Saving Democracy or What Has the Electoral College Done for You Lately?

How's that for a catchy title?

Interesting opposing viewpoints in The Charlotte Observer this morning.

EJ Dionne proposes saving Democracy by doing away with the Electoral College. He starts:

"The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the president of the United States."

That is not some reactionary piece of propaganda denying your right to choose the next president. It is one of the more memorable sentences from the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, the 2000 case that put the current occupant in the White House for his first term.

:::snip:::

The American way of electing the president is antiquated, impractical and dangerous. It is odd indeed that in 2000, a nation devoted to bringing democracy to the world gave power to the man who actually received 543,895 fewer votes than his opponent.

Everyone's favorite whining wingnut, David Broder thinks that putting the responsibility of choosing the nation's president into the peoples' hands is dangerous. How is it dangerous?

The sincerity and stubborn persistence of Bayh and the others notwithstanding, this is a questionable proposition. No one knows what the abandonment of a federal principle -- voting by states for the highest officer in the land -- would mean for American politics and government.

The two-party system that is the underpinning of our form of representative government is supported by the Electoral College, which gives each party a reliable base of support and forces both to compete fiercely for swing voters in the places where they are of roughly equal strength. That mix of stability and uncertainty is the formula for a healthy politics, and changing the formula should not be done casually.

A direct election scheme almost certainly would boost the astronomical cost of presidential campaigns. It would likely offer new temptation for self-financed millionaire candidates to run as independents, knowing that their major-party opponents would no longer have any assurance of electoral advantage.

Bulloney, Broder. Pull your head out of your hind end and see the light of day.

What do you think? Do we still need the Electoral College or is it an antiquated idea that has seen better days?

Comments

Kinda obvious what I think, huh?

Please follow the links. You'll get great background information. Dionne's piece is nicely done. I like the guy, anyway and almost always agree with him.....not that he leans to the left or anything.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

I met him in DC after reading his book for my NPS class

The one conservative point that I agree with is the strong contention that presidential campaigns will become exponentially more expensive, and I don't think public financing is coming along any time soon.

With the money spent on Presidential campaigns going out the roof, campaigns will be more party based and less candidate based because less money will go to individual candidates. More will be riding on the presidential candidates.

I wonder what everyone here would think if Kerry had won in '04 ... but had not won the popular vote. That very easily could have happened, had Ohio been less bonkers.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

Keep it

Under a popular vote system, why should a Presidential candidate go anywhere besides LA and NYC? I understand that people want to actually elect the president, and there are ways to get it done. But, the electoral system ensures that we have things like John Edwards being sent by the Kerry campaign to almost every tiny little town across PA, OH and the "rust belt".

We already complain about candidates moving away from the center and only talking to the base, why encourage that?

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

im not saying

thats a bad idea. maybe we can get the legislature to put you in charge of selecting NC's electors?

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

What about a compromise?

I've often wondered about doing away with state-wide electors and moving it to a district-level.

Republicans would still contest California, Dems could pick up a few electoral college votes in Texas, and the truly swing states would still be swings states.

Hell, NC with its 7 blue districts and 6 red ones would be the new Ohio. The statewide votewinner could take the two extra "senate" electors.

This is essentially what Maine does, if I recall correctly.

Sounds reasonable

I honestly am not advocating for a particular plan, but the Electoral College in its current form needs to be revisited....in my opinion.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

I think NH

does that. It would be a fantastic system.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

The Selection of Electors

is entirely a state matter - which is really the beauty of the system; because you can do what you're suggesting - take it to the district level or do what Maryland's proposing and select the electors for the candidate who won the popular vote.

Also, and I think that nobody really appreciates this about the design of the system - it could handle any number of candidates. Let's say 4 people each won a few states and no candidate won a significant plurality (40%) of the vote...lesser democracies would descend into chaos or runoffs (often there's little difference). In ours - it goes to the House - which is what many 18th Century folks thought would happen more often than the Mano y Mano Smackdown we have every 4 years.

It's A Start but,

if each state divided its electoral votes based on who won Congressional Districts the entire electoral college wound need to be changed as to the votes needed to be elcted President. 270 is currently the magic number and a congressional district plan would often result in neither candidate winning 270 votes.

are you sure?

I dont think it would need to be reworked at all.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Not 100% but,

I have been doing some math and feel a congressional district system would disadvantage Democrats. For example, in 2000 VP Gore won 207 districts and Gov Bush 228. When you add in the Senators for states carried by the popular vote winner, Bush wins by a much larger number than 271-266.

Now, take Michigan a state with 17 electoral votes and a much needed state for Dem Kerry won 5 of its 15 congressional districts, yet carried the state. Under this system, Bush would have received the majority of the states electoral votes.

NC's Congressional Districts in 2004 saw Bush win the 2nd, 7th, and 13th districts which are all represented by Dems so I caution those who see congressional district representation as a precursor to who wins at the Presidential level. I know this is the same as R's control some districts won by the D Pres. candidate.

I am of the opinion that the current system has worked for over 200 years with minor problems and changes proposed would hurt Democrats and cause further gerrymandering of Congressional Districts.

Save It!

The Founders of our country were so afraid that factions would overrun our system that they created a system of checks and balances to passify the masses if their passions were to run-a-muck. The Electoral College has worked to push candidates for President to the center because it takes a broad-based coalition of states to win election.

Like the previous commentator, I worry that by eliminating the Electoral College system our Presidential candidates will campaign in their base regions and ignore the moderate portion of the electorate. If this happens, the White House will become what Congress already is, an institution of ideological tunnel vision with no room for compromise.

I wish our nation's leaders would return to the spirit of bipartisanship because history shows the greatest accomplishments of our government were made under cooperation from both sides of the isle. Doing away with the Electoral College is not a step towards bipartisanship, it's just another step closer to further divisiveness and ideological control of the government.

the White House already is an

institution of ideological tunnel vision with no room for compromise.....and that's with the Electoral College.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

The EC is OK, but fixing the primary system would be nice

Why in the world do IA, NH, and SC typically get to decide who our candidates get to be? Having one single national primary day may not be the best solution, but there are plenty of proposals out there which do things such as rotating the dates and more evenly distributing states by size and region throughout the primary season.

SPLib is right.

If we had a national Primary Day, I would feel a lot better about our system. By the time NC's primary rolls around in May 2008, it may be that candidate that I would have chosen to run against the Republican candidate would have been eliminated by other states. Have it all in one day. At the same time, limit the spending {gasp} each candidate can spend in the primary and general, and elimanate 527 groups.

There. Fixed. What's next? World Hunger? Ok. I'll work on it.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Kill the winner take all process

and assign the electoral votes in the same proportion as the statewide vote. That way, no matter the amount of gerrymandering in Congressional districts, every vote counts about the same statewide. And everyone has an equal incentive to get out and vote, rather than just swing districts or swing states.