Thursday, June 29, 2006


The people who have built a career through expertise in the dismal and tedious Electoral College might be more to be pitied than censured but buying them that heart's desire of so many professors, a perpetual lesson plan, at the cost of democracy isn't a bargain for the rest of us. If they want to defend the indefensible thing then they should really have to do it, not just be allowed to mouth the unwarranted assertions of its merits. Unless they come up with something new, taking into account modern reality, they should get the hook.

The Electoral College is now an active evil in our system. With modern technology and the demonstrated intentions of the Republican Party it is not just an amusing eccentricity of the Constitution, it is clearly a means of stealing elections. While an election by popular vote could be stolen, it is a lot harder to steal the entire country than it is one or two states. Keeping it is an invitation for them to steal another one.

Through computers and the dedicated study of manipulation, every potential weakness in the system can be exploited by those who want to rule without the consent of the People. Richard Viguerie's activities have proven beyond a doubt that computers alone have changed things forever. Unsurprisingly, the law is still pretending that it is 1787. It isn't. Those and other technological changes uproot every traditional assumption about the security of our democracy. We are witness to a technology based coup. With the last two presidential elections, the executive powers asserted after Sept. 11th, the Bush II regime gathering power to itself and the demonstrated willingness of his new court majority to allow him to get too close to absolute power, that is what we are seeing unfolding in front of us every day.

Once the office is stolen no president is going to be impeached. That alleged safeguard is a myth. The Republicans in the Senate didn't have the stomach to convict Clinton after the Republicans in the House impeached him on trumped up charges, much as many of them wanted to. Since now Harding, Nixon, Reagan and now two Bushes haven't even been impeached we can relegate that asserted protection to the make believe box.

After the experience of the past ten years, anyone who pretends that the Electoral College has virtues that supersede government of the People and by the People should be regarded as too quaint to take seriously.

The Republicans in the Senate didn't have the stomach to convict Clinton after the Republicans in the House impeached him on trumped up charges, much as many of them wanted to.

Palast has the backstory on this one -- the Republicans did have real (rather than trumped up) charges against Clinton.

It's just that the Dems. had some major dirt on how the Republicans were getting their money, so a deal was arranged. I reckon if the Senate actually would have convicted Clinton, it would have ended the deal.
Oh yes -- and electoral reform should not stop with abolishing (or changing the nature of) the electoral college.

Districts should be drawn up by scientifically based computational procedures respecting suitably defined natural or community bounderies or in the absense of such boundaries, heuristically maximizing district convexity while subject to the obvious population constraints.

There should be some form of rank/preference/IRV voting so that the will of the people is more adaquately ascertained ...

I just can't see any scenario where the small states or the swing states would ever give up the disproportional power the electoral college gives them. That level of altruism just does not exist.
Eli, it is hard to see it happening unless it is pointed out to them that the state having the vote means that they don't. It is possible for someone to have voted for a president their whole lives and not ever to have had their vote count.

I think if the nonsense about the system is cut through and the disadvantage to individual voters is stressed it can be shown to be a lot less of an advantage than it appears to be.
It will take years but I believe that unless that effort starts at some point it will be an increasing danger, as it has already proven to be.

alberich, I agree about drawing districts. The idiotic system approved by the court this week shows that it is another major danger to democracy.

None of this is going to be done without a lot of work.
Whatever may be said about the others, the only reason Nixon wasn't impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, was that he resigned first. The reason why he resigned was that he was persuaded by the Sen. Goldwater, and others, that less than 1/3 of the Senate was prepared to vote for him and against conviction. The so-called "smoking gun" tape had recently surfaced (the one from the Summer of 1973 in which Haldeman and Nixon were clearly discussing how to further the cover-up) and at was clear that on the most straight-forward of the impeachment articles, Nixon was guilty as charged.
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