Friday, February 08, 2008

The Electoral College

One story from the California primaries that hasn’t gotten much attention is that the Republican effort to split California’s electoral votes now finally appears to be fully dead.

Republicans have been trying to get a referendum on the ballot that would have split California electoral votes by congressional district, assuring that about 20 electoral votes from conservative districts would have gone to the Republican candidate out the 55 total California delegates. This would have been equivalent to winning Ohio, and would swing the election if it were at all close. Apparently they couldn’t get enough signatures, so the ballot died. Republican chicanery is temporarily impeded – hurray for common propriety!

Even after the fiasco of the 2000 election, I was still a supporter of the Electoral College. It seemed random to me that it was the Democrats who got screwed, so I didn't blame it on the anachronistic delegate system our agrarian forefathers devised to protect small states.

The thing is, I've always been partial to the argument that the Electoral College protects small states. The theory is that candidates would ignore small states if the only thing that matters is total vote count. Politicians would go to where most of the people are, because that’s where the most votes could be won using the same amount of effort.

However, the last 8 years have shown something very different. It isn’t the big states that get all the attention, it is the states where there is a lot of conflict over who to vote for – the battleground states. Big states like New York, Texas, California, and entire regions like the South are more or less ignored in presidential elections, because their votes are already locked up, usually before a candidate is even nominated by a party.

I see no reason why the constitution should protect states that can’t make up their mind about who to vote for. If that is all the Electoral College is accomplishing, then we may as well change it to a different system – perhaps one that is more representational and democratic. One-person, one-vote springs to mind, but, hey, what do I know?

So, I’ve decided that I’m against the Electoral College. The halls of power in this country must now be shaking in their foundations because of my pronouncement, not unlike the phenomena where the Pope falls off the Chair of St. Peter everytime a common parishioner decides he is fallible. But I don’t care what kind of discomfort I cause – I'm a reckless American with a blog, and I'm not afraid to use it.


Fingtree said...

To me this whole election process and the two party system is simply Federal Organized Crime. The Dems are the Gambini's and the Republicans the Soprano's. The only difference is that the Soprano's have the Neo-Con faction as their hit men. They are the only one's kissing the cheeks of the Saudi's to get crime money from them and using them for leverage in their backyard to control the sub-culture's of oil in the region.

Dan S said...

Yea, the process is broken. We need there to be more than two viable options, either with instant-runoff elections, or just change it all to parliamentary, with propotionality.