Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let's Grow Up, Out of the Electoral College

The Electoral College is a an outdated and cumbersome system created by the Framers of the Constitution for circumstances which no longer exist in our nation.

Here's why they installed it:
Back in the early days of America, there were no cell-phones, internet, TV, or radios. Information was all hand-delivered or passed by word of mouth. Simultaneously, much of the population was living out of constant contact from the greater whole - they were busy hacking out homesteads in the forests of New England, etc. Minds like Ben Franklin's decided that, since not everyone had the time or resources to be politically informed in a timely manner, they would locally select "Electors" whose job it was to research the issues and pick the best President. Which was a brilliant, but short-sighted solution.

We are now in the Information Age. It's getting harder and harder not to know what's going on in the world these days. I can see speeches from every single candidate simply by bringing my laptop to McDonald's (that's right - free Wi-Fi!) or by watching the TV monitors while I fill up at the Shell station. If asked, on election day, who should be president and why, nearly everyone in America would have a somewhat informed answer. We will all have at least heard the candidates' names. We no longer need electors to do the research for us. In fact, the concept of the Electoral College now does more harm than good.

First, and most obviously, abolishing the Electoral College will shake up all the "electioneers'" strategies and force them to earn each vote, rather than having to simply shoot for a majority in a few moderately-populated swing states. This concept turns my stomach. The system doesn't end up electing a President based on how good they'll be for the country - it ends up electing the President who is best at getting elected. And, as we've seen with President Bush Jr., being good at getting elected can at times be mutually exclusive with the ability to improve the nation.

The second reason for halting the use of the Electoral College is that voter turnout will increase, hand in hand with national political interest. Perhaps you sense a logical leap here. Here's how I came to this theory: Imagine yourself a Republican in California, like my parents. You vote for the Republican candidate, who very rarely wins the state. When the candidate doesn't win, your vote ceases to exist. All the electoral votes go to the other candidate, which is the same as if only one person voted and they voted for the Democrat. In the popular vote system, every vote counts. I repeat, EVERY VOTE COUNTS. You can even see the statistics: if 117,384 people vote for Ron Paul, and you're one of them, you will see one of those numbers as being representative of your opinion. This is a very important point, and is critical in giving our population a sense of power within our government. If I know that my vote will add to my candidate's count no matter what, I feel the importance of my vote. If I'm pretty sure that my vote won't affect the results of the election at all (which I have always felt being a voter in California), then I won't want to vote. Anyone feel me?

Current events surrounding the issue:
- Bush Jr. lost the popular vote and won the election and no one did a thing about it except to whine a little bit.

- Republicans, suffering the embarassment of the publicly corrupt Bush Administration among other political party fouls, are pushing to break up the electoral votes in California. Democrats hate this idea because they are rightly calling it a cheap trick to try to win votes. I, personally, love the idea. Firstly, I have no fear of a Republican winning the upcoming election - with or without California. Secondly, if they push through this legislature (albeit with dishonest intent), it will be easier to call the rest of the nation to do the same.

1 comment:

Gretchen said...

Here's the catch... This legislation breaks up California's ELECTORAL VOTES. It doesn't dismantle the electoral college in any way.

It will still allow for the opinions of 36,000,000+ people living in CA to be whittled down to 50+ votes.

"Down with the electoral college!", I say, "Down!".

Unfortunately, in my eyes, the legislation in question is just a manipulation of an archaic system, breaking up the vote of the most powerful voting state in the union - which will likely vote blue - in order for republicans to eek out a bit of that power.

AND, I say, we need to maintain some consistency. If different parts of CA are to be treated as individual voting states in this next election, then do they also inherit other state powers within government? Are we breaking up California's government influence all together? No. If we are going to reform the electoral college in this way, where congressional districts count their votes independently, then it needs to be an 'across the board' nationwide reform. Texas is the next top dog in voting influence, historically a red state. How would republicans feel about breaking up its electoral votes? Let's think consistency and fairness.

The system is old and lame, let's reform it so that each one of the 300,000,000 votes in this nation count! Let's not toy around with manipulating nonsense in order to favor certain groups.