Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The problem of democracy

Well I'm feeling rather smugly smart just now, this Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Pete Du Pont says what I've said many times. The electoral college is a *good* thing and direct popular election of the President is a *bad* thing.

The problem with democracy is that nothing about majority rule protects the minority. Nothing.

At one time I found it baffling that dissident groups in some far away country would boycott elections. What sense did it make for them to complain when they refused to participate? There is nothing baffling about it. They refuse to participate because they don't want to contribute to the illusion that they have representation when they have nothing at all.

When our constitution and our laws about the government were being set up the people discussing representation knew this very well indeed. This is why we have severe constitutional limits on the Federal government (not so much as when we started out, but that was the plan) and two houses of Congress, the Senate and House of Representatives. It was designed to balance the interests of large States and small States. It was designed specifically to circumvent the weaknessess of majority rule by weakening the potential ability of large states to dictate to small states. Small states had wanted equal representation with the larger states but that wouldn't be fair either. The Senate, where North Dakota is equal to California, and the house where California has hundreds of Representatives to North Dakota's ONE, is the compromise.

It's a good compromise.

The other thing that was done was that the States rather than individual voters selected the President. Today we have an electoral college that works to sort of even out influences. Each state gets the number of votes equal to its members in Congress. Again, California get's LOTS and North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, get very few. It doesn't matter if a candidate gets 52% of the vote in California or if the candidate gets 90%, the candidate gets all the electoral votes. It doesn't change much but it does mean that legitimate regional differences have a better chance to be addressed. Candidates can't just dis the small states to concentrate on the largest ones. This lessens the chance that the coasts can dictate to middle America, because a simple majority in any of those small states is magnified. In a purely popular vote getting 42% of Colorado or Kansas is every bit as good as getting 52% so what candidate would waste time on Colorado or Kansas? No one with any brains would bother. 10% of the popular vote in North Dakota would be what percentage of the vote in New York? Is it even a whole number or is it a fraction of a percent?

What would majority rule be like? Do we really *want* New York and California as our masters?

The electoral college, like the Senate, was created for a reason. Without it most of us would probably be just as well represented if we took a page from third world revolutionary groups and refused to vote.


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