Monday, July 21, 2008

Blue Republic of America

What this page is about: Promoting the values and the cause of the Democratic Party of the United States, and in a progressive direction. --And pursuing the question and the quest: how do we convert more voters and more states in the blue (Democratic of course) direction.

As to the word, Republic, our country is a republic, not a democracy. Let's go back to middle school or high school, or in case you learned it later . . . a democracy is a government in which the people directly rule, legislate (pass laws). A republic is a government in which the laws are made by a separate government, and in other definitions, the government is made of elected representatives, representing the will of the people.

Before I lose you, we --Democrats-- stand a risk of losing this election (2008 presidential election) again. For, as in the case of the 2000 election, the Electoral College potentially could play the breaking role in the election. Let's just review, in the 2000 election, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman decisively defeated George W. Bush and Dick Cheney by over 540,000 votes in the popular vote.

Who are the electors of the Electoral College? Article II of the U.S. Constitution established the Electoral College as the body that would elect our President. (It was amended by the 12th Amendment, 1803, to correct problems in the first two Presidential Elections, 1796 and 1800.) The electors, not the national electorate, are the people that elect our president. The electors are individuals that are presented by the political parties in each state to act as representatives of the state in the Electoral College when it meets. The electors are obliged to vote for the political party's nominee for president at the Electoral College's meeting in mid-December.

(Are you still with me? Do you think that we have a democratic republic for our government? Are we selecting our president?)

How do some Electoral College votes result in victories for the losers of the Popular vote? The number of electors is not proportional to the number of people voting or living in each state. I'm getting bored already; how does this affect the elections?

Each state gets its electors by the number of Senators (2 -since each state, no matter its population, gets two Senators) and the number of Representatives that it has. (The Representatives are assigned to each state on the basis of their population.)

SO, here's how the system can give lop-sided victories:

A small state like, Wyoming, our least populous state, with only 515,000 (per, gets two Senators. Meanwhile, California, our most populous state, with a population of 36 million, also gets two Senators.

This means that the weight of one person's vote from a small state, like Wyoming, carries greater strength in the Senate and in the Electoral College than that of a voter from a larger state like California, Texas or New York.

In the 2000 election, Bush and Cheney sewed up the less-populous-state vote with Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, the Dakotas, and so on. Basically, look at election maps, and look west of the 95 degree longitude. Notice how the states to the west (excepting the Pacific Coast states) are solidly Republican.

So, we are at risk, again, of an Electoral College loss to the Republicans.

If this becomes the situation again in 2008, we should show our disdain for this arcane impediment toward a democratic selection of our president. We should have mass protests, as in the "Orange Revolution" of the Ukraine and as in the pro-Lopez Obrador protests in the 2006 Mexican presidential election. We should agitate to reform this method of electing our president. On the other hand, we should not be naive: changing this would require amending the Constitution. And amending the Constitution will require the cooperation of small states.

In the short run then, we must agitate for ensuring the integrity of the vote, especially in marginal, or swing states, such as Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Florida.

1 comment:

Lee Diamond said...

I don't think the electoral college scenario suggested is going to play out this year. I do agree, however, about the importance of Dem turnout and in making sure that all votes are counted.

I think that Obama will win all the states Gore & Kerry won. That means he will win Iowa, New Mexico and New Hampshire. He will also win some others, such as Colorado, Virginia, Ohio and Nevada