Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Commentary 12- On the Electoral College

From the Courier Post Online Monday, January 14, 2008

Associated Press

New Jersey on Sunday became the second state to enter a compact that would eliminate the Electoral College's power to choose a president if enough states endorse the idea.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed legislation that approves delivering the state's 15 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Assembly approved the bill last month and the Senate followed suit earlier this month.

Maryland -- with 10 electoral votes -- had been the only state to pass the compact into law.

The measure could result in the electoral votes going to a candidate opposed by voters in New Jersey, which has backed Democratic presidential candidates since 1988. However, the compact would take effect only if enough states -- those with a majority of votes in the Electoral College -- agreed to it.

A candidate needs 270 of 538 electoral votes to win.

The compact has also passed both houses of the Illinois Legislature, according to the National Popular Vote movement, and has been approved by one legislative house in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina.

Governors in California and Hawaii, though, vetoed bills to join the compact.

The goal is to ensure that the national popular vote winner becomes president. Democrats who sponsored the bill have noted that their party's 2000 presidential nominee, Al Gore, won the popular vote that year but lost in the Electoral College.

Sponsors contend the agreement would ensure that all states are competitive in presidential elections and make all votes important. It also would guarantee the presidency to the person who received the most votes.

Corzine signed the bill privately Sunday, but spokesman Jim Gardner recently said, "New Jersey, like two-thirds of the nation's states, has long been on the sidelines of presidential races and this measure would help put the Garden State back into competition during a presidential campaign."

Republicans criticized the bill as undermining federal elections.

"This legislation is a constitutional travesty," said Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Morris. "It's a back door end run of the federal Constitution."

Original Referenced Link

My Commentary:

There are a number of reasons why the Electoral College must be preserved. The most important reason is the key role it plays in the Founders’ attempt to restrain the government through the process called the balance-of-power.

The balance-of-power doctrine applies to government and only to government. This is because the only institution that can legally use force in any society or geographical area is the government. Having a legal monopoly on the use of force is a necessary element for government to fulfil its proper and primary role of protecting the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the individual. This role includes protection against domestic criminals, foreign armed enemies and invaders, fraud, as well as the operation of the civil courts for the peaceful mediation of disputes among citizens, etc.

But the government, its only method of functioning being force, also represents a threat to a free people. So the legal monopoly that government holds on the use of force must, to prevent the rise of tyranny, be kept in check. In other words, a government is at once a vital guarantor of individual liberty and also its greatest threat. One of the tools the Founders conceived is the balance-of-power doctrine. The balance-of-power applies not only to the three branches of government at both the state and federal levels, but also between the states and the federal government.

The Electoral College is part of the balance between the state and federal governments. The crucial phrase in the constitution is in Article II which states;

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature there of may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”

In other words, the President of the United States is, in essence, chosen by the elected legislatures of the states. They may choose the electors by popular vote, but they do not have to. Being elected representatives of the state’s voters, the legislatures can choose by vote the electors themselves, empanel a special commission for that purpose, or in some other “Manner as the Legislature there of may direct.” Notice also that “no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.” This completes the firewall between the executive branch of the federal government and the citizens of the states, thus preserving the balancing power of the states vis-à-vis the federal government.

Additionally, the state legislature can step in and override the popular vote for a variety of reasons. For example, in the case of an inconclusive vote due to voting machine breakdowns, massive fraud, terrorist attack, etc. the legislature can assert its authority to choose the electors and facilitate the smooth completion of the electoral process. In addition, state legislatures can nullify a popular vote in the unlikely event that an irrational, emotionally charged electorate were to choose a demogogue with dictatorial ambitions. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that the Electoral College process may someday prevent the rise to power of an American Hitler (who was elected by a 40% minority of the popular vote in Germany). Since the state legislatures are elected by the states voters, none of this represents a disenfranchisement of the electorate.

We have already weakened the states by switching to a direct popular vote in senatorial elections ( National Senators were originally chosen by state legislatures). The President is, under the Electoral College, beholden to the states for his election. A direct popular vote will dramatically weaken the states with the commensurate result being the further concentration of power in Washington. The balance-of-power protection against tyranny will have taken a body blow.

There are other strong reasons to preserve the Electoral College. This may be the most important one.

Posted by: Zemack on Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:37 pm

Other commentary:

Thank God there are still some people who understand the Constitution and what its all about.

When the Constitution was being drafted, the French Revolution was happening..... the mobs were guillotining the aristocracy and anyone else who displeased them.... and then they ended up not with any sort of demnocracy, but an EMPEROR.... Napoleon Bonaparte,,, and 20-30 years of what amounted to World War.

This country has been dumbed down to the opoint of idiocy...... you can sell most of the sheep anything..... the same media that gave us the Monkees (an artificial, created by the media and packaged to sell rock group) is now giving us Obama (an artificial, created by the media and packaged to sell politician).

The USA is in DEEP S**T

Posted by: phil552 on Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:14 pm


Well said Zemack.

I think people should understand the founding principles of this nation.
The nation was not founded on a pure popular vote principle, and precautions were added to prevent just that. Well said.

This nation is a republic, not a pure democracy.
Hate to quote an oldie, but, "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

And, Comrade Corzine, and the rest of the liberal socialists are trying to change that.

Posted by: jwbhammer on Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:01 pm

No comments: