A Moot Point: Final Thoughts on the 2008 Election Symposium

Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     Today, Albany Law School was host to the Election 2008 Symposium. It was the product of collaboration between no fewer than 11 of Albany Law School’s politically oriented student groups, from the OUTLaws to the ALS Republicans, brought together by the Albany Government Law Review’s own Ali Chaudry.  The symposium’s presence, ensconced in the third floor of a law school situated in the capital of state in which participation in presidential politics has been a futile act for as long as most of us can remember was a poetic exercise in democratic innovation.

     The premise of the symposium was that local politicos would stand in for the McCain and Obama campaigns to talk with the local polity about The Issues as a means of facilitating a discussion about who to vote for next Tuesday or (more likely) the fleshing out of our existing decision. 

     The opportunity to do so is a rare one in a state like New York which has been spared (or denied) down and dirty presidential politicking.  Those few occasions in which the national campaigns appear in the state occur in sterile and predictable settings.1  Even this most momentous, long, tumultuous presidential election has pitched and heaved just beyond New York’s boarders in Pennsylvania2 or, during the primaries, New Hampshire.3

      New York’s persona non grata status is conferred upon it by the Electoral College.  The college itself is the product of compromise.  As a political invention, it is the product of the Constitutional Convention’s foundational controversy over whether population or mere statehood should determine representative power in the national government.4  As a compromise to reality it was an alternative to the “extreme inconveniency [and] the considerable expense, of drawing together men from all the States for the single purpose of electing the Chief Magistrate.”5  To further confuse its purpose, the Electoral College was originally proposed on June 1, 1787 by James Wilson of Pennsylvania as a plan to divide states into districts which would appoint an elector to vote for the President as a means of cutting out state participation in presidential elections altogether.6 Continue reading “A Moot Point: Final Thoughts on the 2008 Election Symposium”

Faso and Brooks Stand in for McCain and Obama

  Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     The Election 2008 Symposium was rounded off by a panel consisting Tracey Brooks, representing the Obama Campaign, and John Faso, representing the McCain Campaign.  They weighed in on energy and economic issues on a panel hosted by Alan Chartock

     Both Brooks and Faso bear impressive resumes in New York politics within their respective parties.  Ms. Brooks surrogacy for Barack Obama was illustrative of election issues passed as she was once the regional director for Senator Clinton and worked heavily for Clinton during Clinton’s campaign. Faso was the Republican challenger to the ill-fated Eliot Spitzer.  Chartock himself is something of a giant in New York politics as president and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. 

     As a nation The Issues for this election have been presented, debated, vetted, presented again, killed and then resurrected over and over.  With any idea, there is always the possibility that something new will be said, but the length of the 2008 Presidential Election and the desperate pitch it has meticulously cultivated since last winter faced Faso and Brooks with an uphill battle if they were planning on doing so tonight. Continue reading “Faso and Brooks Stand in for McCain and Obama”

Hon. Corey Ellis Offers the Keynote Address at the Election 2008 Symposium

Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

It was fitting that Corey Ellis, the often-described-as-“up and coming” representative of Albany’s third ward, was the one to open the Election 2008 Symposium.  Mr. Ellis is a bit of everything symposium organizers were looking for in speakers.  Born in the Arbor Hill neighborhood of Albany, the Corey left the city after earning his associates degree at Hudson Valley Community College to attend Fordham University where he earned his political science degree.

In an election in which both Republican and Democrats are attempting to don the mantel of change, Ellis bears the undeniable air of an insurgent.  In winning his seat on city council in November of 2005, Ellis unseated a 12-year Democratic incumbent while running on the Working Families Party line.  A committed community organizer, Corey has been instrumental in bringing the people of Albany’s Third Ward into city government, spearheading the local Obama campaign, and working closely with D.A. David Soares to bring Albany out of decades’ old political malaise.  He continues to work with Soares on the Community Accountability Board at the District Attorney’s office and is the commissioner of the Arbor Hill Little League.

Ellis was enlisted to discuss changing voting patterns and how they are going to effect the outcome of the election this coming Tuesday.1 Ellis insisted that if you are to address the issue at its core, you have to look at voter registration, turn out and suppression.  In this election we have seen a marked increase in the number of people registering to vote2 and significant efforts to suppress their actual voting.3 In many cases we are seeing the same conditions we saw in 2000, when Al Gore and Bush maintained zealous voter registration drives in 2000 and this was accompanied by greater than normal suppression.4 This would seem to indicate, Ellis suggested, that the impetus to vote among voters and the impetus to suppress it are directly related. Continue reading “Hon. Corey Ellis Offers the Keynote Address at the Election 2008 Symposium”

Election 2008 Symposium Commences at Albany Law School

Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     The Election 2008 Symposium, an event hosted by 11 Albany Law School student groups and the school itself, brought together by the Albany Government Law Review’s own Ali Chaudhry, began with a discussion on voting rights and the suppression thereof, delivered by the Honorable Corey Ellis, representative of Albany’s Third Ward            

     The Election 2008 Symposium is an attempt to bring together Albany politicos, professors, activists, activists, officials and all-around personalities to discuss the presidential election as surrogates for national presidential campaigns that have either banked on or abandoned New York State in any event largely ignored it.  

     The crowd this morning at 9:30 a.m. was disappointing. There were about 25 people in attendance, including organizers, attendees and speakers. This might have had to do with conflicting class schedules or the relatively early hour, but it was hard to escape wondering whether it was a lack of interest not just in the election put in politics generally when compared to the daily toil of career-making which is the penultimate task of the average law student. Whatever its cause, their absence caused the organizers to mill about nervously at the head of the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom, brief looks of relief flashing across their faces as people tickled in, and delaying the start for as long as possible in the hopes that the late rush would arrive. Continue reading “Election 2008 Symposium Commences at Albany Law School”