice of the medium-sized metro areas, winning in Peoria County, Winnebago County (Rockford), Champaign County, and Sangamon County (Springfield).

So if Obama won Atlanta and the mid-sized Georgia cities, where did McCain get enough votes to overcome this? The Churchill quote at the start of this essay suggests the answer: McCain won a lot of Georgia counties without a lot of people. Of the 46 counties in this state that the last census shows having fewer than twelve thousand people, McCain won 32; that's 69.6% of the tiniest counties. (I confess I was surprised Obama carried as many of these Hootervilles as he did).

And you know what? McCain also won most of the smallest counties in Illinois. If we look at the 27 counties in Illinois with fewer than fifteen thousand people, McCain won in 19 of them. That's 70.4%, so McCain actually did slightly better in tiny counties in Illinois, which he lost, than in Georgia, which he won. (I used different standards for small counties in the two states--under 12 thousand in Georgia and under 15 thousand in Illinois--because Illinois has both fewer counties and fewer really small ones.)

In fact, if you look at the entire state of Illinois, you see that McCain won a clear majority of the 102 counties there, 57 to Obama's 45. To be fair, that's an impressive total of counties won by Obama; in 2004 Kerry won the state but only out polled Bush in fifteen counties. Nevertheless, the conclusion is clear: while it is apparent the majority of people in Illinois wanted Obama, it's equally apparent that in the majority of places in Illinois McCain was the choice.

So what Churchill said about England in 1259 is just as true in America today. One party is preferred in urban areas, another out in the country. It's true in Illinois; it's true in Georgia. It's why those polls that late in the campaign moved North Dakota from "solidly McCain" to just "leaning McCain" were so laughable: did anybody really think Obama might prevail there? (The fun stuff you learn from the census bureau web page: North Dakota actually has 29 counties with fewer than five thousand people!)

The problem the Republicans have isn't that it is a regional party, only holding a majority in the Deep South. Even there, McCain didn't do well in urban areas. By the same token, even in Obama's Illinois, he doesn't get much of the rural vote. No, the issue for the Republicans where elections are concerned is that they are too much of a country party. And it takes city votes to win.

There's one more point I should address. If in both Illinois and in Georgia, Obama easily won the state's only really big city, and in both states Obama won the Peorias and the Augustas, and in both states McCain won Mayberry, how come Obama won the Prairie State handily but lost in the Peach Tree State?

It wasn't the black vote. According to the Census Bureau, there are about 900 thousand more African-Americans in Georgia than in Illinois, a statistic which takes on even greater significance when you realize that Illinois has about three and a half million more people than Georgia. If anything, you'd expect black vote to have more impact in Georgia than in Illinois.

Actually, I would argue there are two reasons Obama succeeded in one state but not the other; a minor reason and a major reason.

The minor reason is that McCain did quite a bit better in Atlanta's suburbs than in Chicago's. I noted that McCain won several suburban Atlanta counties, including Cobb and Gwinett. By contrast, Obama carried all five of the Illinois counties that adjoin Cook County, four of them with 55% or better of the vote.

But I think there is a much bigger reason McCain couldn't compete, demographically speaking, in Illinois. Remember how I said if you took all five of the largest Georgia counties and combined them into one super county Obama would win it? Well if you lumped that quintet of biggest Georgia counties into one, you'd have a county with just under three and a half million people.

Cook County, Illinois, all by itself, has almost 5.3 million people. So adding Georgia's top five counties gets you only to about two-thirds of the Cook County population.

And that, in conclusion, leads me back to my thesis about urban voters versus rural voters. McCain won Georgia because Atlanta is still small enough that the state's rural vote can overwhelm it. That's not true in Illinois, where Chicagoland is so huge that all the Barney Fife votes in the state can't touch it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Commander-in-chief/ College sports commissioner

The "60 Minutes" interview with Barack Obama was surprising to me for two reasons. First, I didn't know "60 Minutes" was still on the air. And second, there was this little exchange between Steve Kroft and the President-elect:

Kroft: I have one last question. As president of the United States, what can you do, or what do you plan to do, about getting a college football playoff for the national championship?

Mr. Obama: This is important. Look, excuse me for a second.

Michelle Obama: Please. Don't mind me.

Mr. Obama: I think any sensible person would say that if you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear decisive winner that we should be creating a playoff system. Eight teams. That would be three rounds, to determine a national champion. It would it would add three extra weeks to the season. You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm gonna throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do. (Emphasis mine).

We hear comparisons made between Obama and Lincoln, because they're both skinny Illinois lawyers who took office with quite thin resumes. We hear comparisons between Obama and JFK, because they both took office as young, good looking snobs. And there are the inevitable comparisons between Obama and FDR, as both took office in times of economic turmoil.

One comparison I haven't heard is between Obama and Woodrow Wilson. If I'm not mistaken, Obama, having taught Constitutional Law for about twelve years at a top tier law school, will very likely be the most knowledgeable President on the Constitution in nearly a century, since Wilson was in the White House. I note Wilson in this regard because he wrote a book entitled Constitutional Government in the United States. Obama hasn't written anything like that yet, as he apparently prefers autobiography to legal scholarship, but all those years teaching, telling students who pay the University of Chicago's hefty tuition just what the Constitution means and does not mean, certainly gives him some claim to being the most versed President on the intricacies of the great document since the days around World War I.

And that, my friends, is why I cringed when I heard Obama say he wants to throw his weight around to get a college football playoff. To be honest, I wouldn't even do a double take if President Bush had said this. I'd just shrug and think, well, that's just George the good old boy, talking as he might if you shared a beer with him.

But the standard here for Obama has got to be a little different. He knows what's in Article II. He knows, or should know, that there isn't any power granted the Chief Executive that could remotely be considered a license of authority to lean on college presidents to get a football playoff going.

You may recall that before the election, I defended Obama, to a degree, against the criticism that he didn't have enough experience to sit in the White House. I wrote:

"That's the thing about experience: a person may lack it in one relevant area but possess it in spades in another. Yes, Barack Obama is unusually unqualified to be President of the United States if you consider only the political positions he's held. But on the other hand, who is better qualified to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States than a guy who taught it at an elite law school for a dozen years?"

Since to me, his Constitutional knowledge is actually Obama's best case for being President, I must say I find it troubling that he is so casual about the relationship between the Constitution and the Presidency in a major interview.

Picking a college football champion is not as important--nor as potentially dangerous--as dealing with Iraq. Nobody is going to think less of Obama if he can't get a playoff. But I have to admit, I think a little less of him for believing that leaning on folks to get a playoff is one of the President's duties.

Besides, as a Midwesterner, Obama shouldn't wish for a system that might show everybody even more clearly how bad Big Ten football has become.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yeah, and if he was alive today he'd probably still be pro-slavery

John Calhoun was a nineteenth century senator and vice-president. He is probably best remembered today for his position that slavery was just about the nicest thing you could do for people of African descent. Naturally, there is a county in his home state of South Carolina named after him.

Obama won it by 275 votes.

Marx, Madison, and Obama

One of our Congressmen here in Georgia, Paul Broun, had some pretty scary things to say about President-Elect Obama's suggestion of a civilian security corps:

"Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

""That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did,' Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist.'"

Uh... forgive me for pointing this out, Congressman, but did it occur to you that Obama's notion is also exactly what a hell of a lot of the people who founded this great country said we should do? Take a look at something James Madison said in the Constitutional Convention on August 23, 1787:

"As the greatest danger is that of disunion of the States, it is necessary to guard against it by sufficient powers to the Common Government and as the greatest danger to liberty is from large standing armies, it is best to prevent them, by an effectual provision for a good Militia."

And to the Framer's generation who, pray tell, was this militia that Madison extolled as securing liberty from large standing armies? It was, pointed out Professor David C. Williams, a citizen group:

"The militia was thought to be able to restrain corruption because it was virtuous and possessed ultimate control over the means of force. It was virtuous both because it comprised the universal people and because it offered training in the habits of virtue. And as the people, it was both government and society. The state raised it and ensured that it was universal... But despite this tie to the government, the militia was a people's body. Its membership included all of the citizenry, and if the government should ever become corrupt, it could resist by arms." (Emphases mine, this is from the 1991 article "Civic Republicanism and the Citizen Militia: The Terrifying Second Amendment," Yale Law Journal Vol. 101, pp. 551-615 at 563).

If Broun had criticized Obama's notion of a civilian organization on the grounds that our taxes might be raised to fund it, that would be one thing. But it takes a real lack of understanding of American history to hear the Obama plan and immediately think of Marxists instead of Madison.

Monday, November 3, 2008

De Kalb County, Georgia, 2008

"A poor black woman in Alabama who could not set foot in a polling place in 1958 could pull a voting-machine lever for a black candidate in 1972." --Keyssar, The Right to Vote, 2000, pp. 256-57.

--And if she's still with us, she can push a button on a computer screen for a black candidate running for the highest office in 2008. Last Wednesday, taking the advice of authorities that Atlanta area residents should vote early to avoid expected long lines at the polling places November 4th, I drove to the local senior citizen's center to cast my ballot.

If those of us who voted early here thought that by doing so we could avoid lines, we were disappointed--I had to wait for an hour and a half. The line stretched outside the door, but it was one of those incredibly lovely Georgia autumn days with just the right amount of crispness in the air. One enterprising entrepreneur set up a small kiosk and sold hot dogs, chips, bottled water, and sodas; she found quite a few takers among those in line.

My boss had voted early one day prior, and based on her experience I knew to expect a wait, so of course I came prepared with a book to read in line--Eric Foner's Reconstruction (1988). As I looked around me, I realized that of the maybe two hundred or so voters in the queue, I was one of perhaps ten who was not African-American. And ironically enough, I had just gotten to the part in Foner's book on the efforts to extend the vote to people of color following the Civil War. On page 240, Foner mentions what may well be the worst local referendum result ever in the country's history:

"Hoping to forestall Congressional action, the District (of Columbia) in December 1865 held a referendum among white voters. The result: 35 in favor of black suffrage, 6,951 against."

We've come a long way from that.

Slowly I advanced in line, now actually entering the building, now turning the corner in the hall, now finally entering the room with the poll workers and the machines. When it came my turn, I walked to a machine and cast my ballot.

Immediately to my left, an elderly African-American man was voting; he needed assistance and it was given. I couldn't help overhearing that he was voting for Barack Obama. And although I pushed the button for Senator McCain, I must admit that should McCain lose tomorrow, it will please me to think that the old man who voted beside me will no doubt be happy for Obama's victory. If that senior citizen was born here in the South, he grew up and even entered adulthood in a society that often denied people of his race the most basic freedom of choosing leaders to run his town, state, and country. I wonder if in 1958 he could in his wildest dreams have imagined a black man running for President and getting tens of millions of votes.

It's been a long, hard road we've traveled in America, and there are no doubt struggles ahead. But I think election day is a good time for everybody to reflect on how far we've come towards the ideal of liberty and justice for all.