Monday, November 10, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 10

On November 10, 1863, two months after being inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States of Mexico, Arthur Conroy convened a special session of Congress, giving an address calling for a series of reforms to the electoral process:

"Although the rationale for our Constitution was sound, and it remains a beacon to the world, it is in need of repair so as to better meet the challenge of the last half of the century. Consider, if you will, the nature of our land when Jackson assumed power. Our founder led a nation of disparate peoples, speaking different tongues, and existing in stages of development ranging from industrial to primitive. The Indians and Anglos were enemies, and both distrusted the Mexicanos, while the Hispanos were uncertain as to their role. The new nation had a population of only 3.3 million, most of whom were engaged in farming. They lacked even the most primitive forms of long-distance communication and transportation. For that kind of land, the Constitution was well-suited, even inspired.

"Conditions have changed considerably in the last forty-four years. There are some 30 million of us today, and within six years, all should be literate. We have come through a major war with honor. Our communications and transportation are the envy of the world, as are our cotton fields and mines. While differences between our peoples remain, they are far less important than they were in Jackson's day. In truth, Mexico has shown the world that origins and religion are no barrier to public service and personal success.

"It is for this reason I have called you here today. We must modernize our basic law. We will not change its spirit, for to do so would be both rash and unwise. Instead, we shall broaden its scope while retaining its focus.

"Therefore, I recommend two basic changes in the method by which we select our leaders. The first involves the president. At the present time he is selected by a senatorial vote. This cumbersome apparatus, so useful in the past, should be altered so as to make the president more the selection of all the people, and not just the choice of a small group. What I would recommend, then, is that the president in the future be selected by a majority vote of all the qualified citizens of our nation. Should no candidate receive a majority, then the Senate may select the president among the leading two contenders for the post.

"My second proposal is for senators, in the future, to be selected in the same manner, with the state legislatures choosing from among the two leading contenders, should no individual receive a majority in the balloting. Of course, this is not a matter for us to decide, but for the states, and I hope each will consider this proposal seriously, for to accept it would be to reaffirm our confidence in the wisdom and patriotism of our citizenry."

After Conroy's speech, his supporters in the Assembly spoke with other members of the Continentalist Party to point out that his reforms sounded more radical than they actually were. Since the most populous states in the U.S.M. had Anglo majorities, that group would still control Mexico's political system. And by widening the franchise and instituting direct election of the president, they would be able to head off a more radical reform movement by the nation's Mexicano majority.

On November 10, 1939, North American Governor-General Bruce Hogg spoke to his Cabinet about the ongoing war in Europe between the Anglo-French alliance and the Germanic Confederation. He said, "The war is going badly for Britain and France, but this is temporary. Soon we may expect a stalemate in Europe, as both sides will have exhausted themselves in a futile exercise in destruction. At that time, North America will act in the interests of peace."

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