[sixties-l] Re: stop the theft of the elections

From: Michael Rossman (mrossman@igc.org)
Date: 11/12/00

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    > William Mandel writes:
    > The states have nothing in the world to do with cultural diversity. A group of
    > states may, or may not, but not an individual state.
    Utah, Vermont, Oregon, and New Mexico are obvious counterexamples. Moreover,
    the contention that the Electoral College system works to some degree to favor
    political diversity, and through this indirectly cultural diversity, applies
    to groups of small states as well, whether contiguous or not. 
    > The electoral college reflects the unwillingness of the smaller ex-colonies
    >  represented at the Constitutional Convention to be overwhelmed by a one-citizen
    > one-vote system that would have given the then most populous, such as Virginia,
    > maximum power.
    Many people are citing this history as proving something, but to what end?
    That the original motivations for this structural feature were in part
    lamentable tells us nothing about its political functions and effects
    presently. If a compelling reason to abolish it for democracy's sake had been
    evident before this month, surely progressives would have campaigned seriously
    against it at some time in our lives; but I cannot recall this. As I noted, if
    the present electoral situation were reversed, I doubt that progressives would
    be clamouring for Constitutional revision -- which makes this seem a mere
    expediency, or worse, a foolish distraction which might well have more
    negative than positive consequences. As changing this feature won't affect the
    present election, we've plenty of time to consider analysis of its functions
    and deficiencies in present terms, rather than by  dubious citation of a
    distant sin. 
    > I simply don't understand how someone can believe in democracy and favor a system
    >  that gives a person in Wyoming sixty-nine times the vote of one in California in choice
    > of a president.
    Mandel misunderstands the statistics of the Electoral College, since one
    Wyomingian weighs less than four Californians in its voting. His cited ratio
    applies instead to the U.S. Senate -- and so does his reasoning, which
    suggests that he strongly favors abolishing the Senate. He might well do so
    for the reasons he cites, as well perhaps as others; for all such apply much
    more strongly to this body than to the E.C. The per-capita-representation
    disparity is greatly more unjust in the Senate; and so is its apparent
    consequence, for the Senate works continuously to shape our land, while this
    sort of electoral jam happens once per century. 
    Will those now hot to abolish the Electoral College take on the more
    significant reform of junking the Senate, when the current enthusiasm cools?
    (I should note that I'm not a die-hard partisan of the E.C. Indeed, I was
    surprised to find myself coming to say a kind word about it, once I thought
    about the issue of diversity and monoculture. I am open to reasonable argument
    about its present deficiencies, but so far have noticed few, as righteous and
    irrelevant citation of founders' motivations has so dominated the critical
    	Michael Rossman   <mrossman@igc.org>

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