The real problem with the Electoral College.

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,267
Caribbean
Your last sentence says it all and encapsulates why the Electoral College is anti-Democratic and should be rescinded.
You do understand that not everyone worships the god of "democracy"? Some are very adamant about not being forced into that church. And that in point of fact, the election of US Presidents is a democratic process.

What I'd like to see is a full-throated, unrepentant defense of the virtue of government by idiots voting.
 
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Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,267
Caribbean
It is clear the framers did not trust the electorate.
Your principle is correct, but "electorate" would be a poor word choice. The electorate is a subset of the people at large, and would be, by definition, the enfranchised; the ones most trusted. Land owners would be among the electorate. "Vagabonds" would not.

Of course, "trust" is also malleable word. lol I would "trust" both the land owner and the vagabond to vote in his best interest, and thus trust that only one of them will vote for klepotcracy.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
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And finally, I notice that you haven't addressed my constitutional point, which is that the states themselves should be represented in presidential elections, since they too are answerable to the president in certain respects.
Actually I have been speaking to this issue every time I expressed my low regard for state's rights and state issues. Even with the EC, states don't actually get a vote. People in states vote. Off the top of my head I can't think of an instance when people voted their state's interest. People vote their personal interests. In a situation where people so identified themselves with their state that the two interests were the same, people would still vote their personal interests, not the state's. (A subtle difference since in this case the state and the personal interest are identical.) States don't need any special protection. If a federal policy is bad for the people of that state, the people will vote against it. If a federal policy is bad for a state but good for the people of that state than that state has bigger problems than the US Constitution can fix. (That state is out of touch with its own citizens.)

The trend over the last 200 years is toward a more direct relationship between the people and federal government and to remove intermediaries like the states. This is why we adopted direct election of senators over 100 years ago. It's also why we replaced tariffs with the income tax as the biggest source of federal revenue. Removing the EC would be consistent with this trend toward a more direct relationship.

... And the second reason, which is by far the more constitutionally important reason, is that the Union is made up of sovereign states. The states, as the prior political unit, constitute the Union. Accordingly, we value the states as units in determining the makeup of the federal government. The states, on the other hand, are not constituted by their counties. On the contrary, the counties are extensions of state administration, and accordingly have insufficient standing to require a federalized state government.
This explains how and why the EC and other states' rights aspects came to be included in the Constitution. It doesn't justify their continued existence. I accept it as a given that you and I differ on state's rights/ state's issues. My position is that state's are less useful and less necessary than they used to be so it doesn't make sense that states continue to retain the same powers that they've always had. What the founders had to do to get the states to ratify the Constitution 200+ years ago should not still be a ball and chain on us today. The whole point to examining the EC is to decide if it is worth retaining or discarding. I know where you stand, but this constitutional argument of sovereign states is nothing more than, "It has always been this way and it will never change." I demand a reason to keep the EC despite 200 years of political evolution. "It has always been this way," doesn't cut it. Tell me why the EC is still necessary despite 200 years of the federal government from above and the people from below chipping away at state sovereignty. (There's no need for you to repeat previous arguments. I'm saying Constitutional sovereignty doesn't add to them.) Basically, I'm saying don't tell me why something was a good idea in 1787. Tell me why it's a good idea today (using pre-1991 arguments :) ). This doesn't have to derail this thread on a tangent about state sovereignty. If you want to start a new thread on state sovereignty, be my guest. I don't promise I'll participate. But you asked me my view on state sovereignty and now you have it. Just because it's written into the Constitution doesn't make it a good idea. Slavery was written into the Constitution, too.

Also, would you support the democritisation of the Senate?
I haven't spent as much time thinking about the Senate as I have the EC. I know that state senates used to be apportioned by county, but now they are apportioned one man, one vote. This change brought about an improvement in state government. I don't buy your argument that the federal government is different from state or local government simply because it is bigger or covers a larger area. The principles of political conflict are the same regardless of size. My local school board had an unequal representation case get resolved in the courts. Now it's one man, one vote. I don't see how unequal representation is wrong on school boards and in state senates, but it's OK in the US Senate. If you want to argue that federal politics are different than state or local, I suggest you try a foreign policy argument, something I haven't even begun to think through yet.

In our legislative elections we have a "first-past-the-post system" which strongly discourages third-party runs. Would you support a first-past-the-post plurality election for President? ... TR splits the republican vote and Woodrow Wilson wins by accident. This is the part where I explain how the EC discourages third party runs.
I might start a separate thread on that issue.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,380
Netherlands
The trend over the last 200 years is toward a more direct relationship between the people and federal government and to remove intermediaries like the states. This is why we adopted direct election of senators over 100 years ago. It's also why we replaced tariffs with the income tax as the biggest source of federal revenue. Removing the EC would be consistent with this trend toward a more direct relationship.
My apologies for deleting the rest of your post, but this was the part that imo considered the gist of what you are saying.

Here in Holland we went that way. Due to all kinds of happenings we went from a union of provinces to a country with some provinces. While I value the one-man-one-vote principle you can also see the disadvantages of such a system. We had a province that thrived on mining, but the mining got banned (popular majority), that province (Limburg) hasn't really recovered. We have 2 provinces that hold gas, All the proceeds have gone to the treasury. Now that it has become apparent that it involves quakes, the government is doing everything in its power to not repair the damages and safeguard the houses. That is in a country which is a quarter of the size of WA (probably smaller).
I do support the idea, but one of the main disadvantages is that stuff like that happens. I am aware of the opposite points, but I do think that an EC however imperfect is a good thing, in particular because it is the executive branch
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,466
Dispargum
My apologies for deleting the rest of your post, but this was the part that imo considered the gist of what you are saying.

Here in Holland we went that way. Due to all kinds of happenings we went from a union of provinces to a country with some provinces. While I value the one-man-one-vote principle you can also see the disadvantages of such a system. We had a province that thrived on mining, but the mining got banned (popular majority), that province (Limburg) hasn't really recovered. We have 2 provinces that hold gas, All the proceeds have gone to the treasury. Now that it has become apparent that it involves quakes, the government is doing everything in its power to not repair the damages and safeguard the houses. That is in a country which is a quarter of the size of WA (probably smaller).
I do support the idea, but one of the main disadvantages is that stuff like that happens. I am aware of the opposite points, but I do think that an EC however imperfect is a good thing, in particular because it is the executive branch
Are you saying that previously you had some kind of system of unequal representation? Or are you saying that previously, the provinces had more control over their own affairs?
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,380
Netherlands
Are you saying that previously you had some kind of system of unequal representation? Or are you saying that previously, the provinces had more control over their own affairs?
Before Napoleon every province had its own rules and common policies had to be approved by them all, although it was possible for the union to go through with one or two provinces abstaining. IE the province of Sealand didn't sign the peace treaty in 1648, but did so later on its own accord. But the treaty was signed.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,466
Dispargum
You're saying that laws or policies that Napoleon implemented are still causing problems today?

It sounds like you're making an argument for state's rights aka federalism but that's tangential to the EC. That's why I don't want the thread to get derailed over state's rights. The EC forces candidates to develop election strategies around 50 states plus the District of Columbia, not a single strategy for the popular vote. States don't actually make any decisions because of the EC. The state governments don't vote or decide who wins and loses. Voters in each of the states decide that. All the EC does is force candidates to acknowledge the existence of states and to decide to pay attention to those state voters or to ignore them if the candidate thinks he can win without having to pander to them.
 

M9Powell

Ad Honorem
Oct 2014
4,448
appalacian Mtns
Clinton knew the rules before she threw her hat in the ring. She lost by the rules. She didn't complain until she lost. Sore loser.
 
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Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,930
Yötebory Sveriya
I find the real problem with democracy has little to do with the nuances of political systems and more to do with the fact that a large number of people (perhaps even a majority) lack education on being an elector in the democratic process.

First and foremost. Going back to Plato and ancient Greece. Demagoguery should be called out and disqualified as a tactic by consensus of the people. The unfortunate thing is that it not only is an acceptable tactic by the electorate, but as in ancient Greece it has become a winning tactic... only nowadays (and I won’t use specific post-91 examples, because we can clearly find the most obvious example of the modern era in 1932), people not only ignore the fact that demagoguery breaks democracy, but they encourage it as the proper tactic.

This is cancer to democracy, and right or left, backward or forward, all cancer is bad. Voting without an educated view on the policies is simply irresponsible; voting out of fear, prejudice, or some kind of personality fandom is equally problematic.

This is partially why Plato opposes democracy. He believed an aristocracy comprised of a uniquely educated base of wise philosophers was the best form of government. That democracy is next to tyranny because of the dilution of wisdom among within the ocean of the populace means that an effective demagogue can reign as a tyrant, destructive to the state and its direction, but propped up by the consent of the people.

Not all tyrants are bad. Peisistratus was arguably a great leader. But Hippias and Hipparchus, not so much! It’s not the tyrant, but the mentality of those who uphold tyranny that’s a problem. And an uneducated electorate makes for a poor base for the idealized goals of democracy.


Western civilization has dealt with this by having a generally superficial democratic process; we know our flaws, and thus have a sober base to correct the idiots we tend to vote for (in all countries). The elected body doesn’t have tremendous power, therefore a tyranny isn’t possible even if a successful demagogue does emerge. But elements like the US’s “executive orders” kind of breaks that; although I am unsure if these “executive orders” are as powerful as the media makes them out to be, since it doesn’t seem like a lot of them result in any changes.

IF the voting populace would elect people on the basis of wisdom and ability, rather than their personality or charisma, I would think an all-powerful democracy would be great. I think, though, it tends only to work in smaller more educated populations that tend to frown on any kind of demagoguery. But to shift the phrasing of George Carlin’s quote to fit closer to Einstein’s meaning: “never underestimate the stupidity of people in large groups,” holds true in even the best of countries.

I know I have fallen for a cult of personality before, volunteered much time, only to later discover the guy was not at all the environmental champion he claimed to be; but rather just a really ambitious guy who knew how to exploit an issue... That’s not to say that all politicians who campaign on environmental protection are NOT authentic, just that at least one that I know rose high in the ranks because he was ambitious, charismatic, and exploited an issue people genuinely care about... stupid on my part to fall for it. And the worst part about it was that others of far more genuine character, who knew full well this guy’s character, refused to turn on him due to it being damaging to the environmentalist movement to do so.

But I am ranting now, long story short; I learned to be less wary about unlikable than likeable people; because it’s FAR easier to see when unlikable people are shifty. But I am way off topic now.

Election College? Anyway, not as big of an issue as some of the deeper laying problems. Such as cult-like candidate fandom and demagoguery. But in the case of people getting significantly higher numbers of votes and yet losing an election - this is clearly a flaw. But not the biggest one that needs to be fixed. I think any time a demagogue is elected that nation effectively fails the test of whether or not their democracy works.