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Wed Aug 8, 2012, 08:13 PM

The Presidency should be decided by popular vote (or not?)

This poll isn't about this 2012 election, but the theoretical idea that the presidency should be decided directly by the voters and according to the number of popular votes received by a candidate.

Which is fairer?

(no, this is not about any proposals that have floated recently among states, it is about a general idea).


Which do you support?
34 votes, 3 passes | Time left: Unlimited
The Electoral College should be retained as the means to elect the president
7 (21%)
The Popular Vote should be the means to elect the president
27 (79%)
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Disclaimer: This is an Internet poll

87 replies, 16902 views

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Arrow 87 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Presidency should be decided by popular vote (or not?) (Original post)
CreekDog Aug 2012 OP
customerserviceguy Aug 2012 #1
CreekDog Aug 2012 #3
RZM Aug 2012 #7
Warpy Aug 2012 #30
customerserviceguy Aug 2012 #32
Warpy Aug 2012 #57
Yeah Its Spin Aug 2012 #2
TheCowsCameHome Aug 2012 #4
The Magistrate Aug 2012 #5
CreekDog Aug 2012 #9
Johonny Aug 2012 #10
Lone_Star_Dem Aug 2012 #6
ManiacJoe Aug 2012 #8
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #11
RKP5637 Aug 2012 #20
white_wolf Aug 2012 #23
Tom Ripley Aug 2012 #68
VOX Aug 2012 #12
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #26
FBaggins Aug 2012 #13
RZM Aug 2012 #15
CreekDog Aug 2012 #16
RZM Aug 2012 #18
CreekDog Aug 2012 #21
X_Digger Aug 2012 #22
CreekDog Aug 2012 #24
X_Digger Aug 2012 #35
white_wolf Aug 2012 #25
X_Digger Aug 2012 #36
white_wolf Aug 2012 #44
X_Digger Aug 2012 #47
white_wolf Aug 2012 #52
X_Digger Aug 2012 #54
white_wolf Aug 2012 #62
X_Digger Aug 2012 #63
white_wolf Aug 2012 #64
X_Digger Aug 2012 #67
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #86
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #72
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #27
taught_me_patience Aug 2012 #38
CreekDog Aug 2012 #17
FBaggins Aug 2012 #31
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #43
FBaggins Aug 2012 #48
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #59
FBaggins Aug 2012 #65
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #70
muriel_volestrangler Aug 2012 #69
FBaggins Aug 2012 #77
muriel_volestrangler Aug 2012 #80
FBaggins Aug 2012 #81
muriel_volestrangler Aug 2012 #82
FBaggins Aug 2012 #83
boxman15 Aug 2012 #14
Puregonzo1188 Aug 2012 #19
jberryhill Aug 2012 #28
NYC Liberal Aug 2012 #29
OneTenthofOnePercent Aug 2012 #33
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #45
Motown_Johnny Aug 2012 #34
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #46
Motown_Johnny Aug 2012 #76
davidpdx Aug 2012 #37
Nye Bevan Aug 2012 #39
Kaleva Aug 2012 #40
Bettie Aug 2012 #50
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #51
Zorra Aug 2012 #41
Nye Bevan Aug 2012 #42
white_wolf Aug 2012 #53
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #55
LanternWaste Aug 2012 #74
Bettie Aug 2012 #49
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #73
Warren Stupidity Aug 2012 #56
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #60
MineralMan Aug 2012 #58
Comrade_McKenzie Aug 2012 #61
backscatter712 Aug 2012 #66
LanternWaste Aug 2012 #71
Grave Grumbler Aug 2012 #75
FreeJoe Aug 2012 #78
Tierra_y_Libertad Aug 2012 #79
haele Aug 2012 #84
JackRiddler Aug 2012 #87
Throd Aug 2012 #85

Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 08:18 PM

1. The Electoral College

is a part of the Constitution, and all it takes are thirteen small states (who see themselves as benefitting from the status quo) to thwart any effort to amend that document.

It ain't gonna ever happen. Not just in our lifetimes, but ever.

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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 08:36 PM

3. don't tell us what we can't accomplish.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:08 PM

7. Don't tell me what I can't do!

 

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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 02:09 AM

30. What will happen is a transition period

with states deciding on proportional selection of Electors. When enough states do this, the EC will become irrelevant, a vestige of the late 18th century when such a system made a certain amount of sense for a small country settling a very large frontier.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #30)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 07:17 AM

32. All that's going to do

is to give red parts of blue states to the Rethuglicans. The red states won't change to proportional selection, so we won't get anything in return.

I agree that the EC is thinking from a couple of centuries ago, but I also see that it's completely baked into the cake.

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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #32)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:15 PM

57. "Give red parts of blue states to Republicans" (FTFY)

is exactly what directly electing presidents will do and why it will eventually make the EC obsolete.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 08:32 PM

2. Should be selected by the Senate

 

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 08:36 PM

4. By DU.

What could be better?

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:05 PM

5. Popular Vote, Sir, Should Determine The Election Of the President

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #5)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:18 PM

9. I'm surprised that there are so many votes against the idea

but at least the support is verging on universal.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #9)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:34 PM

10. depends on how you view your vote

If you want to maximize your vote then the electoral college is a good method as a candidate with less votes can still win meaning your vote in theory counted more. I think the most sane solution is a graduated system where people vote for 1st 2nd and 3 rd choice. It would break the stranglehold of the 2 party system and once again the minority candidate could potentially win. Winner takes all popular vote sounds good but only if the winner is overall the most popular which isn't always the case. In 2004 Bush won the popular vote but had people voted for candidates ranked he would have lost to Kerry as he was not even the 3rd choice for most people that voted against him. There's been a lot of stuff written about different election processes and which ones are "best" for the individual voter. No system is perfect and more to the point no candidate is even running on making the system different so change seems really unlikely.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:07 PM

6. This I agree with.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:18 PM

8. The question of fairness needs a judging criteria to be defined.

In the current system, the President does not represent the people. He represents the collection of states. From that perspective, the current electoral college seem like a reasonable election method.

If you want the President to represent the people, then the electoral college is not a good method for electing him.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:38 PM

11. There should not be a president.

 

Last edited Thu Aug 9, 2012, 11:28 PM - Edit history (1)

It's a fundamentally authoritarian concept. It practically invites abuse and grandstanding - like wars for legacy. Most of these bozos are only ever good for declaring war, if not on other nations, then on social ills or abstract concepts. The idea in the first place is sick: 300 million people, one big guy decides, and it's supposed to be a democracy because you get to switch him every four years.

In practice, however, the awesome scope and size and secrecy of the modern executive branch have reduced the presidency to a stage show. An administration is often less a leader than a faction within the opaque internal politics of empire. We have this permanent and large realm of hidden government, located in the executive but not really under anyone's control - except that the corporations have captured most of the various agencies and units. Every four years we pretend the election of one headman (in a process utterly corrupted by money, ideology, shocking public ignorance, and the whims of media corporations) is going to be the most significant single factor influencing policy.

Democracy in a nation this size begins with a parliamentary, proportionally representative system. In any case, democracy does not survive well with empire, let alone vast secret reaches of government beyond oversight and vested with the divine right of "national security."

That being said, of course the electoral college and the other institutions by which the Dead Hand of 1787 still runs our lives - Senate, winner-take-all "representation," Supreme Court - were designed to prevent democracy and keep power in the hands of a propertied ruling class.

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Response to JackRiddler (Reply #11)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 11:02 PM

20. Well said! We have a very tribal hierarchal system prone to corruption and

Last edited Wed Aug 8, 2012, 11:36 PM - Edit history (1)

bribery at many levels. And today, those with the most money run the country, control the elections. The system needs some revisions, but how that will ever come about in an intelligent and rationale manner is beyond me, there is so much dissension, greed and hostility in today's America.

I find it very difficult to believe the current system is going to work centuries into the future ad infinitum without eventually some major overhauling.

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Response to JackRiddler (Reply #11)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:24 AM

23. This post deserves to be an OP. n/t

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Response to JackRiddler (Reply #11)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:34 PM

68. +1,000,000

 

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:38 PM

12. Ideally, yes. But it would put several reliable Red States up for sale...

In reality, it would pump steroids into RW billionaire campaign contributions, since an all-popular vote would create battlegrounds in states that have historically (since 1992, at least) been reliably Democratic, such as California, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illiinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In national elections, Republicans barely campaign in California and New York as it is.

The insane, over-the-top transparent and non-transparent RW giving that's going on now would be a drop in the bucket compared to a situation where one would need to capture the most votes in the most states (it still breaks down that way, even if the goal is the largest single national total of votes).

Obviously, in a popular vote scenario, Al Gore would have been elected president in 2000; but in 2004, John Kerry came within a hair's breadth of taking Ohio's electoral votes. Had he done so, the nod nevertheless would have gone to Bush by popular vote.

So the popular-vote scenario cuts both ways. For now, I'm inclined to keep the Electoral College, as it usually keeps electoral-vote rich California, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illiinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin in the (D) column.

edit: out, damned typos!

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Response to VOX (Reply #12)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:41 AM

26. What you're really saying is that the Electoral College is not the worst problem.

 

Money is a bigger problem.

Money and corporations in charge of government and media ownership by a handful of corporations.

Overcentralization of power in one office and one branch of government is a bigger problem.

Winner take all elections (which do not produce true representation) are a bigger problem.

The woeful state of public education and of the public's knowledge of politics and economics are a bigger problem.

The end of the Electoral College could only come in the course of a much larger overhaul. Thus the what-ifs you cite would not have necessarily happened if there had been no EC.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:44 PM

13. Fairer?

Fairer to who/what?

The current system has a better chance of electing presidents who draw broad support from many different areas and populations. It also gives more types of people a voice in the process. The popular vote doesn't do that. Overwhelming support from a handful of states could overcome broad opposition from most of the country. A candidate could cater to just a handful of population centers and ignore the nation as a whole.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #13)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 10:15 PM

15. I've seen that argument more than most of the others

 

The country is mostly urban and suburban, so one could milk the vote out of such areas and not have the time or inclination to go anywhere else.

Here in Ohio, for example, candidates actually spend time in Appalachian SE Ohio, even though it's the least populous part of the state. But they can't afford to not pay attention to it, because every vote in the state matters in a winner-take-all system like the electoral college.

In a popular vote system, you'd probably never see them down there. Not only that, but it would impact what types of issues are discussed and probably even policy decisions. Why bother paying attention to rural issues if they don't matter one whit to whether or not you are elected?

I can see the benefits of a different system too and I'm not a huge fan of the electoral college. But I'm skeptical that it would make things a whole lot better. It would make some things better, but it would probably also have unintended consequences that wouldn't be popular.

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Response to RZM (Reply #15)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 10:20 PM

16. people vote, not dirt

people have rights to vote and choose, not blades of grass or waves on the water

power comes from the people, not from land.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #16)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 10:45 PM

18. Nobody is arguing that dirt votes

 

Power comes from people, but people live in a variety of areas. And most live in cities and suburbs. But not all do . . . some live out in the sticks. And the latter have their own set of issues that matter to them that aren't always the same as those that matter to urban and suburban folks. A popular votes system could lead to a situation where those concerns don't matter too much to politicians who depend almost exclusively on urban and suburban votes.

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Response to RZM (Reply #18)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 11:59 PM

21. a person's vote in one state should count the same as a person elsewhere

that's fundamental to democracy.

if you want something other than a democratic system, then that is not necessary.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #21)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:19 AM

22. We are not a "democracy", we are a representative republic. n/t

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #22)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:33 AM

24. which is why I didn't use the word "democracy"...that said, we should be "democratic"...

but this holds us back, as does our undemocratic allocation of senators.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #24)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 08:51 AM

35. No, it's a balance between the principles.

Moving toward a pure democracy (in both the electoral college and the allocation of senators) would lead to more pandering to the most concentrated population centers.

We're a collection of 50 states as well as 310,000,000 people.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #22)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:34 AM

25. You do realize that's a right wing talking point, correct?

Besides the mere fact that the "Founders" wanted the U.S. to be a Republic instead of a Democracy does not in anyway mean the U.S. should not be a Democracy. Power should belong to the people.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #25)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 08:59 AM

36. Not really, no. Unless you think the founders were right wingers.

The difference is that in a pure democracy, 51% always beats 49%. The minority has no power other than what the majority grants them.

In a pure democracy, power is vested in the majority (the group) rather than the people.

You end up with some nasty crap with a pure democracy- see prop 8 in california.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #36)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 11:50 AM

44. Some of them were fairly conservative. Hamilton comes to mind.

Even the more progressive ones like Jefferson had some conservative elements in that they owned slaves. Thomas Paine was by far the best of them, a pity he didn't have more to do with setting up the government. Things would have likely turned out much better.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #44)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:00 PM

47. You're likely right.

Though I still have to give a nod to the concept of the "Tyranny of the Majority." I think our bill of rights, along with separation of powers (yes, including the bicameral legislature with different apportionment) is a pretty effective counter to it.

The other recent example that someone mentioned was the whole 'right to pray' idiocy in missouri.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #47)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:10 PM

52. Even in a true democracy you could have a bill of rights.

My biggest problem with a Representative Republic is the simple fact that I don't feel like these politicians are representing me. I feel like they are in the pockets of corporations.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #52)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:13 PM

54. That is a big problem, but not one I think we'll fix with direct elections & proportional senate

If that were so, the house would represent us better.

No, I think we need a constitutional amendment overturning CU, and a reinstated / stricter campaign finance reform. (As a start.)

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #54)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:20 PM

62. One think that I think could really help our government is Proportional Representation.

Not the kind you are talking about, but the system that is used in some European Parliaments which allows for multiple parties. If the Socialists gain 5% of the vote they could get 5% of the seats. Right now we are stuck with a two party lesser of two evils system which drags both parties to the Right. Under the European system we could avoid that.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #62)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:28 PM

63. Maybe, but then I look at Canada and the Stephen Harper mess.

5% of congress doesn't mean 5% of the legislation passed. No, whatever party they caucused with would set the agenda, with minimal (proportionate, hehe) bones thrown to them, if at all.

The party in power could very easily to throw their hands up and say, "Ah well, we tried. Better luck next legislative session."

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #63)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:32 PM

64. Canada doesn't use Proportional representation.

Neither does the UK. I think the U.S., U.K., Canada, and New Zealand are the only "democratic" countries that don't use it.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #64)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:33 PM

67. Not proportional, no, but multi-party / coalitions..

That was my take-away from your previous post. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #63)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 11:29 PM

86. Canada is a winner-take-all system.

 

It is not proportional.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #36)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:57 PM

72. This "tyranny of the 51 percent" is already what we have.

 

The 51 get a House member, senator or president to (ostensibly) represent them, and the 49 get nothing.

In the winner-take-all, non-representative system, you end up with some nasty crap - see Bush years, but also pretty much every government. Because the winner-take-all system necessarily shapes the political landscape into one of two large parties competing for a mythical "center," as defined by the dominant business interests and the corporate media, with no alternative party having any chance of winning or of any role other than being a "spoiler."

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #22)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:47 AM

27. The United States is a democracy, according to the Constitution of 1787.

 

First three words: We the people.

That is the sovereign, or in other words: a democracy.

"The people" are referred to in the Constitution about six or eight times. I'm not sure how often "republic" occurs, maybe twice.

There is no dichotomy between the idea of republic and that of democracy.

Furthermore, the Constitution does not set up a representative republic. You may call it that, since words are variably defined, but in this system only winners get to represent.

Given that plurality elects and second and third and fourth place don't get jack shit in representation, a majority of voters are often cut out of being represented.

Finally, let's remember that even in Soilsville, there are people who think differently from the majority. The interests of rural or urban areas are not cut and dried, and in fact it's not areas that have interests, but people.

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Response to RZM (Reply #15)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 10:20 AM

38. When candidates spend more time in Appalachia then Los Angeles

 

something is seriously wrong with the system. Seriously... neither candidate has even visited Los Angeles on the campaign trail (they've visited to raise money from rich donors)... why aren't we represented?

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #13)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 10:22 PM

17. Fairer to all people because one PERSON in one state would have the same power in another

and nobody who moves would have a different amount of input into the election solely because they've moved from one state to another.

if we want to be regarded as a great democracy, we're going to have to address this.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #17)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 06:36 AM

31. That isn't fairer.

Last edited Thu Aug 9, 2012, 07:21 AM - Edit history (1)

The 2068 election has just occurred. The first truly progressive candidate has finally won the democratic party nomination and support has spread like wildfire. (S)he has almost universal 53/47 support and takes an historic 49 states (plus all territories).

Unfortunately, the Cult of Bush (now an official religion within Texas) results in nearly unanimous support for a 4th generation candidate from the family and over 90% of texans vote for him and he wins the presidency. One state literally overcoming the clear will of the rest of the country.

And you think that's "fairer"?

Fair is a system that gives the entire country (with all it's many priorities and peoples) the best possible chance of a leader who has the support of a nation as a whole.

if we want to be regarded as a great democracy, we're going to have to address this.



And if you want to be regarded as credible on the issue, you're going to have to address the fact that we already are a great democracy. And the rest of the world already knows it.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #31)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 11:37 AM

43. Thanks for your science fiction scenario.

 

By science fiction scenario, I don't mean the silly and totally irrelevant "what if gravity stopped working" story you tell about 2068. (Well, what if it did? Eh? Where would your fancy ideas be then, eh?) Because if we just sat here and made up incredibly unlikely numbers, we could as easily come up with a scenario wherein 70 percent vote for one candidate while another wins the electoral vote.

But this is a real gem of short fiction: "We already are a great democracy. And the rest of the world already knows it."

Which is to say, you misplaced your all-powerful ROFL smiley - the favorite icon of the braindead, though certainly we're not including you in that category. It should be one paragraph lower.

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Response to JackRiddler (Reply #43)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:06 PM

48. Was there any substance at all to that post?

Perhaps bad html tagged it out?

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #48)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:16 PM

59. Your juvenile, generic dismissal implies that there was.

 

And that it hurt when it hit you! So sorry.

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Response to JackRiddler (Reply #59)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:32 PM

65. Lol!

Your #43 was the "juvenile, generic dismissal"

That was the point of the reply.

Once again... do you have anything of substance to offer in rebuttal?

Fair is a system that gives the entire country (with all it's many priorities and peoples) the best possible chance of a leader who has the support of a nation as a whole.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #65)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:51 PM

70. O, I am slain!

 

"Because if we just sat here and made up incredibly unlikely numbers, we could as easily come up with a scenario wherein 70 percent vote for one candidate while another wins the electoral vote."

In fact, if we do three- and four-way splits, it should be easy to come up with a scenario wherein someone gets 50 percent of the popular vote on the strength of big states but New Hitler wins 270 electoral votes on the power of 11 percent of the popular vote.

This would be about as likely as your "2068" scenario. It's an irrelevant mind game.

The answer doesn't lie in debating the electoral college at all.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #31)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:45 PM

69. Ask anyone in the world if they think the electoral college is 'great' or 'democratic'

and they'll laugh, heartily, and say "see, Americans always have a sense of humour!"

The EC is cute; eccentric; interesting; notable; but it's not democratic. Do you think anywhere in the world wants to emulate it to elect a president?

As for your incredibly unlikely scenario (if Texas became that different from the rest of the country, it would want to secede, and the rest of the USA would agree, since it would obviously be terminally insane), yes, it would be fairer for the candidate with more votes to win. Why is the president of the country tied to the geographical distribution of the votes, rather than the amount of the votes? Do you want "government of the people, by the people, for the people", or government by boundary?

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #69)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 01:29 PM

77. Really? ANYONE in the world?

You really can't think of any contries with variations on the EC for one political office or another? Or anyone at all that considers the US as the standard for democracy?

Why is the president of the country tied to the geographical distribution of the votes, rather than the amount of the votes?

He isn't... he's tied to the interests of the nation as a whole, by a system that takes far more into account than just raw vote totals. It is in no sense "not democratic". The founders explicitly rejected pure majoritarian rule and intentionally created a system with a better chance of lasting stability.

And they were right.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #77)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 01:57 PM

80. "far more into account than just raw vote totals"

So those who live further away from others tend to get more of a say about who the president is. Those who live in low population states get more of a say. Why was Dakota created as 2 states, and Montana 1? The Dakotas have 6 EC votes between them, while Wyoming has only 3, despite being bigger than their combined area. There wasn't even a historical reason for this from before the US was created.

Yes, it takes more into account than vote totals. But, since demos means 'people', taking things other than votes into account is a departure from proper democracy. Your avatar shows North Carolina. If someone proposed electing the governor by dividing the state up into zones with wildly differing populations, and weighting them so that some zones had 3 times as many electors per electoral college vote than others, would you think it an advance in democracy in the state? Does the current "pure majoritarian rule" used to elect the NC governor a problem to you?

Is there a single state in the US that doesn't use pure majoritarian rule to elect its governor?

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #80)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 02:14 PM

81. Straw man?

So those who live further away from others tend to get more of a say about who the president is.

No. People from different states often have different needs and different priorities (and they are hardly limited to geography and population density). The existing system balances competing needs with what would otherwise be pure majoritarian rule. It is no less "of the people" for doing so.

Yes, it takes more into account than vote totals. But, since demos means 'people', taking things other than votes into account is a departure from proper democracy.

Sorry. That doesn't follow. I know it makes sense to you... but it isn't true. "Proper democracy" is not the same thing as "majority rules in all cases". Such a claim flies in the face of the simple fact that the people who wrote "we the people" followed it with the structure that you now claim violates the standard "the people" supposedly implies.

The requirement for a 2/3 vote to overcome a presidential veto is in no sense un-democratic. The very fact that the President has a veto (which he doesn't lose in the off-year election when the people change the congress) is not undemocratic. The 3/4 requirement for a constitutional amendment is not in any way undemocratic. Neither the 2/3 requirement for treaty ratification (nor the fact that only the Senate has a say), is undemocratic.

If someone proposed electing the governor by dividing the state up into zones with wildly differing populations, and weighting them so that some zones had 3 times as many electors per electoral college vote than others, would you think it an advance in democracy in the state?

Nope... and that's where you go off the rails. The counties/cities/towns etc were not ever sovereign governments that voluntarily ceded some of their sovereignty to the state as a whole. Note that this is precisely the basis of the ruling that created the "one man one vote" standard. Subdivisions within states are fundamentally differentnt than states within the nation as a whole.

An inadequate civics education may have left you with the misunderstanding that towns/counties/states were all just different subdivisions of the nation... but that isn't the case.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #81)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 02:43 PM

82. Most of the states in the USA were never sovereign governments

They were creations of the United States, that were set up as states from territory the USA controlled, with the politics of the time determining their boundaries - hence North and South Dakota, created at the same time. And being unfair to some citizens because of history is not 'democracy'; it's conservatism - wanting to keep an old system, not on its merits, but because it's how it was set up by people you've never met.

People from different states often have different needs and different priorities

But why should that mean they get different power in electing a post for the whole country? The rules about vetoes are indeed a straw man (thanks for drawing attention to that), because they're not about the influence that different US citizens have in electing a nationwide leader.

In practice, the existing system means that swing states get all the attention in presidential contests, and huge parts of the country have no effective say in choosing the president. Even with your claim that different regions have different needs and priorities, I can't see how you think the current set-up benefits states that are a foregone conclusion.

Even if all the states decided to switch to proportional representation for dividing up their members of their delegations, you'd still have the problem of some people's vote being worth 3 times as much as others'.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #82)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 03:20 PM

83. Again... that's specifically covered in the Supreme Court ruling.

And it doesn't matter one bit. They were created by a union of states to be states themselves. Not just subsets of the national whole.

being unfair to some citizens because of history is not 'democracy';

No point in arguing that... since it is in no sense "unfair". In fact, the definition of "fair" in this case is specifically that they do come in on an equal footing with the other states.

But why should that mean they get different power in electing a post for the whole country?

They don't. They each get an equal power with their neighbors to elect Senators to represent their state...and each state gets the same representation in the Senate. The selection of President blends both the more direct (and roughly - though not absolutely - proportional) representation of the House and the indirect representation of their corporate political body (the state) in the Senate.

The rules about vetoes are indeed a straw man (thanks for drawing attention to that), because they're not about the influence that different US citizens have in electing a nationwide leader.

But they are about the differing influence of the electorate from two years ago compared to the representatives that they elect in the current election. It doesn't matter if a substantial majority vote one way... the President can still overrule a majority of voters (that could actually be greater than 2:1).

In practice, the existing system means that swing states get all the attention in presidential contests, and huge parts of the country have no effective say in choosing the president. Even with your claim that different regions have different needs and priorities, I can't see how you think the current set-up benefits states that are a foregone conclusion.

Because foundational principals don't change with the whims of politics. The current swing states have not always been swing states. Any system you devise will have those kinds of weaknesses. A pure majoritarian rule (for house/senate and the WH) would result in "all the attention" going to large media markets. That would increase the influence of some people at the expense of others (and probably increase the role of money in the outcome). Retail politics would be dead.

wanting to keep an old system, not on its merits, but because it's how it was set up by people you've never met

That's an error deserving of it's own reply. It isn't because of some sort of societal momentum. It isn't that "it's always been that way"... it's that it IS that way. The states were (and remain) sovereign entities that at one point joined together (but not into mere geographic divisions of a single whole). It simply isn't a matter of "well... I think there's a better way"... you literally need a different country in order to switch. A new constitution (by both meanings of the word). I don't think that even an amendment would suffice... we would need a new constitutional convention.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:58 PM

14. Popular vote.

The Electoral College is extremely outdated and gives disproportionate power to a select few states.

Not going to lie, it looks like the EC is President Obama's best friend this year and I'm thankful for that, but the crushing defeat of 2000 and its impact on this country cannot be repeated.

Were Obama to lose the popular vote but win the Electoral College (which is more than possible), it wouldn't be the worst thing in the long run. The Dems will have 2000 and the GOP will have 2012, so they'll both have motivation to try to change the system.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 10:49 PM

19. The only reason we had the electoral college in the first place was because of slavery.

Slave states had bigger populations, but less franchise meaning that in a direct vote they'd surely have less weight. Yet, under the elector college they would be able to count slaves as 3/5 of a person for determining electors.

This isn't some conspiracy theory and was even mentioned by James Madison at the Constitutional Convention.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:56 AM

28. How about we decide by an unpopular vote instead?

 

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 01:38 AM

29. I support the Electoral College, which is based on population anyway.

For one, it prevents a few of the largest cities and population centers (on the coasts) from deciding the election. And that's exactly what would happen if it were abolished. If we go by the "direct popular vote" logic, the Yankees should have won the 1960 World Series since even though the Pirates won more games, the Yankees outscored them 55 to 27.

Fraud is easier to combat by isolating votes (and thus recounts) to individual states. Imagine trying to do a nationwide recount in 2000. And if there are problems in one state, Congress can simply refuse to certify those one state's votes -- as it could (should) have done in 2000.

My suggestion for the EC would possibly be to have electoral votes in all states distributed proportionally as they are in Maine and Nebraska.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 07:24 AM

33. I vote for the electoral college. Not because it's better, but because

 

in general people are stupid. Honestly, think about how stupid the "average person" can be... and then understand that (by law of statistics) about half of everybody else is more stupid than that.

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Response to OneTenthofOnePercent (Reply #33)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 11:56 AM

45. If stupid people are the problem...

 

then it's pretty stupid to think the Electoral College is a solution.

It is true that the Dead Men of 1787 conceived the EC as a means for allowing electors (who would presumably be among the "better sort" to make their own decisions, even against their original pledges. In practice, however, cases of electors voting against their original appointment are extremely - extremely - rare. We're talking like one or two in the last century. There is no deliberation or substantive decision-making or sense of uncertainty in the proceedings of the EC. Electors vote for their original candidate. The EC results are predetermined by the election night counts. The electors themselves wouldn't even need to show up. Thus cases when the EC system yields a different result than the popular vote have been arbitrary. If ever there was a case when the EC should have taken seriously its supposed original function of providing a check on tyranny or mass incompetence, it would have been in 2000, when the demonstrably stupidest candidate in recent memory emerged the winner, not because of the popular vote, but because of the arbitrary mathematics of the EC.

Otherwise, as an intelligent person I'd urge you to reconsider how you consider "stupid." There isn't a single functioning definition of the concept, and there is no invisible ranking of every human being on the planet from number-one-smartest to number-seven-billion-dumbest, so that you can make statements about "the law of statistics" (?) dictating that "half of everybody else is more stupid than that." (Also, if you care for the discipline of statistics, you need to start respecting the difference between average and median, which are among its most fundamental axioms.)

If the "average person" is really "stupid" at a given time, then you also have to wonder what the society is about.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 07:54 AM

34. It is politically impossible to change to a popular vote system.

 

Last edited Thu Aug 9, 2012, 01:10 PM - Edit history (1)

I agree that there are problems with the Electoral College, there are also problems with a pure popular vote system.

I have decided to just push past all of that and settle on the simple fact that it won't be changed.

It would take a Constitutional amendment to change it.

To pass a Constitutional amendment you need 3/4 of the states to ratify it. That won't happen. You also need a 2/3 majority vote in each house of Congress. Neither of those will happen either.

You need to many low population states voting to reduce their electoral power to ever get close to switching to the popular vote.


Not gonna happen.

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Response to Motown_Johnny (Reply #34)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 11:57 AM

46. The best part of your post is "Electoral Collage." Thanks.

 

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Response to JackRiddler (Reply #46)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 01:11 PM

76. A typo at 7:54 am, what can I say?

 

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 10:08 AM

37. I know this isn't a popular stance, but I'm a fence sitter

(and yes my ass does hurt from the barbed wire). I can see both sides of the argument. For now, I think waiting to see if more states jump on the band wagon to award the EVs to the winner of the popular voter in the state will be interesting.

Amending the constitution would take time and money.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 10:24 AM

39. The Electoral College is better. Here's why.

1. I don't want to have to have a recount of the entire country in the event of a close election.

2. I don't trust the red states like Texas to not fraudulently manufacture votes. With the EC, it's guaranteed that all Texas's electoral votes will go to the Republican, so there is no incentive for fraud. But imagine a popular vote system where the election was close, and suddenly Sheriff Billy-Bob "discovered" a few thousand extra votes deep in the heart of RedStateVille. That could change the outcome of the election.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #39)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 10:51 AM

40. +1

Republicans could pad the vote in Red states and a national recount would be a nightmare.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #39)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:10 PM

50. +1 Very valid points!

I can't imagine how much of a PITA it would be to have to do a nationwide recount....or how long it would take.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #39)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:10 PM

51. You've come up with the best argument against a popular vote.

 

It's not an argument for the EC, however. EC outcomes have also been fixed by fraud, as in 2000 and almost certainly 2004.

What you're presenting is just a small part of an argument against having a country of 300 million people stage a winner-take-all election to place a single person into a single office. And also against having this single office purportedly lead a gargantuan, all-encompassing executive branch
- that has become defacto unitary;
- that is corporate-captured and largely shrouded in secrecy, classification, and legal obscurity;
- that manages a global military empire and chain of commercial interests;
- and that impacts all of the world's people, 6.7 billion of whom don't even get to elect this super-figurehead.

Given this corporate state's authoritarianism, dysfunctionality and just plain menace to the world, and given its remoteness from any credible definition of a democracy, the EC doesn't even qualify as small potatoes. It's more like a very small radish.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 11:05 AM

41. Why do our Presidential elections need middlemen? Jefferson and Madison were against this.

It's idiotic, and was based in evil from the beginning. The basic reason it was put into the Constitution was so that pro-slavery southern states would have the power to continue the practice of owning human beings and using them as slaves. The South would not have allowed the Constitution to be ratified if the Electoral College wasn't part of it. It is a machination favorable only to the 1%, and it needs to be eradicated from the electoral process.

Here's my biggest beef wit the Electoral College:

The Electoral College makes it easier for the 1% to control elections. Like we saw in Florida in 2000, the malevolent manipulation of the voting process and vote count by the 1%, in one state, can nullify the entire democratic process and make a mockery of the People's Will.

"I have ever considered the constitutional mode of election…as the most dangerous blot on our constitution, and one which some unlucky chance will some day hit."
Thomas Jefferson to George Hay, 1823.

"The present rule of voting for President…is so great a departure from the Republican principle of numerical equality…and is so pregnant also with a mischievous tendency in practice, that an amendment of the Constitution on this point is justly called for by all its considerate and best friends."
James Madison to George Hay. 1823.



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Response to Zorra (Reply #41)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 11:21 AM

42. Jefferson owned several hundred slaves and raped the female ones.

So I'm not sure why his views on the Electoral College should carry much weight.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #42)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:12 PM

53. Jefferson was rather hypocritical in that regard.

I think he actually wanted to outlaw slavery, but for whatever reason was unwilling to free his slaves on his own.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #42)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:14 PM

55. This is also true of most of the framers of the Constitution.

 

And they created the Electoral College. So by your argument...

Also, to further bolster your brilliant argument, I think you should mention that Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan never supported the US Constitution of 1787. Therefore, as they are pure evil, the Constitution is pure good. Hooray!

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #42)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:59 PM

74. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle too defended the notion of slavery

"Socrates, Plato and Aristotle too defended the notion of slavery... so I'm not sure whey their views on philosophy should carry much weight...?"

Six of one, half a dozen of the other...

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:07 PM

49. I have mixed feelings about this after years of arguing with my husband about it.

It is one of the few topics we don't agree on and we have had many discussions about it.

I used to be 100% for popular vote. He was 100% for EC.

Now, we've come to a middle ground (husband and me).

A race based solely on popular vote would mean that candidates would campaign exclusively in high population density locations. East Coast cities, Florida, Texas, California and maybe Chicago (the city only). In that scenario, it would be the best use of their campaign dollars.

Meanwhile, those of us living in smaller states would not hear or see a candidate. Ever.

On the plus side, we might be subjected to fewer annoying and obnoxious ads, but on the negative, we, the citizens of smaller states would lose any pretense of even minimal influence over who is elected.

So, we've both come to believe that EC with proportional representation by congressional district is the better solution. This would go along with the popular vote (I can't imagine a scenario where the two didn't track under this kind of plan) and wouldn't make smaller population states virtually invisible to candidates.

I'll be watching for the OP's next post, probably on the subject of eliminating congressional representation altogether for the "flyover" states.

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Response to Bettie (Reply #49)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:59 PM

73. You're almost there...

 

Now just have the House elect the president, and we might finally get a democracy in this country.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:15 PM

56. The electoral college is a fucking joke.

 

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #56)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:17 PM

60. If it had anything to do with fucking, it would be a lot funnier.

 

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:16 PM

58. Both options have positive and negative consequences.

Right now, we have the electoral college, and that's extremely unlikely to change, since it would require a constitutional amendment. If we currently used a popular vote method, it would just generate a different set of complaints and concerns.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:19 PM

61. Popular vote. It's a common sense approach. nt

 

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:33 PM

66. Popular vote, since states are so unequal in population.

Since the electoral college, with very few exceptions, has its members vote in accordance with the will of each elector's electorate, for all intents and purposes, this is an election divided into districts. The biggest problem is that the size of the districts (both states, and Congressional districts) are so unequal.

Since Wyoming has such a small fraction of the population of California, for example, a Wyoming resident would have a much larger influence on the election with his vote than a Californian.

For simplicity's sake, and to eliminate the inequality of influence of different parts of the country, I say go with the popular vote.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 12:53 PM

71. I have no real problem with individual states choosing delegates...

The best analysis of the abolition of the Electoral College I know of is found in Peirce's 'The People's President'. Conclusion is that in doing so would reduce the both the representation and the power of the smaller states, who would then become fundamentally irrelevant to the process of governing the country (as would too the rural, less-populated regions of the high population states). Indeed, the 1787 Convention illustrated this in that representatives of the larger states were for the most part, against the idea of the college, while the smaller states recognized that insured their continued relevance if they decided to join the republic.

And, as the position is known as President of the United States rather than President of the United Peoples, I have no real problem with individual states choosing (as they see fit), and then sending delegates to make that choice. At the end of the day though, the issue is very, very far down on my list of concerns with contemporary politics.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 01:09 PM

75. Not. Keep the EC.

 

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 01:32 PM

78. Popular vote, but...

I would prefer to see it done via the popular vote. However, that's not what was agreed to when the nation was formed. I'll all for amending the Consitution to change the rules, but I'm not in favor of making the switch without going through the amendment process.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 01:34 PM

79. Yes. Like corporations, states are not people.

 

Though both can boast of having people on the premises.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 04:29 PM

84. The electoral college is the two-party answer to having Parliament. -

Where coalitions can insure that every state has an input into the electoral system and administration of the US.
A solid majority can be a tyranny, and the EC ensures that at least a minority of interests can potentially have a voice in the Presidential elections, just as the Senate ensures representation of power for each state.

If our government can evolve into a Parliamentary system, and we can scrap the EC with impunity. Until then, so long as we have a two-party power structure in the legislature and our government, I would (somewhat sadly) have to continue to go along with the system we currently have.

Haele

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Response to haele (Reply #84)

Fri Aug 10, 2012, 07:46 PM

87. The Electoral College performs none of the functions you suggest.

 

It has never done any of these things. In a few cases, the arbitrary mathematics of the EC incidentally yielded results different from the popular vote. these had nothing to do with coalitions built to make this happen, or any action by the electors in the EC, or any human agency whatsoever. You are describing fantasy ideals that have never corresponded to any real event in 230 years of empirical reality.

The EC has never worked in the fashion intended by the Dead Men of 1787. They thought the EC would be a collection of elite personages capable of making their own decisions, if need be going against "the mob." This does not happen, however. Only a handful of electors have ever gone against the candidate to whom they are pledged.

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Response to CreekDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 05:11 PM

85. Shitcan the electoral college.

Why should Democrats in Texas or Republicans in California be disenfranchised?

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