A small blueprint for democacy

This was written by Kelsie and I appreciate him letting me use it.

I was recently accused of being “nothing but a bitcher/moaner–a blacklister of things wrong with America” while offering no solutions or ideas for reform.

These are laid out in response to that accusation: a few ideas that I feel would make the American democracy stronger and, shockingly, more democratic:

1. Abolish the electoral college.

The College is an antiquated institution unnecessary in an era of instantaneous mass communication. It bears no relation to the actual number of votes cast and distorts perceptions of the public will. The Constitution would be amended to alter relevant sections of Article II to allow for the direct election of the Chief Executive.

2. Reorient the Congressional power structure around the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives is, of the two chambers of Congress, the body closest to the people. Thus, hand over many of the powers delegated to the Senate through Article I to the House, where the will of the people is most evident and where the people can more readily exercise oversight in the appointment of, for example, members of the Supreme Court. The Senate would instead function as it was arguably originally intended: as a brake and deliberative assembly on legislation, rather than assuming the dictatorial role it has over the lawmaking process.

Will this politicise the lawmaking process? Yes–but arguably no more than it already is. The House of Representatives, with its higher proportion of minorities and women, also arguably better reflects the makeup of the country (although this is by no means an optimal reflection) than does the predominately white, male Senate.

Finally: vastly increase the membership of the House: cap the median district size at around 25,000-30,000 people.

3. Impose term limits on the Congress
End the era of the “safe seat,” of the Robert Byrds and Strom Thurmonds. Force regular change and turnover on the Congress: cap senators at two terms each (twelve years, longer than any two presidential elections); representatives at five terms (ten years).

4. Establish a mandatory retirement age on the Supreme Court.
For the same reasons as above: end the era of the appointment-until-senility. Require justices to vacate their office at age 70 or 75.

5. Remove the “natural-born” requirement for the Presidency.

6. Require all deployments of troops in other than declared federal emergencies to be subject to the Congress

End the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and its enduring spirit. Check the power of the executive by limiting his/her ability to deploy combatant troops overseas for any reason, at any time, without a vote of one or both houses of the Congress.

7. Smash K Street
Make illegal ALL donations of any amount or any kind from lobbying or special interest groups to any element of the political system. Force lobbying/special interest entities to engage their representatives on the same level as ordinary citizens. End special privileges for corporations or niche institutions.

8. Reform the process of elections and campaigning: break up the two-party system

A huge issue. Offer state and federal funding to a range of candidates (how they would be determined is a wholly separate can of worms), and require equal airtime via television and radio for third and fourth (and fifth and sixth) parties. Impose federal qualification standards nationwide, ending the ability of individual states to de jure limit the ballot for US Congressional elections to the two parties alone.

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About Bolshy

Blogging in the ether to see if that elusive literary agent or publisher wants some new talent.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Civil Liberties, Comment, Democracy, Modern Liberty, Personal philosophy, United States of America, World. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to A small blueprint for democacy

  1. JJ says:

    First, the United States is not a democracy, it is a republic. Among many other important differences, republics provide protection of minority opinions in government; democracies are pure majority rule. The constitution was written with this in mind. This addresses #1-4.
    1) The electoral college protects less populated states from having literally no say in presidential elections. If it was a direct vote, urban areas would easily overwhelm rural areas.

    2) While the House is the direct body of the people, the Senate is designed to be the senior body. The founders knew that people can be easily swayed year by year, and the House, with its short terms, would mirror this wild shifts. The Senate is the stabilizing force, preventing radical back and forth shifts of policy. Also, capping districts at 30,000 people would result in 5,000 representatives in the House. You think its inefficient now.

    3) If this is about increasing democracy, why would you prevent the people of a state from sending back a successful congressman? There is a reason some of these men and women are constantly reelected; their constituents trust them to make the laws of the nation. Would you take that away?

    4) This is some merit, but most justices retire long before their sanity goes. Both O’Connor and Souter are still brilliant minds.

    6) The president’s ability to command the armed forces stems from his emergency powers. The founders understood that Congress acts too slow to protect the nation in times of crisis. It was designed that way. Taking away the president’s emergency power severely handicapped the country’s ability to respond. Starting with Jackson and Lincoln, and especially ssnce World War II, presidents have routinely abused this power, but that’s hardly the Constitution’s fault. Just elect better presidents.

    7) 100% for this, but the problem is identifying where the money is coming from, and who is defined as a lobbyist or special interests group. There’s no list, and so much legal gray area that its nigh impossible to sort out.

    8) This country needs a legitimate 3rd party more than anything else, but I believe it will have to start the same way the Dems and the Reps started, from the grassroots up. Just having a 3rd party candidate for president doesn’t help; there needs to be independent and other parties at every level of government. Start small, a few 3rd party state reps, then look for national office. President should be the last step.

    • The Cynic says:

      1. The Republic is founded on democratic ideals, so I think the principle of “democracy” is still valid.

      2. Hate to say this, but if the majority of the population lives in urban areas, that majority should be heard. We cannot have a tyranny of the minority over the majority in presidential elections–that’s an imbalance of its own kind.

      3. I … Read moreagree: there would be good, hardworking congressmen who lose their jobs. But surely we have had good, hardworking presidents who’ve lost their jobs to term limits as well–wouldn’t the possibility of a continually vibrant, renewed Congress be worth the price of some of those congressmen’s jobs?

      4. Enshrining this in law would provide a constitutional protection for the people against any such scenario.

      6. As I stated, in a federally declared disaster, the President could do what he wanted. The remainder of the terminology–”overseas”–would have to be clarified in any law/amendment’s language.

      7. Again, I agree: this would need clarification in succeeding legislation….

      Re third parties:
      I think you have a strong argument, but I would point out as part of it that the milieu our political system operates in is vastly different and much more complex than the era of the foundation of the Republican and Democratic parties. In geography and demographics, we are a markedly larger beast than even sixty years ago.

      Yes, … Read moreI agree: 3d, 4th, &c parties should come from the people and should not necessarily be imposed–but the sheer costs of campaigning in a media-rich nation are, I would argue, much more prohibitive in the 21st century than they were in the 19th or even the early to mid-20th.

      [From Kelsie]

    • KR says:

      1. The idea we are or were a Republic, fails at one main level. The minority has been and always will be misrepresented in both power and laws. The very moment the Constitution became law, it was in itself invalid (As per the rules of a Republic) because we still had slavery, women could not vote, and all men who were not white, land owners could not vote. It has grown since then to a more Democratic Republic, but to say that is was ever a Republic is a cherry picked view of our history. Also the means at which we eliminate majority rule, such as ending slavery, civil rights act, etc. etc. is in itself an excursion of power by the central government, that no true definition of a Republic could represent.

      2. I do agree with the idea of having so many congressmen and women would be mean it impossible to get anything through congress, or it would allow for a much greater abuse of power, since there is no checks on the majority in the house (Hate to say it, but the filibuster in some regards is a good thing). But I do think the House is a much better representation of the people because of how modern politics are ran. Someone who is running on a full state level can gain more money, which means less true representation of the people, and more representation of the corporation. But with #7, if it was to ever happen, that would in effect eliminate that, and would satisfy my qualms with the Senate.

      3. Term limits are a good thing. The problem is not that Senators get reelected because the state still believes in them, but rather because after about 4 terms, they bring so much pork, and are so well known, that is more or less a popularity contest in high school, rather an election on merit.

      4. Same as above.

  2. Curtis says:

    Sounds good to me–although I suspect that accomplishing #7 alone would probably allow for about as much improvement as all the other steps combined.

  3. Bob in Queensland says:

    Regarding number 7, just limit contributions to private individuals only with a per-person cap of a few thousand dollars. If this cuts the millions available for campaigning, this is a good thing. It might make it much more possible for independent or third party candidates to win.

  4. Curtis says:

    @ JJ

    1.) With respect to its function in presidential elections, I see no reason why the electoral college should adjust for an urban-rural balance. This is partially because any attempt to do so will produce results that are in some measure arbitrarily distorted, but is mainly because a direct popular election of the President is inherently more transparent and fair. While, very broadly speaking, a substantial political “split” does exist between country mice and city mice, this should at all costs be made irrelevant to the statistics in the election process.
    Elections are not a matter of Manhattan vs. The Hamptons. Of course urban areas will statistically “overwhelm” rural areas. But the voters in either are all Americans.

    (2) The venerable founders of the nation were politicians, too, and merely citing that their designs serve certain purposes does not speak to the absolute integrity of those purposes. The Senate was designed to be the senior legislative body, certainly. But your choice of words, e.g. the “swaying” and so forth, is interesting compared to James Madison’s oft-quoted assessment that the job of the Senate ought to be “to protect the opulent minority.” What you consider stability might very legitimately be viewed as potential for corruption by someone else.

    (3) In theory, your argument here is sound; but in practice I suspect it does not fare as well. In the real world, Congresspeople aren’t primarily re-elected just because they have done a great job by their constituents. They get re-elected largely on the basis of name recognition and advertising bandwidth, which is mostly a function of the funding they receive from vested interests in the private sector, and they frequently run of platforms relating to morally charged fringe issues which bring voters out in droves but then carry little real weight during their actual tenures. This does not mean that people are systemically ignorant of their congresspeople’s stances and records, but to assert that term restrictions would be injurious for the reasons you state seems wildly optimistic to me.

    (4) I agree with your argument here. I also would probably support limiting Supreme Court terms, but feel it would be best accomplished by fixed term length and not a cut-off age.

    (6) Congress acted too slowly to efficiently respond to crises in the 18th and 19th Centuries. With the transportation and communication infrastructure and technology of today, Congress could act almost as quickly or as quickly as the White House. This is another example of the “infallible founders fallacy.” I am of the belief that an army of the people should be deployed by the people, although I do understand arguments related to the need of a clearer command structure–once operations are underway.

    (7) I am not sure on what basis one would claim it is “nigh impossible” to sniff out special interests; I’d need that to be explained to me in some detail. I do recognize that there are some open questions in this area, but it is not at all difficult to track down less-than-wholesome lobbying activities in most cases, as in the tremendous spike in healthcare lobbying that has so serendipitously sprung forth in 2009. No need to call Inspector Gadget.

    A third party would increase mobility and pace in the legislature, but would not improve (and might conceivably significantly worsen) what I view to be the primary issue in the inefficacy and iniquity of our federal government, which is the extent to which lawmakers are influenced by moneyed interests whose privileges afford them far more influence than the people in whose lives they freely transact.

  5. Anetta Prince says:

    I agree with the 7 points listed above, however, a couple of key points need to be added. First, the Federal Government will not change unless the people have a major change of mindset. We are and have long been in the mindset that the Federal Government be all things to all people; when clearly it cannot be without being heavily inefficient, corrupt and all consuming. It is a lesson we all learn at a young age as kids and one that our politicians and our people need to grasp before it is too late. And second, the Federal government long ago began exceeding its limited powers as set forth in the Constitution and has usurped the powers of the people and the states. All the states need to adopt the resolutions as put forth by a Texas and number of others reasserting their rights under the 10th Amendment

  6. Host says:

    This post definitely illustrates the modern citizen’s ignorance of the Constitution, and history. I applaud the effort, but unfortunately suggestions are being made with a lack of historical perspective. JJ’s response is mostly accurate, but I disagree with the lobbying issue. It is the right of the people to lobby their representatives. Unfortunately, we as citizens have refused to hold our elected politicians accountable for the money they get.

    The Commander In Chief can deploy the military only for a temporary period of time. After that, the troops may only be deployed so long as Congress permits it. If the President refuses to recall the troops, Congress can impeach.

    If the Electoral College is disbanded, the populations of only 9 states would elect the president. The 9 most populated states make up over 50% of the US population. It would be an effective removal of state’s rights from our republic which would literally disband our form of government. We would then become a democracy, which we are not designed to be as JJ pointed out. The Electoral College is the body empowered by the Constitution to elect the president, and prevent the people from installing a dictator. You HAVE NO Constitutional right to elect the president.

    I highly disagree with your stance on a natural-born president, but continue to support a legal immigrants right to serve in the legislature. The effective head of a nation should be from that nation.

    Your final point about the two party system doesn’t make much sense to me. A third party candidate is fully allowed to run for president. If you want to push a constitutional amendment to require every presidential candidate to be listed on the ballot be prepared to have hundreds if not thousands of candidates to be listed.

    Third party candidates are very effective in local politics, and that’s where their place should be.

    I also oppose the federal government giving any money to any candidate. Earn it on your own without government help. If you can’t raise money for your campaign it’s because you aren’t an effective candidate, and people aren’t interested in what you have to say. I certainly don’t want my tax dollars going to a candidate I oppose while limited by your previous idea of making my lobbying efforts for my candidate illegal.

    Truth be told … non of your proposed reforms would be necessary if we didn’t know if the candidate was an R or a D. Years ago in psychology class we conducted an experiment where we asked everyone who they were voting for. We then handed out a quiz with the candidate’s political views and voting records to everyone. We didn’t identify which candidate held those views, and we asked everyone to identify if they agreed or disagreed with the issue.

    Turns out most of the class actually supported the opposite candidate that they originally said they supported based on the issues. Political typology tests now do the same thing. When someone votes on issues rather than their hatred (often unfounded) of the opposite party, they typically find themselves supporting candidates they’d never identify with before.

  7. Josh says:

    1. Abolish the electoral college.
    I would instead REFORM the electoral college. Make it more like the Democratic Primaries. You are awarded electoral college votes based on what percentage of that states voters voted for you plus a few extras for winning a statewide majority. The idea that populated states will disenfranchise smaller states was put to rest when Obama won the primaries by dominating smaller states.

    2. Reorient the Congressional power structure around the House of Representatives.
    I am somewhat with you on this one. There seems to be a huge gap between the two houses of congress. So some re-balancing would be nice. But if you give too much control to the people you end up with the situation we have in California. Millions of dollars worth of unfunded mandates due to endless ballot propositions.

    California is a perfect example of what happens when you let ordinary idiots decide policy. They will vote for a world with no taxes and free blow jobs every time! Being up for re-election every 2 years, representatives are already too prone to bend over for those people.

    3. Impose term limits on the Congress.
    Eh, I’d much rather see laws regarding sane district lines. No more Gerrymandering districts. There should be a rule that all districts must be square. Size can be determined by population.

    4. Establish a mandatory retirement age on the Supreme Court.
    I can agree with this. Its unfortunate that every other judge in this country is elected and yet the most important ones are appointed for the rest of their life.

    5. Remove the “natural-born” requirement for the Presidency.
    While very self explanatory you don’t outline WHY it should be removed. It was put in place to guard against smart, charismatic foreigners from coming to power and then doing something weird like surrendering our nation to their former country or sending us to war against their former countries sworn enemy. There are a lot of reasons to keep this in the constitution.

    However, I do think it could be fairly reformed. For instance, in order for me to be President of the United States I have to have been a citizen here for 35 years (from birth to age 35) if someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to be President he too should have to be a citizen for 35 years first. It’s only fair.

    6. Require all deployments of troops in other than declared federal emergencies to be subject to the Congress.
    This wouldn’t really change anything. You don’t think Bush could have gotten Congress to agree Iraq was a Federal Emergency? He already had them pissing their pants. The only thing your change would do is make every President a liar.

    7. Smash K Street.
    Can be done, should be done. Keep money out of politics. Fully federally funded elections are the only way to go.

    8. Reform Election System, etc.
    I agree. We need a lot more protections against fraud. We need paper trails. We need as impartial of election officials as we can get. We need to get private companies out of our public elections. And more parties would be nice. But I do think they need to start the same way the others did. There is no official system in place to keep 3rd parties out. There are biased officials working at every level of Government, and there are people in the media who do not have any interest in promoting 3rd party candidates.

    But more than that you have 2 very entrenched camps of political junkies in this country who view Democrats and Republicans the same way they view two rival football teams. There is a certain level of pride that comes with being part of a party and fighting for your ideas to make this country better. In that type of social mindset it is very difficult to convince the masses you have a viable 3rd party option.

  8. Anetta Prince says:

    Lost in all the arguments, regardless of how good or bad they might be in our opinions, nothing will change unless the people take back their government and restore it to the limited powers originally envisioned by the forefathers. As the size, scope and reach of government increases, so do the levels of corruption, political power struggles, inefficiencies, cost, waste and so on. Given the latest estimates on the growing deficits, the time for change is now if it isn’t already too late. For those who argue or might argue that the cost is necessarily irrelevant I would ask what sense it makes to “fix” anything if the means to fix it bankrupts the nation?

  9. Kelsie says:

    1. You hit on the prime need for reform: the electoral college should allocate votes proportionally.

    3. I agree on gerrymandering as well; the two–term limits and a reform of the redistricting system–would go well together as a wholesale rethinking of the way the House of Representatives is drawn from the people. It would go hand in hand with a moderate redistribution of responsibilities between House and Senate.

    5. As a non-natural born citizen of this country, I could never aspire to the Presidency, even though I have lived in the United States since the age of six months with a wholly American family and have only known American culture, &c, for my entire life. The need for congressional oversight of the executive’s powers (especially warmaking) would address precisely the fear that a naturalised citizen, upon attaining the Presidency, might use it to benefit his/her “birth nation.”

    6. Well now that is a very good point indeed.

    8. It is difficult in my state for third party candidates to reach the ballot, primarily because we are a huge state, geographically (Texas), with a widespread population, which results in massive media costs many third parties simply cannot bear–these are problems the Democratic and Republican parties did not really face, since one was born with the nation and the other inherited a party system already in development.

    What I do hope, however, is that third parties will start harnessing the power of the internet more effectively to circumvent the two parties’ tight control of the media. That wouldn’t necessarily cost the federal government a dime.

  10. There is only one infallible, unstoppable way to get Term Limits in Congress: NEVER REELECT ANY INCUMBENT! AND DO IT EVERY TIME!

    Most folks think I am too unreasonable in asking everyone to NEVER REELECT ANYONE IN CONGRESS. They think it’s an extremist position. But that’s the whole point! Congress will never listen to us UNLESS we scare the bejesus out of them! To drive the point home, NEVER REELECT ANYONE IN CONGRESS, AND DO IT EVERY ELECTION!

    The closer we get to a “Voter’s One-Term Congress”, the closer we’ll get to real term limits on Congress, and a “Citizen’s Congress”.

    There is only one way to make term limits happen : The American voter must IMPOSE term limits on Congress by NEVER REELECTING ANYONE IN CONGRESS, AND DO IT EVERY ELECTION! In other words, don’t let anyone serve more than one term. That’s the only way to teach them that the voter is boss! The “one term limit” can be eased AFTER citizens get control of Congress.

    Congress will never allow us to constitutionally term limit them. Our only choice is to NEVER REELECT them. All of them!
    Remember too, it makes no difference who you vote for, as long as it is NEVER any incumbent.

    I believe that even a little success in a campaign to NEVER REELECT ANYONE IN CONGRESS would move us a long way toward a revolutionary change in American politics, much like 1776. Some of the reasons in favor of this approach:

    • It gives us a one-term, term limited Congress without using amendments
    • It would be supported by 70% of the country who want term limits for Congress
    • It is completely non-partisan
    • If repeated, it ends career politicians dominating Congress
    • It opens the way to a “citizen Congress”
    • It ends the seniority system that keeps freshmen powerless
    • It doesn’t cost you any money. But you MUST vote! Just don’t vote for an incumbent
    • It is the only guaranteed, infallible, unstoppable way to “Throw ALL the Bums Out”
    • It takes effect immediately on Election Day
    • If it doesn’t work, do it again and again! It will work eventually, I promise.


    Nelson Lee Walker of tenurecorrupts.com

  11. mvymvy says:

    The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
    Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

    In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

  12. mvymvy says:

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

  13. mvymvy says:

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Delaware –75%, Maine — 71%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 73% , Massachusetts — 73%, New York — 79%, and Washington — 77%.

    see http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  14. mvymvy says:

    The National Popular Vote bill is currently endorsed by over 1,659 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    The bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes — 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  15. mvymvy says:

    What the Founding Fathers said in the U.S. Constitution about how presidential electors should be awarded is: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote.

    In 1789 only three states used the winner-take-all rule.

    There is no valid argument that the winner-take-all rule is entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all rule.

    As a result of changes in state laws, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all rule is used by 48 of the 50 states.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

  16. mvymvy says:

    A “republican” form of government means that the voters do not make laws themselves but, instead, delegate the job to periodically elected officials (Congressmen, Senators, and the President). The United States has a “republican” form of government regardless of whether popular votes for presidential electors are tallied at the state-level (as is currently the case in 48 states) or at district-level (as is currently the case in Maine and Nebraska) or at 50-state-level (as under the National Popular Vote bill).

    If a “republican” form of government means that the presidential electors exercise independent judgment (like the College of Cardinals that elects the Pope), we have had a “democratic” method of electing presidential electors since 1796 (the first contested presidential election). Ever since 1796, presidential candidates have been nominated by a central authority (originally congressional caucuses, and now party conventions) and electors are reliable rubberstamps for the voters of the district or state that elected them.

  17. mvymvy says:

    The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

    Small states are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Only 1 of the 13 smallest states are battleground states (and only 5 of the 25 smallest states are battlegrounds).

    Of the 13 smallest states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska regularly vote Republican, and Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC regularly vote Democratic. These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has “only” 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

    The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically “radioactive” in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

    In small states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by a total of eight state legislative chambers, including one house in Delaware and Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

  18. mvymvy says:

    The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and that a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states — that is, a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

    Of course, the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely act in concert on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red” states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

    Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
    * Texas (62% Republican),
    * New York (59% Democratic),
    * Georgia (58% Republican),
    * North Carolina (56% Republican),
    * Illinois (55% Democratic),
    * California (55% Democratic), and
    * New Jersey (53% Democratic).

    In addition, the margins generated by the nation’s largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
    * Texas — 1,691,267 Republican
    * New York — 1,192,436 Democratic
    * Georgia — 544,634 Republican
    * North Carolina — 426,778 Republican
    * Illinois — 513,342 Democratic
    * California — 1,023,560 Democratic
    * New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

    To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 votes for Bush in 2004.

  19. mvymvy says:

    When presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in Ohio and Florida, the big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami certainly did not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida in 2000 and 2004.

    Likewise, under a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area.

    Another way to look at this is that there are approximately 300 million Americans. The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities is only 19% of the population of the United States. Even if one makes the far-fetched assumption that a candidate could win 100% of the votes in the nation’s top five cities, he would only have won 6% of the national vote.

    Further evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from the way that national advertisers conduct nationwide sales campaigns. National advertisers seek out customers in small, medium, and large towns of every small, medium, and large state. National advertisers do not advertise only in big cities. Instead, they go after every single possible customer, regardless of where the customer is located. National advertisers do not write off Indiana or Illinois merely because their competitor has an 8% lead in sales in those states. And, a national advertiser with an 8%-edge over its competitor does not stop trying to make additional sales in Indiana or Illinois merely because they are in the lead.

  20. mvymvy says:

    A system in which electoral votes are divided proportionally by state would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote and would not make every vote equal.

    Every vote would not be equal under the proportional approach. The proportional approach would perpetuate the inequality of votes among states due to each state’s bonus of two electoral votes. It would penalize states, such as Montana, that have only one U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman. It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census. It would penalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).

    Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote. In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.

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