It irritates me when occasional polls have put Mitt Romney a fraction of a percent ahead of Barack Obama, but have given President Obama more prospective electoral votes. The chances that one candidate will be elected by voters, but will not become President, is not statistically insignificant. Just look at the eight years of national policy destruction that began after 2000.
The odds are small. You have to go back to Grover Cleveland's run for re-election to get to the previous time. But the mere possibility should be anathema in a democratic republic.
The arguments for the electoral college are, not to put too fine a point on it, bogus. Proponents dwell on debates in the constitutional convention that never happened: Small states wanting to avoid being pushed around by big states, for of mob rule, that sort of thing.
Majoritarianism was an issue at the founding of the Republic, but it was not raised in connection with the direct election of the President, except for one moment. Eldridge Gerry of Massachusetts argued for a small group representing the elite to choose a national leader. He reasoned that "the people are uninformed, and would be misled by a few designing men." But nobody else bought his logic. Not large states, not small states, not delegates from any region. In fact, Gerry dropped the argument when he could not find a single representative to voice support.
Gerry went back to Massachusetts and became governor. He became famous for drawing weirdly shaped districts constructed to give his party an artificial majority in the state legislature. The design was directed at putting as many of the opposition as possible into as few districts as possible, so his party could win the rest. Some wit remarked that one of the districts, meandering in a seemingly random manner, looked on a map like a salamander. Another responded that it was not a salamander. It was a Gerry-mander. ha-ha-ha-ha. Okay, I guess you'd have to be there.
At the Constitutional Convention, oppression of temporary minorities by mob rule was a concern expressed in eventual backing for a Bill of Rights, division of powers, checks and balances, and other relatively new ideas. Except in the mind of Eldridge Gerry, fear of common voters was not an issue that touched on the direct election of President. Small state fear of large states was not mentioned at all regarding the issue.
There was support for an electoral college based on another motivation. A lot of support. It came from slave owners. They wanted to count their slaves as part of the general population, and get more electoral votes as a result. That slaves couldn't vote was a mere technicality. Conservatives wanted the power to prevent any future moves against slavery.
The three fifths rule was a compromise. Three fifths of slave populations would be counted for representational purposes. White males with property, including slaves, would control that representation.
After the Civil War, historians were caught up in reconciliation of white Northerners with white Southerners. Pro-civil rights Republicans, those in Congress who wanted to protect the rights of newly freed Slaves, were written into research as "Radical Republicans" intent on punishing the South, the "South" defined as white. The electoral college revision was part of that same re-writing of history.
That revision made it into textbooks. Radical Republicans punishing the oppressed South, and an Electoral College to guard against mob rule and big state populations were both a standard part of what school kids were taught when I was a youngster.
The Bush ascension to high office in 2000 brought up the debate again. Republicans I talked with, conservatives I read, brought back the bogus arguments again: the Constitutional Convention of the imagination.
It was part of the electoral disregard for voting rights that began its substitution for the marketplace of ideas in Republican strategy. The mob rule, big state vs small state, concerns after 2000 faded, to be replaced by arguments against imaginary voter fraud and expense and whatever other arguments can be contrived to keep legitimate voters from casting ballots. Photo-ID laws that do not allow non-drivers non-Photo proof of identity, severe reductions of extended voting spans, voter purges that disfranchise suspicious sounding names, all have their arguments. It is mere coincidence, an unintended by-product, dontcha see, that a whole lot of legal voters are blocked from voting.
If, by a bizarre mathematical coincidence, President Obama wins electoral victory while Governor Romney wins a razor thin majority of votes cast, the Electoral College argument will begin again. Except it won't really be an argument this time.
At least that's my prediction. I base it on observation:
Liberals just don't seem to possess the flexibility of principle that allows Mitt-Type conservatives to switch views at the drop of a vote.
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Never mind that America will indeed be doomed.
As for Mr. Gerry, I don't know about all of his other philosophies, but I have to agree with his statement, "the people are uninformed, and would be misled by a few designing men."
I give you the first term of a man two years out of the Illinois senate with a totally unremarkable and undistinguished career as evidence that Mr. Gerry was absolutely correct - at least in this one instance anyway.
America will not doomed. Every election conservatives claim if the democrat wins, America will be doomed.
The president is not as powerful as you think he is. He does not hold the reins on the world economy, or even on America's economy. He cannot overrule the will of Congress.
The fact that various constitutional rights have been violated already by Obama and nobody, including congress, seems to give a damn, only makes me fear for what a re-elected Obama would do in his quest to further diminish America.
"...makes me fear for what a re-elected Obama would do in his quest to further diminish America."
Your language implies that you believe that Obama desires to harm the United States. Would you like to correct yourself or are you content with my conclusion?
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