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Why every defense of electoral college is wrong

Give me hell, Liz.
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People evolved to deceive themselves in order to deceive each other better. This is because we are social animals that lived our formative years in close, tribal communities where our chances of survival were maximized by maintaining the consent of the collective – during our own individual (and / or fractional ) Interests. To reconcile these competing goals, it was a practical way to develop a talent for inventing seemingly neutral rules that would give you or your crew a significant advantage in conflicts within the group – along with arguments for why those rules regardless of ethical principles, their essential implications were necessary.

Over time, however, our most gullible ancestors have been singled out by natural selection. The surviving Homo Sapiens had the gift of recognizing the telltale signs of fraud. Soon they realized that Short Gary's left eyebrow twitched every time he explained that fairness was needed to give the shortest member of the tribe the biggest piece of fish (as the founders intended). So the short garys of the world were killed and eaten. And finally, their successors developed a better means to disguise their own interests into arguments about procedural justice: they were able to convince themselves that justice requires any principle that would bring them most of the fish – and with it, betrayed no signs of fraud, as he tried to convince others.

And so it came about that a bunch of supernaturally self-deceived monkeys inherited the earth.

Or so my misty memory of developmental psychology would suggest. And after reviewing various electoral college conservative defense lines, one can not conclude that this report is fundamentally correct.

In a CNN city hall on Monday, Elizabeth Warren argued that the US should elect the presidents by referendum. "We have to make sure every vote counts. You know, I want to do this in Mississippi. Because I think that this is an important issue, "said the presidential candidate of the Democrats in Jackson. "In my opinion, every voice is important. And we can achieve that by voting nationally and getting rid of the electoral college.

An overwhelming majority of the American public agrees. But an overwhelming majority of GOP activists, public intellectuals and politicians do not.

The simplest explanation for this discrepancy is that professional Republicans (consciously or otherwise) believe that the existing election rules benefit their party. After all, the GOP has lost the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. And as the electoral college gives disproportionate influence to whiter, more rural states – and the GOP increasingly relies on white, rural voters – the conservative coalition is able to continue to reap the benefits of the status quo rules for the coming cycles , This puts conservative stakeholders in the uncomfortable position of having to defend an archaic, undemocratic system that does not work as intended by the authors or as the American public demands, on the grounds that it is a fair and just one judicious choice of election of the nation's most powerful officials.

Terrible arguments follow. These terrible products of motivated thinking are brought together by the terrible products of the status quo prejudice (which causes a few liberals to defend electoral college) in a harmful stew of pointless arguments that prevent people's democracy from gaining control over at least [19459018)bestimmt] A branch (19459019) of our government.

Fortunately, I (and everyone who agrees on this point) escape the shackles of subjectivity and know the objective truth about the electoral college. And so, dear reader, I can give you an overview of some of the key arguments to preserve this vile institution – and why they are all wrong. The electoral college's defense tends to fall into one of three broad categories, and so we'll examine each genre in turn.

(A) The founders considered this extremely harsh, and therefore we should object to their judgment

By Allen Guelzo and James Hulme's Washington Post Op-Ed: " In defense of the electoral college ":

The founders who sat in the constitutional convention of 1787 made an extraordinary number of arguments to the electoral college, and it was by no means one-sided … The founders also designed the electoral college's method with unusual care. The part of Article 2, section 1, which describes the electoral college, is longer and more detailed than any other individual question dealt with in the constitution. More than the federal justice – more than the war powers – more than taxes and representation.

This is not the only argument of the foregoing. But the authors devote 350 words to their short column, essentially saying, "Look, our best slaveholders only discussed it a few decades before the advent of the steam engine. So why open that can of worms again? "And she's hardly anyone alone," the founders said "to be a trump card.

The problem with this argument is twofold. First, the founders were (mostly) a collection of land speculators who built their fortunes through ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans, and slave traders who built them by participating in one of the greatest atrocities in world history. Most of them did not believe in popular democracy (like the vast majority of Americans today). As political theorists, these types were so forward-looking that they assume that America will never have political parties.

None of this means that some of them were not brilliant or that they did not build any institutions that are worth preserving. But it does mean that we speak of unbelievably flawed, extremely dead people, not God-appointed philosopher kings. There is therefore no reason to reflexively postpone their judgment – which was itself the result of a compromise between different interests, not a Socratic dialogue on the ideal form of government. Some founders preferred the referendum; others wanted to bring their property into disproportionate political power.

Understandably, Hulme and Guelzo want to deny and write these grubby origins:

Above all, the electoral college had nothing to do with slavery. Some historians have branded the electoral college in this way because the electoral votes of each state are based on this "whole number of senators and representatives" of each state, and in 1787 the number of such representatives was calculated on the basis of the infamous 3/5 clause. But the electoral college only reflected the numbers, no prejudice against slavery (and in any case, the 3/5 clause was not as much a slavery as it seems to compromise, as the slaveholders of the South do theirs Slaves wanted to count 5/5 for determining the representation in Congress and had to settle for a rundown fraction). Focus Mining .]

There are several issues with this defense. For one thing, some southern framers were very open about the nature of their concerns. As Jamelle Bouie states:

Hugh Williamson of North Carolina has expressly stated this in his objection: Since there will not always be "excellent characters" with national recognition who could win a majority vote, "people will be safe. " Vote for a man in his own state, and the largest state will certainly succeed. "But that will not be Virginia," since their slaves will not have the right to vote.

And even if this had not been the case The argument of Hulme and Guelzo would be nonsensical. If the Framers had adopted a popular vote system, only the electorate would have influenced the presidential election – and consequently, the slave traders would not have been able to bring their human property into excessive political influence. That is not complicated. What exactly is moreover "in any case the 3/5 compromise was not which was for slavery as the plantation owners wanted it to be 5/5"

The most fundamental problem with the idea That we should address Framer's verdict is this: Almost immediately after the presidential election rules were incorporated into the Constitution, the leaders of our republic realized that they had made a mistake (which is why there is the 12th amendment).) , The moment the political parties prevailed, it proved extremely problematic for the electoral college to be appointed vice-president. If we had actually committed ourselves to honoring the founders' intentions, today Hillary Clinton would be Vice President of Donald Trump. This would certainly lead to a good sitcom premise, but few would consider it a sensible way to run a White House.

(B) It would put us on a smooth track to abolish the Senate.

From the Red Jahncke column in The Hill: "Do we think we should give up the electoral college? Think again. "

We are both a democracy and a federation of states. The electoral college was specifically designed to prevent the tyranny of large states over small states, as well as the US Senate, which gives large and small, equal representation to all states. If we give up the electoral college, we could as well abolish the Senate.

Guelzo offers similar views in another Pro-Electoral College piece for National Affairs :

Elected College Retirement Now an irritated longing for direct democracy may be satisfied, but it would also mean that To dismantle federalism. After that, it would be pointless to have a senate (after all, representing the interests of the states), and finally no sense to have states except as administrative departments of the central government.

The biggest problem with this Slippery Slope argument is that it is implausible: there is strong support for the abolition of the electoral college and a possibility to effectively cancel it without changing the constitution ( intergovernmental Popular vote. ). This is not the case if the Senate is abolished.

But the more fundamental problem with this type of electoral college defense is that it matters that "federalism exists, so he has to do it". Why states should not exist (19459019), since mere administrative departments of a central government (with some degree of local autonomy) are largely unchecked. It's not as if our state lines were designed to give centuries-old indigenous ethnic groups the opportunity to exercise some self-determination. Rather, most state lines do not even have a geological basis and merely reflect the political interests of the rulers. It is not that the white majority of Wyoming has an age-old connection to their land and a culture that fundamentally separates them from the other peoples of the Western Mountain. There is no reason to treat it as semi-sovereign, which must be given so that it does not leave the Union. We are no longer a children's republic. A secession crisis is very low on our list of tail risks.

The decentralization of power and the creation of opportunities for political experimentation at the sub-national level can be beneficial. However, this does not require that Wyoming's influence on presidential elections or the legislation of the Congress be inflated.

In contrast, does not demand that all laws must pass through an upper chamber that is heavily disapproved – as the people of Wyoming say 66 times more in the Senate than Californians – is quite simple: in one Democracy Individual citizens should be roughly equivalent to approximately equal in their governmental institutions. Achieving perfect equality in this regard is impossible. However, designing more representative legislation than the US Senate is not. In fact, every US state has already done that. If the elimination of the electoral college ultimately destroys the Senate, the case for Warren's proposal will only become more convincing.

(A) It would give too little political power to the whites.

Earlier this year, earlier The Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, argued that the "whites" had nothing to say in a national referendum. It will only be the minorities who would vote. It would be California, Texas, Florida.

It is not clear how a national referendum would result in only Californians, Texans and Floridians taking part in the presidential elections. Regardless, more than 70 percent of residents in California, Texas, and Florida identify themselves as white, according to the US Census Bureau.

(B) It would give the whites too much political power.

Meanwhile, political analyst Amel Ahmed argued in American Prospect in 2016 that elimination of electoral college would be unfair for non-white :

It is widely recognized that it would be without the electoral college of Man could win the presidency with some key states. Even more disturbing, though, is that you could win without the electoral college if you only target the white voters. With white voters forming, at least for now, a majority of voters, for some candidates this could be the easiest way to the presidency.

The electoral college aims to protect minority interests in a variety of forms, be it economic, ideological or racial. Black and Latino voters are attracting a lot of attention because their voices are crucial in several states. This offers minorities a place at the table that they would not otherwise enjoy.

This is a strange statement. Small states are overrepresented in the electoral college (since they all automatically receive at least three electoral votes, regardless of the size of their population). And since small states are whiter on average than large, non-white voters are underrepresented in the electoral college, as the sociologist Sean Darling-Hammond has shown:

Moreover, it is unclear why candidates lose any incentive to court in court to make votes of ethnic minorities in a popular election context. The dividing lines of American politics could eventually change. For the foreseeable future, it is hard to figure out how a Democrat candidate can win a national majority while targeting white people only.

However, as is often the case with pro-electoral college arguments, Ahmed sees no need to back up their intuition with data of any kind. Only a few paragraphs later, it undermines its own claim:

Trump managed to reach a wider range of economic and geographical constituencies than any other candidate: Rust Belt voters and rural voters; Workers and employees, economic nationalists and fiscal conservatives.

The electoral college forced the victorious candidate to turn to a multitude of different white people. Abolition would reduce the impact that African Americans and Hispanics have on our political system.

(C) This would give too much power to big states.

This could be the most popular argument abolishing electoral college. Here is a representative example from Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute:

The Abolition Proceedings is a fear feared by the Framers that voters in a large but highly atypical state could impose their will on an opposing nation. The largest state in 1787 was Virginia, home to four of the first five presidents. New York and California made the issue controversial by adapting closely to national opinions until 1996.

The 21st century left turn in California brings the subject back to life. In a referendum system, voters of this geographically distant and culturally diverse state, whose contempt for Christians in the heart of the country resembles the London imperial contempt for the "lesser races" they control, could establish a kind of colonial rule over the rest of the nation. Sounds exactly like what the Framers were trying to prevent.

Barone does not explain how the 12 percent of Americans living in California could empower a national referendum to "enforce a colonial rule" over the rest of the country. He also does not address the fact that the Golden State is still home to millions of Republicans in rural areas who have no effective say in presidential elections. It is difficult to discern a coherent, ideologically (or racially) neutral principle that would explain Barone's indignation at the idea that individual Californians would have the same influence in elections as their compatriots in smaller states (which he purportedly means white rural and not ) eg residents of the District of Columbia.

"Equal counting of votes would give too much power to voters in populous states, "is just a lengthy way of saying that you do not believe in democracy. Why should national candidates not be used in places where most people live? Congress already guarantees that every region has political decisions – and that small states in the legislative sector will actually have a disproportionate word. What exactly is it about people living in big cities that makes them so unworthy of democratic equality?

(D) It would give too much power to small states .

2012 then Richard Posner argued that the abolition of the electoral college would be unfair to the states of 19459019:

The electoral college restores the political balance, the large states (depending on the population) lose the maldistribution of the Senate of the Constitution. This may seem paradoxical as the votes cast in favor of less populous states. But the winner's election makes a small increase in referendum in a large state much more important than in a small state. The referendum was very close in Florida; Nevertheless, Obama, who won this election, received 29 electoral votes. A win with the same margin in Wyoming would give the winner only 3 electoral votes. When other things are the same, a large state in a campaign receives more attention from presidential candidates than a small state.

It is certainly true that our "winner-of-everything-everything" system may be able to exert unduly broad disproportionate influence over elections in large states. And this fact should probably be the cause of any electoral college attorney who, for grave, ideologically neutral reasons, genuinely values ​​the disempowerment of large states. But the fact that the electoral college may one day give the inhabitants of a large state like Texas a profound influence in presidential elections in no way improves the underrepresentation of New Yorkers, Californians, or residents of other populous, deep blue states.

(A) The candidates would not move much in rural areas.

This argument is too omnipresent to require an example, though it is stupid at various levels. First, the state of Texas selects its senators by referendum, and yet Beto O & Rourke did not campaign exclusively in Dallas, Houston and Austin last year. In nationwide races – even in large states – candidates still have some appearances outside the major metro areas, and there is no reason to believe that this is not the case in national elections held by the referendum. Secondly, while presidential candidates are currently showing some phenomena in rural areas – and this would probably continue without electoral college – already focus predominantly on urban, as few voters live in sparsely populated areas by definition. Political scientist Robert Speel notes:

Presidential candidates are not campaigning in rural areas, no matter which system is used, simply because there are not many votes to win in these areas. 2016 campaign data reveal that 53 percent of Trump, Hillary Clinton, Mike Pence, and Tim Kaine campaigning events were held in only four states during the two months leading up to the November elections: Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ohio. At that time, 87 percent of the four campaign candidates' campaign visits were in 12 battlefield countries, and none of the four candidates ever traveled to 27 states, which included almost all of rural America.

Even in Swing States, where they do campaigning, candidates focus on urban areas where most voters live. In Pennsylvania, for example, 72 percent of Clinton and Trump's Pennsylvania campaign visits were in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas over the last two months of their campaigns. In Michigan, all eight Campaign visits by Clinton and Trump were in the last two months of their campaigns in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas, with none of the candidates visiting the rural areas of the state.

After all, it's the opposite According to Lindsey Graham's (19459140] apparent belief, you do not have to wait in line to shake hands with a politician to meddle in politics. It is likely that presidential candidates would continue to operate largely in the vicinity of large population centers through a national referendum system. In contrast to our current system, the godly Conservatives of the State of New York, East Maryland, rural California, and every other bastion of real Americanism within a blue state in which Gomorrah was embedded actually had a reason to participate in presidential elections. Waving a signal at a presidential gathering can be fun. But knocking on the doors, registering your friends to vote, and organizing a mini-turnout are more important forms of political participation. And you do not need a candidate to visit your area to take part in such activities – but you probably need to know that your voice really matters. A national plebiscite would give rural Americans more more opportunities to meddle meaningfully with politics, not less. To believe otherwise, you would have to think that people in the cities are not able to take political action, except for a candidate's speech. That is, they must have "contempt for heart-Christians."

(B) Third party candidates would sometimes act as spoilers.

Here is again Guelzo:

A final unforeseen The electoral college has the advantage of reducing the likelihood that third-party candidates will receive enough votes to get it on the ballot box. Without the electoral college, the number of "viable" presidential candidates would not be curbed. Break it down, and it's not hard to imagine a scenario in which the "winner" in a field of dozens of micro-candidates would need only 10% of the vote and make up less than 5% of the electorate.

The question of whether this (unsubstantiated) prediction is plausible is dismissed: the problem stated here is not inherent in a national referendum, but rather in a system of winners. Conducting electoral elections with ranking and / or runoff elections would solve the (already existing) spoiler problem.

(C) This could lead to a situation in which American politics is defined by polarization and a high degree of social animosity.

Author Garett Jones argued in 2012 that the electoral college was indispensable because it was a "great tool for reducing social conflict" in American politics:

In the US, we seldom hear too much about regional economies except regional farmers Problems against everyone else. However, if the presidency was decided by majority vote, we would certainly learn more about regional differences. Could a presidential candidate receive 75% of the votes in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida by promising broad-based Gulf Coast subsidies and a few other goodies? Could a candidate receive 85% of the votes from California and New York, including by providing housing subsidies to people who have high housing costs?

I do not know: But if we got rid of the electoral college and had a popularly elected president, we would have a chance to find out.

As it stands, presidential candidates in every state across a large number of states are trying to appeal to the middle-class voter. So you become president. This reduces regional tensions because candidates never try to get 90% of the votes in a state. If you measure 90% of a region of the country versus 90% of another region of the country, you increase the likelihood of social conflict significantly.

Too many civil wars are based on regional differences, so this is not a big deal.

This, of course, is another argument that is based on pure, unfounded assumptions. But even if Jones is right that a national popular vote system would increase the appeal of regional divisions in American politics, this would likely reduce the social conflict in the US . "If we are not careful, we might end up In a world where our policy focuses on the dangerously divided question of how much the federal government should subsidize the Gulf Coast, rather than harmless things like the question of whether Central American migrants are invading our country, to "forcibly change" their culture is a terribly strange feeling! And yet, Jones believes that his argument is persevered in the Trump era when he (and some middle-right thinkers) featured on social media this week .

In reality, the explosive divides American politics today is in questions of race, pluralism and national identity. These departments correspond to the geography of our nation. However, the split is not between regions or states. It is between city and country. Our republic would be in much better shape if its crucial conflict was to balance the economic interests of the various regions. "New York will mehr staatliche Wohnsubventionen, während Arkansas mehr Zuschüsse für die ländliche Entwicklung gewährt", ist eine Meinungsverschiedenheit, die durch Kompromisse gelöst werden kann. "Urbane Kosmopoliten glauben, dass wir eine Nation von Einwanderern sind, und Vielfalt ist unsere Stärke, während ländliche Nationalisten darauf bestehen, dass wir eine weiße christliche Nation sind, die ihre Zivilisation nicht mit den Babys anderer Menschen aufrechterhalten kann", ist es nicht.

Natürlich gibt es das kein Grund zu der Annahme, dass eine nationale Volksabstimmung die Bedeutung regionaler Konflikte in der amerikanischen Politik erhöhen würde. Der Hauptgrund dafür, dass die Hauptpartei-Parteieigentümer sich Sorgen um die Interessen der verschiedenen Regionen des Landes machen müssen, ist nicht das Wahlkollegium, sondern der US-Kongress. Ein Wirtschaftsprogramm, das große Küstenbevölkerungszentren unterstützte – mit hohen Kosten für alle Regionen dazwischen – würde es nicht durch das Parlament schaffen, geschweige denn durch den Senat.

(D) Es würde ein politisches System schaffen, in dem ein eine unqualifizierte "Medienpersönlichkeit" könnte die Präsidentschaft gewinnen.

Schließlich erklärt der vorgenannte Jahncke dass in einem Volkswahlsystem "Kandidaten in großen Medienmärkten werben" und dies "Medienpersönlichkeiten und Zelluloid" begünstigen würde Kampagnen. “Mit anderen Worten: Ohne das Wahlkollegium wäre Amerika einem ernsthaften Risiko ausgesetzt, einen zufälligen Prominenten für das höchste Amt des Landes zu wählen.

Vielleicht habe ich mich nur getäuscht, um besser zu sein betrüge dich Aber ich denke nicht, dass dies ein sehr gutes Argument ist.

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