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Father of Linux Linus Torvalds Becomes US Citizen

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 70 comments

Everybody (who is informed) should vote.

Linus Torvalds, who will forever be known as the father of Linux, is set to become an American citizen.

The Finland-born programmer in the past has never expressed much enthusiasm for obtaining citizenship, despite living in the U.S. for at least a dozen years now and currently residing in Portland, Oregon with his family.

It seems the main thing that's driving Torvalds to grab that extra passport is so that he can play a part in the voting system. Without being a citizen, he's unable to vote – and that's one thing that he's always craved.

In a blog post he wrote almost two years ago, he said, "So I'm a stranger in a strange land, and seldom more so than when voting season is upon us.

"Most of the rest of the time I can kind of ignore it. … But being reminded about not being able to vote is actually the much smaller thing: much more than that, election season reminds you about what an odd place the US is."

Torvalds continued, "That's when you also notice that the whole US voting system is apparently expressly designed to be polarizing (winner-take-all electoral system etc). To somebody from Finland, that looks like a rather obvious and fundamental design flaw. In Finland, government is quite commonly a quilt-work of different parties, and the "rainbow coalition" of many many parties working together was the norm for a long time. And it seems to result in much more civilized political behaviour.

"So you couple a polarizing voting system with a campaign that has to make simplified black-and-white statements, and what do you get? Ugly, is what you get.

"Most of the time I really like living in the US. But voting season sometimes makes you wonder."

With his criticism out of the way, he's ready to take part and help make a difference. He clearly understands that every vote matters, and he's taking action. In a message to a mailing list, he revealed that he was undergoing voter registration and socsec updates, now that he's a U.S. citizen.

(Source: The Register.)

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  • 16 Hide
    th_at , September 16, 2010 11:10 AM
    He's right.

    Political discourse in America is polarized and polemic without parallel in the free world. I never saw this as a result of the election system, but maybe he's right there too.
  • 15 Hide
    hoofhearted , September 16, 2010 12:21 PM
    The electoral college had its day, but we live in the day and age where computers can account for every vote.
  • 13 Hide
    irh_1974 , September 16, 2010 12:50 PM
    Couldn't you find a better picture than "Fat guy in Speedos"
    I trying to eat here!
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    th_at , September 16, 2010 11:10 AM
    He's right.

    Political discourse in America is polarized and polemic without parallel in the free world. I never saw this as a result of the election system, but maybe he's right there too.
  • 15 Hide
    hoofhearted , September 16, 2010 12:21 PM
    The electoral college had its day, but we live in the day and age where computers can account for every vote.
  • 11 Hide
    figgus , September 16, 2010 12:21 PM
    What really does this is the bi-party system, and the main 2 parties have ZERO interest in seeing it changed.

    With all the fools voting for the party and not the candidate, I usually have the opinion that the political parties are a bad idea.
  • 9 Hide
    jsrudd , September 16, 2010 12:27 PM
    Quote:
    The electoral college had its day, but we live in the day and age where computers can account for every vote.


    The electoral college isn't just about ease of counting. It also a counter majoritarian device that is meant to ameliorate the effects of our winner take all system.
  • 6 Hide
    cronik93 , September 16, 2010 12:28 PM
    back_by_demandErr, either a white President or a black President?


    The fact that you bring up something like that is sad.
  • 2 Hide
    apoq , September 16, 2010 12:42 PM
    stratplayaWell Linus, that system seems to have something to it. It's helped make us the most awesome country to ever exist, and you know it. Else you wouldn't be here.

    Oh man, where do you get off saying that? There's no greatest country in the world, and even if it were, I'm not sure what your metric for deciding the awesomeness of a country is. Now don't get all pissy and start shooting your gun in the back yard just to show everybody how free your country is.
  • -7 Hide
    Marco925 , September 16, 2010 12:44 PM
    stratplayaWell Linus, that system seems to have something to it. It's helped make us the most awesome country to ever exist, and you know it. Else you wouldn't be here.

    It might also be the downfall as well, Can't even pass laws with a majority vote, it has to be 60 seats to pass a law effectively without the opposition saying No to everything?
  • 3 Hide
    Humans think , September 16, 2010 12:45 PM
    The winner takes it all system is not necessarily a bad thing. In older times it gave the authority to the governments and legislator bodies to make bold moves without procrastinating, it is particularly useful when at war or serious reforms are needed. It empowers the government to be sturdy and immune to small turbulences in the political world.

    BUT like a knife it can be used for good and evil. Costly campaigns enslave the political parties to corporations and lobbies which finally leads to convergent evolution of the 2 parties to one about the same party that serves the same interests and big corporations, leaving no real option for the voter, rendering everything in an illusion. Corruption is what destroyed the system and even though they have the power to pass regulations for improving the life of the people they tend to do the opposite...

    The political system in Finland is a more mature system but it is based on the pillars of peace, prosperity, minor influence from religious parties and a vast majority of educated voters. It is evident that this system is difficult to implement in US.
  • 5 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 16, 2010 12:47 PM
    cronik93The fact that you bring up something like that is sad.

    Hey, it's your voting system, don't blame me. Over in Iraq and Afghanistan when you are helping to create a foundation of Democracy they ask if just copying the American model will be OK and they say, "Hell no, our system is massively flawed!".

    Supposedly it is easier to create a system of democracy from scratch in a war-torn coutry that it is to modify an existing one in the USA.

    THAT is sad.
  • 13 Hide
    irh_1974 , September 16, 2010 12:50 PM
    Couldn't you find a better picture than "Fat guy in Speedos"
    I trying to eat here!
  • 8 Hide
    Marco925 , September 16, 2010 12:52 PM
    irh_1974Couldn't you find a better picture than "Fat guy in Speedos"I trying to eat here!

    That's Actually Linus
  • -6 Hide
    MisterJohnnyT , September 16, 2010 12:56 PM
    We are free to do what we are TOLD to do, and that's about it. Calling america(lower case "a" intentional) "free" is a disgusting distortion of the word.
  • -5 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 16, 2010 1:01 PM
    Humans thinkIn older times it gave the authority to the governments and legislator bodies to make bold moves without procrastinating, it is particularly useful when at war or serious reforms are needed

    Hence Bush using 9/11 as an excuse to force through the Patriot Act, a piece of legislation that the Founding Fathers are currently turning in their graves over.
    Also, seeing as the US has had troops involved, hence in a state of war, pretty much constantly since 1941 the excuse of no changes being made during a time of war seems to be artificially perpetuated.

    Maybe you should adopt the Democracy system used in India or Australia
  • 2 Hide
    unrealpinky , September 16, 2010 1:02 PM
    There is nothing wrong with the system in the US. The problem lies with the citizens by not going out and voting. You cannot institute change, either in policy or party "dualopoly", with only 18%, on average, voter turnout. There are plenty of parties to choose from and numerous opportunities to make changes during primaries, House, Senate, and Presidential elections. Bottom-line, get out and vote and when you see 80%+ voter turnout, then you will see real change. You have no excuse if you are citizen and kudos to Linus for realizing this and taking the steps to making it happen.
  • 6 Hide
    Parrdacc , September 16, 2010 1:12 PM
    apoqOh man, where do you get off saying that? There's no greatest country in the world, and even if it were, I'm not sure what your metric for deciding the awesomeness of a country is. Now don't get all pissy and start shooting your gun in the back yard just to show everybody how free your country is.


    And what's wrong with that?:)  We're not the only country that has a tradition of shooting off guns in the back yard and its done mostly has celebration then being "pissy". As a matter of fact that sounds like a fine idea, got the ammo be back in minute:)  :) 

    unrealpinkyThere is nothing wrong with the system in the US. The problem lies with the citizens by not going out and voting. You cannot institute change, either in policy or party "dualopoly", with only 18%, on average, voter turnout. There are plenty of parties to choose from and numerous opportunities to make changes during primaries, House, Senate, and Presidential elections. Bottom-line, get out and vote and when you see 80%+ voter turnout, then you will see real change. You have no excuse if you are citizen and kudos to Linus for realizing this make taking the steps to making it happen.


    Got that right. America has the worst voter turn out I have ever seen. I have been to a lot of Caribbean countries and have seen 90% or higher voter turn outs from these little islands and then to look at my America turn outs, wow I feel sad. I vote every chance I get, which more would do the same. Exercise your right to vote people!
  • -7 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 16, 2010 1:13 PM
    unrealpinkyThere is nothing wrong with the system in the US. The problem lies with the citizens by not going out and voting. You cannot institute change, either in policy or party "dualopoly", with only 18%, on average, voter turnout. There are plenty of parties to choose from and numerous opportunities to make changes during primaries, House, Senate, and Presidential elections. Bottom-line, get out and vote and when you see 80%+ voter turnout, then you will see real change. You have no excuse if you are citizen and kudos to Linus for realizing this and taking the steps to making it happen.

    So if its so good, how come you are telling other emerging Demoracies not to use your system because it is awful?
  • -2 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 16, 2010 1:22 PM
    back_by_demandSo if its so good, how come you are telling other emerging Demoracies not to use your system because it is awful?

    There's no point in thumbing down, it's not going to stop it being any less true.
    As a true American you should try to uphold the ideals of the founding fathers and the constitution.
    NOT a system that exists only to keep one of two parties in permanent power.
    There is a differance between the the country and the way it is run and until you realise that you will be a slave to a self-interest bi-partisan system that is essentially corrupt.
  • 6 Hide
    unrealpinky , September 16, 2010 1:36 PM
    back_by_demandThere's no point in thumbing down, it's not going to stop it being any less true.As a true American you should try to uphold the ideals of the founding fathers and the constitution.NOT a system that exists only to keep one of two parties in permanent power.There is a differance between the the country and the way it is run and until you realise that you will be a slave to a self-interest bi-partisan system that is essentially corrupt.

    What exactly is this "system" you are referring to? There is nothing within the US constitution that prevents change either in voting procedures or operations/powers of the different branches of government. The founding fathers, in their wisdom, realized the need for flexibility and change, but only if a large majority (2/3) desired it. So, if our "system" is so broke, as you put it, then the US has only it's citizens to blame. By voting, they can institute change, but only if a large majority of it's citizens come out and vote.

    So rather than bash the system, you need to encourage more involvement in order to make it better.
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