Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bloomberg's McArdle Makes Perfect Case To Terminate Electoral College

Image may contain: 1 person, text

"In whatever spider hole in hell they've placed bin Laden, along with all the other petty tyrants of history, all of them must now be laughing. For in the days following 9/11 we grew to despise a thug terrorist who wished to destroy what it meant to be an American.

Now, in the days after Inauguration Day, 2017, we find ourselves led by a thug president bent on finishing the job."  - Chuck Plunkett, Editor of The Denver Post, Feb. 5, p. 1D

"I don’t know the best response for Americans to make to this chaos, but I do know that no action is the worst response. Americans, make some act of resistance!" - Letter writer Elizabeth Goebel, in Denver Post, Feb. 5, p. 2 D

The Electoral College had one chance, and one  only, to prove once and for all it wasn't an archaic, useless anachronism and it blew it. That chance occurred in December last year when it had the ability to specifically prevent a totally unqualified nitwit and looneytune from occupying the highest office in the land. And it fucked it up big time, let's not mince words.

Let's remind ourselves of what we already knew about Trump two months ago, in the words of blogger William Rivers Pitt:

"A man with the temperament of an earthquake, utterly devoid of self-control, with no one around him apparently capable of reining him in, a man who admittedly lives for revenge and retribution, who is completely incapable of absorbing criticism without having a very public meltdown, who knows little of the world, and who thinks nothing of throwing people who commit minor acts of dissent in prison … this man is about to be invested with astonishing legal powers."

Alexander Hamilton himself-  in Federalist #68 -  saw the need to stop such an autocratic demagogue from becoming President,  so why not an ordinary citizen elector? Especially when, as Kathleen Parker noted in a column days before the Electoral College met:

"Without consulting advisers or “sleeping on it,” for which he is not known, Trump can authorize a nuke upon the slightest provocation — or none. All previous presidents have had the same authority, of course, but all have also been experienced statesmen, nary a reality-show celebrity (nor snake-oil salesman) among them."

Hamilton for his own part was blunt and to the point and his words in The Federalist  #68  bear directly on Trump's entanglements with foreign businesses and diplomats:

"Nothing is more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to a cabal, intrigue or corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.

How could they better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?"

Hamilton was particularly emphatic when he wrote:

"the office of President shall never fall to the lot of any man who is not to an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications"

"Shall never fall to any man who is not to an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications". The words could not be any clearer! What has also been manifested since Trump's inauguration is that he not only lacks the requisite qualifications but poses a mortal danger to the Republic. This is something that my Revolutionary War ancestor Conrad Brumbaugh would see in a heartbeat, and why he'd also agree Trump needs to be removed from the seat of power. (See my previous post).

Thus, the Electoral College failed in the one major job with which it was charged and allowed an unqualified, unstable nincompoop to become President. It became instead merely a rubber stamp for the electoral vote count and showed that because it couldn't fulfill it's prime purpose it needs to be retired to the dumpster of history.

Enter now Bloomberg News' writer Megan McArdle ('Democrats Rise Is Far From Inevitable', Denver Post, Jan. 27,  p. 1D) who actually claimed "the left's demonstrations were more impressive than its voter turnout".  Clearly missing the memo that the Dems actually turned out 2.9 million MORE voters than Trump for this past election, in favor of Hillary Clinton.  Hence, the shabby voter turnout claim is another alternative fact. But it plays into McArdle's narrative - and other pundits - that we need to preserve this anachronism. No, we do not.

This is reinforced later when she writes:

"The Democratic Coalition has self-gerrymandered into a small number of places where it can turn out an impressive number of feet on the ground but not enough votes to win the House....or the Electoral College".

But in fact it is the peculiar anti-democratic nature of the Electoral College (as well as outlandish Republican gerrymandering, to hold onto House seats) that has led to an aberration where the popular vote winner loses an election.  (As Al Gore did in the 2000 election). An aberration, by the way, present in no other Western democracy - where the popular vote is the decisive marker for winning an election.  Hence, the U.S. system is antiquated and diluted by comparison to the proper election systems of the UK, Germany, France etc. We are out of synch with those election systems, in other words, and now ours has been shown to invite demagoguery.

The only saving grace or reason for preserving it was basically snuffed out when the electors met on December 19th and punted, allowing a mentally unstable populist poltroon to ascend to power. This is exactly what the Founders feared! With that misfire, the Electoral College's only utility vanished and it effectively signed its own epitaph, though most of the nation's pundits still haven't figured that out.

The only reason to preserve an anachronism like the Electoral College was for it to act as the final fail safe to an unwise electorate committing the crime of "mischief of faction"  noted by James Madison in The Federalist #10. As Madison described it:

"Mischief of faction is when citizens - whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole - are united and actuated by a common impulse of passion to cast their votes adverse to the rights of other citizens or the permanent and aggregate interests of the community". 

This is exactly what the Trump voters did, motivated by inflamed passions and moral recklessness via Trump's often violent rallies to give a middle finger to the rest of the country - thereby militating against the majority's interests.   While most citizens' fears were speculative before Trump's inauguration, the last two weeks have shown that all were justified in spades. He has pissed on every value of the majority of voters, as well as on the Constitution with his Muslim Ban - which some Trumpies still fail to grasp by definition. They ridicule the rest of us for asserting it's a real ban-because the largest Muslim nations, e.g. Indonesia, had been excluded.  Missing the point that the ban was not about banning ALL Muslim nations but a subjectively targeted set suspected of having terrorists. In fact it targeted seven predominantly Muslim nations for punishment when none of their citizens have been guilty of any terror acts. (The Saudis were excluded from the ban, but of course, they were A-ok because The Donald has business interests there).

Also exposing the ban for the fascist imperative it is, is the 2015 study that showed "since 9/11 white, right wing terrorists have killed almost twice as many Americans in homegrown attacks than radical Islamists have..."  But, of course, this diverges from the Trumpie narrative that all the bad guys are Muslim.  But issues like this are what cause me to believe the 9th Circuit Appeals Court will find for the opponents of the specious Muslim ban concocted by Steve Bannon.

Trump went even further in pursuing the mischief of faction mandate by appointing a White nationalist to his National Security Council, as well as seven- odd "alligators" to fill the "swamp" he promised to drain. In other words, their job will be to destroy the agencies they've been hired to lead. And from the last email I've received from the Sierra Club,  e.g.

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz just introduced a bill to ENTIRELY DISMANTLE the agency responsible for defending air, water, and human health from pollution and climate change.

that starts with the EPA.

So yes, the Electoral College and its useless, spineless electors fucked us all to a far thee well. They showed the Electoral College deserves to be disbanded and left to rot in the annals of history where it belongs.  In the process they also showed McArdle's arguments are specious on their face.

McArdle is correct that large swaths of the country are "turning redder"  but  all that means in the light of recent events, is there is more potential for mischief of faction in the future - unless the Electoral College (now a mere rubber stamp)  is abolished. It certainly doesn't mean the Democrats are becoming obsolete - given they took the popular vote by such a huge margin. (Which has prompted the unhinged Trump to protest it and actually mount a phony investigation, so bruised is his ego.)  What it means is we are allowing an anachronistic appendage to pervert democracy and the voice of the majority of voters in favor of an unelected clique who can't even fulfill their basic mandate: to protect the nation from a phony populist and demagogue. 

The Founders would be turning over in their graves now, as well as my ancestor, Conrad - who fought in the Pennsylvania Regiment against the Redcoats to prevent this very situation from happening.

See also:


toto said...

There have been hundreds of unsuccessful proposed amendments to modify or abolish the Electoral College - more than any other subject of Constitutional reform.
To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

Instead, pragmatically, The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.
Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes.
No more handful of 'battleground' states (where the two major political parties happen to have similar levels of support) where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 38+ predictable states that have just been 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.

The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

The bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
The bill has passed 34 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 261 electoral votes.
The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country


Copernicus said...

Thanks for that information!