AS WE FINALLY CLOSE THE 2020 ELECTORAL VOTE COUNT, WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

This morning (the voting was yesterday), the news was full of live shots of many states authorizing their electoral counts. And Mitch McConnell officially told the GOP it’s “time to move one; Joseph Biden is President-Elect.” Is this going to start a war in the Republican Party? It probably should. They need to do some serious shaking up in that party if they want to really have a party. They need to be conservative and driven by reality, not by rumors and mental midgets.

Because yesterday the official (final?) electoral college count was taken, does that mean that Trump and his idiot GOP will finally shut up? Of course not! I’m pretty sure no one in Congress — House of Representative and the Senate — are listening. No one believe Trump will overthrow the election. They didn’t believe it earlier, but didn’t want to aggravate the petulant child squatting in the White House. Now, they have no choice. Like it or not, we are moving forward into a different presidency and I sure hope it helps settle some of the craziness we’ve lived with for the past four year.

To give you a sense of exactly the problem the Electoral College was supposed to sort of solve, Los Angeles County is bigger in population than at least 40 entire states. Not only does it have an enormous population — more than 10 million and counting — but it is physically bigger than the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Probably physically larger than a few other states, too — like Rhode Island, Delaware and others. In California, they can (and do) keep making counties and cities bigger and bigger as the population swells. Other places have a thing called “city and county limits,” but California doesn’t. In California, there are no limits.

Because L.A. County is enormous, many people figure that the Electoral College is a scam. This presumption is that to have a full democracy, the only thing that should matter in a national election is the national vote. If the only criteria for winning are the volume of votes, you would have something like a “pure democracy.” U.S. isn’t a pure democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic which has a lot of similarities to a democracy, but pure raw votes are not the only things that matter. In point of fact, very few countries are purely democratic. I can’t think of any such country right now, but surely there are a few. I would guess that such countries are small with a homogenous population without huge cities.

In most parliamentary countries, you are not voting for individuals unless they are running on their own and not as a member of a major party. Most of the time, you’re voting for a party platform. Even though an unpopular government can be brought down and replaced by a different (but not necessarily better) one via a new election, you aren’t necessarily connected to a particular representative, though this varies country by country. It can be difficult to figure out who really represents you since you didn’t vote for a specific person but for a party who then divvies up the seats based on the total vote. We’ve got the electoral college while other nations have something else, but in neither case does total vote necessarily determine the winner. If we think party politics is nuts in this country, trust me, it’s wacko most other places too.

In the U.S., we believe bigger is better. Take away the Electoral College and the largest, most densely-populated areas will always rule the country. If, as we do, you live in a small town, your vote probably won’t count at all. I’m not sure it counts now, so there might not be that much of a difference but in theory, there is a difference.

Would turning the running of the nation over to only the densely-populated cities be a good or bad thing? Maybe there’s no perfect answer especially not in a country this large. I’m pretty sure that people in Wyoming have different interests and needs than Los Angeles or New York. What you believe is probably depends at least in part on whether you like who won the election and if you think they will address your issues.

I understand people who live in big cities will definitely feel they get cheated by the electoral college because it’s intended as a field-leveling tool. It’s not democratic and it’s not supposed to be. Since in the U.S., our motto has always been “bigger is better,” we like’em big. More always wins while less doesn’t count. The problem is, I think I should count, no matter how big Los Angeles County gets.

The electoral college is not a scam, but it has become a political weapon. Intended to level the voting between rural (originally, that meant slave-owning) states and northern industrial cities. After slavery was abolished, the electoral college was still used to flatten non-white votes. Jim Crow laws continued to suppress non-white voters and the electoral college became a way for the dominant party to mess around with the distribution of electors. They are (in theory, but not really) distributed based on population based on a neutral population count. The remnants of the electoral college has been grossly mismanaged and misused. It has little real value anymore and I doubt it will ever get better.

I also don’t think we’ll ever get rid of it. It’s part of the constitution. It’s not a law the Supreme Court can knock down. We would have to have a constitutional amendment passed by Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate — or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. This seems highly unlikely. It was ALWAYS unlikely, but probably even more unlikely today than ever before.

Assuming we ever got the electoral college eliminated, we would need a massive overhaul of voting. I think we need one anyway, but you are free to disagree.

Given that we’re going to have an electoral college, like it or not, if we want to be a “Constitutional Republic,” we need a better way to count votes. We also need more votes from more people in more places. We need a fully voting population of at least 60% because otherwise, how can we claim that most people are represented when most people don’t vote? Can we do what they do in Australia and make it illegal to NOT vote?

The point of having an Electoral College was to prevent our every-growing giant cities like Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Chicago from overwhelming all the other states. In rural areas, we beg for scraps. If only the big cities run everything, will anyone notice we’re here? Would anyone care we’re here? I’m not sure anyone cares now. Rural areas are peaceful and beautiful, but we can’t what’s left after the cities eat most of whatever was worth grabbing.

I don’t blame everyone for wanting to get rid of the Electoral College, but you have to wonder if the place you live would fit into a world where only heavily populated states have a say in what gets done and where. It might make elections simpler, but it wouldn’t make governing better. Doesn’t all of this make you want to blow up the whole government and start over? No matter what you do, somehow, you know it won’t work.

Does the Electoral College need overhauling? Yup. It isn’t a scam. It is, however, a big mess that needs repairing. It was not supposed to be a political football for either party. Like so many other parts of our government, it is being used for purposes for which it was never intended. Kind of like the Senate and maybe, the Supreme Court. And the presidency. Mind you, I don’t have answers. Mostly, I’ve got questions. The only thing I can say for sure is that we have an electoral college and the odds of seeing it removed from the constitution approaches zero on a close order.

Maybe we should use the old “beauty contest” recipe for the next election? Every politician has to have a talent, like they had in Miss America. You know. Make them do a tap dance. Have them sing an aria or play the trombone. Absolutely write an essay about how you intend to fix the world. Definitely include the evening gown contest. Make those old white dudes stagger around on 3-inch heels. We deserve to see that.

I’m okay if they skip the bathing suit contest. I don’t think my heart would survive the horrors.



Categories: American history, city, Government, politicians, Politics, Voting

Tags: , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Thank You for the explanation of the Electoral College for me, and as weird as it seems to me it makes a lot more sense now.

    Like

    • It takes some time to explain it and I think most people also don’t really understand it. I only “get it” because one year, I read a lot of books about the Constitutional Convention and how they made the decision that we are living with today. It was a competition, judging books in that category, so I really HAD to read them. That was maybe 7 or 8 years ago? But all that reading definitely helped me understand how things work and WHY they work that way.

      Like

  2. I guess there is no really perfect system. In Australia it is compulsory to vote unless you have an exemption but what that really means is that you are required to attend a polling place or send in a ballot. Whether you actually vote on it is not relevant. You could post a blank one or one that said “Crocodile Dundee for PM” and it would not be illegal. It wouldn’t count but you can do it. I think that because we are conditioned to it the vast majority of Australians do cast a legal vote. Whether they think about who they are voting for I’m not so sure. If you don’t care and number boxes at random or vote for the person your partner/parents/boss/ favourite media person votes for could also skew the results I guess but we would have no real way of knowing. I hope that the number of people who do that is in the minority.
    After following this election more closely than any previous one I can remember it seems to me that electoral reform is needed but more in making the methods of counting votes standard throughout the nation instead of every state having different rules, and that there should be a neutral body to run the whole thing. It might not alter the outcome of an election but it might speed things up a bit and cause less anger and frustration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the counting IS standard, but the voting methods vary. Some states ONLY take mail-in ballots, other states only take mail-in ballots from soldiers overseas and other ex-patriots living abroad as well as people in hospitals or nursing homes or with a doctor’s note. Massachusetts takes voting any way you like. We went and voted in person because we don’t trust the post office to deliver promptly (or sometimes, at all) and because we live way out in the country, it was not a big deal.

      But the thing is, the counting is the same. The difference right now is that MOST states have switched to paper ballots because you can’t hack paper. Probably most of our states are back to paper ballots (it used to be almost entirely machines, though not computers — mechanical machines) and I think by the next election, it will be all paper everywhere. I also think that most states will accept mail in ballots because the pandemic proved that it works. It would be nice if they improved postal service, too.

      There’s a HUGE difference in the way things work in cities and their nearby suburbs than out in the country. They have better everything and get most of the money the Feds and State give out. It’s why little towns don’t thrive. All the money for improvements goes to the high-density populated areas and the rest of us are forgotten. I’m not angry about it, but it is sometimes frustrating. So little changes out here.

      We need rules and laws that stop people like Trump and his sycophantic cronies from refusing to allow democracy to function. We never had those laws because no one ever did what Trump is doing. It was truly unimaginable. The basis for democracy is that the people in the nation cooperate and BELIEVE in democracy.

      Now that it has been breached, there’s nothing to stop another power mad crazy politician from doing the same thing. The sanctity of the peaceful transfer of power has to be set in stone. This was a horror story.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It was a horror story and steps do need to be taken to prevent something like this happening again. The hard thing for me to imagine is the sheer size of the USA, You have more than 10 times our population and so what works for us won’t necessarily work for you but I think that every sensible person sees that change is needed but it has to be the right change not change for the sake of it with no thought about how it would work for everyone.
        I guess it is the same in all developed countries, the cities get the money, the rural areas don’t. Our British friends would probably say that most of the money goes to London and surrounding countries. People in the north feel they miss out. Rural Australia certainly misses out. The distances we are expected to travel to access services is ridiculous.

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  3. It was reassuring to hear the various states give their counts without any deviation. And McConnell’s comments this morning in the Senate make it far less likely that anyone is going to try to face McConnell’s wrath by making an issue of it in Congress. If we can’t deconstruct the Electoral College — and I don’t think we can, at least not now with so much else on the plate — we surely need some clarifying laws to prevent a recurrence of 2020.

    If we can’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power, we won’t be a democracy — or constitutional republic — for much longer. I’m not altogether sure what we are NOW.

    Liked by 1 person

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