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Father of Linux Linus Torvalds Becomes US Citizen

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.)

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • th_at
    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.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    So you couple a polarizing voting system with a campaign that has to make simplified black-and-white statements, and what do you get?
    Err, either a white President or a black President?
    Reply
  • hoofhearted
    The electoral college had its day, but we live in the day and age where computers can account for every vote.
    Reply
  • figgus
    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.
    Reply
  • jsrudd
    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.
    Reply
  • cronik93
    back_by_demandErr, either a white President or a black President?
    The fact that you bring up something like that is sad.
    Reply
  • stratplaya
    Well 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.

    Reply
  • apoq
    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.
    Reply
  • Marco925
    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?
    Reply
  • Humans think
    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.
    Reply