Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Electoral College: To Abolish or not to Abolish?

Sen. Nelson of Florida submitted a proposal in Congress today to amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College. Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic presents what could be a nightmare scenario, which Andrew Sullivan appropriately calls 2000 on Steroids. He calls it thus because we could see potentially a scenario where:

John McCain will win a state like Mississippi, but it will certainly be by a much narrower margin that George W. Bush held over John Kerry. Think of a state like Georgia, where Obma will turn out potentially a 100,000 more black voters than John Kerry, or a state like Indiana, where Kerry received only four out of every ten votes.

By the same token, it is hard to imagine, although not impossible to conceive, that John McCain would be able to narrow President Bush's margins in many of the red Republican states. The Obama campaign will have the resources to narrow the gap in Texas by, say, 800,000 votes, and the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee will be hard pressed to devote resources to a state they know they're going to win.

So what happens if this scenario comes true? Well, Obama would be in the position of arguing that the popular vote matters more than the electoral vote (and would be wholly justified in doing so), even though the constitution clearly disagrees. The repetition of the problem and the magnitude of Obama's victory would surely throw out the status quo; courts would uphold the constitution and give John McCain a victory, but the public would most likely not stand down as they did in 2000.

Frightening indeed. I'd imagine as passionate as people have been thus far (and we only finished the Primary Season people) that it could be possible that people would take to the streets. I suppose it makes sense then that Sen. Nelson did what he did today, but despite it all - despite the possibility of 'my guy' loosing in such a way, and knowing that I probably would take to the streets too, I'm not in favor of abolishing the electoral college.

There's a reason why we're not a direct democracy. The founding fathers had the foresight to realize that. You don't have to look much further than individual states to see what happens when you apply direct democracy in making law - it simply makes for bad law, law that is based purely on passions and not on reason. And usually the minority - whoever the minority is (in this case offered it would be Republicans) has the potential to suffer.

Let's be frank the only time a plebiscite was used to ratify an amendment and to be done so successfully was Amendment XXI to repeal Prohibition, and that was to the chagrin of temperance folk - like the entire state of South Carolina.

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