Thursday, 22 December 2011

Secure The Blessings Of Liberty

Like the provision for every state to have two Senators regardless of its population, the Electoral College is one of the reasons why it is called the United States of America: every state counts. The solution to the injustice, if such it be, of equal representation in the Senate is the existing constitutional provision for the creation of new states out of parts of old ones. But somehow, I doubt that that is what the complainants have in mind.

Nor do they posit that a Democrat cannot win in the Electoral College. That is manifestly not the case, and hardly for the first time. Rather, they object to the fact that either a Democrat or a Republican, or indeed anyone else, cannot be elected President by the votes of urban and coastal liberals alone. But that is precisely the point. Neither a Republican nor a Democrat, nor indeed anyone else, can be elected President on the votes Southern, Western and rural conservatives alone, either.

The Electoral College required Barack Obama to win the votes of those who on the same day voted in California and Florida to re-affirm traditional marriage. Voted in Missouri and Ohio not to liberalise gambling. Voted in Colorado to end legal discrimination against white men. And voted for Obama from coast to coast while also keeping the black and Catholic churches, especially, going.

Therefore, the Electoral College required the Democratic Party to nominate a candidate capable of winning those votes. Lest we forget, Obama won the caucus in very white, very rural, very Evangelical, very conservative Iowa. The Republican caucus there on the same day was won by economically one of the most left-wing governors in American history, strongly pro-life and, like Obama, in favour of the traditional definition of marriage. If the GOP had paid attention, then it might have done rather better in the end. The Dems did, so they did.


  1. So one man one vote is overrated?

    I actually you think your argument would make a small amount of sense if state legislatures selected the electors as was originally intended, same with the Senate if they were still chosen by the state legislatures. Because there is an argument for a tier of government representing states (or provinces), meaning the governments of those areas. There is no argument for dividing a country into electoral districts and using anything other than a one man one vote basis.

    Incidentally, both the electoral college in particular and to some extent the Senate were both created mostly to deal with the situation where some states had large slave populations (my source is Akhil Amar's history of the U.S. constitution). Direct election of the president would have been from an electorate in which most of the voters lived in non-slave states, for the reason that a big chunk of the slave state populations would not be part of the electorate. Indirect election where each state was represented according to its population would have meant that the free populations in the slave states would had had their electoral influence boosted by the presence of large numbers (non-voting) slaves. The electoral college, the Senate, and the House were all set up to work around this, and though the 3/4 compromise for the House later became a non-issue we are still stuck with the workarounds for the Senate and the electoral college.

    I'll also note that the presidents of France and Brazil are directly elected by popular vote, and for some reason this doesn't seem to have affected the generous agricultural subsidies in France, while Brazil has had a series of elections where candidates popular with poor rural voters in the northeastern states defeated the candidate who carried the largest state, Sao Paulo.

  2. But a state is not a province. The direct election of the President of the French Republic is comparable to the direct election of an American state governor, and vice versa.

  3. But the President of Brazil is also directly elected.