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Is the Electoral College Still a Good Idea?

Nov 28, 2011

***Editor's Note:  Viewers reacted to John's comments on the Electoral College...we're  posting his commentary, followed by viewer reaction:

*John's World:

   BEEF PRODUCERS HAVE BEEN TWIDDLING THEIR COLLECTIVE THUMBS, IMPATIENTLY WAITING FOR THEIR LARGEST CUSTOMER - JAPAN - TO LIFT AGE RESTRICTIONS ON IMPORTED BEEF, FULLY OPENING THIS KEY MARKET. IT DOES SEEM TO BE TAKING A LONG TIME TO RESOLVE. BUT TO BE FAIR, PRACTICALLY EVERY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT AROUND THE WORLD HAS FOUND THEIR PROCESSES SLOWED BY RULES AND PROCEDURES DESIGNED TO PROTECT MINORITIES AND INSURE ALL VOICES ARE HEARD.

   HERE IN THE U.S., WE HAVE ARCANE SENATE RULES THAT PERMIT A HANDFUL OR EVEN ONE SENATOR TO BRING THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS TO A HALT. WE CONTINUE THE OUTDATED ELECTORAL COLLEGE SYSTEM THAT A LARGE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS FAVOR ABOLISHING AS A WAY TO PROTECT SMALL STATE INTERESTS. IN SHORT, THE RULES DESIGNED TO PREVENT THE TYRANNY OF A MAJORITY HAVE BEEN CONVERTED INTO PARALYZING AGENTS FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS. THE BOTTOM LINE IS NORMALLY SLOW PROCESSES BECOME GLACIAL. MEANWHILE, THE REST OF THE WORLD IS OPERATING IN NANOSECONDS, AS TRADE AND FINANCE FLIT AROUND THE GLOBE IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE.

   I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO SEES THE MISMATCH HERE. PRESSURES ARE BUILDING FOR WORK-AROUNDS TO AVOID GOVERNMENTAL LOGJAMS OF OUR OWN MAKING. WE SHOULD NOT BE SURPRISED TO SEE THE INFLUENCE OF POWERFUL PLAYERS LIKE LARGE CORPORATIONS OR TECHNOLOGY PROVIDERS GROW SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY CAN STILL WORK IN SOMETHING CLOSE TO REAL TIME. GRADUALLY IT IS DAWNING ON US THAT SLOW GOVERNMENT IS NO GOVERNMENT.

*Viewer Reaction:

 

#1:  The Electoral College is a masterful creation of our Founding Fathers to protect us from a few states controlling the majority of states. It's a protection to rural America, and so are the Senate rules you talked about. Slow-moving federal government was designed by our Founding Fathers. Don't destroy the greatest form of government in the world because of a lack of leadership in Washington that is now trying to duplicate the failed European economic model.
 
Wesley R. Belter
State Representative, North Dakota

 

#2:  The Electoral College isn't a way to protect small states' interest, it is a way to ensure that all states have a say in our government. I thank God our Founding Fathers created the system we have that you referred to as outdated, otherwise Los Angeles and New York City would decide who runs this country and what rules and laws the rest of us live by. A communist country can make laws and policies fast and without debate on the issue. I suggest you take a good look at North Korea before trying to change the Electoral College. I agree our government operates at a snail's pace at times, but faster isn't always better.

Respectfully,
Jeff Church - Ohio beef farmer

#3:  I listened to Thanksgiving Weekend's edition of "John's World" with much dismay.  So our system of government we have used for over 200 years is now "archaic" and we should do away with things like the electoral college?   What is wrong today with our system of government isn't the system, its the PEOPLE we send to Washington, D.C and we ALL share the blame in that since we are the ones who elect the politicians in the first place and then not take them to task for not making the hard decisions needed for our country.  Just imagine a political system where simply majorities rule on every issues...Do you think trade deals would ever be agreed upon that would benefit agriculture over labor unions (much less a group of farm state legislators being able to craft a farm bill when the vast majority of this country has very little to do with agriculture)?  I shudder to think of the relative ease "simply majorities" would have in raising taxes (include John's and my property taxes on our farm land) or installing harsh environmental controls on farming (think Chesapeake watershed or dust regulation). As someone who grew up on a family farm in Iowa and now serves as a Soldier I know how truly great this country is and how blessed we are to be in it.  True times are tough and things like the FTAs take FOREVER to pass, but what is important is that we never stop trying to live up to the ideals our founding fathers instilled in this country and remind our politicians to do what is in the best interest of the country and not themselves or their top campaign donors.  My only hope is that people will realize that EVERYONE will need to sacrifice to get our country back on track. U.S. Farm Report is my favorite farm show and I normally enjoy Mr. Phipps' take on issues, but this week I hope he didn't truly mean what he said.  Joel C. Heinzeroth - Current Army Soldier and Future Oklahoma Rancher

#4:  The “outdated electoral college” is still the best idea we have. The founding fathers did it because they knew about stuffing the ballot box, like was done by the democrat Chicago’s Mayor Daily’s “machine” for many decades and still goes on a little today. The electoral college prevents this by limiting the stuffing effect to only one state. There has been many others like Mass., etc..  I personally think we should hold national elections for all congress, right now we have far too many self interests(PAC’s) that must be ELIMINATED or we will cease to exist as an independent country. All donations to political “causes” needs to be limited to $100 per year for each registered legal voter in the USA! No more PAC’s or legal bribery. I remember when I was young and my father told me about PAC’s “donations”, I quickly flipped to him that it’s bribery and he said “basically, yep”! Forgive me if I was too young to “understand” the game, but I understand how Rome fell too! We are going the way Rome did, only in the information-age we are going far faster!  On a different note, we need to eliminate public employee unions! Public employment was to be a last resort not a lazy man/woman’s way of milking the taxpayer to death!  Good luck to us all!  Les Odgers - Arizona

                             

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COMMENTS (1 Comments)

kohler - PA
With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency -- that is, a mere 26% of the nation's votes.

The Founding Fathers would not endorse the current electoral system. Now 2/3rds of the states and voters are completely politically irrelevant. 9 of the original 13 states are ignored now. Presidential campaigns spend 98% of their resources in just 15 battleground states, where they aren’t hopelessly behind or safely ahead, and can win the bare plurality of the vote to win all of the state’s electoral votes. Now the majority of Americans, in small, medium-small, average, and large states are ignored. Virtually none of the small states receive any attention. None of the 10 most rural states is a battleground state. 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX are ignored. That’s over 85 million voters. Once the primaries are over, presidential candidates don’t visit or spend resources in 2/3rds of the states. Candidates know the Republican is going to win in safe red states, and the Democrat will win in safe blue states, so they are ignored. More than 85 million voters have been just spectators to the general election. States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270 electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don't matter to their candidate.

With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere would be counted equally for, and directly assist, the candidate for whom it was cast.

With national popular vote, with every vote equal, candidates will truly have to care about the issues and voters in all 50 states and DC. A vote in any state will be as sought after as a vote in Florida. Part of the genius of the Founding Fathers was allowing for change as needed. When they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t give us the right to vote, or establish state-by-state winner-take-all, or establish any method, for how states should award electoral votes. Fortunately, the Constitution allowed state legislatures to enact laws allowing people to vote and how to award electoral votes.

The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population of the United States. Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

Any candidate who ignored, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote.

If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

11:32 AM Nov 28th
 
 
 
 
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