Thursday, April 26, 2007

Electoral College

Democracy means "rule by the people" a.k.a. self-government by the many. But there is more to it than that: "To help further clarify the definition of democracy, we add three additional benchmarks drawn from both the scholarly literature and popular understandings about democracy. These benchmarks are popular sovereignty, political equality, and political liberty." (from The Struggle For Democracy, 7th ed.)

Of those three defining terms, I would like to discuss political equality. Political equality is the idea that each person carries the same weight political decision making, such as voting. The voice's of various peoples are equal.

If each vote counted equally, then the person who receives the most votes wins. It is so simple, right?

Wrong! In the 200o election, Al Gore won 48.38% of the votes (50,999,897) and George W. Bush won 47.87% of the votes (50,456,002). Next was Ralph Nader, Patrick J. Buchanan, etc. (Federal Elections 2000: Presidential Popular Vote Summary Table)

Who became President of the United States of America, though? Mr. #2: George W. Bush.

Why is that? Because we have this awful thing called the electoral college.

I am not saying that Gore is better than Bush or vice versa. I am saying that if each vote doesn't hold the same weight, than we do not have political equality. If we do not have political equality, than we cannot honestly call the US of A a democracy.



This post is dedicated to Mary. Because while I am still largely politically apathetic, I think it will make her happy that I'm taking an interest in something.


Anonymous said...

I believe the Electoral College was set up to provide equal voting across our country. If the majority of the population lived in large cities then the candidates would/could just focus on hopes of getting their many, many votes. The rest of the population (eg. rural states) would/could be ignored, as well as their issues. The Electoral College equalizes the playing field between the states. Colleen

Anonymous said...

Bad logic Tiffster. The electoral college was installed for many reasons, not the least of which was keeping populous states from bullying rural ones (those founding framers sure did appreciate their farmers) The electoral college has proven time and again to be a good compromise between competing interests, lending weight to populous states without making their advantage totally overwhelming. If not for the electoral college, our country might not even exist right now.

Removing the electoral college at this time would coarsen political discourse, as every highly partisan district in the union would be tempted to finagle, manipulate, and outright cheat for it’s respective party. Chaos would rule.

Also, these United States constitute a Representative Republic, not a Democracy. If this were a Democracy, you would have to personally vote on every law that passed. I would suggest your time would be better spent reading the Federalist Papers as opposed to your "Struggle For Democracy" textbook.

Anonymous said...

By and large, I might also suggest you avoid typing things like ... we have this awful thing called the... when discussing our government. The Constitution, Bill Of Rights, etc. were not slapped together in a day, there wasn't anything put in place without some form of reasoning behind it. You may not agree with aspects, but at least treat the subject with the dignity it deserves. Otherwise you risk sounding like a valley girl discussing astrophysics. Unless you were being scarcastic, in which case..... kudos.

Andrew, duh! said...

Hmm...the only thought I have is since when have democracies been measured by political equality (at least since Athens anyway)? The one person one vote thing is iffy to me at best too, but that's because I'm a wouldbe monarchist at heart (as long as I get to appoint the monarch, anyway,;-) ). In spite of my lack of intimate knowledge of the Federalist Papers and other things as noted by some faceless entity, the electoral college was at least to some extent designed with the thought that essentially, the common man didn't know what was best for him, and that if people elected a bunch of consciensious (sp?) "electors", those smart guys in the pointy hats would then elect the best man for the job as president (kinda rings true to me, but only cuz most of the then elected electors share roughly the same worldview as myself). Incidentally, Senators were for a while elected by state legislatures, rather than by the people at large, once again reflecting at least to my limited understanding, the "Founding Fathers"'s intent to let smart guys run the country, rather than a 'one person, one vote' mob rule kind of thing that would seem to be the end result of Political equality, at least as I understand you defining it. In such case, I for one and am quite afraid of "all voices being equal." Call it the fear that "while persons may be quite intelligent in and of themselves, people (the mob) are quite stupid and will allow themselves to be led into all sorts of blunders and worse by the right marketing machine."

Tokyo Pink said...

I can lend you the Federalist papers and some other good essays from my gov't class if you like. After I take my exam, I never want to see them again.

Miscellaneous From Missy said...

Wow. I learned something, and I'm impressed by all of your wordy readers! I may borrow TP's study materials from you when you're through with them!


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