Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Yes, the Electoral College is a Constitutional Creation, but the Constitution has been amended.

I think the real issue isn't can the Electoral College be changed or abolished, but WHY hasn't it been abolished.  It has already been changed by the 12th Amendment, which means that change is indeed possible.
In case you need to have proof for how this really happened.

The process of states appointing senators was replaced by direct election by the 17th Amendment.

On the other hand, there is more talk about spurious "Russian influence" leading to Trump being president than actual discussion of the electoral college and how it distorts the results of the vote.

On the other hand, the reason the 17th Amendment was adopted was that there was media outcry about the corruption surrounding the appointment of Senators, especially after William A. Clark's bribing of the Montana State legislature came to light.

On the other hand, any discussion of the failures of the electoral college seem to be arcane or on blogs like this one. It is not the stuff the media feeds upon.

It is better to portray the US populace as being fools who would have elected Trump than to point out his victory was not from the democratic process. Instead it came from an arcane institution which few people understand.

The real issue isn't can it be changed, since it has been changed in the past. No, the real issue is can popular opinion be swayed in such a way that the system IS changed.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

What exactly IS a wasted vote

If someone loses with nearly 3 million more popular votes than her opponent, would one more vote really have made a difference?

Despite what the mass, mainstream media would like to have people believe: my decision to vote for Jill Stein was not totally based on Hillary Clinton being the "Democratic party" nominee.

First off, Bernie Sanders' running in the primary showed that process to be a sham. Not that I couldn't have guessed since the primaries were pretty much settled by the time I could vote in them. My critique of that system would be another post in and of itself.

There are other issues in the system of US elections which show it is neither a democracy or a republic. And threatening to overthrow the government shows one doesn't believe in either system. Again, a whole different post.

Now I see people like Chuck Schumer and Joe Liberman applauding Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem: Can I support the Democratic party if it wants to prop up the REAL rogue Middle Eastern State?

I support the Palestinian right of return, which is sanctioned by international law. Yet, the two US parties have failed to do anything about this issue.

Voting for Clinton based solely on the fact that she was a woman and not Trump would have been a protest vote. Instead, I saw the possibility of Clinton having a landslide victory against Trump as a reason to vote for a party I truly supported.

And she won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, which is not an insignificant number. The fact that was the case, but is buried behind "Russian interference" in the US election makes me sad. That is the only drawback to having voted the way I did.

The two party system has a lock on the US political climate to the point that those of us with alternative opinions are shut out of the debate.

No, my one vote was not wasted, but I believe it would have really been wasted had I voted for one of the duopoly candidates.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Direct Election of U.S. Senators, The Electoral College, and republicanism.

For those of you who still keep harping on "republic, not a democracy" despite both systems having the characteristic of choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.

 The Constitution not only provided for what would become the electoral college; it also made it so that senators were elected by state legislatures, not popularly elected. Getting rid of that provision was unlike the electoral college in that it went away quickly with the 17th Amendment, which brought about the direct election of senators.

Maybe that was because the appointment system was much more obvious in its abuse.

William A. Clark was an American politician and entrepreneur, involved with mining, banking, and railroads. Although one could argue that calling him a politician was a bit of a stretch. That's because Clark's long-standing dream of becoming a United States Senator resulted in scandal in 1899 when it was revealed that he bribed members of the Montana State Legislature in return for their votes.

Clark handed out envelopes with anywhere from $1,000-$3,000 dollars to the state legislators during the legislative session where he was appointed senator. According to the US Senate report on the investigation into this matter:
On April 23, 1900, after hearing extensive testimony from ninety-six witnesses, the committee returned a report unanimously concluding that William Clark was not entitled to his seat. The testimony detailed a dazzling list of bribes ranging from $240 to $100,000. In a high-pressure, well-organized scheme coordinated by Clark's son, Clark's agents had paid mortgages, purchased ranches, paid debts, financed banks, and blatantly presented envelopes of cash to legislators.
Clark's response in regard to his bribery of the Montana legislature is supposed to have been, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale."

Bottom line was that there was a sense that senatorial elections were "bought and sold", changing hands for favours and sums of money rather than because of the competence of the candidate. Between 1857 and 1900, the Senate investigated three elections over corruption, a number that included the investigation of Clark.

The Electoral college is much more problematic in that most people don't understand it and how it distorts the electoral process. Distortion of the elections from being free and fair means that one can't really argue that  the electoral college is somehow a "republican institution". If anything, republicanism would require its abolition.

And it can be done since senators are no longer appointed by the states. The Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution changed that and established the popular election of United States Senators by the people of the states. The amendment supersedes Article I, §3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution, under which senators were elected by state legislatures. It also alters the procedure for filling vacancies in the Senate, allowing for state legislatures to permit their governors to make temporary appointments until a special election can be held.

The Constitution can be amended and changed to go with the times. It's time the electoral college went the way of legislators choosing senators.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

The right to vote in the US

It would seem odd that a country which is so proud of its democratic process and wants to impose that on "dictatorial" nations that it has no affirmative right to vote. I want to remind you of the characteristics of both a republic and a democracy before you start on the "republic not a democracy" bullshit:
  1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections;
  2. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life;
  3. Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and
  4. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
There is NO difference between the two in modern political thought: well short of republics not having aristocracy.

Anyway, there is no affirmative right to vote. There are amendments to the U.S. Constitution that prohibit discrimination based on race (15th), sex (19th) and age (26th), but that's kind of meaningless if everybody is excluded.

On the other hand, a right to vote is a cornerstone in international law, Significant international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and regional agreements such as the American Convention on Human Rights, enshrine citizens' claim to universal and equal suffrage. The most important of these documents is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. It recognises the integral role that transparent and open elections play in ensuring the fundamental right to participatory government. Article 21 states that:
Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedures.
The problem here is that US law hasn't caught up with the rest of the world, despite the US having been signatory to some of these agreements, which means they would be constitutional law under Article VI.

Perhaps the situation would be different in the US if there was recognition for this right.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

You think when you vote, you get to pick your leaders… right?

There is also the Gerrymander to thwart election choice.

Stop with the "republic not a democracy" shit since that is pretty much meaningless.

Especially when some elections don't have ANY candidate choice. That is the elections have no candidates from parties that can't win.

A recap for people who want to parrot the "republic not a democracy" bullshit. There is NO difference between the two in modern political thought: well short of republics not having aristocracy. Here are the characteristics of both systems.
  1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections;
  2. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life;
  3. Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and
  4. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
The French Revolution pretty much proved the founders WRONG about the benefits of a republic over a democracy.

Can you say "the Terror"?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Why I cited "Hillary Clinton's popular vote margin is meaningless in every way (except pithy tweets)"

There are a bunch of good reasons to have mentioned that in my last post.

First off, it doesn't really contradict any of my argument. In fact, it pretty much makes my point: the electoral college is undemocratic. Toss in that Hillary Clinton ran a campaign that was better for first past the post than one where the result will be determined by an undemocratic institution unique to US politics.

The folks who want to tell me I somehow wasted my vote by voting for Jill Stein don't understand the plethora of reasons WHY I voted the way I did. One of the major factors was that the US system of elections needs to change.

I would have been far more pissed off had I voted for Clinton to have her lost in the manner she lost to Trump. Adding to her large margin of the popular vote only to see her lose would have been a wasted vote. Instead I voted for someone I believed in.

And, no, I probably wouldn't have held my nose and voted for another Clinton.

Too many things need to change in the US system of elections and blaming everybody and everything except for the real issues that led to Clinton losing only turns me off the discussion.

Unfortunately, the person who wrote the post doesn't really understand how the electoral college skews the vote so that a minority of states actually determine who will be president.[1]  That is true to the extent that it is theoretically possible for 11 States to determine who will be president. Take this quiz for an eye opener on how undemocratic the electoral college happens to be.

So much for the big states not being able to overrule the smaller ones.  That is one of the most bullshit reasons to keep the electoral college. Seriously, anyone who makes that argument needs to take the quiz to see how wrong they are. The only thing the electoral college does is distort the results of the presidential election.

In the all-or-none Electoral College system, the importance of each individual vote is magnified in closely-contended states. That's why, as the election approaches, some states get far more attention from the candidates, both in terms of visits and local advertising dollars spent. If we had a popular vote election, the candidates would likely spend most of their time and energy in the most populous states, supplemented by national advertising. We'll leave it to others - and there is no shortage of opinions - to debate which system is best.

So, no, the electoral college does not result in a "national" election. If anything, it results in states being totally neglected for the states that are considered "battlegrounds". Clinton took Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin for granted to the point that she totally ignored Wisconsin. I heard anecdotally that Democratic Get out the Vote volunteers in Pennsylvania actually made calls to Trump supporters!

“It’s is nothing short of malpractice that her campaign didn’t look at the electoral college and put substantial resources in states like Michigan and Wisconsin,” says Democratic pollster Paul Maslin. Naw, they preferred to blame the people who voted green for their fuck ups.

Oh, and the blog where the post about Clinton's margin being insignificant (and how great the electoral college is) was made is called "excess of democracy". I personally do not see a difference of nearly three million popular votes to be insignificant.

But the learned professor seems to ignore that the electoral college has been modified in the past to try and fix it. I would also add that it is unique to the United States, which makes one question its utility. It has demonstrated it does none of the things its proponents claim it does. In fact it pretty much places the election of the president in the votes a few states, increases the regionalism, and has led to deeply polarized electorate.

Bottom line, the US system of elections needs a serious overhaul: not finger pointing and trying to find blame.

  1. John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election, despite winning the popular vote (and thus the electoral votes) of only 23 of the 50 states. Jimmy Carter won 23 states in 1976, but he also won DC, which by then was participating with 3 electoral votes. George W. Bush won 30 states in 2000, despite the closeness of the electoral vote. 

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