60
   

Let's get rid of the Electoral College

 
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 01:11 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:
the foolish one is the one who thinks that they know better than the founding fathers, after the founding fathers have accumulated a record more than 200 years deep of success.


I may well be foolish in thinking we'd be better off without it, but that certainly isn't established by your inability to give any evidence for it or your preference for logical fallacy instead.

You can't justify any element of a system based on the overall success of the system. By your reasoning, there can be no criticism of the American political system at all, because the usefulness of its every part is evidenced by the system's overall success.

This is easily the most foolish argument I've ever seen for the electoral college.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 01:21 pm
@Robert Gentel,
ever heard the saying "if it ain't broke don't try to fix it"? The electoral College is a very complex concept, it is impossible to know for sure what will happen if we do away with it or change it, and there is no reason to take the risk. The EC purpose is to create stability, the democracy has been remarkable stable, only a fool would want to mess with it until and unless democratic process becomes unstable.

I dont need to know why it works, I don't need to defend it. If you want to change it you need to make a reasonably convincing argument for changing it. Only then do I need to do the work to defend it. I will defend it if it needs defending from attacks from people like you, till then I have better things to do.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 01:26 pm
Rather than reinventing the wheel, I'll just reprint what I've said before:

Dumping the electoral college in favor of a nationwide popular vote seems appealing on its face, but it risks upsetting the political balance.

First of all, there are three main props to the two-party system in the US: single-member congressional constituencies elected on a plurality basis; the nationwide election for a single chief executive; and the electoral college. These together largely explain why the US has, with brief exceptions, always had two major national parties contending for power. Take away any of those props, and it is possible that the two-party system would be severely compromised. Now, of course, many people would see that as a positive result; I take no sides in that debate. It is, however, worth considering when discussing the elimination of the EC.

If we go to a national popular vote, then, there is no guarantee that there would be only two major candidates running for the presidency. Indeed, there could be a dozen or more, as is the case right now in France. So what do we do if the winner in a crowded field of candidates gets only 20% of the total popular vote, as Jacques Chirac did in winning the first round of the 2002 French presidential election? Would the winning candidate in that scenario have enough legitimacy to command the respect of the nation?

One of the possibilities explored in the early 1970s by the senate judiciary committee, headed by Birch Bayh (which was the last serious look at reforming the method of electing the president) favored a popular vote system, with runoff elections in the event that no candidate received a majority (or 40%, under some proposals) of the votes. That is the system that is currently in place in France and other countries. It has the advantage of insuring that the winner will receive a majority of the votes at least in the runoff election, but it has the disadvantage of almost guaranteeing that there will be two elections. Americans are not very good about voting in even one election: there is some doubt that they will be more enthusiastic about voting in two. The EC, at least, almost always gives us a winner the first time around (the tie-breaker, though, is completely insane).

Another good thing about the EC is that it magnifies small popular vote majorities, which lends an added degree of legitimacy to the result. For instance, in 1960, Kennedy won by a meager .2% of the popular vote over Nixon, but managed a very comfortable 303-219 margin of victory in the EC. With such commanding EC total to surmount, Nixon wisely decided not to contest the results.

That ties into one of the other benefits of the EC. As fishin points out, because the EC segregates popular votes by states it also isolates charges of vote fraud. In the 1960 election, there were numerous charges of vote fraud in a few states (Illinois being only the most prominent). Nixon, having lost by about 100,000 popular votes out of over 68 million cast, might have been tempted to call for a national re-count under a popular vote system. Under the EC system, on the other hand, there would have been no reason for Nixon to challenge the vote totals in Illinois, since a swing of Illinois's 27 electoral votes wouldn't have changed the result of the election. In this respect, the 2000 election was exceptional because the change in any one state's electoral vote result would have changed the results of the national election (1876 is the only other time that happened).

In short, calls for replacing the EC with a popular vote are easy to support, but there are a few devils in the details that most supporters of change tend to ignore.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 01:59 pm
I wanted to address something which RG said, to the effect of not serving ideological interests in an election. I can think of few notions more removed from reality. At the time of the promulgation of the constitution, such a thing as a political party did not exist--not anywhere in the world. The framers understood the idea of faction, and although not commenting, undoubtedly understood that faction would look after its own interests.

But the very offering of the constitution for ratification created political parties, parties far greater than faction. Those supporting the ratification dubbed themselves Federalists, leaving the opposition the lame title (inevitably applied to them by newspaper editorialists) of Anti-Federalists. In the wake of the ratification, which he opposed, Jefferson organized the Democratic-Republican party to oppose the Federalists, and that party was known throughout early American history as the Republicans. It is usually claimed to be the ancestor of the Democratic Party, which is only partly true, since Andrew Jackson created the Democratic Party, and the first modern American political party, from the wreck of the Republicans. But that is not germane here.

What is germane is that ideology, if one will--in fact, party politics and philosophy, have governed nearly every election in American history. And the American people have never been shy about giving the executive to one party, and the legislative to another. Nixon was elected and re-elected, yet the people did not send a Republican Congress in on his coat-tails--he dealt throughout with a Democratic Congress. Reagan dealt with a Democratic Congress after the 1986 mid-term, as did Pappy Bush in succeeding him. Clinton arrived on the coat-tails of that Congress, but people gave him a Republican Congress in 1994, which lasted until they had not just shot themselves in the foot, but shot their own feet off, and stumbled to defeat in 2006.

The American people tend to be, in terms of their own political views, centrists. They commonly give a President of one party a Congress of the other party (Harry Truman won an unexpected victory in 1948, but he still had to deal with a Republican Congress, and at time when most state legislatures were being taken over by the Republicans--at the mid-term, Democrats recaptured the Congress, only to lose it again in Eisenhower's first mid-term).

I see absolutely nothing wrong with a national election serving ideological interests. That is, after all, what political partisanship is all about. One may deplore it, but it is foolish to think that it can be eliminated or dispensed with. If Baby Bush's election served an ideological purpose, the 2006 mid-term redressed that, and the Democrats have improved their position in 2008.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:04 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:
I dont need to know why it works, I don't need to defend it. If you want to change it you need to make a reasonably convincing argument for changing it. Only then do I need to do the work to defend it. I will defend it if it needs defending from attacks from people like you, till then I have better things to do.


If you don't find my arguments convincing that's your right. But trying to defend the electoral college with logical fallacy is, indeed, probably a case where you can find better things to do given that others are defending it much more intelligently.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:08 pm
That's right . . . defend it from people like you . . . you god-less fellow traveller . . .
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:18 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Dumping the electoral college in favor of a nationwide popular vote seems appealing on its face, but it risks upsetting the political balance.


I think that would be great! The two-party system is something I consider less desirable than more proportional representation.

Quote:
First of all, there are three main props to the two-party system in the US: single-member congressional constituencies elected on a plurality basis; the nationwide election for a single chief executive; and the electoral college. These together largely explain why the US has, with brief exceptions, always had two major national parties contending for power. Take away any of those props, and it is possible that the two-party system would be severely compromised. Now, of course, many people would see that as a positive result; I take no sides in that debate. It is, however, worth considering when discussing the elimination of the EC.


As you note, this is a positive for some. And a big positive for me.

Quote:
If we go to a national popular vote, then, there is no guarantee that there would be only two major candidates running for the presidency. Indeed, there could be a dozen or more, as is the case right now in France. So what do we do if the winner in a crowded field of candidates gets only 20% of the total popular vote, as Jacques Chirac did in winning the first round of the 2002 French presidential election? Would the winning candidate in that scenario have enough legitimacy to command the respect of the nation?


There should be a quorum requirement and runoffs. There's no reason abandoning the electoral college can't come with the protections other countries use for this kind of scenario. (Edit, I'm responding as I read it and just noted that you acknowledge this below).

Quote:
Americans are not very good about voting in even one election: there is some doubt that they will be more enthusiastic about voting in two.


I don't see turnout as an inherently good thing, though I know others do, so I'm not concerned with this.

Quote:
Another good thing about the EC is that it magnifies small popular vote majorities, which lends an added degree of legitimacy to the result.


I think this is a matter of opinion. I, for one, don't see Bush as any more legitimate for having won while losing the popular vote and, in fact, see him as having less of a mandate for having done so.

For those who put stock in the electoral college system, the mandate it serves is being touted as an advantage. Of course, for those who find it less than ideal, those are the cases that naturally best demonstrate it's own illegitimacy in their eyes.

Quote:
For instance, in 1960, Kennedy won by a meager .2% of the popular vote over Nixon, but managed a very comfortable 303-219 margin of victory in the EC. With such commanding EC total to surmount, Nixon wisely decided not to contest the results.


This is a good example, and I can see why some might find this desirable. But I don't. I don't think the disproportionate power should be viewed as a mandate. If he won by such a slim margin his mandate should be reflected by it in my opinion.

That being said, I hadn't thought about the procedural issues of elections being more closely contested. But I think these are issues that can be addressed through other procedures (runoffs, perhaps a majority requirement).

Quote:
That ties into one of the other benefits of the EC. As fishin points out, because the EC segregates popular votes by states it also isolates charges of vote fraud. In the 1960 election, there were numerous charges of vote fraud in a few states (Illinois being only the most prominent). Nixon, having lost by about 100,000 popular votes out of over 68 million cast, might have been tempted to call for a national re-count under a popular vote system. Under the EC system, on the other hand, there would have been no reason for Nixon to challenge the vote totals in Illinois, since a swing of Illinois's 27 electoral votes wouldn't have changed the result of the election. In this respect, the 2000 election was exceptional because the change in any one state's electoral vote result would have changed the results of the national election (1876 is the only other time that happened).


I don't see the elimination of the electoral college as eliminating the ability to segment the voting administration into more manageable subsets but I do acknowledge the point that the system simplifies tightly contested elections.

I'm not completely convinced that on balance that's a good thing, but I can certainly see some benefits.

Quote:
In short, calls for replacing the EC with a popular vote are easy to support, but there are a few devils in the details that most supporters of change tend to ignore.


Do you think those details can be adequately addressed without the electoral college?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:22 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
I see absolutely nothing wrong with a national election serving ideological interests.


Nor do I. My point is that if the national election is primarily about national ideology I don't see a compelling reason that regional considerations should give certain state's citizens inflated representation in national ideology.

I see a need to protect small states from competing interests in other states but don't see national ideology as such a thing.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:36 pm
Many a voter may not agree with you that ideology is something from which they need protection. Whether or not, i would point out that in 2000, neither Gore nor Bush polled a majority. Gore polled 48 and some fraction of a percentage point, and Bush polled 47 and some fraction of a percentage point--and the peculiar institution of the electoral college served the ideological interests of most of those just under 50% of voters. Arguments about whether or not this is just or defensible cannot ignore that Gore did not either attract 50% of the voters--so it cannot be said with any certainty that the results of the 2000 election imposed ideologically upon that nation. If it could reasonably be alleged that one effect of the college is to serve an ideological interest, quibbles about what you continue to propagandistically refer to as "inflated representation" seem to me to count for little, absent any proof that the effect were to deny the majority ideological view. That certainly cannot be unquestionably alleged with regard to the 2000 election.

To continue to use the term "inflated representation" ignores, willfully i suspect, the point about the sovereignty of the several states being served by this institution. It is a deliberate mechanism, and one of which i approve. But whether one approves or disapproves, certain it is that it would be bloody difficult to dispense with the college, given the difficulties in amending the constitution, especially in recent decades when proposed amendments are sent to the states with deadlines.
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:46 pm
@Setanta,
Well said, Setanta.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:55 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
To continue to use the term "inflated representation" ignores, willfully i suspect, the point about the sovereignty of the several states being served by this institution.


Again, disagrees not ignores. I don't think they need disproportionate political power in the presidential election for their sovereignty.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 05:33 pm
Let's take a break to notice that this thread on the Electoral College currently has 60 posts and 600+ views.

Wow! This is a prime example of why I love a2k. Out of any 100 people on the street only an handful would have more than a foggy notion of what the EC is, and almost nobody would care to argue about its usefulness.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 06:22 pm
@hawkeye10,
um, sorry, 90 posts......
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 08:16 pm
@hawkeye10,
Quote:
Out of any 100 people on the street only an handful would have more than a foggy notion of what the EC is, and almost nobody would care to argue about its usefulness.


Or, alternatively, many of the views are by the people who ARE actively discussing the matter, checking the thread to see what has been posted...as well as by people, such as myself, who are interested, and have a little knowledge, but are content to let those with more knowledge discuss it, and to learn more from their discussion.

Sometimes listening is more educative than talking.
0 Replies
 
cjhsa
 
  -4  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 08:24 pm
Let's get rid of A2K.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 09:37 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
There should be a quorum requirement and runoffs. There's no reason abandoning the electoral college can't come with the protections other countries use for this kind of scenario.

Runoff systems have their own set of problems. Take the French presidential electoral system. Under that system, if no candidate wins a majority of the votes in the first round, then a second round of voting takes place with the top two candidates from the first round facing off against each other (that, btw, is the same system currently in place for the Georgia senate race between Chambliss and Martin, and has been a feature of Louisiana electoral politics for a while). The goal in such a system is to finish in second place. The first round typically attracts numerous candidates who hope that, with a highly splintered electorate, they can somehow manage to win enough votes to advance to the second round. Such a system favors small fringe parties with highly concentrated followings -- voters who aren't likely to be attracted to bigger but more centrist parties.

That's what happened in 2002, when the first round of the French presidential election ended up with neo-fascist Jean-Marie le Pen finishing second to the corrupt and unpopular incumbent president Jacques Chirac. Voters grudgingly threw their support behind Chirac in the second round, just to avoid the prospect of a le Pen presidency. Think of Pat Buchanan running against George Bush and you have some idea of what sort of choice that was like.

That's not to say that runoff systems give voters undesirable choices -- any system can do that. It's just that runoff systems have, I think, a greater potential for giving voters unacceptable choices, since those systems have a greater potential for producing results like the one France faced in 2002 (btw, we don't see the same sort of dynamic in American runoff systems, such as in Louisiana, but that's because there's a two-party system in place -- something that might be destroyed if the electoral college is eliminated).

Robert Gentel wrote:
Quote:
Americans are not very good about voting in even one election: there is some doubt that they will be more enthusiastic about voting in two.


I don't see turnout as an inherently good thing, though I know others do, so I'm not concerned with this.

I don't think a high turnout is, in itself, a good thing either; so long as good candidates are elected, it really doesn't matter how many people vote. Smaller turnouts, however, favor small parties with highly motivated followings rather than centrist "big tent" parties. Again, that might be seen as a positive for some people. I take no sides.

Robert Gentel wrote:
Quote:
Another good thing about the EC is that it magnifies small popular vote majorities, which lends an added degree of legitimacy to the result.


I think this is a matter of opinion.

Indeed. But then opinion matters.

Robert Gentel wrote:
I, for one, don't see Bush as any more legitimate for having won while losing the popular vote and, in fact, see him as having less of a mandate for having done so.

Well, that's the point, isn't it? If the system doesn't have a good chance of producing a "legitimate" winner, then voters lose faith in both the system and the results it produces. And that's not confined to the American electoral college system.

For instance, Mexico has a "first past the post" system for presidential elections: i.e. the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of how many votes he or she receives. In 2006, the top two candidates won 35.89% and 35.31% of the national vote, a difference of about 240,000 votes out of over 41 million cast. The second-place finisher, Lopez Obrador, claimed that fraud and other electoral shenanigans invalidated the totals and protested the decision to give the election to his opponent, Calderon. In fact, Lopez Obrador still hasn't recognized the 2006 election as legitimate, which just shows that popular vote systems aren't immune to these types of controversies.

Robert Gentel wrote:
For those who put stock in the electoral college system, the mandate it serves is being touted as an advantage. Of course, for those who find it less than ideal, those are the cases that naturally best demonstrate it's own illegitimacy in their eyes.

The 2000 election was, without question, a disaster, but it's worth noting that it would have been a disaster under a popular vote system as well -- it just would have been a nationwide disaster, as the recount in Florida would have been duplicated in every other state as well.

Robert Gentel wrote:
This is a good example, and I can see why some might find this desirable. But I don't. I don't think the disproportionate power should be viewed as a mandate. If he won by such a slim margin his mandate should be reflected by it in my opinion.

Mandate? I care nothing for that. I'm talking about legitimacy.

Robert Gentel wrote:
Do you think those details can be adequately addressed without the electoral college?

Every system has its problems. No system, for instance, can adequately address Arrow's paradox. The electoral college and popular vote systems have problems, they just have different problems.

For better or worse, the electoral college has shaped the American political system. If you don't have much interest in preserving that system, then you should have no problem in advocating the end of the electoral college. If, on the other hand, you want to keep all the good aspects of the system but get rid of this one part of it, don't be surprised if pulling that one card out of the structure sends the whole thing tumbling down.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 10:33 pm
@joefromchicago,
Great analysis joe. As accurate and fair as I could imagine.

joefromchicago wrote:
That's not to say that runoff systems give voters undesirable choices -- any system can do that. It's just that runoff systems have, I think, a greater potential for giving voters unacceptable choices, since those systems have a greater potential for producing results like the one France faced in 2002 (btw, we don't see the same sort of dynamic in American runoff systems, such as in Louisiana, but that's because there's a two-party system in place -- something that might be destroyed if the electoral college is eliminated).


That's a legitimate knock on political diversity but I'll take the diversity with its downsides over the monolithic politics in America, where you don't have much of a chance to change your country with your vote because the two-party system tends to make them ape each other an awful lot.

Quote:
Well, that's the point, isn't it? If the system doesn't have a good chance of producing a "legitimate" winner, then voters lose faith in both the system and the results it produces.


But what makes the system you propose any more "legitimate" than the popular vote? If you place value in the system, then I posit that you are far more likely to see it as lending legitimacy. When you disagree with it, like I do with the preference for the popular vote, I posit you are more likely to see it as illegitimate in this sense.

I've seen no compelling argument that says this system lends a greater legitimacy than the popular vote would.

Quote:
In fact, Lopez Obrador still hasn't recognized the 2006 election as legitimate, which just shows that popular vote systems aren't immune to these types of controversies.


My desire to get rid of the electoral college isn't motivated in the slightest by any the results being hotly contested or by controversy over who has won. But I acknowledge that this may matter a lot more to others than it does to me.

I care more about the accuracy of the representation of my political power more than whether the results are closer and contested more often but can see a legitimate downside to political controversy.

Quote:
The 2000 election was, without question, a disaster, but it's worth noting that it would have been a disaster under a popular vote system as well -- it just would have been a nationwide disaster, as the recount in Florida would have been duplicated in every other state as well.


Well, to me it wasn't a disaster because of the recounts and controversy, it was a disaster because the system didn't give the presidency to the man with the most votes.

Quote:
Mandate? I care nothing for that. I'm talking about legitimacy.


What constitutes legitimacy to you? Less controversy? To me, it's how accurately the will of the people is reflected.

Quote:
For better or worse, the electoral college has shaped the American political system. If you don't have much interest in preserving that system, then you should have no problem in advocating the end of the electoral college.


I think this is an honest assessment, there's a lot about the American political system I'd like to change. I don't like the two-party system, which is shaped by things like the electoral college but is what I see as its most influential characteristic. If one wants to do away with that, there's a lot about the American political system that would need to change.

Americans from all walks of politics tend to speak reverentially about the American political structure and it's "founding fathers". Being a bit of an outsider to the American education system I don't share the same reverence for the traditions. I would love to see it turned on its head, with a move toward more proportional representation. I would like to see more political parties, I would like to see the representatives more accurately represent the spectrum of political leanings in America instead of nearly identical parties being the only viable options.

I don't think that would do away with the need to vote for the lesser evil, I think your example of France illustrated that well, but I do think it would mean more Americans could vote for someone who more accurately represents their beliefs and that votes out of the mainstream would matter more. Right now, it's pointless to be a Republican voter in California in the presidential election. I'd like that opinion to count for something, and don't want any citizen's political voice inflated so that we all have a fair share of political influence.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 11:59 pm
RG wrote:
I don't like the two-party system, which is shaped by things like the electoral college but is what I see as its most influential characteristic.


I consider this a statement without foundation. Until the 1864 election, there were frequently more than two parties represented, and even in 1860, all four candidates polled both significant amounts of the popular vote, as well as taking quite a few electoral votes. Lincoln won with just fractionally less than 40% of the vote. The two party system is the product of many factors, not the least of which is collusion between the two parties to kill off any rivals--but the electoral college did not create or shape the two party system.

Quote:
Right now, it's pointless to be a Republican voter in California in the presidential election. I'd like that opinion to count for something, and don't want any citizen's political voice inflated so that we all have a fair share of political influence.


This is why i have deplored the winner-take-all system of allocating electoral votes. I am not so "unpragmatical" as to think that it can be dispensed with, either by direct action in state legislatures, nor even less by constitutional amendment. But the electoral college still serves the function for which it was intended, and it still serves to make every state and every reason important in the election. As has been pointed out, without it, most of the country wouldn't see the candidates at all in the campaign season, and the candidates would not be obliged to pay even lip service to the notion of a genuine national compaign.

I acknowledge that we don't agree on this matter; that does not lessen my sense that moving to a strictly popular vote system will likely create as many problems as it solves, and that it will have discarded one more aspect of state sovereignty, without which, we approach more and more the type of centralized governments one finds in Europe. Personally, i think there is more true democracy in the United States, even with the electoral college, than there is in other industrial democracies.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 10:18 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
That's a legitimate knock on political diversity but I'll take the diversity with its downsides over the monolithic politics in America, where you don't have much of a chance to change your country with your vote because the two-party system tends to make them ape each other an awful lot.

Again, some see that as an advantage to the American system. And, in terms of results, there's something to be said for two centrist parties rather than a multitude of more doctrinaire parties. The US has had pretty much the same political system in place since 1804, which is a fairly good record as far as democracies go.

Robert Gentel wrote:
But what makes the system you propose any more "legitimate" than the popular vote?

I'm not proposing any system.

Robert Gentel wrote:
If you place value in the system, then I posit that you are far more likely to see it as lending legitimacy. When you disagree with it, like I do with the preference for the popular vote, I posit you are more likely to see it as illegitimate in this sense.

I've seen no compelling argument that says this system lends a greater legitimacy than the popular vote would.

Well, 204 years of success is one measure of the public's acceptance of the current system's legitimacy. You may have your own personal gripes, but the people as a whole seem to accept it.

Robert Gentel wrote:
My desire to get rid of the electoral college isn't motivated in the slightest by any the results being hotly contested or by controversy over who has won. But I acknowledge that this may matter a lot more to others than it does to me.

It probably should be a concern.

Robert Gentel wrote:
I care more about the accuracy of the representation of my political power more than whether the results are closer and contested more often but can see a legitimate downside to political controversy.

Well, if an electoral system reflects your will as a voter but yields uncertain results, then I'm not sure where the advantage is. That's rather like saying that, as long as the spark plugs are firing, you don't care if the car runs or not. Elections aren't just about the process, they're also about the results.

Robert Gentel wrote:
Well, to me it wasn't a disaster because of the recounts and controversy, it was a disaster because the system didn't give the presidency to the man with the most votes.

We really don't know how many votes, nationwide, the two candidates received, since only one state had a thorough recount. But then to say that the election was a disaster because Gore didn't win is merely assuming that electoral systems must give the victory to the candidate with the most popular votes, and that's the point you're attempting to establish. That's akin to question-begging.

Robert Gentel wrote:
Quote:
Mandate? I care nothing for that. I'm talking about legitimacy.


What constitutes legitimacy to you? Less controversy? To me, it's how accurately the will of the people is reflected.

"Legitimacy" means the popular acceptance of the results. In Mexico, for instance, a lot of people don't accept the results of the 2006 presidential election and see Calderon's presidency as illegitimate. The US, with 54 presidential elections, has had only two which were viewed by a significant segment of the population as illegitimate, and it has never had an election result overturned by extralegal means. That's a pretty good track record.

Robert Gentel wrote:
I think this is an honest assessment, there's a lot about the American political system I'd like to change. I don't like the two-party system, which is shaped by things like the electoral college but is what I see as its most influential characteristic. If one wants to do away with that, there's a lot about the American political system that would need to change.

I agree with that last statement.

Robert Gentel wrote:
Right now, it's pointless to be a Republican voter in California in the presidential election. I'd like that opinion to count for something, and don't want any citizen's political voice inflated so that we all have a fair share of political influence.

It's not pointless to be a Republican voter in California, it's just that Republican presidential candidates tend to lose in California elections. But as long as you're having elections, you're going to have losers. For instance, if you're a German voter and your proportional list doesn't get 5% of the votes in the federal election, then your party doesn't get any representation in the Bundestag (unless it can pick up a seat through the direct vote). Does that mean that your vote was wasted or didn't matter? No, it just means that you voted for the loser. Your options: either get over it and move on or else start voting for winners. That's the same choice that democracy gives to every voter.
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