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Where's the stage? Spurious Generalities => Politiw00kchat => Topic started by: ytowndan on October 21, 2012, 04:15:32 AM

Title: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on October 21, 2012, 04:15:32 AM
The idea of going to a direct/popular vote has been pretty popular for quite some time now.  Gallup began asking the question in the 1940's and, since then, the majority of people want to go to a direct vote.  However, I'm curious about your feelings on a system that would, essentially, end the total dominance of our two major parties and give us more choices. 

Direct voting systems include; plurality-voting (winner-takes-all, whether he/she gets an absolute majority or not), two-round voting (if a candidate doesn't win an absolute majority, another "runoff" election is held between the top two remaining candidates), and instant-runoff voting (a ranking system, where we rank the candidates in order of our preference).  Plurality and two-round voting doesn't solve the problem of vote-splitting, so it wouldn't be optimal.  Instant-runoff voting is superior for the following four reasons.  First, we rank the candidates as "first choice", "second choice", etc., so it eliminates the idea of "a vote for a is really just a vote for b".  Second, our voter turnout sucks as it is, so imagine how shitty it would be if we made everyone show up twice (not to mention the cost of an additional election).  Third, it gives us an absolute majority, so we won't end up with a president that 60% of the country hates.  And, fourth, the nature of IRV drastically decreases the amount of nasty and dirty campaigning, because the more a candidate comes off as an asshole, the less "second choice" votes he/she will receive. 

So, what do you say?
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: Guyute on October 21, 2012, 07:48:35 AM
The electoral college is an antiquated system which prevents many people's votes from counting.   Even a simple % of the vote is the number of electorates you get would be something.   In reality there is no reason in this day and age not to have a straight popular vote.  1 person, 1 vote. 

I hate that if I wanted to vote Romney here in New England it is meaningless or vote Obama in much of the south it is meaningless.   Really? My fate lies in Florida's capable hands every election?
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: mattstick on October 21, 2012, 07:56:07 AM

Parliamentary system or bust.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: Hicks on October 21, 2012, 10:52:11 AM
If Romney wins the popular vote and Obama wins the electoral college, which is looking increasingly likely, I guarantee that this will happen.

In any event, sure, it's a pretty outdated system without much benefit at this point.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: slslbs on October 21, 2012, 10:44:33 PM
^^^
You mean like the way Gore won the popular and W won the electoral on 2000?
The system has got to go- my fear is that too many people of power are too entrenched in it to change.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on October 21, 2012, 10:52:02 PM
First off, +k for the topic (and the 4am post kicking it off).

I voted no because I don't think there is enough evidence to suggest this is a serious problem (much like voter fraud) - in 56 elections this has only happened 4 times and only once in the 28 elections since the turn of the 20th century (I'd point it out but I know you guys are still fighting that battle like the South and the Civil War). Therefore, I don't believe a Constitutional amendment is needed to address a problem that doesn't really exist. And Dan, to your point about ending the two-party dominance (which I TOTALLY support), I just don't see how this change would address that problem. If anything, I think Ds and Rs would be even more motivated to work to limit ballot access for third party candidates and in the end it would come down to the same choice between dogshit and horsecrap.

To Dan's specific points:

Plurality and two-round voting doesn't solve the problem of vote-splitting, so it wouldn't be optimal.

Agreed, both systems seem like a train wreck in waiting given the public's already low level of general interest in the political system. And as you say below, if less than 2/3rds of eligible voters turned out in 2008 (the highest in 40 yrs), good luck trying to get more than half the population coming back for a second (and do we really want to put up with even the potential for a couple more months of campaigning and political ads?).

First, we rank the candidates as "first choice", "second choice", etc., so it eliminates the idea of "a vote for a is really just a vote for b".

Seems to me that a large portion of the country would just vote for the same candidate they otherwise would (D or R) and not put very much thought into anything else. You may get people who are firmly committed to one of the two parties voting for all the other minor candidates and then the opposite major party just to be dicks, but in general, I don't think many, perhaps most would take the time to learn about multiple candidates and make more informed judgments about them than they do now.

Third, it gives us an absolute majority, so we won't end up with a president that 60% of the country hates.

I'm not sure I follow this: wouldn't the ranking system have to be given declining weights (i.e., 10=first choice, 9=second, etc.)? If so, it there were enough parties on the ballot (but as I said above, I'm skeptical of even that), couldn't you still have scenarios where the winner didn't receive an absolute majority?

Also, why should the public's feeling as POTUS depend on his popular vote percentage? Does the fact that I voted for Obama in 2008 preclude me from disliking him now (I wouldn't use "hate", but certainly STRONG discontent)? I mean, would people who voted for W as their second (or third or last) choice be any less likely to hate him in the absence of this system?

And, fourth, the nature of IRV drastically decreases the amount of nasty and dirty campaigning, because the more a candidate comes off as an asshole, the less "second choice" votes he/she will receive.

Disagree, I think it would lead to a lot more cutthroat campaigning, especially by the two major parties who would almost be incentivized to work together to prohibit or delegitimize minor party candidates to maintain their stranglehold on the process. Once they "established" that the minor parties were totally insane, they could get back to the civilized and serious business of Big Bird and debt clocks.

Overall, I think until people begin to seriously get behind third party candidates (cough...Gary Johnson...cough), it will be difficult to break the two party system (although the fact that more people would rather register as Independents than either D or R tells me the level of frustration with both parties is a real thing). But that's why I don't understand the disillusionment with the "Tea Party" faction of the GOP. I'm not saying I agree with many of their stated positions (which more often than not belie the small gov't principles they purport to advocate, most of which I DO agree with). The Tea Party, if nothing else, has provided a model of how to affect change within the system. To me, one of OWS' (many) crowning failures was that they chose to occupy everything rather than following the Tea Party's lead and trying to find and elect candidates (either D or R although we all know which they'd be) who would represent the causes they supported.

I hate that if I wanted to vote Romney here in New England it is meaningless or vote Obama in much of the south it is meaningless.   Really? My fate lies in Florida's capable hands every election?

This is the only cogent reason I have heard for going to a popular vote. If people are disenfranchised because their vote doesn't matter based on their location, that is an actual problem. But is that enough of a reason to change the Constitution to "fix" a problem which, as noted above, has only happened 4 times in our history? That I'm not so sure about.

I agree the EC made more sense before the 17th amendment when the 3 bodies were elected by 3 methods with 3 different terms for what I think were legitimate reasons (House/popular vote/2 yrs; Senate/state legislatures/6 yrs; POTUS/EC/4 yrs). But since that system has already been blown up there's definitely not as compelling a reason to maintain the EC (other than, as mentioned, more often than not it works out). Although I do take offense to the fact that amending the Constitution to go to a popular vote for POTUS is seen as a sane and reasonable approach (the EC is "antiquated," as you say) whereas repealing the 17th is a crazy John Birch radical idea. (for twatts, who's gonna love that answer and who asked me about this a ways back: here's a liberal law professor saying that while he doesn't support the idea, we should stop pretending that it's only lunatics who support it and that the apocalyptic warnings of corruption are, at best, a bit overblown (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-18/take-the-senate-away-from-voters.html)).

Parliamentary system or bust.

LOL. Because it's working out so well in Greece, and Italy, and UK. We know, everything is better in Canada. Unless, of course, you value free speech. Or property rights. Or pretty much anything that goes along with living in a free society. Or if you just don't want your professional hockey and baseball teams to suck ass.

If Romney wins the popular vote and Obama wins the electoral college, which is looking increasingly likely, I guarantee that this will happen.

Increasingly likely? Can I get some of that action? I'll give you hella odds.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: twatts on October 22, 2012, 01:31:27 AM
Too drunk...  Bur here it goes...

Electoral College:  I'm actually curious as to why no one really talks about who is on it, or how it functions...  Especially after Chads in FLA...  But it is a last "wall" between "democratic" popular vote and "republic" representative vote...  We do not vote in any Federal Election, per se.  We vote in State Elections for our Federal Representatives that go onto vote for us...  Would it be advisable to give Congress the power to "elect" the Exexcutive???  Then we would have more of a Parlimentary system???  Would it give too much power to the Legistalture in the Balance of Power???  Debate...

Two Party System:  It it a correslation or causation per above???  I think our system makes it easy to be "for it" or "against it", but is there really any difference in the Parlimentary system???  BOth ways, there are those in the Minority and those in the Majority Ruling...  Look at the various faction in both parties we ahve in the US now...

Drunk...

Terry
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on October 22, 2012, 02:32:13 AM
Jimbo, I don't have your awesome quoting skills, so I'll just try to address your points in one post.   :-P

First, I completely disagree that the EC is not really a problem.  A 5% failure rate is unacceptable for a democracy electing its leader.  Also, it unfairly gives some voters way more of a "vote" than others based on the state in which they live.  Not to mention that it's a factor in voter apathy for those in a solid state ("I live in a red/blue state, my guy will win/lose either way, why show up?").  Direct election won't totally solve apathy, some are just apathetic towards politics in general.  But getting off this current system will no doubt increase voter turnout.  These are just a few reasons why it's definitely a real problem. 

In response to your question about absolute majority with IRV, I'll try my best to explain it.  IRV actually guarantees that an absolute majority will be reached through a process of elimination (if need be).  Say the ballot has, from "left" to "right", Jill Stein, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Gary Johnson.  Being the type of liberal that I am, I'm gonna mark Jill Stein as my number one choice (because I know, one way or another, I'm not throwing my vote away).  I'll then make Obama my second choice, Romney my third, and Johnson my last (or I could just leave him off if I choose (you don't have to rank all of them if you don't want to)).  I then cast my ballot, along with the rest of the nation. 

My fictitious results are in. 
Obama - 45%
Romney - 44%
Stein - 6%
Johnson - 5%

Obama won, but he didn't win with an absolute majority.  So the first round of instant-runoff takes place.  The candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated.  Which is Johnson.  But, everyone who made Johnson their number one pick still gets a say.  They didn't throw their vote away (like they would have under any other system).  All Johnson votes now get transferred to the voters' second choices.  Just to make it simple, let's say that every one of them had Romney as their second choice.  So, we transfer the 5% from Johnson to Romney.  He now has 49%.  Romney is now winning but, again, not by an absolute majority.  And so begins round two of the instant-runoff.  Bye-bye, Jill.  Again, we'll keep it simple and say that all of the Green Party voters had Obama as number two.  So we move them over to Obama.  Now, Obama has 51% and Romney has 49%.  We have a winner by absolute majority.  Of course, if one of them has an absolute majority from the get go, then it just ends there with no elimination/transfer round(s) needed. 

It's not just a direct, democratic, voting system that will always produce a winner by absolute majority.  It's a system where everyone can truly vote the way they feel, without having to vote strategically in fear of being a "spoiler" -- like the Nader voters in 2000, or the Perot voters in 1992.  This will open up a new attitude toward the process.  We no longer would have to settle for "the lesser of two evils" if we don't want to.  We can explore third-party policies, totally independent candidates, etc.  Will the more mainstream choices win?  Sure, especially in the beginning.  But, over time, we'll have a system that allows us to better change and evolve our political system.  And that was really my main point.  IRV will allow everyone to look at other options should they so desire.  Options that used to be nothing more than a spoiler would now be a legitimate choice. 
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: mattstick on October 22, 2012, 04:39:15 AM
LOL. Because it's working out so well in Greece, and Italy, and UK. We know, everything is better in Canada. Unless, of course, you value free speech. Or property rights. Or pretty much anything that goes along with living in a free society. Or if you just don't want your professional hockey and baseball teams to suck ass.

A) Someone needs to chill the fuck out and take things less seriously
B) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Charter_of_Rights_and_Freedoms
C) Are the Chicago Cubs Canadian-based? The Pirates? All the other shitty pro sports teams?
D) Don't even bother answering, you're on my Ignore list - congrats.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: VDB on October 22, 2012, 09:54:15 AM
Dan, I'm with you on this -- perceived voter disenfranchisement and apathy in non-swing states is enough reason to ditch the EC, as far as I'm concerned. This could also benefit other races on the ballot by making them more competitive if supporters of the minority party (in that given state) are more encouraged to turn out.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: mbw on October 22, 2012, 10:23:41 AM
this is what happens when a third party candidate who is on the ballot in 38 states shows up to a presidential debate

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/green-party-candidates-arrested-at-presidential-debate/

(http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/ap_jill_stein_kb_121016_wblog.jpg)
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on October 22, 2012, 10:30:17 AM
twatts - The amount of sense you make is inversely correslated with the time of your post and how drunk you are.I would make you my chief exexecutive any time.

Jimbo, I don't have your awesome quoting skills, so I'll just try to address your points in one post.   :-P

CTRL-C / CTRL-V. You're welcome :wink:

First, I completely disagree that the EC is not really a problem.  A 5% failure rate is unacceptable for a democracy electing its leader.

That's cool, but it's important to note that 3 of those 4 times the US looked substantially different than it does today; it's only happened once in the modern political era. Maybe with growing levels of political polarization it will become a more dominant trend, but for now it seems to me more like a fairly large endevor to enact a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist (again, like voter ID laws).

Also, it unfairly gives some voters way more of a "vote" than others based on the state in which they live.  Not to mention that it's a factor in voter apathy for those in a solid state ("I live in a red/blue state, my guy will win/lose either way, why show up?").

Like I said to Guyute, I agree that location-based disenfranchisement would be the strongest case for going to a popular vote. I am just saying that I am unaware of any studies showing that this indirect voter suppression would have any effect on the outcome of the election. I mean, are there enough Romney supporters in CA or MA or NY or Obama voters in the South that stay home because they live in states that might tip the election in the others' favor? Without seeing some data, I find that to be somewhat of a stretch (but if you have a link, I'd love to read it). To me, this seems more like a solution backing its way into the problem rather than the other way around as it should be.

But shit, what do you care, you live in OH, the only state that ever existed every 4 yrs. Your vote counts for like 4 bvazs.

Direct election won't totally solve apathy, some are just apathetic towards politics in general.  But getting off this current system will no doubt increase voter turnout.  These are just a few reasons why it's definitely a real problem.

Agreed voter turnout is a problem, I just have a hard time believing people aren't voting because they don't like their choices; I think it's more likely people don't like politics/politicians in general. But, to your original point, if a new voting system would give people more choices and power over their gov't, then I would unequivocally support it. More choice ALWAYS equals better choice.

Thanks for the illustration of the IRV process; that definitely clears it up a lot to me (although I probably should have realized it was a runoff given the word is in the name). But still, I'm not sure it would be as easily administered as you make it seem; we have a hard enough time counting votes between 2 people, let alone trying to record and order multiple votes for millions of people. It seems like it would be subject to problems in the face of gross incompetence (which I think we can all agree is rampant in the political process) and ripe for manipulation by the dominant parties and special interests. So in my view, the system seems to fail a (very cursory) cost-benefit analysis.

However, the fact that people are thinking about ways to address these issues (increasing voter turnout, addressing disenfranchisement, getting people more involved in the political process), is IMO undoubtedly a good thing.

LOL. Because it's working out so well in Greece, and Italy, and UK. We
know, everything is better in Canada. Unless, of course, you value
free speech. Or property rights. Or pretty much anything that goes
along with living in a free society. Or if you just don't want your
professional hockey and baseball teams to suck ass.

A) Someone needs to chill the fuck out and take things less seriously
B) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Charter_of_Rights_and_Freedoms
C) Are the Chicago Cubs Canadian-based? The Pirates? All the other
shitty pro sports teams?
D) Don't even bother answering, you're on my Ignore list - congrats.

A) I assume you are talking about yourself, since I was pretty obviously joking. But, let me just say (for the 4 people left not ignoring me), I really don't take this shit as seriously as you think I do. Just because I like to talk politics doesn't mean I can't crack a joke every once in a while (or, in my case, more often thatn not). Shit, the fact that I like talking this shit should be evidence enough of my warped sense of humor.
B) I didn't read the Charter, but we have one of those too; doesn't mean the politicians abide by it.
C) You made Chicago cry. Pittsburgh didn't care because they know they suck (doesn't matter 6 Super Bowls, brah).
D) This is the best news I've heard in a long time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcasm). But seriously, I just wish I knew whether it was the OWS crack or the fact that I said Canadian hockey teams suck. I bet it was the latter, you don't joke about hockey in Canada.

But, since you can't hear me:

http://youtu.be/leMm4F4NAJ0
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: phil on October 22, 2012, 10:41:19 AM
not sure which side is the douche and which side is the turd sandwhich (romney/douche, obama/turd?) but this is pretty much how I view republicans and democrats at this point.

(http://southparkstudios.mtvnimages.com/shared/characters/non-human/giant-douche-and-turd-sandwich.jpg)
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on October 22, 2012, 10:59:47 AM
not sure which side is the douche and which side is the turd sandwhich (romney/douche, obama/turd?) but this is pretty much how I view republicans and democrats at this point.

Obama's the turd?!? That's racist, phil.

But Romney is CLEARLY the doosh.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on October 22, 2012, 12:09:11 PM
Token NYT conservative dude must read the Paug

http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/can-the-electoral-college-survive/

Quote
Can The Electoral College Survive?

As the prospect of a replay of 2000’s electoral/popular vote split looms up before us, National Review’s Dan Foster argues that conservatives should resist the temptation to join the electoral college’s critics in the event that a Romney popular-vote victory still leaves the Republican nominee a few electoral votes short.

Quote
… if federalism still means anything — and sadly, that’s something of an open question — then the College is as vital as ever. It affirms that we vote as citizens of the several states, not mere residents of arbitrarily drawn administrative districts.

In the words of Tara Ross, one of the College’s most able defenders, the current electoral system means that the president must secure the support of a broad coalition of “heterogeneous entities,” themselves “safe” factions “composed of individuals with a wide variety of interests.” Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland in 1888 because of the latter’s overwhelming strength in the South, but won the presidency with a coalition of states in the Northeast and Midwest and along the Pacific coast. Likewise, when Bush defeated Gore despite losing the popular vote, he did so while winning 30 states.

This is not an argument that generally finds a sympathetic audience on the left. (It’s fair to say that the ranks of National Popular Vote enthusiasts are filled disproportionately with liberals.) But reading it, I immediately thought of how eagerly many liberals, spooked by the recent Gallup tracking polls showing Romney leading by 5 or 6 points among likely voters, seized on the Gallup cross-tabs showing Obama winning narrowly in every region save the South, where he’s getting absolutely crushed. The Gallup poll is almost certainly an outlier, of course, and the odds of Romney riding this kind of South-versus-the-country split to a popular majority and an electoral loss remains mercifully low. But if it actually happened – if the nation’s first black president won re-election in the electoral college, and lost the popular vote only because the South gave his opponent an absolutely historic margin of victory — I think more liberals might suddenly recognize the virtues of requiring would-be presidents to assemble truly national coalitions, and the limits, in a republic as large and diverse as this one, to the legitimacy that certain kinds of narrow popular majorities deserve to confer.

Of course many Republicans, for their part, would suddenly discover the virtues of small-d democracy, the principled conservative defenses of the college notwithstanding. And that kind of all-too-understandable partisan instinct, present on both sides of the aisle, makes me worry that the electoral college can’t long survive if electoral/popular splits start happening much more frequently. It’s one thing to have a system that almost always reflects the will of the majority, and once every hundred years (or fifty, if you believe Sean Trende’s fascinating analysis of the 1960 popular vote) delivers a narrowly countermajoritarian outcome. It’s quite another to have one that delivers countermajoritarian outcomes every twelve years – or worse, leads to the kind of post-election nightmare scenario (a tie in the college plus an Obama popular vote lead) that David Frum imagines here. However much weight we place on state sovereignty and the importance of heterogeneity in party coalitions, we are still ultimately a democratic republic, and a system of presidential elections that seems too flagrantly and frequently anti-democratic simply cannot be sustained.

Again, I believe in the electoral college’s virtues, and it’s stood us in good stead these last two hundred years. But I sometimes fear that it works best when presidential politics produces landslides more often than nail-biters, and that a long period of 50-50, Bush v. Gore-style polarization will make the countermajoritarian scenario a reality too often — which in turn would put the college to a political test it cannot pass.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: rowjimmy on October 22, 2012, 12:32:13 PM
this is what happens when a third party candidate who is on the ballot in 38 states shows up to a presidential debate

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/green-party-candidates-arrested-at-presidential-debate/

(http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/ap_jill_stein_kb_121016_wblog.jpg)

If she didn't get all lawbreaky should could totally have made herself heard by setting up a soap crate down at the local homeless shelter.

FREEDUMB!
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on October 23, 2012, 08:39:35 PM
Haven't gotten enough of the "real" debates? C-SPAN is airing the third party debate tonight at 9pm for the hardcore junkies.

Two party system my ass...

http://www.c-span.org/Events/Third-Party-Presidential-Debate/10737435220/

Quote
Third Party Presidential Debate

Four Third Party Presidential candidates are participating in a debate in Chicago, organized by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation.

The participants will include Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson. The hour and half event is being moderated by former CNN anchor Larry King and Christina Tobin, founder and chair of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on October 23, 2012, 09:27:48 PM
This debate is amazing, fueled by the sheer brilliance/incoherence the inimitable of Larry King.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on October 23, 2012, 10:45:56 PM
Don't worry, there will be another 3rd party debate featuring the top two candidates from this debate. They will be picked by...IRV!!! Somebody in Youngstown is getting paid tonight!!

http://live.freeandequal.org/stream.html
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on October 23, 2012, 11:09:02 PM
Don't worry, there will be another 3rd party debate featuring the top two candidates from this debate. They will be picked by...IRV!!! Somebody in Youngstown is getting paid tonight!!

http://live.freeandequal.org/stream.html

Ha.  Had I known about this, I probably would have watched it. 
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: nab on October 24, 2012, 02:23:02 AM
Having a hard time answering this one because the poll asks one question and begs another.  The main question addresses the answerer's loyalty to the Electoral College system, while the underlying question suggests that abolition of the Electoral College benefits a multi-party system. 


While I support the further democratization of the voting system (and the abolition of the Electoral College), I have the sneaking fear that this culture is stuck on binary answers to multivariate dilemmas.

Many have argued that the current two party system has really evolved into two different flavors of the same system.  I suspect that there may be some truth to that assessment in some arenas.  But the absorption of hardline ethical stances to morally grey issues (pick your poison) continues to drive voters into camps.

The insidious disease in the American electorate is not that they are partisan, the American system has always been partisan, but that disparate and similar  forces have convinced the public that by simply voting they are co-opting an ethical identity that transcends individual action. 

I'd like to believe that a system that benefits the broadcasting of many viewpoints benefits us all in the democratic sense, but my studies into ethnic identity makes me pessimistic about any real change without extra-cultural crisis.           
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on October 24, 2012, 04:59:03 AM
Having a hard time answering this one because the poll asks one question and begs another.  The main question addresses the answerer's loyalty to the Electoral College system, while the underlying question suggests that abolition of the Electoral College benefits a multi-party system. 


While I support the further democratization of the voting system (and the abolition of the Electoral College), I have the sneaking fear that this culture is stuck on binary answers to multivariate dilemmas.

Many have argued that the current two party system has really evolved into two different flavors of the same system.  I suspect that there may be some truth to that assessment in some arenas.  But the absorption of hardline ethical stances to morally grey issues (pick your poison) continues to drive voters into camps.

The insidious disease in the American electorate is not that they are partisan, the American system has always been partisan, but that disparate and similar  forces have convinced the public that by simply voting they are co-opting an ethical identity that transcends individual action. 

I'd like to believe that a system that benefits the broadcasting of many viewpoints benefits us all in the democratic sense, but my studies into ethnic identity makes me pessimistic about any real change without extra-cultural crisis.           

I wasn't trying to falsely imply that by simply abolishing the electoral college it would benefit independent and third-party candidates, nor did I intend for it to be about one's loyalty to the electoral college.  I already know the answer to that question.  As I mentioned, according to the polls, a constitutional amendment abolishing it has been supported by the majority of the nation for a long time now.  Hell, in 1970, we were only a few Senate votes shy of sending a proposed amendment out to the states for ratification.  I think we can assume that the people of the 'paug will reflect the nation's view when it comes to just simply getting rid of the system. 

My question was about replacing it, not with just any old popular vote system (like what's been proposed in the past), but with a system where you wouldn't have to be fearful of throwing your vote away if you truly like a candidate outside of the two mainstream choices.  Or, even worse than just throwing your vote away, being one of the people who helped hand the election to the "greater of two evils".  Most all systems of voting (direct or not) are prone to the spoiler-effect of splitting the vote.  IRV is a solution to that and, by extension, provides the people with a legitimate opportunity to reshape our system.   

I suppose I could have better worded my question and original post.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on October 24, 2012, 11:39:10 PM
+k to nab who usually says what I mean in a much more intellectual way (although you better check those center-right leanings once you get a job; academia is not gonna take kindly to you like that!!)

Don't worry, there will be another 3rd party debate featuring the top two candidates from this debate. They will be picked by...IRV!!! Somebody in Youngstown is getting paid tonight!!

http://live.freeandequal.org/stream.html

Ha.  Had I known about this, I probably would have watched it.

Here you go, for one of your really late nights:
http://www.c-span.org/Events/Third-Party-Presidential-Debate/10737435220-1/

I thought your girl Jill Stein didn't do so well but Rocky Anderson (who agreed with her on basically everything) was pretty strong. I voted for Gary Johnson and Rocky as my top 2 picks in the IRV.

I think we can assume that the people of the 'paug will reflect the nation's view when it comes to just simply getting rid of the system.

Except for the couple of rabble-rousers who voted no.  :wink:

My question was about replacing it, not with just any old popular vote system (like what's been proposed in the past), but with a system where you wouldn't have to be fearful of throwing your vote away if you truly like a candidate outside of the two mainstream choices.

"Wasting your vote is voting for somebody you don't believe in." - Gary Johnson
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on October 25, 2012, 12:58:57 AM
Don't worry, there will be another 3rd party debate featuring the top two candidates from this debate. They will be picked by...IRV!!! Somebody in Youngstown is getting paid tonight!!

http://live.freeandequal.org/stream.html

Ha.  Had I known about this, I probably would have watched it.

Here you go, for one of your really late nights:
http://www.c-span.org/Events/Third-Party-Presidential-Debate/10737435220-1/

I thought your girl Jill Stein didn't do so well but Rocky Anderson (who agreed with her on basically everything) was pretty strong. I voted for Gary Johnson and Rocky as my top 2 picks in the IRV.

I really don't know much about her, to be honest.  As you know, I live in a swing state, so I don't even like tempting myself by learning about these people.  But I did watch it today, and I agree with you.  Anderson and Johnson would have got my #1 and #2 vote as well, had the poll not been closed by the time i got around to it. 
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: nab on October 25, 2012, 01:16:59 AM
+k to nab who usually says what I mean in a much more intellectual way (although you better check those center-right leanings once you get a job; academia is not gonna take kindly to you like that!!)


I got quite enough of academia when I was a grad student.  There is much more money to be made in my field in the private sector if you play your cards right.  I'm employed in the private sector now and  still learning the business (spent my grad school years vetting myself for government employment, unsuccessfully, so far), so I don't expect to rake it in in the near term, but I'm setting myself nicely for the 5 year outlook.   

But, my experiences with "the department" as a grad student were more than enough to convince me that the academic career path is only something I wish to pursue after I'm in a position where I don't have to worry about money, time, or status; which is a kind way of stating that I expect to toy with it after I retire, just to snag that PhD apple off the tree. 

But back to business:

     
I wasn't trying to falsely imply that by simply abolishing the electoral college it would benefit independent and third-party candidates, nor did I intend for it to be about one's loyalty to the electoral college.  I already know the answer to that question.  As I mentioned, according to the polls, a constitutional amendment abolishing it has been supported by the majority of the nation for a long time now.  Hell, in 1970, we were only a few Senate votes shy of sending a proposed amendment out to the states for ratification.  I think we can assume that the people of the 'paug will reflect the nation's view when it comes to just simply getting rid of the system. 

My question was about replacing it, not with just any old popular vote system (like what's been proposed in the past), but with a system where you wouldn't have to be fearful of throwing your vote away if you truly like a candidate outside of the two mainstream choices.  Or, even worse than just throwing your vote away, being one of the people who helped hand the election to the "greater of two evils".  Most all systems of voting (direct or not) are prone to the spoiler-effect of splitting the vote.  IRV is a solution to that and, by extension, provides the people with a legitimate opportunity to reshape our system.   

I suppose I could have better worded my question and original post.


For the record, after reading all the posts in this thread, I know that what you stated here is what you meant. 

Still, the question remains:  Would the abolition of the current voting system, for any voting system,  lead to a more populist, even vetted populist, result?  Or, are we, as an American meta-culture, too invested in a binary system to make any vote counting, or shuffling of democratic the deck, meaningful?   


Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: VDB on November 09, 2016, 03:15:31 PM
Bump!

 :|
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on November 09, 2016, 09:23:40 PM
Ferfuckssake lol
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: VDB on November 09, 2016, 10:33:58 PM
Interesting take here (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/11/09/your-candidate-got-more-of-the-popular-vote-irrelevant/), but if your defense of the EC is "we're not sure," why not just scrap it and remove all doubt?
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: mattstick on November 10, 2016, 03:35:49 PM

Wait... the Electoral College doesn't have to vote for the candidate with the most votes?

https://www.change.org/p/electoral-college-electors-electoral-college-make-hillary-clinton-president-on-december-19?recruiter=553555877

Your system is kinda fucked dudes.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: PIE-GUY on November 10, 2016, 06:38:32 PM

Wait... the Electoral College doesn't have to vote for the candidate with the most votes?

https://www.change.org/p/electoral-college-electors-electoral-college-make-hillary-clinton-president-on-december-19?recruiter=553555877

Your system is kinda fucked dudes.

It's true - they would be breaking zero laws if they voted for anyone other than who they are supposed to represent.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on November 13, 2016, 08:59:29 PM
Maine is leading the way with instant runoff voting!  Too bad they didn't have it in place six years ago, they could have avoided LePage sliding into office with less than half of the vote.  Not to mention, they now have the ability to run serious, qualified third party/independent candidates.  Way to go, Maine!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/maine-ranked-choice-voting_us_581e49bee4b0aac62484dfb8
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: rowjimmy on November 14, 2016, 02:32:22 PM
Maryland approved a measure to have its electors follow popular vote regardless of the statewide result if and only if, enough states to comprise an electoral majority approve similar measures.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/18053715/ns/politics/t/maryland-sidesteps-electoral-college/
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: VDB on November 14, 2016, 03:47:16 PM
I like those state-by-state initiatives as a way to sidestep the huge challenge of changing the constitution to undo the EC. However, something tells me we'll need to see an election where the Republican gets screwed for a change in order for this not to just devolve into a (real or perceived) partisan matter.

Kind of speaking of, here's an interesting theory:
The real reason we have an Electoral College: to protect slave states (http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/12/13598316/donald-trump-electoral-college-slavery-akhil-reed-amar)
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: slslbs on November 14, 2016, 04:15:24 PM
^^
there was an article on Time's web site last week that said the same thing

I don't think we'll see and end to the EC or gerrymandering because the party in power likes to avoid democracy to stay in power.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on November 14, 2016, 05:48:22 PM
I was hoping he'd bring up the fact that slavery is also the main reason we have the abomination that is the US Senate, but that's a different topic for a different time.

I tend to agree with Steve and VDB.  As much as I want to see the EC abolished, those in power because of it will never let it go.  Close to half of the country just got what they wanted because of this flawed system.  We'd be nuts to think they'd willingly give it up now.  Maybe if/when the Republicans get screwed by it we can all come together. 

In the meantime, I'm hoping for momentum with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.  I'm glad Maryland is the latest to get on board.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: rowjimmy on November 14, 2016, 06:05:52 PM
I'm going to be correcting people on this point for four years:
A quarter of the country selected Trump. Not half.

Half of the country didn't vote for a wide variety of reasons that could be said to include a feeling that their vote doesn't matter. (On topic!)

Nearly half of the votes cast did go his way, yes. But that's a significant difference, imo.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on November 14, 2016, 06:53:49 PM
I'm going to be correcting people on this point for four years:
A quarter of the country selected Trump. Not half.

Half of the country didn't vote for a wide variety of reasons that could be said to include a feeling that their vote doesn't matter. (On topic!)

Nearly half of the votes cast did go his way, yes. But that's a significant difference, imo.

Noted, thanks.  And I shall join you on your correction quest from this point forward. 
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on November 15, 2016, 02:44:24 PM
Maryland approved a measure to have its electors follow popular vote regardless of the statewide result if and only if, enough states to comprise an electoral majority approve similar measures.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/18053715/ns/politics/t/maryland-sidesteps-electoral-college/

That's from 2007? Either way, seems like the ultimate abdication in state sovereignty. I wonder how the citizens of reliably blue MD will feel when (not if, when) a Republican wins the popular vote?

Kind of speaking of, here's an interesting theory:
The real reason we have an Electoral College: to protect slave states (http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/12/13598316/donald-trump-electoral-college-slavery-akhil-reed-amar)

Like many components of our founding, the EC may have been borne out of necessity from our country's original sin. However, I disagree that this compromise is indicative of our racist heritage and nothing more. The underlying principles behind the EC are still sound IMO.

First, the EC allows every corner of our country a voice in the election of the president. And whether or not that began as an appeasement to Southern slave-owning states is largely irrelevant since there is just as much reason to continue this tradition today. Take a look at the map below. If you think we are polarized today, how do you think it would look if the presidency was decided by a handful of densely populated areas at the expense of the vast majority of the geography of the country? Voters in these rural areas just voted, overwhelmingly, for the most hated candidate in history (well, the second most hated I guess). It's easy to dismiss these 60M people as ignorant racists, but what I have been trying to point out in the last week is that the majority of them were simply saying "fuck you" to a system that has left them behind (a point a certain senator from VT made quite effectively). Allowing the president to be decided by the major metropolitan areas and no where else would be a kick in the nuts for them from which I  don't see how we come back.

Second (and somewhat related), the EC protects our national unity (as fragmented as that may be) in a way that popular voting does not. Also the EC (along with the Senate) provides an incentive for the federal government to consider policies that work for the entire country and not just the coasts. Now, I'm sympathetic to the "one person, one vote" view that the EC treats a person's vote in Nebraska to be worth more than one in New York. But if California voters feel like their vote is somehow "less" than someone in South Dakota, maybe they should consider their place in our union and whether or not they want to reevaluate that relationship (something that, apparently, has picked up steam in the wake of this election (http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Drive-for-California-secession-gets-bump-from-10609366.php)).

Finally, one of the greatest logical fallacies practiced by proponents is that the election would have worked out EXACTLY the same in a popular voting system. Republicans don't spend time or money in Oregon and New Jersey just like Dems don't go to Oklahoma or Idaho. So you can't compare popular vote totals in the system we currently have for the one you want; change the system, change the score. The Christian conservative in California will be sure to show up in this system. Would that result in greater turnout and thus greater engagement in the political process than we currently have? Maybe. But can you imagine the amount of money candidates would need to compete across all 50 states? I don't see how you can get around the fact that popular voting would lead to an explosion in the incestuous relationship of politicians and their donors.

So, if you want to upend the system that has created the most stable form of governance in the history of civilization - one far that has indisputably been more effective at consistently and peacefully transitioning power from one party to the next than any parliamentary setup - it shouldn't be on the back of an emotional plea of "we were robbed" following a difficult campaign. And it certainly shouldn't be under the guise of "that's racist" as implied by the Vox article. That shit never works out well. See here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2016) for an example.

/rant

(https://mishgea.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/geographic-landslide1.png)
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: rowjimmy on November 15, 2016, 03:01:07 PM
Well, as Trump is going to #draintheswamp, the monied interests won't be involved so we can surely have a pure democratic process, right?


Right?

Whay are you laughing so loud?
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: Hicks on November 15, 2016, 03:21:56 PM
Yes, Trump won a geographic landslide in parts of the country primarily populated by cows.

Seems like a great way to elect our leaders to me. 
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: sunrisevt on November 15, 2016, 03:32:49 PM
Maryland approved a measure to have its electors follow popular vote regardless of the statewide result if and only if, enough states to comprise an electoral majority approve similar measures.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/18053715/ns/politics/t/maryland-sidesteps-electoral-college/

That's from 2007? Either way, seems like the ultimate abdication in state sovereignty. I wonder how the citizens of reliably blue MD will feel when (not if, when) a Republican wins the popular vote?

Kind of speaking of, here's an interesting theory:
The real reason we have an Electoral College: to protect slave states (http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/12/13598316/donald-trump-electoral-college-slavery-akhil-reed-amar)

Like many components of our founding, the EC may have been borne out of necessity from our country's original sin. However, I disagree that this compromise is indicative of our racist heritage and nothing more. The underlying principles behind the EC are still sound IMO.

First, the EC allows every corner of our country a voice in the election of the president. And whether or not that began as an appeasement to Southern slave-owning states is largely irrelevant since there is just as much reason to continue this tradition today. Take a look at the map below. If you think we are polarized today, how do you think it would look if the presidency was decided by a handful of densely populated areas at the expense of the vast majority of the geography of the country? Voters in these rural areas just voted, overwhelmingly, for the most hated candidate in history (well, the second most hated I guess). It's easy to dismiss these 60M people as ignorant racists, but what I have been trying to point out in the last week is that the majority of them were simply saying "fuck you" to a system that has left them behind (a point a certain senator from VT made quite effectively). Allowing the president to be decided by the major metropolitan areas and no where else would be a kick in the nuts for them from which I  don't see how we come back.

Second (and somewhat related), the EC protects our national unity (as fragmented as that may be) in a way that popular voting does not. Also the EC (along with the Senate) provides an incentive for the federal government to consider policies that work for the entire country and not just the coasts. Now, I'm sympathetic to the "one person, one vote" view that the EC treats a person's vote in Nebraska to be worth more than one in New York. But if California voters feel like their vote is somehow "less" than someone in South Dakota, maybe they should consider their place in our union and whether or not they want to reevaluate that relationship (something that, apparently, has picked up steam in the wake of this election (http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Drive-for-California-secession-gets-bump-from-10609366.php)).

Finally, one of the greatest logical fallacies practiced by proponents is that the election would have worked out EXACTLY the same in a popular voting system. Republicans don't spend time or money in Oregon and New Jersey just like Dems don't go to Oklahoma or Idaho. So you can't compare popular vote totals in the system we currently have for the one you want; change the system, change the score. The Christian conservative in California will be sure to show up in this system. Would that result in greater turnout and thus greater engagement in the political process than we currently have? Maybe. But can you imagine the amount of money candidates would need to compete across all 50 states? I don't see how you can get around the fact that popular voting would lead to an explosion in the incestuous relationship of politicians and their donors.

So, if you want to upend the system that has created the most stable form of governance in the history of civilization - one far that has indisputably been more effective at consistently and peacefully transitioning power from one party to the next than any parliamentary setup - it shouldn't be on the back of an emotional plea of "we were robbed" following a difficult campaign. And it certainly shouldn't be under the guise of "that's racist" as implied by the Vox article. That shit never works out well. See here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2016) for an example.

/rant

(https://mishgea.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/geographic-landslide1.png)

While I'm not entirely convinced you're right, that is some sound argument.  :beers:

On the other hand, if I think too hard about the missed opportunities of 2000 & 2016, I'll fucking explode.  :frustrated:
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: rowjimmy on November 15, 2016, 03:34:47 PM
Yes, Trump won a geographic landslide in parts of the country primarily populated by cows.

Seems like a great way to elect our leaders to me.

Someone has to represent the pastures.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: sunrisevt on November 15, 2016, 03:35:48 PM
So, if you want to upend the system that has created the most stable form of governance in the history of civilization - one far that has indisputably been more effective at consistently and peacefully transitioning power from one party to the next than any parliamentary setup - it shouldn't be on the back of an emotional plea of "we were robbed" following a difficult campaign.

Would you raise the same objection to Republicans who attempt to do away with the filibuster in the coming years?
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: Hicks on November 15, 2016, 03:49:10 PM
Yes, Trump won a geographic landslide in parts of the country primarily populated by cows.

Seems like a great way to elect our leaders to me.

Someone has to represent the pastures.

He's literally making bullshit great again. 
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on November 15, 2016, 03:52:25 PM
Well, as Trump is going to #draintheswamp, the monied interests won't be involved so we can surely have a pure democratic process, right?


Right?

Whay are you laughing so loud?

I LOL'd.

So, if you want to upend the system that has created the most stable form of governance in the history of civilization - one far that has indisputably been more effective at consistently and peacefully transitioning power from one party to the next than any parliamentary setup - it shouldn't be on the back of an emotional plea of "we were robbed" following a difficult campaign.

Would you raise the same objection to Republicans who attempt to do away with the filibuster in the coming years?

Absolutely. I believe I have a post somewhere around here about why it was a mistake for Dems to be changing the rules when they were going down that road in '13.

I'll admit I will probably enjoy some guilty pleasure in watching the flip from "do-nothing, obstructionist Republicans" to "virtuous, conscientious objecting Dems," but I think you'll find that I will oppose President Trump (gross) and his merry-men in Congress at least as much as I did the Big O. I mean, his entire NatSec/Defense team is getting the ole W band back together. And John Bolton in the running for State? JOHN FUCKING NEVER MET A WAR HE DID'NT LOVE BOLTON.

Fuck that shit.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: sunrisevt on November 15, 2016, 04:02:34 PM
Well, as Trump is going to #draintheswamp, the monied interests won't be involved so we can surely have a pure democratic process, right?


Right?

Whay are you laughing so loud?

I LOL'd.

So, if you want to upend the system that has created the most stable form of governance in the history of civilization - one far that has indisputably been more effective at consistently and peacefully transitioning power from one party to the next than any parliamentary setup - it shouldn't be on the back of an emotional plea of "we were robbed" following a difficult campaign.

Would you raise the same objection to Republicans who attempt to do away with the filibuster in the coming years?

Absolutely. I believe I have a post somewhere around here about why it was a mistake for Dems to be changing the rules when they were going down that road in '13.

I'll admit I will probably enjoy some guilty pleasure in watching the flip from "do-nothing, obstructionist Republicans" to "virtuous, conscientious objecting Dems," but I think you'll find that I will oppose President Trump (gross) and his merry-men in Congress at least as much as I did the Big O. I mean, his entire NatSec/Defense team is getting the ole W band back together. And John Bolton in the running for State? JOHN FUCKING NEVER MET A WAR HE DID'NT LOVE BOLTON.

Fuck that shit.

Yep, no surprises there.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on November 15, 2016, 04:06:06 PM
The argument that big metro areas will decide "for the rest of us" is a flawed one. 

For starters, the top 100 cities combined only represent ~19% of the American population.  So that's out of the question.  And if you want to use the vague term of a "metro area" then your number can be greater than 80% of the population.  That hurts the argument, too.  Because, at that point, you're basically saying, "everyone will decide for everyone!" 

But, most importantly, population dispersion is irrelevant.  The only "area" that matters in a national election is the nation itself, where everyone's vote counts equally -- from Bay Area conservatives to Wyoming lefties
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: VDB on November 15, 2016, 04:17:47 PM
All right, here we go. :cracks knuckles:

I'll go out of order here, if you don't mind.

So, if you want to upend the system that has created the most stable form of governance in the history of civilization - one far that has indisputably been more effective at consistently and peacefully transitioning power from one party to the next than any parliamentary setup - it shouldn't be on the back of an emotional plea of "we were robbed" following a difficult campaign.

I argue against the Electoral College every time we vote for president, and was doing it this time around well before the ballots were tallied. It just happens that most people only tend to pay attention to (or write about) the issue when we get this outcome. And sometimes -- call it our limited attention span or our naïveté or a "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality -- it takes a substantial event to shock people into action on an issue. See Dylan Roof and the Confederate flag down here in South Cack. So no, I don't think "now's not the time" to talk about the EC. It's the perfect time.

Furthermore, although I would have rather seen a Clinton win over a Trump win, she wasn't my preferred candidate, so to me this is most assuredly not about justice for Hillary.


And it certainly shouldn't be under the guise of "that's racist" as implied by the Vox article. That shit never works out well.

Well, you're confusing "the EC was created to benefit slave states" with "the EC is racist." The EC is not racist; it lacks sentience and affect and other human traits. As a thing, the EC does not regard presidential options and make value judgments about them (more on that later). Like you, I'm wary of casually slinging charges of racism about, especially when it relieves me of having to more deeply understand an issue or phenomenon at play. Similarly, though, we should avoid the easy temptation to dismiss an argument on the grounds that it makes unfounded accusations of racism, when that's not what the argument actually is.


Take a look at the map below.

Yeah, pretty wild. But acreage doesn't get to vote; people do. The map exercise is academic.

If we had a country where, I don't know, 90 percent of the population lived in large cities, would an EC proponent still say "I don't think those city slickers should get to call all the shots"? So what if people live in cities? People live where they choose to live.


Allowing the president to be decided by the major metropolitan areas and no where else would be a kick in the nuts

And I find it to be a kick in the nuts that my vote is reliably changed to an R before it goes up into the EC tally. Just as I imagine a Republican or independent living in Los Angeles doesn't appreciate her vote not being counted in the EC tally.

If an argument for the EC is that dissolving it would marginalize the voters in Montana and Alaska, my response is that it already marginalizes a far greater sum of people than the populations of our smaller, rural states. So every four years Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio get to pick the president, but if you live in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Oklahoma City or any of a million other places, go fuck yourself? Great. Super fair.

Look, I'm amenable to cases for federalism, I really am. And not because I think Alabamans should get to kick around the gays, but because I believe that the more local an action or decision is, the more effective and important it often is as well, and that's worth preserving. (So, yeah, I also realize that federalism cuts both ways. Dammit, life would be so much easier if only I saw everything in black and white.)

But unlike, say, the Senate and how we amend the Constitution (collectively, "S&C" for short), I don't see the EC as being this great bulwark against tyranny of the majority as proponents seem to think it is. Whereas S&C are set up to favor supermajorities (so as to prevent small states from being trampled upon), the EC has no such preference. Indeed, not only does the EC not care whether a candidate gets a really, really big majority of the popular vote, it doesn't care if he or she gets a majority at all. So that seems to have nothing to do with -- if not be completely at odds with -- the notion that sometimes a bare majority isn't enough because we don't want it to be that easy for a losing faction to get trod over.

Consider also that in the case of S&C, you have humans deliberating on the options and a narrow minority is able to stand athwart an outcome if they deem it really bad enough. It's not as though the opposite version of the bill or amendment is automatically passed -- what you get is no action at all. Sorry, majority, sweeten your offer and try again. In the case of the EC, however, we get an outcome no matter what. So that's not an intentional method for keeping the wheels of government from moving at a reckless pace like S&C are; it's just a quirky way to give a minority of voters a win over a majority.


Also the EC (along with the Senate) provides an incentive for the federal government to consider policies that work for the entire country

I think the Vox article pointed this out, but direct popular voting would actually incentivize candidates to take their case to the entire population as opposed to just a few swing states. Again, I say the EC marginalizes far more people today than the abolishment of the EC would next time around. Besides, once presidents get elected they act like the partisans they are without respect to the electoral map that put them in office. They do not represent geographic interests once they hit the Oval.


Now, I'm sympathetic to the "one person, one vote" view that the EC treats a person's vote in Nebraska to be worth more than one in New York.

This is kind of the main thrust of the anti-EC argument, yet I see you don't even address it beyond being "sympathetic" to it.


But if California voters feel like their vote is somehow "less" than someone in South Dakota, maybe they should consider their place in our union and whether or not they want to reevaluate that relationship

Well that's a little drastic, don't you think? That's the "if you don't like it, get the fuck out of the country" response. Actually, Americans have always been well within their rights to argue about how they want their country to be assembled and run. How else would we make any progress on anything?


Finally, one of the greatest logical fallacies practiced by proponents is that the election would have worked out EXACTLY the same in a popular voting system.

See, to me this might be the laziest of the arguments in favor of (or, at least, against being against) the EC. "Well, no one knows for sure if the outcome would have been different, so let's all pipe down." I'm not even interested in claiming that Al Gore or Hillary Clinton would have definitely won a direct election. But guess what's the only way to find out? And it'd still be worth it, for all the reasons outlined.


Lastly, I'll close with this quote from Thomas Jefferson, which has always been a favorite of mine:

Quote
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.



(edit: Accidentally wrote "majority" where I meant "minority" in one place; fixed.)
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: sunrisevt on November 15, 2016, 04:51:57 PM
 :clap:
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on November 15, 2016, 05:03:30 PM
The argument that big metro areas will decide "for the rest of us" is a flawed one. 

For starters, the top 100 cities combined only represent ~19% of the American population.  So that's out of the question.  And if you want to use the vague term of a "metro area" then your number can be greater than 80% of the population.  That hurts the argument, too.  Because, at that point, you're basically saying, "everyone will decide for everyone!" 

But, most importantly, population dispersion is irrelevant.  The only "area" that matters in a national election is the nation itself, where everyone's vote counts equally -- from Bay Area conservatives to Wyoming lefties

That's not really the argument, although maybe I should have said "dominated by large metro areas" instead of "decided by."

Like I said, I am sympathetic to the "one person/one vote" POV. But when I weigh the cost/benefit of changing a system that by and large has been perfectly consistent for all of our nation's history (53 for 58 where the EC got it "right"), I just don't see a compelling case. But more importantly, the thrust of my argument in favor of EC is that it affords a more holistic representation of this country's diverse views and provides the proper alignment of the federal gov'ts positioning vis-a-vis the states. YMMV

VDB - I'll take a closer looksie at your reply on the train on the way home, but I think I said most of what I have on this (although that never stopped me before). However, I will note (in case there was any confusion) that I was referring to the royal "YOU" and not you as in VDB, the Constitution hating mouthbreather. :wink:
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: slslbs on November 15, 2016, 05:13:33 PM
I'm gonna side with VDB (and the majority here) on this one.

The framers of the constitution got it wrong. At least now they let us vote for the electors, initially the state legislatures voted for the electors (and Senators, iirc)
the fact is, Hillary got more votes than Trump, Gore got more votes than W
My vote in MA didn't count, the Dem candidate for prez gets it no matter what.
I haven't seen the stats for this election, but in the past more people voted for Dems in Congress than Rs, but gerrymandering fixed that.

I'd like to think that I would have the same view if it was the other way around.

The major disadvantage to abolishing the EC, imo, is that a 3rd party candidate can prevent either candidate from getting a majority of the popular vote (1968 comes to mind) - what do we do then?
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: PIE-GUY on November 15, 2016, 05:17:42 PM
:clap:

Yup. Great arguments in there.

As a progressive voter in a red state, I gotta say I hate the Electoral College. The only time I can effectively voice my opinion on the Presidential race is in the primary... and I am not a Democrat. I am progressive.

I will add this - if the abolishment of the EC led to broader voter turnout thanks to people believing their vote actually counted, then that would trickle down to every level of government. What we want is greater engagement... even if that means my side loses more.

We are not a democracy. We never have been. We are a democratic republic. The EC reflects that fact. But as a democratic republic we have the power to change our institutions as needed. The EC needs to change. It needs to go.



 
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: VDB on November 15, 2016, 05:51:05 PM
I will add this - if the abolishment of the EC led to broader voter turnout thanks to people believing their vote actually counted, then that would trickle down to every level of government. What we want is greater engagement... even if that means my side loses more.

Another great point.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: ytowndan on November 15, 2016, 06:55:41 PM
The major disadvantage to abolishing the EC, imo, is that a 3rd party candidate can prevent either candidate from getting a majority of the popular vote (1968 comes to mind) - what do we do then?

Last time there was a serious movement to abolish it (it came up a few votes shy in the senate, and probably would have failed in the ratification process anyway) the proposed amendment called for a runoff election between the top two candidates if the "winner" failed to get a majority of the vote. 

I think instant runoff voting would be better.  It would likely lead to the same conclusion and we'd avoid a costly, low-turnout runoff election. 
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: VDB on November 15, 2016, 08:16:25 PM
But even with the EC, it's winner-take-all at the state level regardless of whether the candidate eclipses 50 percent. In other words, the same risk exists in 50 different places and we're OK with it. (That said, I think I'd be fine with something like instant runoff in pretty much any election.)

Another problem (!) with the EC is that it gives the illusion of huge mandates where they may not exist. For example, Reagan won a "landslide" in 1980, securing a whopping 91 percent of electoral votes. His share of the popular? 50.75 percent. And in 1984, Reagan won all but one state (for 98 percent of electoral votes) but Mondale still received about four out of ten votes.
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on November 16, 2016, 05:40:54 PM
Ok, last time (probably)

So, if you want to upend the system that has created the most stable form of governance in the history of civilization - one far that has indisputably been more effective at consistently and peacefully transitioning power from one party to the next than any parliamentary setup - it shouldn't be on the back of an emotional plea of "we were robbed" following a difficult campaign.

I argue against the Electoral College every time we vote for president, and was doing it this time around well before the ballots were tallied. It just happens that most people only tend to pay attention to (or write about) the issue when we get this outcome. And sometimes -- call it our limited attention span or our naïveté or a "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality -- it takes a substantial event to shock people into action on an issue. See Dylan Roof and the Confederate flag down here in South Cack. So no, I don't think "now's not the time" to talk about the EC. It's the perfect time.

Furthermore, although I would have rather seen a Clinton win over a Trump win, she wasn't my preferred candidate, so to me this is most assuredly not about justice for Hillary.

I'm not arguing that it's not the right time because people are emotional, I'm suggesting that emotional responses to shock events or appeals to "fairness" rarely (ever?) produce the desired outcome. You point to Roof/SC which, beside the obvious fact that it's a state vs federal issue, was a largely symbolic cause. That's not to dismiss the very real and painful feelings that flying the Confederate flag over the State House evokes, but it's not really analogous to a fundamental shift in our constitutional republic IMO.

I'll also note that you ignored the more critical part of that sentence, that the EC has successfully resulted in the most stable form of "democracy" (scare quotes for effect) in the history of the world.

And it certainly shouldn't be under the guise of "that's racist" as implied by the Vox article. That shit never works out well.

Well, you're confusing "the EC was created to benefit slave states" with "the EC is racist." The EC is not racist; it lacks sentience and affect and other human traits. As a thing, the EC does not regard presidential options and make value judgments about them (more on that later). Like you, I'm wary of casually slinging charges of racism about, especially when it relieves me of having to more deeply understand an issue or phenomenon at play. Similarly, though, we should avoid the easy temptation to dismiss an argument on the grounds that it makes unfounded accusations of racism, when that's not what the argument actually is.

Your distinction between the EC as an unfeeling entity and humans who have emotions and assign social construct such as race is kind of semantic, no? The implication of the article is pretty clear to me: if you don't support a popular vote, you are supporting a historically racist (racial?) system and you should feel bad about that. I don't think it's a stretch to say that is in keeping with the left's (Vox in particular) relatively recent strategy of persuasion by shaming, be it race, body, or slut.

Take a look at the map below.

Yeah, pretty wild. But acreage doesn't get to vote; people do. The map exercise is academic.

If we had a country where, I don't know, 90 percent of the population lived in large cities, would an EC proponent still say "I don't think those city slickers should get to call all the shots"? So what if people live in cities? People live where they choose to live.

I don't see it as academic at all. In fact, it illustrates quite clearly to me that the importance of the EC (especially so given our current levels of geographic and political polarization). The EC is intended to ensure the president presides over one nation made up of many states. The EC respects the diversity and autonomy of these states in a far superior way than a popular vote. For the president to be successful, they must have national not regional legitimacy, which is precisely what the EC was conceived (and continues) to do.

Allowing the president to be decided by the major metropolitan areas and no where else would be a kick in the nuts

And I find it to be a kick in the nuts that my vote is reliably changed to an R before it goes up into the EC tally. Just as I imagine a Republican or independent living in Los Angeles doesn't appreciate her vote not being counted in the EC tally.

If an argument for the EC is that dissolving it would marginalize the voters in Montana and Alaska, my response is that it already marginalizes a far greater sum of people than the populations of our smaller, rural states. So every four years Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio get to pick the president, but if you live in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Oklahoma City or any of a million other places, go fuck yourself? Great. Super fair.

The appeal to "fairness" is probably my biggest gripe with arguments against the EC because it completely ignores the raison d'être for the the establishment of the EC. Fairness is inherently subjective. What's fair to you may not be fair to the farmer in IA or the rancher in MT. Fairness may be an appropriate way to gin up support on this issue, but I just don't see a constitutional crisis because some (most?) people perceive it to be unfair.

Look, I'm amenable to cases for federalism, I really am. And not because I think Alabamans should get to kick around the gays, but because I believe that the more local an action or decision is, the more effective and important it often is as well, and that's worth preserving. (So, yeah, I also realize that federalism cuts both ways. Dammit, life would be so much easier if only I saw everything in black and white.)

But unlike, say, the Senate and how we amend the Constitution (collectively, "S&C" for short), I don't see the EC as being this great bulwark against tyranny of the majority as proponents seem to think it is. Whereas S&C are set up to favor supermajorities (so as to prevent small states from being trampled upon), the EC has no such preference. Indeed, not only does the EC not care whether a candidate gets a really, really big majority of the popular vote, it doesn't care if he or she gets a majority at all. So that seems to have nothing to do with -- if not be completely at odds with -- the notion that sometimes a bare majority isn't enough because we don't want it to be that easy for a losing faction to get trod over.

Consider also that in the case of S&C, you have humans deliberating on the options and a narrow minority is able to stand athwart an outcome if they deem it really bad enough. It's not as though the opposite version of the bill or amendment is automatically passed -- what you get is no action at all. Sorry, majority, sweeten your offer and try again. In the case of the EC, however, we get an outcome no matter what. So that's not an intentional method for keeping the wheels of government from moving at a reckless pace like S&C are; it's just a quirky way to give a minority of voters a win over a majority.

If the states' ability to directly participate in the electoral process is usurped, what concept of federalism are you amenable to? I mean, why have states at all? If local/municipal decisions most accurately reflect the most direct and unique concerns of their constituents, why do we need this arbitrary intermediate layer of gov't other than to be administrative wards of DC?

I'm not saying this to be flippant; in fact, I think it's a logical conclusion from the argument that we are not a nation of diverse states but of individuals.


Also the EC (along with the Senate) provides an incentive for the federal government to consider policies that work for the entire country

I think the Vox article pointed this out, but direct popular voting would actually incentivize candidates to take their case to the entire population as opposed to just a few swing states. Again, I say the EC marginalizes far more people today than the abolishment of the EC would next time around. Besides, once presidents get elected they act like the partisans they are without respect to the electoral map that put them in office. They do not represent geographic interests once they hit the Oval.

And I conceded that a popular vote could increase people's desire to engage in the political process and that *may* be a good thing. But, as above, I remain unconvinced that this makes for an ironclad argument that the EC is inherently undemocratic and should be abolished.

Now, I'm sympathetic to the "one person, one vote" view that the EC treats a person's vote in Nebraska to be worth more than one in New York.

This is kind of the main thrust of the anti-EC argument, yet I see you don't even address it beyond being "sympathetic" to it.

I'm sympathetic to it in that I understand why it appeals to people. But I believe (as I think I address throughout both of these posts) that it is based on a fundamental misconception of the utility of the EC and of how and why our gov't was and remains to be structured as such.

But if California voters feel like their vote is somehow "less" than someone in South Dakota, maybe they should consider their place in our union and whether or not they want to reevaluate that relationship

Well that's a little drastic, don't you think? That's the "if you don't like it, get the fuck out of the country" response. Actually, Americans have always been well within their rights to argue about how they want their country to be assembled and run. How else would we make any progress on anything?

Not really. And the point wasn't they should take their ball and go home. All I was saying was that if CA voters feel so disenfranchised that their vote is so diminished by the EC, there are avenues for them to entertain that, in all likelihood, have a greater chance of passage than having 3/4 of the states ratify an amendment. Of course, I, unlike most people, believe secession to be a fully legitimate exercise of a people's sovereignty (whether or not that's a good idea is a different discussion). I'll also admit to wanting to point it out just to bask the lack of derision that comes from the media when CA residents discuss secession as compared to when Texans do it.

Also, I would hope you don't think that I would strip those of their rights to argue or stymie dissent. That's kind of my thing. :wink:

Finally, one of the greatest logical fallacies practiced by proponents is that the election would have worked out EXACTLY the same in a popular voting system.

See, to me this might be the laziest of the arguments in favor of (or, at least, against being against) the EC. "Well, no one knows for sure if the outcome would have been different, so let's all pipe down." I'm not even interested in claiming that Al Gore or Hillary Clinton would have definitely won a direct election. But guess what's the only way to find out? And it'd still be worth it, for all the reasons outlined.

Well, it's an observation more than an argument. But you're right, that's not a reason not to do it. The point I was making in that section was that the need to finance a 50 state campaign would (potentially) result in far greater influence of monied interests. Think Super PACs on steroids.

Also, as I can tell you from living in a (recent) swing state, I am deeply jealous of those of you who live in a place where (I assume) you did not have to sit through an escalating deluge of increasing vitriolic campaign ads. I wouldn't wish that shit on my worst enemy.

I haven't seen the stats for this election, but in the past more people voted for Dems in Congress than Rs, but gerrymandering fixed that.

Dems won the Senate popular vote, but GOP won the House (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/11/10/democrats-won-popular-vote-senate-too/93598998/).

Another problem (!) with the EC is that it gives the illusion of huge mandates where they may not exist. For example, Reagan won a "landslide" in 1980, securing a whopping 91 percent of electoral votes. His share of the popular? 50.75 percent. And in 1984, Reagan won all but one state (for 98 percent of electoral votes) but Mondale still received about four out of ten votes.

Well it's a good thing we have a bicameral legislature to stand as a check against those kinds of unwarranted executive abuses.

Wait, what's that?

(Sorry if this was disjointed; I wrote pieces of it thru a brutal day of meetings and training.)
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: VDB on November 16, 2016, 07:42:23 PM
Whew!
Title: Re: The Electoral College and the Two-Party System
Post by: runawayjimbo on November 16, 2016, 09:02:50 PM
Whew!

I hear ya. I'm exhausted just looking at that post.
 :beers: