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Gregg Easterbrook is one of my favorite writers -- penning the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column over on  He writes passionately about football, which I love, and he weaves in topics of science and sci-fi, which I find fascinating reading.

He makes the most compelling argument to abandon the Electoral College that I've found so far, written last week on Election Day:

A destructive dynamic exists between the Electoral College and modern techniques of targeted lobbying and ZIP code analysis of voter tendencies. The better campaign consultants become at manipulating votes, the more the Electoral College becomes a tool for special interests, favoring them versus the overall national interest.
Scroll about halfway down to read the full section (or just read the whole blog post!).


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Comment Preferences

  •  The electoral college prevents (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madmojo, ericlewis0, Jack K, kalmoth

    states being denied a voice in our government. You might not like it this way but the people of ND would like it much less if it were to change.

    Lo que separa la civilizacion de la anarquia son solo siete comidas.

    by psilocynic on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:35:03 PM PST

    •  With a population of less than <700K... (6+ / 0-)

      ... and 2 Senators to their name, I'd say the citizens of NoDak are over-represented in our government, but that's just my opinion.

      The point being, for president, each vote should be counted equally.  Right now, there's only 7-10 states that get attention in presidential politics.  Those votes are disproportionate to the rest.  

      •  ...but, since you decided to bring up that (0+ / 0-)

        2 Senators thing, why not completely revamp the Constitution and go All Direct Voting All The Time?

        Presidential voting is only one piece of the whole civic puzzle that represents governance of the country.  If we are going to get all down with direct election of presidents, why not advocate proportional representation in the Senate as it is already done in the House?  Why don't we have a system where North Dakota or Wyoming don't have any Senators and only one Representative while California - or Georgia or Texas or Florida - have several Senators?  Why should it be that only for president should each vote be counted equally?  Don't people have the right to equal representation in both the executive and - fully - the legislative branches of government?  What's up with that "2 Senators" thing, anyway?

        "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

        by Jack K on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 09:16:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Senate should be eliminated (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          phonegery, Zack from the SFV

          Most countries only have one chamber of the legislature with no one to veto it. The US already has too many veto points. The Senate is essentially the US's house of lords.

          "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

          by randomfacts on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 09:26:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  randomfacts - as noted below (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            debedb, valion, netop

            Article 5 states that you can't fundamentally change the Senate, even by Constitutional Amendment, without the specific consent of the states who would lose Senators.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:07:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Senate serves important functions, IMHO (0+ / 0-)

            As designed, the Senate responds to impulses of the electorate more slowly.  So, in 2010, Repubs could take the house, which is designed to more quickly reflect the mood of the nation, but could not ride into power in the Senate.  Yes, it is a strange limit on the implementation of democratic principles, but it does provide stability.  
            Also, Senators represent people differently, in that they are elected statewide (except for Nebraska?).  Proportional representation exists in the House to express the needs and beliefs of small regions (cities, counties, etc.) with more likeminded folks. Hopefully, a "bigger picture" type of representation is found in the Senate due to the fact that they must serve as a voice for a broader range of interests (a state).  The six year term also insulates them somewhat from wild swings in the mood of the people, allowing for decision-making, compromise, and long term planning that might prove more politically infeasible for someone requiring re-election every two years.
            Finally, the over-representation of certain states does provide some protection against a sort of "tyranny of the majority", by providing a voice and vote to the people of small and/or sparsely populated states.

            "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars" --Casey Kasem

            by netop on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:58:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Article 5 (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib, debedb, valion

          You can't even amend the Constitution to remove a state's disproportionate Senate representation.

    •  ND (0+ / 0-)

      ND gets ignored in Federal elections anyway because its not competitive. Popular vote is more likely to help than hurt.

    •  The electoral college (0+ / 0-)

      is the reason why the votes of the people of ND don't count in Presidential elections.

      "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

      by randomfacts on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:56:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  there are people in ND? z0mg! n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psilocynic, Zack from the SFV
  •  A bigger problem, to me, is gerrymandering. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dogs are fuzzy, netop

    I wish there could be some way to avoid it to make the House more susceptible to throwing bums out.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 09:49:44 PM PST

    •  bill - in California the people were able (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to take redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and put it into the hands of an honest to God commission of just folks. Seems to have worked well. They drew lines with total disregard for party concentrations and the desires of incumbents.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:10:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Experts would still manipulate a popular vote (0+ / 0-)

    The real problem is harder to fix. Why isn't every state a swing state? Voters are too easy to predict.

  •  I see two advantages to the Electoral College: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    1) It forces parties to campaign outside the major population centers of the USA.
    2) During a recount, there is a firewall to prevent a 50 ring circus. Florida was bad, 50 times Florida would be a nightmare.

    If you are unimpressed with these two items, popular vote is the way to go.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:59:35 AM PST

  •  There should be a Founding Fathers 2.0 Group. nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  New found, post-Sandy appreciation for EC. (0+ / 0-)

    Voting occurred pretty damn well this year even in the storm-struck regions (despite repub attempts at voter suppression).  Imagine if the storm had hit the day of or the day before the election and 20% or 50% of New-Yorkers, New-Jerseyites, Rhode Islanders, Vermonters, Connecticut(ians?), and Massachusett(istas?) did not make it to the polls.

    With no EC, we could very well be talking about president-elect Romney.
    The EC, however would have done a better (not perfect) job of expressing the voice of the electorate of those states.  If half of Massachusetts didn't make it to the polls, those EV would have likely still gone to Obama.  Smaller disruptions could still create election results that are not in line with the will of the people (Virginia without Fairfax County for example or tornados slamming a deep red or deep blue district somewhere), but regional disruptions would not result in a major shift in a candidate's chances.  

    "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars" --Casey Kasem

    by netop on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:16:31 AM PST

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