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Electoral College 101

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by bigyellowjimmy, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. bigyellowjimmy

    bigyellowjimmy 1/2 ton status

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    An interesting short article from the Weekly Standard about an important little known part of our great Democracy. Enjoy.

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    Here's why the Electoral College is important, no matter which party it helps:

    (1) America is a big country, and when it comes to methods of governance, size matters. It's fine for a small country, like Israel or Sweden, to have a relatively turbulent democracy because their size allows for the relatively quick correction of legislative mistakes. Imagine what governing America would be like with a parliamentary system where 18 different political parties were constantly shifting alliances and calling for votes of confidence. It would be a mess. Because of our size, we need the relatively strong system we have: An executive who serves four years at a stretch and a bicameral legislature which serves in two- and six-year stretches. This system modulates the intensity of political change automatically--which is a good thing.

    (2) But that check on the pace of our politics isn't enough. The second engine governor on the line is our two-party system. The two party system is enormously important, because, instead of having an entire galaxy of single-issue parties--the green party, the anti-abortion party, the stem-cell party, the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats, etc.--we force all of these issues into the main corpus of our two parties. These two giant organisms digest the issues, moderate the extremists, and present fairly middle-of-the-road opposing views to the electorate, allowing the body politic to decide what it thinks. (Yes, America has had third parties, but they have always either been so strong that they forced one of the two parties out, or so weak that they soon withered away.)

    (3) The Electoral College is the guarantor of this two-party system. Because of the winner-take-all format in the states, and the sublimating of the popular vote, the Electoral College all but guarantees that America will have only two political parties. No third party can compete in the Electoral College the way it can in the straight popular vote: In 1992, for instance, Ross Perot garnered 19 percent of the popular vote, but won not a single Electoral Vote.

    (4) People who disparage the Electoral College claim that it is an anti-democratic institution, but in actuality, it is a breakman on our democracy. It helps push all of our politics toward the center. It is a moderating force which helps dampen the more extremist and passionate fringes which sometimes seek to sway a democracy. I don't know about you, but I'm all for moderating forces in a country with 260 million people and the world's most powerful military.

    The Electoral College is yet another gift from our Founding Fathers; a precious, ingenious contraption which has stood us in excellent stead for more than two centuries. We would be fools to meddle with it for cheap, temporary, political advantage.
     
  2. sickquad

    sickquad 1/2 ton status

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    Good article, didn't realize the checks and balances the system accomplishes against extremist third parties.
     
  3. Thunder

    Thunder 3/4 ton status

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    Without the Electorial college the most populous states would control the presidential election. Canidates would campain on issues based on the needs of those states. The rest of the nation be dammed. Could you imagine how bad of shape USA would be in if California and New York picked the president every election?

    The electoral college keeps things in balance. It empoweres states with small populations so that even a state with only a few electors can have a major influence on a national elections. It forces presidential canadates to consider the needs of the nation as a whole. Instead of pandering to the needs of a few big cities.
     

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