Electoral college is very necessary. We have the best system in the world and the college is an important part of that.
I like Maine and Nebraska's system, or some form that doesn't give all of the electoral votes to one candidate when the state is split somewhat evenly.
Last edited by isired; 11-07-2008 at 02:18 PM.
I saw this the other day. It makes a good point about the EC.
Pondering the Electoral College
There's much talk of how the Electoral College is undemocratic and, by implication, an obnoxious burden on 'the People's' right to choose their U.S. President.
Lots of sound counterarguments in defense of the Electoral College are possible. Here I offer just one - namely: if we don't think it undemocratic to elect representatives to Congress to carry out our political desires on tax policy, environmental regulation, national defense, why is it undemocratic to do largely the same when it comes to choosing a President?
In effect, a vote for presidential-candidate X is a vote for someone to meet in an assembly called the Electoral College -- someone whose platform is that he or she supports candidate X for President. The members of that assembly then vote on who will become the next President of the United States.
It's true that there are differences between electing representatives to the likes of Congress and the state house, and electing electors to gather every four years in the Electoral College to vote on a single issue. One obvious difference is that, in Presidential campaigns, the competing agenda items (that is, candidate X and candidate Y) do the actual campaigning. But I don't see this (or any other) difference as so fundamental as to make the Electoral College an assault on democracy if electing representatives to legislatures is not regarded as an assault of similar magnitude.
A related, but potentially more serious, objection to the Electoral College -- indeed, the objection that, I'm sure, motivates most people who object to it -- is that it can result in a minority of popular voters getting the candidate of their choice over the candidate receiving the greatest number of popular votes. As the New York Times editorial (linked to above) said:
The main problem with the Electoral College is that it builds into every election the possibility, which has been a reality three times since the Civil War, that the president will be a candidate who lost the popular vote.
This objection, too, is weakened when one considers that such outcomes can occur in legislatures based upon geographical representation where there is uneven distribution of the voting population across the electoral districts.
The 25 most-populated U.S. states have a total population of about 235 million people. The population of the 25 least-populated states totals just about 70 million people.
With each state sending two Senators to Capitol Hill, it's clearly possible that a majority of U.S. Senators will vote for a bill even though, if citizens themselves directly voted on the bill, the vote would go in the other direction.
For example - to pick the simplest case - if all 50 senators from the least-populated states were joined by a single senator from one of the most-populated states in voting for bill Z, bill Z would pass the Senate. Assuming that senators vote according to the preferences of those persons who elected them to office, it's quite possible that were bill Z put to a popular vote, it would fail. The much greater population of the states whose senators voted against Z could well significantly swamp the pro-Z votes of citizens of those states whose senators voted in favor of Z.
A similar outcome is possible in the U.S. House of Representatives, although not as likely as in the senate. Those who are interested in how this outcome might play out in the House of Representatives can read the following italicized paragraphs:
(Omitted for length - see the link above)
I understand that other complexities can be introduced (e.g., a state's or a congressional-districtís population is not the same thing as its number of registered voters). I also have no idea how likely is the kind of outcome that I describe above.
But I do know that such an outcome in the U.S. Congress is possible. I would also guess that such outcomes have indeed occurred. And yet, despite this possibility, no mainstream pundit calls for a ditching of geographic-based electoral representation for the Congress.
Anyway, I digress. The point is, this highly federalized system we have now is not what was initially created. In some way its better, in other ways its not.
This is why the name is the United "States" of America. The States were seen as the more important governing body as to the day to day activities of its citizens. The electoral system was developed to keep the most populous states from effectively exercising exclusive control over selecting a president and controlling the executinve branch. It was seen as a method of leveling the playing field since the "States" were to be considered equal partners in the formation of the Republic.
In some ways this system seems outdated, but as a pratical matter, I believe the electoral vote winner was not the popular vote winner on only 2 occassions. So, it works pretty darn good. Without it, candidates would, even more so then they do now, ignore the smaller sates and campaign in only the largest most populated areas.
Also, Hamilton did not propose a federal reserve bank, but a national banking system. The Federal Reserve, as we know it, didn't come into existence until 1913.
Without the Electoral Collage both candidates would be campaigning all over the place. Think about it, although McCain could never have won the majority of votes in NY State, had he campaigned here his numbers might have improved from 35% to maybe 40-43%. That would have translated into millions of votes because of the amount of people living here. Same goes for California. The republican strategy would be to make some inroads in the Northeast & West coast while still trying to hold majorities in the heartland.
It makes whole country relevant again.
I go back and forth on this issue all of the time. Part of the reason I feel this way is because most of the time I feel my vote means nothing in a Presidential election. NJ almost becomes a completely irrelevant state come election time. We see very few ads, very few comments, very little care about the state in general because 1 party knows it has the state locked up. When we were down in South Jersey the other week where you pick up the Philly stations the amount of election coverage and effort was much stronger since both guys sunk alot of money into PA.
Even though we say the EC makes the small state unimportant, or less important those small states still have a huge say in matters of the Senate where the size is not taken into account to determine your representation. That should be the check on the fact that the large states are given much more weight than the small ones in a general election.
Politicians would completely ignore certain parts of the US if we eliminated the EC. It makes the more populated states too important in the general election and almost makes the little guy completely ignored. I think the bottom line is that it becomes the parties responsibility to make themselves important in states like NJ and CA so that it is not "all in the bag" for one party in the general election. In the last 6 years or so the Democrats have done a tremendous job with that in some of the smaller states and Republicans need to begin doing that in the large states.
While we are on the subject of the electoral college, does anyone know if there is away to figure out what the electoral count would have been if every state switched to the systems used by Nebraska and Maine where you get 1 electoral vote for each congressional district where you win the popular vote and get the 2 senatorial electoral votes if you win the state.
The US Academy is also an odd point to make. Why did Jefferson do that? To foil Adams' and federalists use of partisan appointments to military leadership by creating a "republican-oriented" academy (Jefferson insisted that academy members vowed to represent republican ideals as a criterion for admission) from which Jefferson could draw his commanders. The initiative for an academy had actually commenced with Washington, who had obvious interest and understanding of the need to train our military and not rely on foreigners.
The Barbary Coast War? The only possible point you could even slightly make here is that Jefferson did not seek a declaration of war from congress, despite the fact that the Pasha HAD declared war on the US. He did get authorization from congress to act in all manner necessary to carry out hostilities. Jefferson had been involved with negotiating with the pirate since the 1780's and was adamant in not paying bribes. He carried that out as president. What was specifically federalist about this?
Indian relocation is also an odd point. What specific rights did natives have in our nation?
Jefferson shrank the size of federal government, attacked the supreme court's federalists with a vengeance, gave preference to agriculture over commerce, was opposed to any form of national bank, and championed increased states-rights whenever possible. To make claim that he presided over federalist expansion is simply wrong.
McCain didn't spend two seconds in CA or NY precisely because the popular vote is not the goal. Obama didn't spend two seconds in Texas or as much time as he would have in large cities in GA or SC. If each candidate knew the popular vote was the prize, they would have structured their campaigns and allocated their resources accordingly and completely differently than they did. McCain would have visted CA and NY, Obama would have visited TX. You get all 55 EVs from CA if one person in CA shows up to vote or if 25m show up; same for Texas. The popular vote isn't irrelevant, but there is "noise" in that comparison data since no one seeks a popular vote win and no one allocates their resources solely to win the most aggregate votes, without regards to the states. It often works out that the EV winner also gets the most overall votes, but having inconsistent results isn't as scandelous as people make it out to be since the most overall votes is not what candidates seek nor allocate their resources to achieve.
We are a federated republic of 50 (largely) sovreign states, with a group of founders that was very wary of a powerful federal government that can use blunt force against these 50 states. The EV is evidence of this. If you get rid of the EV, why not get rid of the part of the consitution having two senators for each state? In fact, the entire reason the Senate even exists is to provide states with a counter-weight to the "rabble" of the house, which is just crude, blunt-force mob rule, essentially. They last for six years a term, have more power and are evenly distributed amongst each state. The House is an acknowledgment that larger states have more people and contribute more in taxes, but the Senate is the counter-weight. Personally, I think the system is fine as it is. We are a federated republic of 50 states and should remain so. Why even have states at all, each with their own constitutions and courts and laws....why not just make it one big country, then? Isn't anyone even remotely skeptical of centralized power anymore?
Last edited by jets5ever; 11-08-2008 at 02:12 PM.