Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Personally, I think the Electoral College is an unnecessary holdover from the early days of the Republic. Possibly useful at the time, but today it's the vestigial tail of American politics. It has no real purpose and when it swings itself around the true spirit of American democracy gets hit by a face full of crap. It's gotta go.

But the interesting story this morning is that the media is slinging crap in our faces about John McCain and how he is crapping out in a number of independent evaluations and polls of electoral votes, by an average of 104 votes. And this when the traditional media reports nothing but a dead heat. If we get nothing else from this, it's that we cannot rely upon old-school media to tell us the truth. Unless it's about how much cleaner and whiter our teeth can be and how much more sexy we'll be if we wax our mustaches. Do they still run mustache wax ads?

Vote Obama!


Anonymous said...

The electoral college was a way to both give states recognition and authority and to act as a preventitive to keep demagogues from being elected to the highest office.

With the former, if you had a pure national vote count, then candidates would never have a reason to leave the inner city, and folks living in more remote and less populated states would be at the mercy of the whim of large urban centers. For example, NYC could decide that Wyoming should become a dumping ground for all of their waste, and Wyoming would have no voice in the matter.

Also, keep in mind that demagogues are adept at stirring up tightly packed areas of population density, and without the lesser-sized states having a voice, who knows what kind of leaders would emerge.

America has never had a Hitler, Napoleon, or Mussolini in the highest office for a good reason, and that reason is the electoral college.

gomonkeygo said...

That's a good solid textbook civics definition of what the Electoral College was supposed to do. But I think it has been used very differently for decades. Specifically, ever since the ruling class in this country realized that "them folks" - ie, those of darker-skinned persuasions than themselves - would actually get votes that counted, the purpose and the importance of the Electoral College has changed.

Today, a President can be elected by winning a handful of populous states, strangely analogous to the dense inner-city model you suggest the College was created to defend us against. This cheapens the importance of our democracy considerably. Right now, the people in the small or the less populous states are at the mercy of the large and populous states. Watch any cluesless political commentator on TV when the subject comes up, and they'll talk endless about how all a candidate has to do is win a handful of the large states to win. This completely devalues the importance of the electorate in all but a few states, regulating most of the country to bystanders in presidential contests. Personally, I've talked to many people over the years who won't vote for any presidential candidate because they feel their vote is worthless due to the Electoral College. If the College is to survive, it has to be changed, I feel.

Which is one of the reasons I'm so interested in the Obama campaign. They have decided to overturn the prevailing zeitgeist regarding the Electoral College. Win many states, let many voters decide who becomes President of the United States - in itself, this admirable goal is worth my vote, I think.