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Author Topic: Should electoral college be abolished?
talon
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To me, the electoral college seems unnecessary...it is like a way of twisting the vote to say something that it didn't really say, and is actually a relic of pre two-party days (our founding fathers figured that people would elect community leaders whose decisions were trusted to the college). Here is an excellent background resource: http://www.fec.gov/pages/ecworks.htm
So, should it remain as it is? Should it be abolished altogether? Should it be reformed, so that, for example, voters actually vote for electors who aren't selected by the candidates at all (that has potential to become crazy, as electors and candidates would need to campaign simeltaneously). Should states at least be divided so that the amount of electors from each candidate ends up proportional to the percentage of the vote that the candidate recieved?

On a side topic, i recently read an interesting article recommending that Nader continue to run, but name for his electors those that Kerry names in each state. Thus, as votes come in for him, they are really passed on to Kerry, but he gets the advantages that would be had if he gained a significant portion of the vote...this strategem would actually probably increase his percentages. What do y'all think?

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Zyne
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A qualified no.

I do not favor abolishing the EC in favor of direct winner-take-all elections.

I do favor abolishing the EC as a part of a move to proportional representation.

The problem with Nader in your example is that he is very probably not going to win any electors. However, he could affect who else wins an elector.

And speaking of Nader, are there any Nader voters out there in swing states who want to vote trade? I am in Texas and would happily vote for Nader, even as a write in, in exchange for your Kerry vote. [Smile]

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Enumclaw
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Yes, the electoral college should go. It is a relic of a time when horseback was the fastest way to travel (and also how news was spread); a time when the voters weren't trusted with the ability to select their own Senators; a time when blacks counted as fractional people; a time when things were just plain different.

What's more, the president should be elected by a majority (50% + one) of the vote. If, after the first election, nobody has a majority (or I guess the proper term is plurality?) then there should be a runoff election.

It's ludicrous for a nation as advanced as ours to have to trust the Electoral College to elect the President.

Paul

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Etan Moonstar
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Absolutely keep the electoral college; it's bad enough that none of the states I have lived in or plan on ever living in have any say in party candidate selection (primaries too late) without dumping the electoral college and shifting the balance of presidential votes entirely in favor of high-population urban states. If you want to get rid of something pertaining to national elections, dump the 17th amendment.

Edit: Adding the following link: http://www.fff.org/comment/ed1200a.asp

[ May 18, 2004, 03:12 AM: Message edited by: Etan Moonstar ]

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talon
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Zyne...i believe that we are technically voting for the electors, and so the electors would recieve the combined votes from Nader and Kerry, and would therefore be the electors elected to elect the president [Wink] ...I think.
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Van Aaron
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Dump the Electoral College, or at a minimum dump the winner-take-all voting in each state. We've talked about this on other threads - the extra two electoral votes help the small states, but that is more than offset by the winner-take-all voting, which causes more attention to be focused on large states than we would see in a straight popular vote.

I also agree with Enumclaw that election should require a majority vote, not a plurality. This requirement would probably have changed the outcome of two of the past three presidential elections.

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drewmie
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Keep the electoral college. It is not a relic. It is a device to put greater influence in the hands of states. It is federalism in action. A "popular" election would take yet another piece of power from the states and give it to the federal government.

States are where the great changes are made. If you see good federal laws and economic policies, chances are they are copying states that did it before. Very few of the good ideas originate on the federal level.

State power makes our country stronger, because we are constantly experimenting with 50 different samples. What works gets duplicated elsewhere. It's the political version of strength through genetic diversity.

P.S.- I agree with repealing the 17th Amendment. But it will happen when pigs fly.

[ May 18, 2004, 01:33 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Daruma28
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quote:
a time when the voters weren't trusted with the ability to select their own Senators;
You have this all wrong. The reason State Legislatures selected Senators was to off balance the concentration of Federal Power in D.C.

If there is one thing our Founding Fathers set out to do when creating the architecture of our Governmnet, it was to limit the centralization of Governmental power on the Federal level. This was supposed to in effect off-balance the popularly elected House of Representatives to make the Senators strong advocates of their States rights, accountable to the legislatures instead of the current model of lobbyinsts and special interests that subsicize consolicating power in D.C. to enact their own agendas that would otherwise never be enacted if put to popular vote/Local ledislative elections.

Campaign finance reform? bah. We need to return to the model of the Legislative branch designed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, rather than the current system of popularly elected Senators acquiring and weilding way too much power for the benefit of their own committees to hold and increase their hold on office.

As for the EC, it basically prevents the tyrranny of a majority. Why should a select few urban centers of high population density dictate elections in this country? Why should LA, Chicago, and NY have much more weight in elections than Negraskans or Iowans?

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RickyB
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What's wrong with the 17th amendment? Y'all want proportionate representation in the Senate?
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Daruma28
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quote:
What's wrong with the 17th amendment?
If you're a proponent of a strong, centralized Federal Government as the panacea to all of our coutry's problems...nothing.

But if you are of the mind of limiting the Federal Government and returning the power to the States as they were initially intended, ther's plenty wrong with the 17th amendmant.

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drewmie
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Ditto. And the numbers wouldn't change, so "proportional" isn't an issue. It simply changes the method of selection, i.e. state legislators instead of popular vote.
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RickyB
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But prior to the 17th amendment, weren't senators selected by politicians in back room deals rather than directly by the people?
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Shane Roe
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If you're taking a poll, I'm with those who say that the electoral college should not be done away with, and for the same reasons they've said--namely, that it keeps too much power from being controlled by areas of higher population.

Shane

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Daruma28
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You see Ricky...they were SELECTED by the State Legislators -- who themselves are directly responsible and accountable to their local electorates. Don't like your Senator? Vote the bastards that selected him out of office.

Instead, what we now have is Senators able to play games with Federal Funds to buy off blocs of constituents to consolidate and maintain a hold on power.

No way in holy hell Ted Kennedy would have stayed in office after Chappaquidick if the 17th amendment hadn't been in effect.

It also removes the incentive for lobbyists to try and influence Senators, as the real power of the Senate rests in the respective State Legislature.

People are much more wary of corruption in their own backyard than they are to the abstract reality of a Government body in D.C.

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Serotonin'sGone
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quote:
But prior to the 17th amendment, weren't senators selected by politicians in back room deals rather than directly by the people?
so were presidents, what's your point (tilden v hayes)? of course there will be corruptions in any system, but if you let the state legislature decide the senate, it grants more power to the state (and as pointed out above, limits the power of special interest groups). Really this links up with the judicial activism thread--it's a question of having a branch of government that is not directly answerable to the people.

[ May 18, 2004, 05:35 PM: Message edited by: Serotonin'sGone ]

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ben5
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The 17th ammedment is good because alot of the people I vote for I ussually disagree with many of their policies, but I vote for them anyway because they're better than the people they're running against. The person who I might elect to be my state legislator may vote for a senetor that I don't support.
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RickyB
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Wait....letting career politicians in smoky back rooms pick the senators, as opposed to having them stand for elections, LIMITS the influence of special interests???

Sorry, that does not compute. The fewer people a Senator owes his or her post to, the greater the danger of special interest and undue influence.

Also, why do I need a middleman to pick my senator? If I don't like my senator, I can vote him or her out directly. Why should I vote out the state legislator, who in all other things may be doing a fine job for me?

Am I not part of my state? How is some state senator picking my federal senator a "strenghtening" of the state, whereas me picking him directly not so?

Ed. to add:
SG: that's a problem with the electoral college. That doesn't prove anything about the 17th amendment.

[ May 18, 2004, 05:50 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Daruma28
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Ummmmm...it's NOT letting A State Legislator pick your Senator - but rather a concensus vote of the ENTIRE State Legislature, as a matter of public record open as fair game for electioneering campaigns.

For instance, if we were back to the original system, a State Legislator could run on a platform of "I did not vote to select Ted Kennedy to represent us in the Senate...if you don't want him back, than vote for me, and I'll bote for better representation in the Senate!"

Of course this is all colored by our respective perspectives....from what I've read of your posts, you embrace the continual consolidation of Federal Governmental power at the expense of States Rights, so you see no problem with the 17th amendment. I prefer the way our Founding Fathers intended.

And I give Zell Miller all the credit in the world for being the sole voice in the public square to bring up this issue. Neither Dems or Reps are making any effort to operate by Constitutional mandate nowdays.

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talon
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well, i personally support the electoral college, but am surprised that none of the conservatives have said that the elections should actually be to choose community leaders to represent their communities during the voting. I suppose it would be somewhat like having the house and senate get to gether and vote for president. Personnally, i don't support this, but thought it might make good discussion.
Also, the idea about Nader has gotten me thinking. What if the democrats actually ran Kerry, Edwards, and three others, but made sure that they all named the same electors and that all of the electors would vote for Kerry. In any state where the combined democratic total was the greater than any other total, the dems (and effectively Kerry) would win. Remember that really the vote is for the electors, and so Kerry's electors would have gotten votes from all of the candidates.

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RickyB
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You still haven't answered my basic question. Why should I depend on my state legislator to choose my federal one? Why can't I choose him (or her...I'm just gonna say him from now on, and all you ladies will forgive me, I hope) on my own?

How does election by a small bunch of state legislators strengthen the state? It strenghthens the politicians. If a politician only needs to convince a few dozen other politicians in order to get the job, what's to stop him from pissing on the broader interests of the people? Why is second hand responsibility (voting out the state senator for supporting the wrong guy for federal senate) better than direct control?

Again: say my state legislator is doing a great job at the state capital on all other issues, but he voted for the federal senator I dislike. What shall I do? Do I vote for him or not?

Why shouldn't I be able to choose directly? If there is a matter important to the people, a senator elected by them will fight for it in their name, in order to curry their favor directly. Or are the people simply not sophisticated enough to grasp the deep meaning of state rights?

As for the founding fathers - they set it up this way precisely because they weren't great believers in direct democracy. They were leary of the mob, the riff-raff, the common masses. Not every songle thing the founders did or said is sacrosanct.

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Daruma28
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I don't expect you to agree...or even lend any credence to the following article, as it is written by a conservative idealogue. But it states the case fro what I believe to be true: the 16tha nd 17th amendments are the main reason why the Federal Government has grown far beyong it's size and scope of power and influence intended by our Founding Fathers.

No, the Constitution is not Sacrosanct - they did provide for a means of amendmants afterall, recognizing that no thing produced by man can be perfect....but neither is it the "living, breathing document' meant to change with the morals and attidutudes of the times.

Repeal the 17th Amendment
It’s where big government begins.

By Bruce Bartlett

There is only one time when a U.S. senator is really free to speak the truth — when he’s announced his retirement. Since he no longer has to worry about raising money, pandering to voters, or retaliation from his colleagues, he can say what he really thinks about issues no other member of the Senate will discuss. For this reason, it is worth listening to Sen. Zell Miller, Democrat of Georgia, who recently spoke a truth that no senator except a retiring one would dare say.

On April 28, Sen. Miller, the last genuinely conservative Democrat we will likely ever see in the Senate, laid the blame for what ails that august body at the door of the 17th amendment to the Constitution. This is the provision that provides for the popular election of senators.

Few people today know that the Founding Fathers never intended for senators to be popularly elected. The Constitution originally provided that senators would be chosen by state legislatures. The purpose was to provide the states — as states — an institutional role in the federal government. In effect, senators were to function as ambassadors from the states, which were expected to retain a large degree of sovereignty even after ratification of the Constitution, thereby ensuring that their rights would be protected in a federal system.

The role of senators as representatives of the states was assured by a procedure, now forgotten, whereby states would “instruct” their senators how to vote on particular issues. Such instructions were not conveyed to members of the House of Representatives because they have always been popularly elected and are not expected to speak for their states, but only for their constituents.

When senators represented states as states, rather than being super House members as they are now, they zealously protected states’ rights. This term became discredited during the civil-rights struggle of the 1960s as a code word for racism — allowing Southern states to resist national pressure to integrate. But clearly this is an aberration. States obviously have interests that may conflict with federal priorities on a wide variety of issues that defy easy ideological classification. Many states, for example, would probably enact more liberal laws relating to the environment, health, and business regulation if allowed by Washington.

Two factors led to enactment of the 17th amendment. First was the problem that many state legislatures deadlocked on their selections for the Senate. The upper house and the lower house could not agree on a choice, or it was prohibitively difficult for one candidate to get an absolute majority in each house (as opposed to a plurality), which was required by federal law. Some states went without representation in the Senate for years as a consequence.

The second problem involved a perception that the election of senators by state legislatures made them more susceptible to corruption by special interests. The Hearst newspapers were a major force arguing this point in the early 1900s.

The pressure of public opinion eventually forced the Senate to approve a constitutional amendment changing the election of senators to our current system of the popular vote. The fact that many states (such as Oregon) had already adopted a system whereby legislatures were required to choose senators selected by popular vote was ignored.

The 17th amendment was ratified in 1913. It is no coincidence that the sharp rise in the size and power of the federal government starts in this yearp/b] (the 16th amendment, establishing a federal income tax, ratified the same year, was also important). As George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki has noted, [b]prior to the 17th amendment, senators resisted delegating power to Washington in order to keep it at the state and local level. “As a result, the long term size of the federal government remained fairly stable during the pre-Seventeenth Amendment era,” he wrote.

Prof. Zywicki also finds little evidence of corruption in the Senate that can be traced to the pre-1913 electoral system. By contrast, there is much evidence that the post-1913 system has been deeply corruptive. As Sen. Miller put it, “Direct elections of Senators … allowed Washington’s special interests to call the shots, whether it is filling judicial vacancies, passing laws, or issuing regulations.”

Sen. Miller also lays much of the blame for the current impasse on confirming federal judges at the door of the 17th amendment. Consequently, on April 28 he introduced S.J.Res. 35 in order to repeal that provision of the Constitution.

Over the years, a number of legal scholars have called for the repeal of the 17th amendment. An excellent summary of their arguments appears in Ralph Rossum's book, Federalism, the Supreme Court and the Seventeenth Amendment. They should at least get a hearing before Zell Miller departs the Senate at the end of this year.

— Bruce Bartlett is senior fellow for the National Center for Policy Analysis.

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Etan Moonstar
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Thanks for posting that, Daruma, I'd wanted to link to it this morning but was in a hurry and couldn't remember exactly where I'd read it.

My primary reason for supporting federalism (other than not getting trampled by high-population urban coastal culture more than I already do) is that an overly-powerful central government tends to lead to an all-or-nothing legislative approach. As an example, if the question of gay marriage was left to the states or local governments instead of becoming a national issue, I doubt very strongly that it would be as much of an issue as it currently is. Those people wishing to obtain a gay marriage, or live with married gays, would move to the areas in which gay marriage was legal, while those people strongly opposed to the practice would move to areas prohibiting it; both sides end up happy. When the issue becomes a national one, however, one side or the other is guaranteed to end up unhappy with the results, and I think that this trend towards a more pervasive central government (in many areas, not just in the example I provided) is responsible for a good portion of the increase in political conflict and decrease in tolerance and civility that we see today. Repealing the 17th Amendment, thereby providing a key motivation for half of the national legislative house to redistribute power back to the states, along with reining in overtly activist judges (who also greatly contribute to a national all-or-nothing situation) would go a long ways to solving this problem. I'm perfectly happy to let people with differing views and morals congregate together and live in the manner in which they desire, if they'll only be so kind as to grant me the same privilege (instead of deciding that their special anointed vision for how to improve all humanity trumps my beliefs).

Edit: Added concluding two sentences.

[ May 18, 2004, 08:35 PM: Message edited by: Etan Moonstar ]

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Etan Moonstar
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Oh, the bit I posted about judges brought a nice analogy to my mind. Those of you who are still leery of the pre-17th amendment way of electing senators, compare it to the increased importance nowadays placed on the election of a president who will appoint "proper" federal judges. Much the same thing would take place with the election of state legislators; people would pay some attention when voting for state legislators to whom they would select as a senator to represent the interests of their state on a national level.
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RickyB
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Daruma, you've given me food for thought, although I still don't like the idea of second hand election of legislators. The thing that causes me to reconsider most is the claim that Hearst was in favor of the 17th. [Big Grin]

Etan - you couldn't have some states recognizing gay marriage and some not, due to the full faith and credit clause, which requires all states to respect contracts made in all others.

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Etan Moonstar
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Unless you were to allow the Defense of Marriage Act to stand. Sadly, I suspect that the people who are bound and determined to make gay marriage a universal occurrence have no interest in making that compromise.
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Sancselfieme
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The electoral college makes votes unequal across the country. That's the number one reason it needs to go, I find it kind of silly that my vote here in Alaska is worth more proportionately than someone's in California. That is a violation of the 14th Amendment, and I wish the Supreme Court would argue that the ratification of the 14th Amendment was also the implied repeal of the electoral college.

That and the winner take all system is seriously flawed. The states should not be influencing what the overall populace picks for their national executive that governs over all the country. The electoral college allows states to discriminate and throw out the votes of voting minorities in many states that could potentially be politically potent if their votes were counted together nationally, as they should be, fo the one position that is responsible not to the state governments, but to the collective peoples of the United States.

[ May 19, 2004, 01:04 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Enumclaw
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Okay, you folks who are saying "why let urban centers dictate who the President is" miss something.

The way we have it now, the votes of people in low-population states count for MORE than the votes of those people in the urban centers!

This, of course, completely wipes out the notion of one-person-one-vote.

Well, that bugs me. I think it's ridiculous that someone in Wyoming gets that much power to pick the President. The President is the CEO of ALL Americans, not a CEO for some more than others.

What you're really saying when you say "the urban centers would run things" is that the people who live in those places don't deserve to have their votes count for as much as those who live in sparsely populated areas, and I challenge anyone to explain why this should be so.

Paul

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Daruma28
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That is inaccurate. The States with the most electoral votes are based on population...that's why California has more electoral votes than Alaska or Texas...even though it is Geographically smaller.

The electoral college is weighted to favor higher population States -- which is why Presidential Candidates generally ignore campaigning in states with less electoral votes altogether.

The difference is that the electoral college gives more waight to higher population states, but if it were truly just a popular vote, it would be FAR more skewed towards the States with dense urban populations. Entire states like N. Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming would basically be completely disenfranchised.

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Sancselfieme
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The problem is that it's not weighted enough, the last time the electoral college was updated by way of apportioning representatives was too long ago and even then it didn't match the population disparities. Daruma I'm afraid you are vastly incorrect and incredibly oversimplifying the situation. Any voting system would favor the large populous centers, your point is non-unique to this discussion. What *is* unique is that the electoral system does not favor them enough. People in Alaska and Kansas have roughly more than 2.5 times the vote than someone in California or New York. The whole state-based system of voting for the President should be abolished since the President is supposed to serve the combined populous, not the vested state governments. At the point where the policy of the country is being determined by a minority vote we become an Oligarchy.

[ May 19, 2004, 04:02 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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RickyB
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But then, how would conservatives get elected? [Big Grin]
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Daruma28
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This is were we run into our fundamental point of disagreement...

"The whole state-based system of voting for the President should be abolished since the President is supposed to serve the combined populous, not the vested state governments. At the point where the policy of the country is being determined by a minority vote we become an Oligarchy."

The very name of our country implies what our Founders intended: decentralized Government with the State Governments wielding the majority of the power, united under a Federal Government with limited powers. The Constitution was written to protect the rights of individuals and limit the powers of government.

You have to remember that one of the very purposes of having equal representation in the Senate (two Sen. from every state regardless of size) and the electoral collede was to give incentive to smaller states to sign on to the Union to create our nation. Why would.

What people continually forget is that the US was never inetended to be a DEMOCRACY, but a representative Republic designed to prevent the tyrranny of a majority.

Calling the empowerment of States rights an Oligarghy is completely erroneous.

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Sancselfieme
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Frankly every time I hear the "framer's intent" argument I want to throw up. What some old, codgy, white landowners wanted 200+ years ago is neither desirable nor suitable for what a mature, free-minded and economically potent nation that stands at the top of the world power structure needs. The framers recognized this and that is why the constitution is living document. Please spare me the stagnationist framer's intents argument.

This nation is ready and mature enough to handle the direct election of its top executive without disenfranchising the majority of its voters as unfit to decide that. The electoral college is a remnant of s system that gave primary authority to a minority of landowner's interests and it shows its horrible nayure every election. We *are* ready for a little more direct representative democracy, especially in an office that is supposed to be serving the combined peoples of the United States. That is why the Senate was changed.

Here is why yopur argument is completely turned: If the President were elected off a sheer popular ballot, he would actually be MORE acountable to smaller states since the minorities in those smaller states would be able to join up with their disenfranchised counterparts in other states. Conservatives in California would serve to help Kansas and other areas retain even MORE influence over candidates.

[ May 19, 2004, 04:42 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Daruma28
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quote:
Frankly every time I hear the "framer's intent" argument I want to throw up. What some old, codgy, white landowners wanted 200+ years ago is neither desirable nor suitable for what a mature, free-minded and economically potent nation that stands at the top of the world power structure needs. The framers recognized this and that is why the constitution is living document. Please spare me the stagnationist framer's intents argument.
Why are you so quick to disparage the founders of the greatest nation the world has ever seen on racial and socioeconomic status? What does them being white have to do with it?

I don't recall specific wording in the Constitution regarding race or economic status as any kind qualification. But then, you are simply promoting the same old "progressive" canards of the Constitution as a "living breating document." I could just as easily use your tactic of "Spare me the same old tired liberal rhetoric" you are spouting off.

I believe in a basic moral foundation of limited, decentralized Government. This is the antithesis of those with your agenda want, so I don't ever expect us to agree.

You want to deride this principle as "outdated" and "invalid" simply because of the race and socioeconomic status of our country's founders, than I simply will not lend credence to your racist/class warfare argument. And before anyone gets their panites in a wad over me pointing out the inhernet racism of this argument, just try and insert any other race into that statement and tell me how that's NOT racist.

(What some old, codgy, black poor people wanted 200+ years ago is neither desirable nor suitable..).

Furthermore, "What some old, codgy, white landowners wanted 200+ years ago is neither desirable nor suitable" which part of the First Amendmant do you find "not desirable or suitable?"

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Sancselfieme
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These are the same people that put in the provision in the constitution that either the entire constitution or maybe just the ability to amend it would be null and void if there was a tax beyond a head tax or if the government tried to stop the "importation of said persons" before 1808. These are the same type of people that counted 3/5 of a black man as human. Them being white elists is VERY germane. They were smart and idealistic but still incredibly racist and elitist to today's standards. Their goals and expectations are outdated and should not be upheld today.

Ask yourself how "noble" and righteous these men were if they were willing to threaten to nullify the constitution if anyoen tried to stop them from importing slaves before a certain date, the date being a time all of them could reasonably expect to be dead by. Not only were they racist and elitist, but they were so selfish that they didn't even care enough about their own children and grandchildren to want to make a system that could pass on their traditions and customs, as perverterd and evil as they were.

[ May 19, 2004, 05:04 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Daruma28
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YOu're simplifying the entire argument and impugning the entire Constitutional convention based on the interests of SOME.

Furthermore, you are applying todays standards and morays to a time where they hold no relevance. I'm sure if they had a time machine and were able to see a future where it was considered a right to vaccuum an infant from the womb of a pregnant woman they would be equally horrified as you are about their attitudes toward slavery.

You also ignore the very basic problem that they faced at the time: namely trying to unify the States to be able to stand up to the threat of Imperial England, and slavery was the deal breaker at the time. They correctly identified that it was more important to have all the States Unite against the common threat and deal with National Defense, and deal with Slavery later. To judge their actions with hindsight and current views is seriously fallacious and contains a complete lack of historical perspective.

Should everything FDR did be invalidated or judged wrong because of his judgement that Japanese Americans be interned?

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Etan Moonstar
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*flips through TV channels, turns it off*

Sancselfieme, do you REALLY think the people of this country, as a whole, are "mature" enough for direct democracy? Frankly, that runs completely opposite to my experience, which is that critical thinking skills are declining across the country, leaving people more vulnerable to propaganda and demagoguery (on both sides of the political spectrum).

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Van Aaron
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I strongly disagree with Sanc's anti-framers rant, yet I have to agree with his position. In the present day, rather than 200 years ago, how does the Electoral College do anything to strengthen states' rights as against the federal government? How does the Electoral College call for any less maturity by the voters?

As I see it, the Electoral College today is a minor anachronism that only accomplishes three things: (1) it causes candidates to shift their resources a little bit (away from states that are not in play, and toward the largest states that are in play), (2) about once per century it causes an anomalous outcome, where random chance causes the candidate with fewer votes to win, and (3) it provides some entertainment value as the networks show the election returns with those pretty red and blue lights. In my view, #3 is the the only thing the Electoral College has going for it.

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solon5681
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Have you actually crunched the numbers, looking at an electoral college map? If you did, it would become very, very obvious that if we didn't have the electoral college, only five states would have the major say in ANY presidential election.

These five states (California, NY, Florida are three of them, I believe Illinois and Michigan are the other two? Anybody else know?) would be the only states where presidential candidates would have to run. ALL of the other states could be safely ignored and the election still won.

The electoral college forces presidential candidates to pay attention to what multiple states want. It is in the interest of the majority of states, AND the majority of the population, to keep the electoral college. It is way more fair than a direct vote.

The reason you don't want the cities to determine all presidential elections is because they have different interests than rural areas or small towns. The point of a people's government is that he is supposed to represent ALL the people, not just the ones living in cities (or the ones living in rural areas either). The forefathers were pretty smart in figuring out ways to prevent specific factions or majorities from controlling everything to the detriment of minorities. We have forgotten or ignored much of what they worked out and so we have various vested interests controlling many things these days. Remember, everybody is a minority in some area or another. In your minority group, should you have the same rights as the majority or not?

I would like to urge you to please do the math fully before junking the electoral college. There was an article in a science magazine a while back on this very subject - I think it might have been Scientific American, not sure.

Policy changes for the worse happen all the time because people didn't REALLY look at the situation. They just had a surface understanding, and the result was sometimes the exact opposite of what they wanted.

Solon

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Sancselfieme
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Thanks for agreeing with me. You see, that was the point of my using that extreme example: it was to get you to concede that we should not attempt to use standards from their time nor apply the standards from our time then. Because of this mutual exclusion of practical applicability, the electoral college is one of things that is simply not useful anymore now that we can handle and therefore should have a more direct representative democracy. Arguments that this wasn't what the founding fathers wanted can now be discarded as you see what I am talking about.

You are all wrong, if the electoral college was done away with candidates would stop pandering to states and locations in general. They would campaign to groups of people spread around the US united by interest in issues. It would actually cause politics to become an issues arena instead of a pander to locality/state arena. This would be due to the effect that peoples spread out across the US united by an issue would be what could allowa candidate to win or lose. The current system is corrupt in that candidates don't focus on issues, because in one state they claim to be free trade while in another they claim to be protectionist. They pander to the biggest interest groups in states, even if those groups are polar opposites in different states! That is what perverts our democracy.

Listen very carefully: the argument that candidates merely pander to the large population centers is non-unique to the electoral college, because if they're doing it now they'd be doing it post-electoral college. You can argue it would be worse, but even if I granted that it would be worth ensuring voting equality. The only problem now is that the current electoral system forces candidates who want to win to prostitute their values and promise conflicting things in order to win different states. Is this what you really want?

A good example of this is the 2000 Bush campaign. One week he was in Ohio promising unionists and trade workers he would protect their jobs with tarrifs and barriers, the next week he was in New York touting his "free trade" policies and how he would take down trade barriers.

[ May 19, 2004, 09:54 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Van Aaron
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Solon, the issue of which states are better off under the Electoral College is a different issue than whether the Electoral College somehow support states' rights in general. The latter argument I just don't understand.

The former argument I do understand, but I firmly believe that the Electoral College does not favor small states. I have done the math. What you are leaving out of the math is the winner-take-all aspect of the Electoral College. Winner-take-all forces the candidates to focus on the largest states. In 2000, Gore won California by 1.3 million votes. That's out of over 100 million votes cast nationwide. Counting all the popular votes makes California less important than awarding California's 54 electoral votes in a single jackpot.

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