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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Omega Glory

The Omega Glory,
Down the Centuries,
You Have Slurred the Meaning of the Words,
by Liviana

Oh, the bad, bad, wicked, evil, undemocratic, bad, evil, wicked, anti-democratic, bad Electoral College!

Let's (again) look at why the Electoral College exists in the first damned place, and without the recent bullshit about how it was done for racist or pro-slavery reasons (it wasn't, and those who have said that it was are spinning a line because they want their damned queen to be installed in the White House).  I mean, after all, those who think they want to abolish the thing really ought to be aware of the reasons it exists in the first place.

And too often, those who have been calling for the abolition of the Electoral College are significantly less well-read in the fields of Political Philosophy and History than those who drafted the Constitution.   How many of you have read Locke, Rousseau,  Montesquieu, Cicero, Tacitus, Juvenal, Machiavelli, Genovesi, Voltaire, Hume, Hobbes, Bayle, Diderot, Kant, Seneca, and Plutarch?  Plato?  Aristotle?  Zeno?  How about Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton?  Paine?  Franklin?  How much do you know about the way the government of the Roman Republic was set up, how it worked, how it changed over time to the beginning of the Empire?  What do you know of the government of Classical Athens?  I'll wager that most of you are not familiar with even half of these things.  And you think you are better suited to decide on how our government should be set up than the Founders, who knew all of these authors and all of this history and political philosophy, rather thoroughly?  They were concerned and serious about trying to establish something better than anything which had existed before, but you guys FEEL like it's "bad," because poor little Hillary didn't get to be "the First Woman President" and you FEEL afraid of da big bad Twump.  Isn't thinking that you are better suited to do that than the Founders were (based on your FEELS instead of any actual STUDY of how governments have worked -- and failed -- in the past, how this government was set up and why, the thoughts of the Enlightenment thinkers and the Philosophers and Historians of the Classical World) a bit presumptuous?  Just a little bit, maybe?

Let's see here, then, ...  Ah, here we go, a bit of a summary.  Here's an excerpt:
The reason that the Constitution calls for this extra layer, rather than just providing for the direct election of the president, is that most of the nation’s founders were actually rather afraid of democracy. James Madison worried about what he called “factions,” which he defined as groups of citizens who have a common interest in some proposal that would either violate the rights of other citizens or would harm the nation as a whole. Madison’s fear – which Alexis de Tocqueville later dubbed “the tyranny of the majority” – was that a faction could grow to encompass more than 50 percent of the population, at which point it could “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.” Madison has a solution for tyranny of the majority: “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”
You can read it all here:  The Reason for the Electoral College

What else do we have?  Oh, right.  Federalist Papers, Number 10, by James Madison, to which I have already referred some of you:
The Federalist Papers, No. 10

I think some of you didn't read it.  Perhaps you thought it too tedious, or maybe the language was too dated.  So here's a summary and analysis.

If that's still "too long" for you, then you really shouldn't even be trying to tell anyone else a damned thing about the Electoral College, but here's a Cliffs Notes version.

We also have Federalist Papers, Number 68, in which Alexander Hamilton gives his reasons for wanting the Electoral College:
The Federalist Papers, No. 68

Again, though, maybe you find that too tedious (it's considerably more brief than Number 10, however), or think the language is too dated, so here's another summary and analysis, for Number 68.

Cliffs Notes version?  Got that, too (although, really, wow).

Here's something else:
Federalist No.68 vs. Antifederalist No. 72: The Debate over How to Elect the President

And another tasty morsel:
Why the Electoral College Exists (and Isn't Going Anywhere Soon)

The abolition of the Electoral College would be disastrous; it would allow NYC, Houston, DFW, Chicago, LA, and San Francisco to elect the President of the US, without anyone else's votes counting for shit. Presidential candidates would no longer give a damn about campaigning in any other part of the country, and, once in office, would be free to totally ignore the majority of the nation and cater to those six high population centers. Democratic? Maybe. Good? Not even close.

Some of you have attempted to frame the Electoral College in terms of a "tyranny of the minority" in response to our talk of a "tyranny of the majority" (which comes from de Tocqueville, for those who seem to have never heard the expression before -- and I have to ask, did y'all not take US History or Civics in school, have you forgotten all you learned in those classes, or did you just not pay any fucking attention?).  You guys are falling into Bifurcation Fallacy again. It doesn't have to be a tyranny of anyone, so get your heads out of that box already. That's the point. In a democratic federal republic, the minority is protected from the whims of the majority. It's a rule of law, not a rule of the majority (nor of the minority).

Some of you have asserted that the Electoral College is "backwards."  It's not backwards, and here's why. The ecosystem of each region is different from that of other regions, and that affects the economy of each region.  That's even more true now than it was in 1787 when the final draft of the Constitution was finished, or 1789 when the Constitution was ratified.  What is useful for the economy of the Great Plains of DFW may not be useful for the swamps ("Coastal Plains") of Houston, or the Great Lakes North of Chicago, or the temperate rain-forest of the PNW, ... much less the breadbaskets of the nation, which, Comrades, are obviously rural.  The needs and concerns of the rural "minority" are no less important than the needs and concerns of the urban "majority."  It's not about Democracy. It's about seeing that the minority are not disenfranchised by the majority. That's why we have (or used to have) a democratic federal republic and not a democracy.

It's not about tradition, either.  Y'all have to come to terms with the reality that different regions have different economies due to their different ecosystems. Catering to nothing but the five or six highest population centers will deny any voice at all to the rest of the nation, and their needs and concerns will become irrelevant. You can call this "undemocratic." I don't care. It IS undemocratic. It denies the tyranny of the majority. Hillary knew how the elections work, and she had her chance to make her case to the rural voters, but she didn't give a shit about them, and she never has. She's an elitist. It's not hard to reach out to the people; you just have to show an authentic interest in their needs and concerns, but she has no interest in anything other than her own ambitions, and she's not particularly bright. So now we have her relative (by marriage) howling about the Electoral College, because Hillary didn't campaign in any sort of winning manner.

To win the presidency, a candidate must make his or her appeal to the people of the nation, and not merely to some areas in which they believe their support is strong. The Democratic Party establishment, being so out of touch as has been demonstrated often over the past few years, has even suggested that they could basically "write off" the South entirely, with the exception, perhaps, of two or three states. Here are a couple of several examples of such a call:

The Democrats have been advised against this several times:

In spite of this advice, however, the establishment Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have stubbornly clung to this arrogant elitism (oh, and how they love to believe themselves to be elite, but they're NOT;  they're fucking STUPID, or we would right now be looking forward to President Bernie Sanders), and, as anyone who WAS in touch could have told them, the result was that they got bitten in the ass after shooting themselves in both feet:

Even had they undertaken a massive PR campaign in the South and other rural areas, however, it would not have helped Hillary, who is seen by a majority of such voters as inauthentic, untrustworthy, and corrupt, as well as elitist and condescending; in Arkansas especially, this reputation is predominant. Many Arkansas voters are much more familiar with Mrs Clinton than the rest of the nation.

Abolition of the Electoral College would solve nothing, and only make things worse. What we need is reform, not abolition. And the reform needed is more to do with the way the Electors are awarded, not in the Electoral College itself. Instead of First Past the Post and Winner Takes All, some kind of Proportional Representation and/or Ranked Choice Voting and/or Score Voting would resolve most of the issues, and I'm not presumptuous enough to say at this point in time that I know how to blend those types of elections to resolve most of the issues, but I am erudite enough to realize that it is by some combination of those ways of electing that the resolution will be found. You'll never make it perfect. That's not to say it can't be improved; it certainly can. But it's always going to be imperfect, no matter how much it is improved. The question to consider is whether allowing the majority of people in tiny territories to dominate the minority in vast territories, when all these territories have different needs and concerns, is an improvement, and the answer is no.

This push to abolish the Electoral College is as ridiculous as the bullshit the Federalists pulled with the Continental Convention; the Articles of Confederation did not need to be replaced, when they could as easily have been reformed, and in fact, under the Articles and even under the Constitution itself, the "ratification" of the Constitution did not follow the rules, but was pushed through as if it were a done deal in spite of that (but that's a story for another time).

To suggest that the needs and concerns of the very diverse ecosystems which make up this nation should be ignored in favor of urban interests, whims, and fads, is unsustainable, untenable, and indefensible.  It is also even, dare I say it?  Anti-democratic.

The title of the post (and the subtitle, this time) comes from Star Trek (The Original Series), Season 2, episode 23;  episode 52 overall;  production code 54.

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