Not Spencer: McCain or Obama = Not the most important political decision of our era

Today we hear from Jack – erstwhile co-worker of mine and prolific commenter – he’s a great person to argue with – he’ll certainly school you.  Tomorrow we’ll be hearing from the 49 Percenter (he may have to change the name of his blog after November 4th)

As we approach the conclusion of this election cycle and we debate who is best to lead, who has the vision for change that is needed in this country, who has the experience to led us. All of this clouds for me the single biggest flaw in modern American politics, and an issue I will simply never let go.

The most important issue = How we select our leader.

Enter The Electoral College

More than any politician or political movement this compromise from our founding fathers completely represses voting and fairness in the modern age. Do not get me wrong when it was framed and first put into place it was valid; but for god sakes we have put liquid cheese in a can that we can spray on crackers, you think we would update our election system in say the last 150 years.

Under the Electoral College system, we do not vote for the president, but for a slate of electors, who actually elect the president. Who are the electors? Well that depends on what state you are from. Also they do need to agree with our popular vote results; which has happened 158 times since the founding of the system.

Why Do We Have the Electoral College?

A long time ago we were composed of only 13 states that did not trust each other very much and were suspicious of a central national government. We had no coherent and structured communication system across thousands of miles of land up and down the Atlantic Ocean. We also did not yet have political parties; in fact many Americans felt that political parties could be actually rather evil. State power not Federal power was the philosophy of the day; yet we needed a system that everyone could agree on and would provide an elected head official of our federal government.

Since 1800’s there have been over 700 attempts to amend the Electoral College system none have succeeded. Why? To change the Constitution both the House and the Senate must pass the amendment with at least two-thirds majority.

So Why Does it Still Exist?

We are not in fact a democracy; we are a republic. Democracy is when decisions are made from majority vote; we have a Representative Republic kind of like in Star Wars. You know that thing the Jedi protected but was actually really corrupt and became the Empire.

Also if you can get a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate to abolish the Electoral College then legislatures in 38 of 50 states still must ratify the change to the Constitution.

For me it boils down to this. Both entrenched political parties love this system; it basically suppresses the rise of a third political party and keeps their power absolute.

Why? Because a third party will never be able to gain the majority of the vote in multiple states and/or in sufficient volume to unseat the existing parties. And if they do make enough of a dent it will most likely simply prevent both of the existing parties to get to the magic 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. What happens if we do not get to 270 well a two party controlled House of Reps gets to pick our next president and vice president of the US. I hope you paid attention to your state races people.

Sure third party’s have had influence in modern elections…Perot certainly made it easier for Clinton to beat Bush Sr; and Nader may have actually cost Gore (whom won the popular vote) the Whitehouse. But with the Electoral College in place the two parties are left in an environment in which they can truly not have to compromise. Most disgusting is that the Democrats despite having a candidate whom the majority of Americans voted for president (500,000 more) could not find the political will to end the system that did not elect him. The Democratic party chooses to play the hand that keeps it in a power position and not worry about the people they supposedly represent. For the humanist party this is simply unbelievable and for me unforgivable.

Since 1900, only three third party candidates have taken Electoral College votes Wallace in 1968 took 46 votes; before that we have to go back to Storm Thurmond in 1948; and than to LaFollette in 1924

In many other democracies around the world a collation government must be formed that allows for groups to compromise on views and better meet the will of the public.

A two legged stool does not stand up; unless it is propped up against a wall. In this case a wall of lies and corruption and power.

My Top Reasons for Wanting to Abolish the Electoral College

  1. Unless you live in Maine or Nebraska The candidate winning the most popular votes in a state gets all of the votes in that state. Thus if you voted for Bush (not Kerry) in PA your vote did not count. Unless you lived in Minnesota or Washington DC a vote for Mondale never counted as Regan took every other state in this country in 1984.
  2. The Electoral College is based on old population data and does not move with the current actual population. Its clear today that based on current population density some states should gain electoral votes (e.g. Texas, Florida) and some should lose (e.g. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio).
  3. Swing states like California, Texas, Florida, New York all have too much power focusing candidates to their benefit or detriment on only a handful of states; when is the last time since Regan has a Republican tried to do anything in California how about a Democrat in Texas?
  4. Smaller states like sparse Wyoming are over represented as they need to get the minimum of three votes; this means Florida and California get under represented
  5. Ron Paul supports the Electoral College (just kidding, he does support it thou)

    If you support change, well this is the thing to change. With the Electoral College gone; third parties will have more influence on politics and allow for more sensible polices that better represent the full will of the people. Without this change, no real lasting change will ever really ever occur. America was to be a free nation with fairly elected officals.

    One Person One Vote…End the Electoral College

    Jack is a Pennsylvania resident for the last 20 years, and is actually involved in local and state politics. While not an elected official himself; he thinks he will run for local office at sometime in his life. Jack is a moderate; and has been both a Registered Republican and a Registered Independent over the years.

    6 thoughts on “Not Spencer: McCain or Obama = Not the most important political decision of our era

    1. Interesting argument, Jack. I agree that the Electoral College doesn’t make for a true (people’s choice) election — but maybe I don’t see how it suppresses third party candidates…when historically those third party candidates haven’t come anywhere close to winning the popular vote anyway. Am I missing something obvious?

      BTW, my grandfather was responsible for putting cheese in a can (he was a pioneer in the field of “food aerosols.”) So I found your reference a funny co-incidence, especially as he would have most likely agreed with your points here.

    2. I think I would have liked your grandfather. The point is that third parties really cannot make a dent in the actual process of getting elected; Perot took almost 19% of the popular vote but it never really mattered he did not get a single Electoral College vote. The GOP knew it was safe in not addressing his issues on the economy and never bothered to change its polices. Had they Bush Snr might have pulled out a win; or many voters whom did not waste their vote with Perot may have voted for him as in a three or four way race the high 30%’s will get you a win.

      Also with third parties so hobbled people push their cash on the two major parties with find raising. A third party for some interests would be better than pouring money into lobbyists.

    3. I would also add that the two party systems create rules that guarantee that third parties can’t make a dent. Look at the independents in the senate, they generally caucus with one party or the other. The committees are based on party affiliation. In states, the districts are drawn by the majority party.

      I don’t know this to be true, but it looks as if both parties work together to make sure there will never be a true third party. I think they realize many Americans are disappointed in the options and would jump at another option.

    4. I hear that…I do not know if the REPs and the DEMs actually collude to keep third parties down; but they both at least keep the deck stacked against third parties on their own terms. I know Perot scared the dickens out of the GOP back in the day.

    5. A valid argument, Jack.

      Not to bring up my “moderation is good” stance again, but I can’t help but wonder if a well-funded third party that TRULY steered a moderate and centrist course might actually make a difference (even with the awkwardness of the electoral college.)

      It’s oversimplifying, but the main problem in recent years with the ineffectiveness of third parties is that they’re still usually offering rightish candidates (Perot) or leftish candidates (Nader) who simply cost votes to their Republican or Democratic counterparts.

    6. And I don’t think funding is the issue – as Obama has proven, you can be funded without the deep pockets.

      The big issue is that the power is all based in either of the two parties. Breaking the system would require breaking their stranglehold on the process.

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