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Interesting reading [Aug. 23rd, 2004|10:27 am]
matt
An article on electoral vote- mostly for stitchinthyme, but worth it for all.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5781897/site/newsweek/

If the proposed Colorado system had been used everywhere in 1992, Clinton would have led with just 236 electoral votes and the House would have selected the president. The House also would have selected in 1948 and 1968. Political scientist Judith Best notes that the electoral-vote system, combined with winner-take-all allocation, creates a "distribution condition." Candidates cannot just pile up popular votes in the most populous states. They must win many states, because legitimacy, and the capacity to govern this extensive republic, involves more than crude arithmetic.

The federal principle, Best argues, prevents the most dangerous kinds of factions—racial, religious, economic—"from uniting their votes across state lines. It confines them within little republics and forces them to compromise early and often with their fellow state citizens."

The 2000 election, the sixth in which the popular-vote margin between the winner and runner-up was less than 1 percent, was a reminder that the electoral-vote system quarantines electoral disputes. Imagine a close election—2000, or the 1960 election, in which Kennedy's margin over Nixon was just 118,574—under direct popular election. With all votes poured into a single national bucket, there would be powerful incentives to challenge the results in many thousands of the nation's 170,000 precincts. The outcome could remain murky for months, leaving whoever wins crippled by attenuated legitimacy.

America has direct popular election of presidents, but has it within the states. As Best says, the states are not mere administrative agencies for a unitary government; they are components of a compound—a federal—republic. And today's electoral-vote system is not an 18th-century anachronism. It has evolved, shaping and being shaped by a large development the Constitution's Framers did not foresee—the two-party system.

Under the Colorado proposal, almost all of that state's elections would result in 5-4 splits of its electoral votes. The one-vote prize would hardly be worth a Colorado stop by any candidate. Still, the proposal appeals to single-minded—hence simple-minded—majoritarians. And to some Kerry partisans who should be careful what they wish for.

Suppose Kerry wins Colorado (in 2000 Bush won with 50.8 percent; Kerry's campaign says their man is leading today). And suppose winner-take-all is ended. Kerry will harvest five instead of nine electoral votes. He could lose the presidency by seven electoral votes (Gore lost by five), less than the eight-vote swing that Colorado's new system would produce. That would be poetic justice, the best kind.

---George Will, in Newsweek.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-08-23 01:52 pm (UTC)

in an ideal world

I would vote republican. In practice, i generally do not. But party membership is about having a say in the direction the party takes. It's about voting for candidates which espouse your values. It's about taking my issues to the primary as a republican, but voting my conscience in the election. And, at worst, it's about picking my enemies.

Remember, also, that the Republican party was once the party of Abraham Lincoln- personal liberty doesn't get more personal than ending slavery. It's often too easy to get wrapped up in the spin being sold- what was a "red state" today may be a "blue state" tomorrow. What was acceptable today may be illegal tomorrow. But, what we do, not what we believe, is what changes today and the future. Clintonian democracy did little to increase personal freedom- remember "don't ask don't tell?" And, while Bush as restricted the freedoms of many by the Patriot act, do you think Democrats would have handled it much better? Many democrats, in fact, voted for that act.

The Republican party is often called the party of "rich white men"- and to truth, I am one of those. But the party of rich white men must also come to terms with the fact that I, too, am a rich white man; queer, athiest, and liberal though I may be. I don't "rubber stamp" anything- I listen to both sides, republican often more closely than democrat- and I make a decision based upon the facts as I see them. But, in the end, I want what all white rich men want- powerful but unfettering and limited government, low taxes, minimum regulation on free enterprise, and protection from reactionary and radical ideology and military invasion. I want a government not beholden only to majority rule- a "republic", not a democracy. That's why I'm a Republican.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-08-26 09:26 am (UTC)

on political reform

The republican party doesn't need to be "reformed". There's always been a liberal membership in the Republican party. A little research shows that they're called "Rockefeller" republicans. It is a sad twist of events, probably due in part to the corruption of the Nixon administration, that ever since the 1980 election conservatives have dominated the GOP.

The official democratic party platform is not inconsistent with my own values. However, I'm offended by the attitude of the DNC website, which seems to categorize its issues in terms of appealing to target groups- if you're a GLBT, read this, if you're african american, read this, etc. It's a patently offensive strategy, despite it's effectiveness- eventually, everybody in the USA is one of a member of one of those "target groups" but being within the target doesn't mean that issues in general have to rise and fall on the narrow focus of one special interest group.

It's a question of "what do you stand for, for all"- and short of mealy-mouthed jingoism, I don't think either the democrats (or the republicans, by and large) really attempt to stand for anything. In principle, Kerry is anti-gay-marriage!

In balance, I do have an alternative- the Libertarian party promises to be a Bush-spoiler, but doesn't require accepting the cock and bull of the democratic party.

I think you're trying to debate why I shouldn't be a republican- but I believe that the Republican party is the natural home to Libertarian minded voters, and that the 25 year old reign of the neoconservatives and religious right is about to end. Bush II is the last gasp of a faction which does not represent the true values of Republicanism. Republicans helped free African Americans from slavery, brought the first female senator to office, helped originate the ERA, and have done much more over the last 100 years or so to promote freedom than have democrats, on balance. I think that were I able to gather that statistics, the numbers would likely show this as well- and I will only be convinced by numbers showing otherwise.

Ronald Reagan, when he was Governor, opposed a bill in California to prohibit gays and lesbians from becoming schoolteachers. That's the Republican party I expect we will soon see once again, once Bush is out of office and his campaign of terror is shown to be not the will of America.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-08-26 09:37 am (UTC)

also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Electoral_College

Wikipedia presents a fairly balanced/unbiased account.
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