Skip to comments.Save the Electoral College
Posted on 03/09/2009 4:19:15 AM PDT by Kaslin
For about as long as some of us can remember, there have been proposals around to junk the Electoral College and find some other way to elect a president of the United States. Whether a new system should be devised was a national debate question when I was in high school, and that was a long, long time ago. Yet for all the dissatisfaction with the Electoral College over the years, no one has been able to sell the American people on an alternative.
The alternatives do change from time to time, and their very prolixity is another sign that devising a better system isn't easy.
How about a straight popular vote, winner takes all, no matter how slim his margin of victory? But that change could attract so crowded a field of presidential candidates that it might take only a small percentage of the votes cast to win. Would we really want a president elected with, say, only 20 percent of the vote?
OK, how about a Plan B? Why not have a run-off if the leading candidate got less than, say, 40 percent of the popular vote? (Which might have eliminated Abraham Lincoln in a run-off, since by the best guesstimates he got only 39 percent of the popular vote in 1860 yet a majority of the Electoral College.) The French have such a system -- and risk having their presidential run-off feature the two most extreme candidates, the many moderate candidates having split the moderate vote.
Then there was the proposal to elect the president by congressional district, but that approach wouldn't guarantee that the winner would have more of the popular vote nationwide, either.
This year's alternative to the Electoral College is to get states with a majority of the electoral votes to agree beforehand to cast them for whichever candidate polls the most votes nationally. Even if that candidate didn't carry all those states.
It would be hard to imagine a scheme that did more to destroy the integrity of the ballot. For it would give the winner of the popular vote nationally the electoral votes of states he didn't carry, overturning the will of the majority in those states. This plan isn't so much a reform as a legalized conspiracy to get around the Electoral College.
But here's what may be the most troubling question raised by this end run: What would happen to the two-party system? Right now, each party must achieve consensus within itself in order to nominate a candidate who can appeal to the broad middle of public opinion, and so gain a majority of the Electoral College.
But if a presidential candidate needed only a plurality of the popular vote, the candidates on the fringes would be encouraged. Because they'd no longer need the backing of a national party and a majority of the Electoral College to win -- just more popular votes than the rival with the next highest number of votes.
Does anyone envy the way the French elect their president? Look what happened in that country's national election back in 2002: Between them, the three leading candidates barely managed to poll half the vote. What happened to the other half? It was divided among the remaining 13 -- count 'em, thirteen -- presidential candidates.
Result: The second round of voting pitted a less-than-popular conservative against a right-wing radical. It was as if a presidential election in this country had been determined by the Ralph Naders and Pat Buchanans. The principle of One Person, One Vote was upheld, all right, and it produced one big mess.
Inspector Clouseau could doubtless deliver a perfectly logical Gallic defense of such a system: Une personne, une voix! But to English speakers, at least the kind who know their Burke and, yes, their Tocqueville, the word for electing a president this way is wacky. Also, dangerous.
And if just the popular vote counted, every close presidential election could prove as messy as the one in 2000, only with the vote totals in every state as hotly contested as those in Florida were that confused year.
Edmund Burke tried to warn us: "The Constitution of a State is not a problem of arithmetic." Rather, it is a way to take into account the many dimensions of an electorate and forge a consensus that is greater than all its parts.
That's where the Electoral College comes in. It may be an antique piece of clockwork, but it usually performs its valuable function smoothly. So smoothly that lots of folks have no idea how it really works, which is a shame because the Electoral College needs every defender it can muster.
And yet the country is in danger of approving a sneaky way around the Electoral College that could have all kinds of unintended, and unpleasant, consequences. What we have here is an abstract idea untested by our actual, historical experience as Americans. Or as Mark Twain once said of another terrible idea: "It is irregular. It is un-English. It is un-American. It is ... French!"
If it changes, those of us in fly-over country will be forgotten forever.
What was the old addage...
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The only reason I have seen that this is even an issue is that it does give a clear winner and loser, it’s just been really too close to call for the media to get its interfering rhetoric (predictions) out there on election night...
Thats really who is calling for a change...
Isn’t this what the rats want?
Except ar tax time.
Eliminating the electoral college and using a the popular vote nationwide would result in a permanent Dem resident of the White House.
We all know the inner cities would be gamed to yield the highest possible vote (higher than census figures) while challenges would be beaten back on grounds of racism.
Each state should decide how it would ike to determine its electoral votes (winner-takes-all, proportionality, congressional district, etc)
We MUST reform the electorial college or we will be doomed to having RAT Presidents for the next 50 years. The winner take all system is suicidal for conservatives. Here’s why:
1. With the exception of TX most of the large states went blue over decade ago and show no sign of turning back. We start election campaigns with a HUGE disadvantage before the first primary.
2. The disadvantage Repubs had in large states could only be overcome by sweeping the small states. These days the small states are being turned blue by a flood of blue staters fleeing the socialist hell-holes they created.
3. Demographics favor the RATS. Minorities who have higher birth rates than whites tend to vote RAT. Add to that the flood of illegals who will be given amnesty (adding 15 MILLION additional RAT voters.
The only way for Repubs to have a chance is to scrap the winner take all electoral system for one in which a state’s electoral votes are distributed proportionally to the popular vote. If tht repub wins 40% of the vote in CA, he gets 40% of the electoral votes.
This is always a nice conversation, but it is useless. The fly over states will NEVER agree to change the constitution. It is the built in protection for the small states from the will of the large states.
The issue is making sure your state does not change the way that “electors” are allocated.
Mathematical proof of the merits of the Electoral College:
Bump for later
If it changes, those of us in fly-over country will be forgotten forever”
Then my proposal for the Western States of America will gain lots of traction.
Idaho-Montana-Wyoming-N Dakota-S Dakota-Nebraska-Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas-Colorado-Utah-Nevada can break off and form their own country- strike up treaties with Canada, and invite Alaska to join us.
Motto- Remember 9-ll
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