Chafee, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, gave a brief and chipper address that called for America to re-engage with "international community" with diplomacy and "symbolic" moves. That meant everything from barring campaign donors from becoming diplomats, to allowing Edward Snowden to come home without punishment, to bringing America into the Metric system."It doesn't take long to realize that 34 degrees is hot," joked Chafee, reminiscing about some time he spent in Canada.
Apparently Canada is a major inspiration for Chafee's call to end the absurdity that is the United States' -- what is it called again -- Standard system.
We saved you the trouble of Googling "Why isn't the U.S. already on the Metric system?"
According to HowStuffWorks.com, the blame lies with Thomas Jefferson, who was then George Washington's secretary of state. Article I, Section 8, of the new Constitution gave Congress the power "to coin Money … and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures."
Jefferson liked what they used in France, then a variation on the modern-day metric system. But the nation was broke, and "he feared that the U.S. wouldn't be able to verify the metric unit of length without sending a costly delegation to France." Apparently politics also played a role; France and the U.S. also weren't getting along at the time.
Back to 2015 and Chafee.
We heard the long-shot presidential hopeful also talked about terrorism in the Middle East and called for forgiving former government contractor Edward Snowden. But none of that's grabbing the political world's attention nearly as much as his audacious suggestion the U.S. give up its stubborn pride and stop measuring life in inches and degrees in Fahrenheit.
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On that last point, Hillary Clinton's camp has not responded to the metric system. But President Obama's press secretary did get a question on it the next day.
Once again, advantage Chafee.
Unfortunately for Chafee, even if he were to become president, and even if all of America agreed with his startling suggestion, switching us over to centimeters (or is it centimetres?) probably wouldn't happen overnight.
HowStuffWorks.com also notes that "a country doesn't simply 'turn on' on a brand-new system of weights and measures. Even France, the brainchild behind decimal-based measuring, adopted its own metric system in fits and starts."
But Chafee knows what any politician worth his or her salt understands: Bold ideas have to start somewhere, right? Even if the political world makes fun of you at first.