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President-Elect? I Don’t Think So.

Every four years people forget that they are not voting for President, they are voting for the 538 people who actually get to vote for President. The new President will be elected after those 538 people vote, and their votes are tallied in December, not before.

This is known as the Electoral College, and while the precedent is for them to vote the way their states voted, there is no way of guaranteeing that they do, and nothing is done to them if they don’t. This system frankly sucks, and it is not the way things should be, but the less populous states are not apt to agree to a reasonable change to the Constitution allowing the President to the elected by the people.

13 comments

1 Kryten42 { 11.07.08 at 11:04 pm }

Hah!! LOL Now THAT… I’d love to see! LOL If they do decide to elect McCain… they better do it while on a plane to some secret location with a lot of security. Then again… a huge nation wide riot may just be what the USA needs. 🙂 I very much doubt that with a lead of 364 to 163 the College, no matter how biased, would be stupid enough to go any other way, but I’d love to see them do it! LOL

I see Obama’s picked up North Carolina. 🙂 I don’t know what’s happening in Missouri, but I haven’t really been looking. 🙂

As bluegal at C&L said:

How BIG was Obama’s victory? As it now stands, with North Carolina upping his total to 364, he could’ve spotted McCain New York and California and still won with 8 to spare. Let that sink in for a minute; a suntanned big city liberal Democrat named Barack Hussein Obama has won the presidency and did not need the New York and California electoral votes to do it.

Can you say wow?

We’ll see. 🙂

2 Bryan { 11.07.08 at 11:52 pm }

He isn’t a liberal, he’s a right of center moderate in the mode of Nelson Rockefeller, the long-time Republican governor of New York, and unelected Vice President under Jerry Ford. Actually, he is probably to the right of Rockefeller.

His new chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is a former investment banker who is a nominally Democratic Congresscritter from the Chicago area. I see a lot of interaction with the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, and damn little action on anything that would be considered liberal.

A few electors have done it in the past, and everyone has a fit, but you can’t fix it without a Constitutional amendment which requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and approval by three-fourths of the states.

3 Kryten42 { 11.08.08 at 3:00 am }

Oh… I know about the college. 🙂 Ask LadyMin! 😉 LOL

I’m not a big fan of Emanuel for several reasons. I’m hoping that Obama feels he’d be safer in arm’s reach. 😉

I saw in out News earlier that Obama and Rudd had a ‘frank, honest and pleasant’ phone conversation about ‘life, the Universe, and everything!’ Heh…

It’s curious that everyone in the World is quite pleased (publicly anyway), except the Russians. It’s not a big surprise really… Putin loved having a moron running the USA into the ground for 8 years. Maybe he’s worried that the new Administration might start taking notice of *things*. LOL

Obama may not be the perfect choice for Prez, though there has never really been a *perfect* Prez anyway, but he was the best of the choices you had in the end. *shrug* Time will tell. 🙂

4 jams O'Donnell { 11.08.08 at 9:22 am }

Has the electoral college ever defied the public vote in a big way Bryan?

5 Bryan { 11.08.08 at 10:41 am }

In the early days there were duels and murders involved, but things have calmed down a lot with only an occasional “rogue elector”. The problem is that there is nothing to stop it from happening. In the 2000 election the Florida legislature was seriously considering having a special session and electing their own electors [Republican, of course] to represent the state, and it would have probably been legal.

It is state law that governs how electors are selected, and a legislature can change that law any time before the November election. In Florida, which has term limits, there is nothing to stop them from doing it.

6 Kenneth Quinnell { 11.08.08 at 11:34 am }

Half of the states have passed laws requiring their electors to go with the vote of the citizens. Florida is NOT one of those states.

7 Bryan { 11.08.08 at 12:15 pm }

That would be too democratic, something Florida seems allergic to.

We need to get rid of the College and let the President be elected by the nation. It would eliminate a lot of the gaming of the system that goes on. It would also reduce the “time zone effect”, as it would be almost impossible for anyone to amass enough votes that what happens in Alaska and Hawaii became meaningless. It might encourage people to turn out if their votes were actually going to be counted.

8 Kryten42 { 11.08.08 at 5:02 pm }

Hmmm. Maybe the problem stems from the fact that the USA is not a *Nation State*, but a Republic of States that have agreed to work together to form a National Government with some reservations. I don’t think much will change until the USA becomes a single democratic Nation State. And I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. *shrug*. I blame in large part, your education system for that, and the fact that the education system is run in a big part by many self-interest groups (eg, the many and varied religious groups in the USA) and the States themselves. Having a truly National education system might help, but I don’t see that happening either. Basically, until the Individual States begin to work for the common good of the Nation rather than their own self-interests, I don’t see a lot changing. The States talk-the-talk, now you have to get them to walk-the-walk. 😉

Perhaps Obama can pull a rabbit out of the hat. 😉 He won a couple States most people thought no Democrat would… Anything is possible I suppose. 🙂

The one advantage you have now is that Obama does at least seem to be a man who will listen to the public. So, if enough of you want chance, maybe you have a chance. 🙂 Under a Republican, they would only listen when you speak the party line, and often, not even then.

9 Bryan { 11.08.08 at 6:04 pm }

The House was supposed to represent local interests, the Senate state interests, and the President national interests. The original concept of the Electoral College was a group of “wise men” who were specifically not in politics selecting a national leader.

There were no parties or nominations in this concept. The College could pick anyone who was born in the United States and 35 years old. The “campaign” was their discussion of the various people that the College itself suggested for the job. It worked well for the elections of George Washington and then turned into a combat zone with the birth of political parties based around John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. It wasn’t designed to work with parties, and it doesn’t.

The biggest problem is that the nation keeps subdividing. Originally you had the North v South. Then you had the West added. Now you have more than a half dozen regional areas that are still being represented by two parties. It doesn’t work. The parties are fracturing, with a loss of brand identity. A Florida Democrat and a California Democrat don’t share much more than a party name with a New York Democrat or each other.

There are only two national elected officials and the nation should elect them.

10 Kryten42 { 11.08.08 at 7:51 pm }

Yep. That’s pretty much what I meant. The USA is basically a Nation of self-interest groups. All Nations have their own self-interest groups of course, we sure have our share of PITA trouble makers! Howard certainly proved that beyond doubt. But here (at least until Howard and one or two others, usually Liberal Party), the politicians are smart enough to only allow the self- (or special-) interest groups only so much sway and generally work in the National interest (though, not necessarily what some people would consider the National interest of course). I guess because the way the system works here, it’s easier to hold the elected officials accountable, as Howard found out big time! 🙂 In the USA, as far as I have ever seen and especially the past decade, there really is little public oversight, and no easy way the public (even if they all agreed on anything, but that’s a whole other problem), can hold them accountable. How many of the bush Administration are going to be held accountable for what they have done? If it was up to the rest of the World, the lot of them would hang. I’m sure they will find a scapegoat or two who will get a slap on the wrist and it’s Biz as usual. Look at Lieberman! It boggles the mind of any sane human in the World that a an official of such a high office could be allowed to be a traitor to his own party and get away with it! Sadly, you have a huge segment of the public who don’t know and/or don’t care. And if the majority of the US public aren’t going to be responsible and hold themselves accountable and consider consequences, we have little hope they will do the same for elected officials. We had the same problem here, until it became so obvious that something finally had to be done, and until a viable alternative stepped forward (Rudd, which is not to say he’s God’s gift or will even fix everything, just that he was seen to offer some hope compared to Howard). Now you have Obama. As with Rudd, he at least offers hope. The rest is up to the US citizens, as fixing our problems is up to us. The USA has a much bigger burden though than we do, and Obama has mentioned it. The World holds the US accountable for most of the current problems they now face. Whether true or not, they expect the USA to fix them. Personally, While I think that Bush and the neo-cons are responsible for being the driving force, I also think the World needs to take some responsibility for following along and even encouraging a moron like Bush who thought he was the King who could do no wrong (in their/our own self-interest of course!) Monkey see, monkey do! 🙂 I really don’t see the current global problems being solved without a true Global response. How that will happen… *shrug* LOL

11 Bryan { 11.08.08 at 9:45 pm }

All kinds of people pointed out that what was going on was unsustainable economically, but multinational corporations prevented any effective counterbalance from being created. The various financial sectors so the huge profits and didn’t worry about the down side, i.e. the only way of making huge profits is to take huge risks – that market principle has always worked.

There is no party discipline in the US. They keep referring to the “big tent”, the idea that you can accept anyone to use your party’s label because it “grows” the party. That is a fundamentally flawed concept. If you don’t have core principles that everyone has to agree to before they can use your label, the label is meaningless.

To win, the Republicans accepted the Southern Democrats who bolted when the Civil Rights Acts were passed in the mid-196os. Those “Dixiecrats” then took over the “party of Lincoln”. The Republicans were once based in the Northeast and Midwest, and now they are based in the South and West. This strategy only worked when traditional Republicans could still get elected in their former strongholds, but this is no longer true. The Democrats have picked up the people in the Northeast that would have formerly been “moderate Republicans” and combined them with their big city and coastal base.

All of the things that Republicans like to complain about today, like the income tax and government regulation of business, were enacted by Republican Presidents and Congresses in the early 20th century.

The Republicans keep complaining about “welfare” and fail to mention that the majority of the people “on the dole” are rural white people living in Republican states, not the urban minorities in Democratic cities.

We really need viable third parties, but we just can’t get traction because the two big parties do everything they can to prevent it.

The core problem is that we don’t have a parliamentary system where a bad government can be replaced at any time by an annoyed populace. Hell, nobody is really sure that recalling Congresscritters and Senators is constitutional in the few states with laws that allow for it. I’m sure that LIEberman’s constituents would love to swap him out for a new model, but he is not a Democrat any more; he was elected as an independent after losing the Democratic primary. Independents get to chose which side of the aisle they sit on, and he chose the Democratic side.

12 LadyMin { 11.09.08 at 9:38 am }

I think I heard my name mentioned in the same paragraph as “electoral college”. A subject that makes me growl.

It’s outdated and needs to go away. I suppose at the time it was needed as a concession to states interests, but it also says the citizens were not to be trusted to choose a leader. Only to choose the wise and all knowing electors, who would choose on their behalf.

We will never have a viable third party as long as the electoral college system persists. And that may be why it won’t be eliminated. The current two parties don’t want competition.

This is not the way a free country should choose their leader. This should have gone in the dust bin years ago. I think the US is the only country that uses this convoluted system. And I don’t mean that in a good way. I know this subject is taught in high school; did everyone sleep through that class? Wake up people. Grrrrrr.

13 Bryan { 11.09.08 at 11:06 am }

It is a relic of a time when rapid communications meant weeks instead of months and going to “town” was an expedition. Recess appointments are a similar relic.

I’m a advocate of having Congress meet via teleconferencing with the Congresscritters staying home at an office in their own districts.

The Electoral College give voters in small states too much power over the national policy, but I don’t see them giving the power up.