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Wed Dec 21, 2016, 07:20 PM

We Need to Kill the Electoral College - The Nation

https://www.thenation.com/article/we-need-to-kill-the-electoral-college/


The Electoral College is an abomination: an antidemocratic relic of the unconscionable compromises made during America’s founding that should never have been allowed to linger into the 21st century. Designed to thwart the will of the people on those occasions when the voters might favor a candidate with what Alexander Hamilton described as the “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,” the Electoral College has evolved as a uniquely destructive barrier to the modern practice of democracy.

Hamilton and others imagined that an elite institution of electors would ensure “a constant probability of seeing the [presidency] filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.” While that statement may intrigue #NeverTrumpers seeking one last avenue for averting a reality-TV presidency, the Electoral College has never operated as a quality-assurance mechanism: Superior contenders have often been rejected by partisan electors. Nor does it function in any way as an egalitarian institution, given its nsychant for overturning the popular will. If this foul remnant of 18th-century oligarchy (and the fears of Southern politicians that democracy might undermine the power of slave states) isn’t abolished or, at the very least, constrained, there is good reason to believe the College will continue to do so with greater frequency in the years to come.

This is no idle threat. For the second time in 16 years, the winner of the national popular vote will be denied the presidency by an institution that rejects the basic premise used to elect everyone from members of local school boards to members of Congress. This year’s rejection is epic in scope and nature: If it was objectionable that George W. Bush became president despite being defeated by Al Gore in 2000 by a margin of 543,895 votes, then it should be considered outrageous that Donald Trump will assume the presidency despite losing to Hillary Clinton by at least 
2.2 million votes—and claim a mandate, along with his Republican allies, to radically change America.

Clinton’s popular-vote lead is greater than those that put John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and, of course, George W. Bush in the White House. But Clinton’s victory is rendered meaningless by an institution that Trump himself once identified as “a disaster for democracy.”
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Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2016, 11:29 AM

1. Sure, let's keep the election simple.

 

Just hold the election in California, where Clinton won by more than 3 million votes. Then we can eliminate counting all those troublesome votes in 49 other states, where Clinton lost by 1.41 million votes.

The electoral college may or may not be the best way to elect a president, but arguing its merits based on one single election, or even two out of many is meritless.

The system was not designed for slavery, it was designed to protect the interest of states with smaller populations, such as Wyoming and North Dakota, which have nothing to do with slavery and never have. It is designed to make electing a president consistent with the way we pass laws in the legislature, because this nation is a federation of states and is governed by a consensus of state voices.

Sometimes that consensus is not the same as the popular majority, but that is irrelevant, because that popular majority is not how we have ever been governed. It is not how we pass laws, and it should not be how we elect presidents.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 22, 2016, 05:08 PM

2. California is part of the United States. There is no reasonable argument against democracy


But it is not surprising therefore, that the Republican party wants to preserve the Electoral College.

The Founding Fathers had something particular in mind when they set up the U.S. presidential election system: slavery


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Response to Bill USA (Reply #2)

Fri Dec 23, 2016, 01:07 AM

6. We are part, but only part.

 

And we are disproportionately influential; so heavily Democratic that we had two Democrats on the ballot for US Senate to replace Barbara Boxer, who had held her Senate seat since 1993 and is being replaced only because she retired. We have a Democratic supermajority in our legislature and a Democratic governor. Republicans don't bother to vote because they know that doing so in this state is utterly irrelevant. With 55 guaranteed Democratic electoral votes, we render a dozen other states meaningless.

The electoral college had nothing to do with slavery, it had to do with less populous states not being rendered powerless in the presidential election. You are doubtless thinking of the three/fifths compromise, which was the resolution of a debate over whether or not, and how, slaves would be counted when determining a state's total population for legislative representation in the House of Representatives, and for purposes of taxation.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 27, 2016, 07:08 PM

8. you should explain it to Akhil Reed Amar, the author of the article I gave a link to and an American

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhil_Amar
an American legal scholar, an expert on constitutional law and criminal procedure. Formerly the Southmayd Professor of Law at Yale Law School, he was named Sterling Professor of Law in 2008.[1] A Legal Affairs poll placed Amar among the top 20 contemporary US legal thinkers.



and see: Born of slavery, the Electoral College could stand against racism in 2016 — and stop Donald Trump - Salon.com

and...THE PROSLAVERY ORIGINS OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

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Response to Bill USA (Reply #8)

Wed Dec 28, 2016, 09:30 AM

9. Interesting, but uninformative links

 

Your first link provides impressive credentials but says nothing about the Electoral College.

Your second link provides a citation from a different "scholar" with a link which does not load, saying of James Madison that, "His proposition for the Electoral College included the “three-fifths compromise,” where black people could be counted as three-fifths of a person, instead of a whole."

Some scholar. It did nothing of the sort. The "three fifths compromise" was arrived at during negotiations regarding the constitution itself, and it involved representation in the House of Representatives and matters of taxation.

The determination of the Electoral College merely accepted that it would consist of the total number of members in Congress, House plus Senate. The man is twisting history in order to suit his argument, which no true scholar would do.

Your third link loads a pdf file that provides a title only with no body or text.

All in all, hardly a very cogent rebuttal.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 2, 2017, 05:55 PM

12. sorry the links didn't work on your device. all links worked for me. first url is to provide info

on author of article you took exception to, to establish he's knowledgeable and that he's got some fairly impressive credentials. THus, his arguments should not be summarily dismissed.

The second and third links worked fine for me. The second link is to a Salon.com article (not usually a problem). Sorry your computer wasn't able to make them work. Maybe Googling article titles might find you links that will work with your device (are you using a cell-phone? if that's true the sites associated with those urls may not be formatted for a cell phone screen... in particular the pdf.).

here's a YouTube video of Paul Finkleman, Ph.D. (author of the pdf located at the third url/Link) speaking about the Electoral College and it's connection to Slavery:



By the way, is it 'cogent' to pass judgement on articles you haven't seen or read (i.e couldn't link to)??

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 22, 2016, 05:37 PM

3. troublesome other 49 states? IF you want to play games there are 49 other combinations where

Hillary wins - 29 combinations where Clinton wins by a larger margin than for all 50 - if, you want to pick and choose which states to leave out that is, which is of course, nonsense.

Just as nonsensical as proportional disenfranchisement of those living in more densely populated districts and states.

There is no reasonable, valid argument for not giving every voter an equal vote in electing somebody to ANY elected office.






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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 23, 2016, 01:27 AM

7. The GOP might have to deal with the nightmare scenario

of actually having to run an effective campaign in California that accounts for it's diversity.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 29, 2016, 12:07 AM

10. One person, one vote is as simple (and as fair) as it gets.

I cannot fathom why someone in Wyoming gets 3-4 times the voting power as someone in California.

Because some politician drew a rectangle around a plot of land and called it "Wyoming". Yeah, that's fair.

It's voter disenfranchisement, plain and simple.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #1)


Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2016, 05:42 PM

4. I wonder if the winner take all method

could be dealt with without amending the Constitution. If the votes were awarded proportionally.

It doesn't seem to be in the Constitution itself.

3 USC 8

Manner of voting

§ 8. The electors shall vote for President and Vice President, respectively, in the manner directed by the Constitution.

Doesn't seem to require it. It the votes were proportionate to the popular vote of the state, it would more accurately end up with the popular vote winner winning.

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Response to treestar (Reply #4)

Fri Dec 23, 2016, 12:51 AM

5. By no means an unreasonable arguement.

 

It is consistent with the way legislation is passed. Each representative has a vote. That means that each state's representation votes on legislation in a fragmented basis, not in an "all or nothing" basis. Thus California might have 30 votes in favor of a bill, 20 opposing it, and three not voting. Presumably, each representative is voting in accordance with constituents in his/her district. Actually, of course, they are mostly voting in accordance with special interest's campaign contributions.

No reason electoral college votes could not be allocated the same way, either by district, or proportional to state's popular vote. It would certainly more closely represent the will of the people.

The constitution is silent on how electors are directed to vote. I believe two states have already chosen to abandon the "winner take all" process and award electoral college votes proportionally.

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Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Thu Dec 29, 2016, 08:27 PM

11. it's an outdated system

It gives way too much power to the smaller states. Only 17% of the population lives in rural areas, yet rural areas are defining our politics.

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