Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Shakin' Things Up

I'm going to do something different here at Blogs Are Stupid.

I'm going to ask my readers to make my argument for me for two reasons.

First, because although I've been doing reasearch, the amount of information is staggering, conflicting, and confusing.

Second, because I don't think I'm sufficiently objective given the fact that I am a liberal in a die hard conservative state.

The issue? The electoral process.

Sure I had Government in high school a billion years ago. But it wasn't relevant to me then. I didn't care, so it didn't stick.

It's relevant now, and I want to understand the electoral process better.

People have been calling for electoral reform for years, but I think the outcry was loudest and longest (at least during my lifetime) after the Bush/Gore election in 2000.

Many of those who have been true and persistent advocates for voting reform have been regarded as crackpots, conspiracy theorists, or disgruntled politicos.

But I find it disheartening to realize that the candidate with the most popular votes did not, in fact, become President. How different might the world be today if the popular vote determined the winner?

It's also disheartening for me to realize that although I will vote for Obama (I won't discuss, debate or justify my reasons, so let's leave that alone, please) I am quite certain that all 15 of Georgia's electoral votes will be for McCain.

Why bother?

I've heard all the arguments, but I still feel very powerless against the apathy. My blue vote will be lost amid a sea of red.

So my question to you is this...

Do you have a clear understanding of the electoral process and if so, do you think that we should reform or ablish it in favor of a strictly popular vote?

You may have your fingers poised over the keyboard ready to type an emphatic YES, as would I, were our positions reversed. But in the course of my research, I've realized that it's not quite as cut and dried as one would think.

Because the electoral college, believe it or not, was really designed to protect the democratic process. And though some of the reasoning behind it is no longer an issue; slaves and women, for example, who were not represented in elections for many years...some of it is sound and logical.

It's a dilemma.

So I turn to you, the smart and savvy travellers on the information superhighway. Tell me what you know. Tell me what you think. Help me understand why or why not.


  • At 6:44 PM, Blogger said…

    You know, I don't have a lot of information on the electoral process, but the idea that 56% of the nation might want option a but option b gets chosen because of a bureaucratic process that is outdated makes me not want to vote, either. And I am a blue guy in a blue state...

    If every vote TRULY counted, then every vote WOULD be counted.

  • At 8:25 PM, Blogger Middle Girl said…

    A friend asked me to explain the electoral process, she wanted the "Reader's Digest" version -heh-

    I'm sure my research led me to the same places your research led you which means of course you know there is a principle and then there is practice.

    Your vote helps decide which candidate receives your state's electoral votes.

    All votes count.

    That said, of course, the system needs a major overhaul.

  • At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I actually rather like the Electoral College system, even though I voted for Gore and think we are on the dramatically wrong path now.

    Al Gore had 50,999,897 votes (48.38% of those cast) in 2000, compared to 50,456,002 (47.87%) for George Bush. This is amazingly close to the error in the actual counting process. So, like it or not, it is basically a tie.

    One thing I like about the Electoral College process is that it gives a candidate a chance to break this tie by representing a wider geographic area of the country. Al Gore won 20 states + Washington D.C., while Bush won 30 states.

    Another thing I like is that is smooths out the population numbers. In a raw count of votes, California would have about 13% of the votes. In the Electoral College, it only has 9% of the vote. This may seem unfair to Californians, but this allows states with lower populations to have a voice in our government.

    As an analogy think of the Gerrymandering that occurs when Congressional districts are redrawn. Let's say that your goal is equal representation for African-Americans. You could do this in two ways - one is to draw the district to be majority black with the presumption that this will result in African-American Representatives. The other way is to make the population of the district represent the population of the state. In some states, this guarantees that the district will never have a black Representative.

    By giving some "districts" more electoral votes than their population warrants (for example, North Dakota) you help to ensure that the rights of the people in those states are protected.

    Just my opinion.

  • At 9:36 PM, Blogger Bea said…

    Ignorant Canadian throwing a few cents in here. I can see the logic in the way states are allotted their number of electoral votes based on something other than pure population. But why not divide the electoral votes for each state based on the proportion of votes the candidate received? So then the only geographical boundaries that matter are state lines (still), but it matters how much the candidate wins by, not just who was first past the post.

  • At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with Bea (who I don't think is an ignorant Canadian). My state is the opposite color of my vote as well (very, very much opposite). If the electoral votes were proportional, then the candidates wouldn't be so willing to ignore the states that are "sure things" as we have been ignored.

  • At 11:29 PM, Blogger Notes and letters to myself.... said…

    Here goes nothing:

    Okay well, I think the whole Electoral process is kind of screwed up and dysfunctional.

    This is what I know - I know that the Electoral College has 538 elected representatives who select the President and VP. So each state has a number of electors equal to the number of US senators which as I said earlier was 538 – 535 for the total number of congressional members, and three who represent DC – which is covered I think by the 23rd amendment (forgive me I am old, and my brain is foggy).

    Now Electors technically are free to vote for whoever they want that is eligible to be the President. However, in practice they pledge to vote for those candidates we the voters have voted for and then they vote accordingly.

    So instead of the directly voting for the President and VP, we the people who are registered to vote cast our votes for electors.

    Now this is the part that makes me laugh – (I don’t know why I find it amusing but I do) -- On the Monday following the second Wednesday in December all of these electors of each state meet in their own state capitals and officially cast their votes for the President and V.P.

    The part that confused me for the longest time was how the candidates had to have that magic number of 270 – so when I went back to my history books and re-read what I should have learned in 6th grade I learned all over that each elector casts one vote for President and one vote for Vice President. DOH!!!!! Made sense to me then.

    Now this is the part that scared the shit out of me – If no candidate for President wins the majority of those electoral votes, the choice is then left to the House of Representatives, and then if no candidate for VP possesses enough electoral votes then the choice is given to the Senate.

    Now to throw another monkey wrench in the mix, the constitution says each state makes its own legislature to designate their own method of choosing its electors.

    Why they don’t make it the same across the board (state wise) is beyond me but they don’t. So that means that 48 states and DC have this winner take all popular vote rule where we the voters choose who we want as president. So the candidate that wins the most votes in any state wins the support of that states electors.

    Main and Nebraska have to be different and they are on this weird tiered system where a single elector is chosen with each Congressional district, and I think (I might be wrong) two electors are selected by a popular vote in those two states.

    What does that mean? That means that candidates can get the most votes in the nationwide popular vote in a presidential election and still not be elected as president. I think that this happened three times with the latest being in the 2000 president election between as we know Gore and Bush.

    Personally I think the system sucks and needs an overhaul because this process gives swing states too much clout when they select the President and Vice President. Others will tell you that the Electoral College is important and protects the rights of the smaller states. Tons of amendments have been introduced into Congress to change or replace the Electoral College with a popular vote but it’s never been passed in both houses.

  • At 11:40 AM, Blogger Shelley said…

    I feel you...not only do I live in a red state, but I live in McCain's home state. I am not a fan of the Electoral College, because I feel like my vote for Obama doesn't count.

    In my opinion, a true democracy equals one person, one vote, and majority rules. Right now what we have is not a democracy, but a republic, where a certain group of the population is represented by a single...representative. I'm no expert on this subject, and I'm sure there are arguments on why we should keep the Electoral College, but I would be happy to see it abolished.

  • At 11:50 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I can see the value in the electoral college, but I also see it is a flawed system. After the Gore/Bush debacle, people called for an overhaul that was a combination of the electoral college and the popular vote.

    I understand your frustration. I live in a red state that has voted red for 44 years. This is the first time it is actually a swing state. We've never had the number of candidate visits as we've had t his year.

  • At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    535 is actually the total # of Congressional representatives, not just senators. It is reps + senators, yes?

  • At 2:34 PM, Blogger sltbee69 said…

    I haven't a clue on the whole process, BA. Like you, I am very interested in it. I'm in total agreement with you - why bother to vote? I'm infuriated that the state I live in (Illinois), electoral votes get determined by one frickin city, Chicago. In fact, all but 3 offices that I voted on today had only one candidate to vote for - a Democrat. Opposite of the way you vote, but as you can see, the same boat as you.

  • At 7:34 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    I feel that if we went by popular vote rather than electoral votes, every person would vote. Yes, it'd be harder to count, but we are technologically savvy enough to figure that out.

  • At 1:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm with you in that I've never really understood the electoral process. I've really appreciated reading the input from the comments here.

    I guess I still don't really see the flaw in going with a popular vote...

  • At 2:01 PM, Blogger Maureen Fitzgerald said…

    I agree with most here that a popular vote election would make people feel that their votes count for something. If the average joe (sorry!) can't understand the electoral college, maybe it shouldn't be the deciding factor.

    Personally, I am just grateful that this election had a clear-cut winner in both the electoral and popular votes so that no one felt cheated. IMO, 2000 did some serious damage to people's beliefs about our gov't and created a lot more division than there needed to be.


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