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Member since: Thu Jul 8, 2010, 10:33 PM
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The Electoral College: America's Karmic Weak Spot, or Achilles' Heel

When I was just a little boy, my father used to tell me Greek myths as bedtime stories. One of the myths I remember very well is the myth about the great warrior Achilles and his vulnerable heel. I have a website on Greek Medicine, and on it, I use the myth of Achilles and his vulnerable heel as an allegory or metaphor to describe the nature of chronic pathological and immune vulnerabilities, and how they originate, grow and develop. In so many ways, the story of the Electoral College, which I consider to be America's great karmic weak spot, parallels the story of Achilles and his vulnerable heel.

When he was just an infant, Achilles' mother, who wanted his infant son to grow up to be a great warrior who would be invincible in battle, immersed the infant Achilles in the river Styx, which separates the world of the living from the world of the dead; this, she was told, would confer on him invincibility in battle. But she held Achilles by the heel, and forgot to immerse that part as well. Achilles went on to become the great warrior hero of the Trojan war. but he met his end, his fatal demise, when a poisoned arrow hit him squarely in his vulnerable heel. And so it is with individuals, and even nation states, as they go forth to fight the battles of life; they are perfectly fine until they meet up with a threat or challenge that precisely targets or exploits their particular vulnerabilities.

Similarly, the Electoral College is America's great karmic weak spot, its vulnerable Achilles heel. Like Achilles' vulnerable heel, this karmic weak spot of our nation had its origin or inception early on, in the infancy of our great nation. The slave states were hesitant to join the Union unless they were given special incentives to do so. The main population centers were up in the North, and the southern slave states felt that they would be insufficiently represented if the president were elected by means of the popular vote alone. And so, the Electoral College system was devised, which gave these underpopulated slave states more of a say by giving more power to the states; this was all part and parcel of what was called states' rights.

However, the Electoral College proved to be an ineffective, or only partially effective, method for providing electoral balance between the North and the South; for some eighty years, tensions between the North and the South continued to fester, until finally these festering tensions erupted in the Civil War. The North won the war, but still, the Electoral College lingered on, its legacy closely associated with slavery and the dark underbelly of racism that is associated with it. And this dark legacy of slavery and racism continues to haunt us to this very day - especially today, in the Trump era (in case you haven't noticed).

For the longest time, for over a hundred and fifty years since the end of the Civil War, the Electoral College remained nothing more than a quaint curiosity, an odd and unusual way in which Americans elected their presidents. Sure, it had its down sides, and many also felt that it was archaic and outdated as well, and didn't really serve the needs of modern America. Many even filed motions in Congress in an effort to eliminate the Electoral College - including, ironically enough, Senator Hillary Clinton, who went on to suffer what was probably the most tragic, unexpected and humiliating defeat ever dealt out by this peculiar American institution.

But with the rise and increasing sophistication of modern computer technology came those who developed the cyber-capability to specifically target and exploit this vulnerable Achilles' heel of our nation. Enter the Russians, and their systematic, sweeping cyber-attack on the 2016 presidential election. If we elected our president like every other major nation on earth, by the popular vote, Hillary Clinton would be president right now - she received almost three million more votes nationwide than Donald Trump. But Donald Trump, with the help of the Russians and their influence / meddling in the 2016 election, was able to pull off a stunning upset, with just 70 to 80 thousand votes, spread out among three crucial states in the Rust Belt. Just think - Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost three million votes, but Donald Trump pulled off his Electoral College upset with only 70 to 80 thousand votes! Michael Cohen, in his testimony before Congress, said that he didn't think Donald Trump expected to win - and probably even the Russians were just as surprised as he was.

The Russians were very clever in their cyberattack on our 2016 presidential election: Like any great general or strategist, they struck our country at its weakest spot - the Electoral College. They had taken the time and done their homework to study up on the intricacies of the Electoral College process, and how state by state polling and projections are used to forecast who would be the likely winner. The world was stunned by this unexpected upset, but the Russians, with their stunning success, had let the cat out of the bag: the great vulnerable Achilles' heel of America was its Electoral College, and by just flipping a few key votes in the right states, you could flip the whole election. Sure, the Russians will be back to meddle in the 2020 election, I fear - and perhaps they are doing so already. But even worse, perhaps other rogue and opportunistic nations have been inspired by the Russian success, and aim to meddle in our upcoming presidential elections as well. If we elected our president by the popular vote, the Russians wouldn't have stood a chance - three million votes would have had to be flipped, and that's within the whole nation, not just in a few crucial states. I fear that the Electoral College, combined with modern cybertechnology, has made it open season on America.

So - what are the pros and cons of our Electoral College system? Its proponents claim that it gives all the various states and regions of our great nation more of an equal say in how we choose our president, who, they claim, is more likely to represent all regions of the country in a more fair and balanced manner than just the heavily populated urban areas on the coasts, which tend to be more liberal or progressive. Since the Democrats tend to be more liberal or progressive, and the Republicans more conservative, the Electoral College, by its very nature, tends to favor Republicans over Democrats - but the Electoral College pre-existed the Republican party.

Everything else about the Electoral College, as I see it, is a negative. With its state by state, winner-take-all approach, the Electoral College encourages an incredible amount of corruption in electoral politics on the state level. Everyone's familiar with all the vote purging, voter suppression and voter ID laws that are in operation in red states with Republican governors, not to mention all the ridiculous gerrymandering in red states as well. If we chose our presidents nationally by the popular vote, and abolished the Electoral College, then such electoral corruption and suppressive shenanigans at the state level would become meaningless, and would probably disappear within short order. The Electoral College also encourages a lot of voter apathy at the state level as well. If I am a Republican in a blue state like California, for example, I would be apathetic, thinking that my vote wouldn't really matter, since the state as a whole would go blue and vote Democratic anyway - and the reverse would apply for a Democrat voting in a red state like Texas. Voter apathy is a big, big problem in this country, and if we elected our presidents by the national popular vote, a lot of this voter apathy would disappear, because who knows where the winning votes would come from?

We like to say that it's one man, one vote in our democracy, but that's not exactly true. With the Electoral College system, the votes of those living in rural, less populated "flyover" states in the middle of the country count for a lot more than the votes of people living on the coasts, and in the great population centers. That's yet another injustice perpetrated by our Electoral College.

As you can see, the Electoral College favors conservatives and Republicans, not only by its very nature, but also in the corrupt, unfair electoral politics at the state level that it has engendered. I would even go so far as to say that it is impossible to elect a Republican president in America today without the help of the Electoral College. There has been a broad shift in demographics within the American electorate over the last few decades; we're now less white and more black, brown and ethnic - and that favors Democrats, not Republicans. To compensate for this broad shift in electoral demographics, the Republicans in recent years have had to rely increasingly on vote purging, voter suppression, ID laws, and the like - all of which find favor in red states due to the encouragement of the electoral environment engendered by the Electoral College. Of course, Republicans could have buckled down and done the hard work of reinventing or rebranding conservatism to make it more appealing to a more ethnically diverse electorate, but they took the easy way out, through voter suppression laws and the like. And when gerrymandering, voter purging, voter ID and suppression laws were no longer sufficient in their eyes, it was just the natural next step to accept Russian help in winning the 2016 presidential election. And the Russians wouldn't have stood a chance in flipping our election if it hadn't been for the Electoral College.

Our election laws cry out for reform. There are so many ways in which we could make our elections more secure, fair and just - paper ballots, overturning voter suppression and ID laws, increased early voting, and the list goes on and on. But when it comes to the security of our presidential elections, just one measure alone would be sufficient to make them much more secure - and that would be to abolish the Electoral College. Yet Republicans will fight this tooth and nail, because I feel that they know that they couldn't get a Republican president elected without it - and of course, that makes election meddling by the Russians and others possible. The Electoral College is indeed America's vulnerable Achilles' heel, which enables all kinds of chronic abuses of the system, and now even opportunistic infections in the form of foreign cyberattacks on our election system. It's high time to get rid of it.
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