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

From: Ted Morgan (
Date: 11/12/00

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    The electoral college is prima facie anti-democratic.  It was also part of an intentionally
    anti-democratic bias in the landed gentry, legal minds, and mercantile interests who wrote the
    Constitution-- the same folks eager for strong enough central government to put down
    rebellious farmers (Daniel Shays in W. Mass; Whisky rebellion in Pa.), eager for a common
    currency to stabilize trade & commerce amongst the former colonies, and eager for a national
    standing army and navy able to safeguard the triangular trade routes, etc.
    So, no problem here with abolishing it.  However, Michale is, I think, right that few
    progressives have spent a lot of energy on this, and that the more important point might be to
    take advantage of the public dissatisfaction with the outmoded electoral college (and near
    rock-bottom legitimacy that any administration or party is going to have after this election)
    to mobilize public support for REAL democratic reform that will open up the system. THis is so
    transparently a crucial first step in the ability of the left to have voice in the larger
    culture!  So, we should tack on the electoral college reform, (a) a campaign for public
    finance of all presidential, senatorial & congressional elections, along with spending caps
    for those who accept public funds and a requirement of those media leeches of the PUBLIC
    airwaves that they provide free air time to all candidates who qualify for the ballot, and (b)
    a move for proportional representation in Congressional elections --to open the opportunity
    for minority parties to gain seats and avoid the abysmal & crippling 'lesser of two evils'
    Ted Morgan
    Michael Rossman wrote:
    > > 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
    > discourse.)
    >         Michael Rossman   <>

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