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Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Future of the Electoral College



Friends, I recommend this very interesting article about the electoral college, and whether or not Republicans can rely on winning it, even if we lose the popular vote.

https://amgreatness.com/2018/05/20/the-trump-coalition-and-the-electoral-college/

Now, personally I support the electoral college.  I do so partly because I support states' rights, and the college gives states an important role in selecting the President.  I also wish we would go back to allowing state legislatures to pick U.S. Senators, but that's a battle for another day...  Now, the gist of this article is the idea that, if Republicans increasingly rely on the electoral college to win Presidential elections, but steadily lose support in the popular vote, the legitimacy of Republican rule will be questioned.  I disagree, and for one overpowering reason: Trump-haters hate Trump, yes, and the Left hates the Republican Party, but frankly the fact that Trump won the electoral college and lost the popular vote is THE LEAST OF THEIR CONCERNS.  Collusion, emoluments, strippers -- you name it, they'll take any excuse to criticize, delegitimize, and hopefully destroy President Trump.  Increasingly, this kind of bare knuckles politics is common in the trenches too -- at the level of House, Senate, and even state and local elections.  To put it simply, more and more often, the two parties and their adherents have no respect for one another or for the "process".  They want to WIN, and they don't care how they do it.  Thus, in my opinion, just as it's unlikely for any real change in the electoral college to occur, it's also beside the point.  American politics has gotten ugly, and it will stay that way, unless and until the media environment, which stokes these animosities, changes.  In short, OF COURSE the legitimacy of Republican rule will be questioned.  Get used to it, because it will happen regardless of who wins the popular vote and/or the electoral college.

My belief is that the electoral college does, in fact, benefit Republicans, and it is likely to help our candidates win Presidential elections, just as the two-Senators-per-state formulation is likely to help us keep control of the Senate.  We could move to a system more oriented towards the popular vote, yes, but since this would only help the Left, which I do not see as devoted either to democracy or the U.S. Constitution, I don't believe this would be sensible or proper.  I say, therefore, keep the electoral college in place, and keep the presidency, the Senate, the House, most governorships, most state legislatures, and above all most judgeships, in safe, Republican hands.  The alternative is...bleak, to put it mildly.

10 comments:

  1. Dr.Waddy: I added up the electoral votes of all the states I thought almost certain to vote Dem in any foreseeable Presidential election and I added a couple of probables - Colorado and Washington. It adds up to 153 so they still have a long way to go in this effort to ensure their dominance over the unwashed by mandating that all of their states' electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote . Could some "purple" states, as Florida is sometimes depicted, come over? Maybe (though so very much of Florida is "Dixie") but the elitists still would have a long way to go and I don't they'd ever get enough states to approve a constitutional amendment abolishing the college(even if they could get it through Congress), especially if Republicans see it as their main defense against leftist totalitariansm. The Founding Fathers were a providentially wise bunch, enabled as they were by the pre Rousseau enlightenment and we benefit to this day, amazingly, from their ability to compromise ( to which we must direct our gratitude to Washington, the President of the Constitutional Convention and the single greatest American ever).

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  2. If you ask me, the Founders were wise to temper our democracy with elements of aristocracy and monarchy -- and filtering the will of the people through "electors," in the context of Presidential elections, isn't a bad idea either. Ultimately, it's the states that should be in the driver's seat -- and the states in turn should be led by the people.

    The compact to give states' electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote is a farce. Only blue states are interested, and I don't believe their promises would be binding anyway. We do have to worry, though, about losing control of "purple" states like Florida, because then the Dems might be able to cobble together states worth 270 electoral votes in order to invalidate the electoral college. No doubt the whole effort would become entangled in the courts. I also find it hard to imagine that D.C., California, Massachusetts, and New York would cast their votes for Trump, if he won the popular vote, which is certainly possible.

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  3. Dr. Waddy: Since it would be state law (why, Andrew would just issue a "Message of Necessity) it would be malleable at the will of the states. Its almost impossible to imagine, in a situation where Trump wins the popular vote but stands to lose the College, that they would be as principled as to facilitate his election unless they thought themselves irrevocably bound by their laws. So the concern for this effort expressed in the article may not be seriously warranted, at least not yet. What demographic and consequentially political surprises may be at hand in the future are probably beyond my lifespan and I'm glad of it. Washington himself had had a hearty helping of frontier life in his journeys to and from the future Pittsburgh area on behalf of the Colony of Virginia near and at the beginning of the French and Indian War. His experiences are well described in the book Crucible of War (can't remember the author) and are part of the reason I consider him the greatest American. They were literally hair raising and gave him a first hand knowledge, favorable and less, of the American yeomanry. Though he was heroically reticent in exerting his unparalleled moral authority during the Constitutional Convention, it may well be that over his favorite, Madeira, he was more candid. He had been that rare semi aristocrat, who , like Theodore Roosevelt, was able to understand the rigors of American baseness by having participated in it while purposely eschewing privilege. I don't doubt that he retained much affection for the American wildman; his Revolutionary war troops would have discerned in him the fundamental disdain some former British officers (eg. Charles Lee)manifested but did not see in him, despite his imposition of military discipline on them. What a diplomat he was, at so many levels, at so many critical times and what strength of character in him that reveals. So many of the Founding Fathers embodied historically fortuitous brilliance but maybe he was the catalyst for their successful synthesis and their precious legacy.

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  4. Jack, you make me want to read a biography of George Washington! I must confess, I know little about him...

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  5. Dr. Waddy: I think his life was astounding! I'd highly recommend Crucible of War for the best account I know of of his experiences on the frontier. Its right at the beginning of that well regarded history of the Seven Year's War. I do not think it an exaggeration to believe that he was indispensable to the early survival of our country. His courage and humility made him the ideal pick for Commander of the Continental Army. What good fortune that he was elected (thanx John Adams). Then he retired, which amazed George III. Then his self effacing wisdom guided the creation of the most well conceived political document ever. His spirit of compromise and accomodation was vital, I think in the blend of populism and noblesse oblige which is at the heart of our continuing republic. And he could have been cut off at any of a number of harrowing crossroads in his life. What a miracle.

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  6. I'm a firm believer in the "great man" theory that particular individuals can make decisive contributions to history, Jack. If you ever pen an homage to Washington, I'd be happy to publish it, or re-publish it, here...

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  7. Dr. Waddy: Thanx very much for that kind offer. Its so redeeming to think of lives so well lived, like those of Washington or Saint John Paul II. To think that we benefit to this day from Washington's good judgement (don't know enough about the Convention to know if he had a direct hand in the establishment of the Electoral College but its characteristic, I think, of his pragmatic idealism.)

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  8. I have no doubt that, if circa the Constitutional Convention one had been taking bets on the young American Republic surviving for ten years, let alone two hundred, the odds would have been prohibitive! What the Founders achieved was incredible. How they did it, I must confess, is way outside my area of expertise.

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  9. Dr. Waddy: My wonderful Shakespeare professor theorized that the Bard's works could have been written and popularized only in Elizabethan England or Periclean Athens. He thought that was because both civilizations were aglow with optimism,confidence and opportunity. The standard of living in the parts of colonial America long settled by Europeans (eg. Mass.) was arguably the highest in the world in 1775. Land, the possession of which was wealth unparalleled, was available (tragically though, to our everlasting shame now) and in theretofore unimaginable amounts. In Europe, it had simply not been available to most. Voltaire had been the catalyst for a flowering of intellect characterized by a burgeoning sophisticated reading public, captivated by the Enlightenment, of which the founding fathers were a part.(I know none of this is news to you, I state it simply to make my views clear). Just imagine being such a person and having an opportunity to found a nation on principles you had come to revere! The ambience might have been as my Shakespeare professor thought was as vital and unique as to have been necessary for the generation of those nonpareil works of literature - a time perhaps impossible to reproduce but real enough - our country is its product.

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  10. Of course you're right, Jack -- circumstances made the young United States possible, but I'm still amazed that the possibility became fact. Yes, the Founding Fathers were immersed in a culture that made democracy feasible. What's striking, though, is how they crafted such a diverse and disparate land into a "nation". Granted, it almost fell apart in 1861-65, but I give them a lot of credit for achieving the necessary compromises...

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