The real problem with the Electoral College.

Jul 2019
571
New Jersey
So the American system isn't the only "immoral" one in the world? Imagine that. They used to have elections in places like the USSR, and its Iron Curtain satellites, Iraq, Cuba and other places where people's vote were truly disenfranchised. Voters in Quebec and the Basque often don't feel as if their vote matters either. As I have posted more than once, the presidential candidates and the electorate know the system. They should approach it accordingly. We can enjoy our discussion, but I wouldn't bet on the system being changed anytime soon.
Presumably Chlodio has in mind the more typical European elections (or Israeli elections) where the entire national vote is taken and divvied up proportionally between the 3,000 political parties.

Edit: And European countries provide plenty of examples of classic majoritarian tyranny. Have you ever heard of a credible movement in the US to ban burqas?
 
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Likes: Rodger
Jul 2019
571
New Jersey
Essentially, it all comes down to decentralization of power. Democracy is based on decentralization of power, and a formally democratic system can be, in fact, less democratic than a formally less democratic system, if the former is more centralized than the latter. Electoral College is, along with the rights of states, one of ways in which US political system is decentralized. Anything which goes towards removing EC and increasing power of federal government at the expense of state government is automatically antidemocratic.

Which basically means that Democrats are antidemocratic, precisely because they propose tyranny of the majority and removal of the electoral college.
Let's not get too into politics, as this thread has been very productive thus far and I would hate to see it shut down.
 
Oct 2011
349
Croatia
Let's not get too into politics, as this thread has been very productive thus far and I would hate to see it shut down.
I know, I just found the irony too tasty. But my point was partly about how our understanding of words has changed. Today, when we think about "democracy" and "republic", we think about a "political system" and "a state" - for an example, "Republic of Croatia" is often said to be a "democracy". But originally, "democracy" and "republic" were distinct political systems, and Democrat/Republican split is based on that. Democracy, as understood by US Founding Fathers - and by Democrats today, as links show - is what we today call a "direct democracy", or at least majority democracy; that is to say, democracy without checks on power of the people. Republic, however, is essentially Roman (was it Polybius who described that?) understanding of the Republic, as a system which blends autocratic (royalist), oligarchic (aristocratic) and demagogic (democratic) systems into one system of checks and balances, precisely to prevent abuse of power by any single group.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,320
Dispargum
I would just point out that under the UK's system, it is still theoretically possible that one party can get 49% of the vote and not a single seat in Parliament, so I doubt Chlodio would approve of that either.
1. That's a problem for the UK to work out.
2. Some countries solve this problem with proportional representation
3. The scenario above suggests some extreme gerrymandering, which is something I disapprove of.
4. Are you saying that this scenario is an acceptable expression of democracy or republicanism? That it's OK for a party to win only 51% of the vote but get 100% of the seats so that they do not have to deal with a loyal opposition?
 
Jul 2019
571
New Jersey
1. That's a problem for the UK to work out.
2. Some countries solve this problem with proportional representation
3. The scenario above suggests some extreme gerrymandering, which is something I disapprove of.
4. Are you saying that this scenario is an acceptable expression of democracy or republicanism? That it's OK for a party to win only 51% of the vote but get 100% of the seats so that they do not have to deal with a loyal opposition?
I'm not getting involved in a discussion about the British Constitution. That's not for here. I was simply responding to Rodger, who pointed out the UK's system as a classic parliamentary system. Well, I was just pointing out that it, too, is constituency-based. But that's not what I'm interested in discussing; I couldn't care less how the British manage their elections. My concern is with our system, and I've spent a long time writing up a defense of our system last night (#327). That's my statement that I'm basing off for now.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,121
Caribbean
Yes. Like an oppressive majority, similar to the tribal conflicts in Africa are moral. Or the U.S., whereby slaves couldn't vote, is moral. It is also not moral when citizens don't have the republic's best interest at heart, but their own benefit.
Pure democracy, like anything else, can be corrupted by immorality. Having elections is, by itself, is no assurance of virtue.
 
Likes: Rodger

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
Pure democracy, like anything else, can be corrupted by immorality. Having elections is, by itself, is no assurance of virtue.
The E.C., being a form of a check and balance has its shortcomings, but what it does is stabilize the republic. So, even in today's climate, the U.S. is still carrying on nearly 250 years later. No small feat as fans of history know. What the E.C. does, in my opinion, is mitigate the risk of some sort paralysis, or even a breakdown, of government.
 
Jul 2019
571
New Jersey
The E.C., being a form of a check and balance has its shortcomings, but what it does is stabilize the republic. So, even in today's climate, the U.S. is still carrying on nearly 250 years later. No small feat as fans of history know. What the E.C. does, in my opinion, is mitigate the risk of some sort paralysis, or even a breakdown, of government.
In a certain sense, i would say the opposite. Our government was crafted so that it have as hard a time as possible passing legislation without an overwhelming consensus. If all you needed was a simple majority to control all of government, you'd have a government which was too empowered to act. Every public craze would be enacted into law, then repealed by the next Congress, and then re-enacted by the next. Our government is the tortoise - it moves very slowly, but when it achieves something the result cannot be easily turned back.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,320
Dispargum
Abraham,
I get that the EC was supposed to encourage candidates to broaden their appeal. My argument is that it doesn't actually do this. When both candidates are trying to win by a large majority, they usually end up canceling each other out so that one of them ends up winning by only a small majority. In the 50 elections in which there has been a popular vote, only about 10 have been won by more than 55% of the popular vote. In these 10 elections it wasn't the EC that incentivized that kind of candidate appeal. In these 10 elections the voters were extremely happy or unhappy with the incumbent or the winning candidate ran a smart campaign while the loser ran a dumb one. Look at elections like 1984, 1972, 1964, 1956, 1952, 1936, 1932, 1928 and tell me that these candidates had to try and broaden their appeal. They were already very popular without having to try. They didn't need the EC to incentivize their popular appeal.

What the EC does is incentivize candidates to win more states, not votes. This is a false appeal. Here's a map of the 1948 election. Truman in blue appears to have won a huge victory over Dewey and Thurmond. In fact, he only took 49% of the popular vote. Truman took 58% of the EC
1568294874111.png

Here's 1916: Wilson in orange appears to have won a major victory. In fact, he only beat Hughes by 3%. The EC was also very close.
1568295253982.png

Here's 1888, almost a classic North-South divide, but the EC gave victory to Harrison in red who won no Southern states at all. So much for national appeal. Cleveland won a couple of Northern states and the popular vote, but still lost the election. Spatially, red areas vs blue areas, the country appears evenly divided. The popular vote was very close. Harrison took 58% of the EC.
1568295328090.png

Here's 1960. Spatially, close but maybe a slight advantage to Nixon in red. Popular vote very close - 1/10 of a percentage point apart. But by taking most of the big states Kennedy took 60% of the EC.
1568296060576.png

If you're just looking at maps, the EC can create the illusion that the winning candidate has broad based support. I live on the Great Plains. I would never argue that the Great Plains are more important than California because the Great Plains are spatially bigger than CA. What is the point to having a president who is popular in places where very few people live? Conclusion, the EC creates the illusion of big victories but doesn't do anything to broaden a candidate's appeal.
 

Attachments

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,121
Caribbean
Abraham]What the EC does is incentivize candidates to win more states, not votes. This is a false appeal.
There is nothing false about that appeal.

It seems to me that the one most essential salient element, is the one that is most overlooked. The United States - even with the Fourteenth Amendment - is still constitutionally a union of states. It is not union of individuals.

The media and academia are surely doing no one any favors using the terms "a"" or "the" Presidential election. There are 51 separate "state" elections every four years (yes, I know, DC is not a state). So, to win one does not just have to "appeal" to the States, one has to win them; a requisite number of "states" (in a weighted scoring system).

Everyone seems to understand iit n major sports. Teams win a playoff series by winning a majority of the games (carrying states), not necessarily scoring a majority of the points (the so-called popular vote). That is, 4 narrow victories is greater than 3 blowouts. Sounds like 2016, eh?
 
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