Thursday, August 05, 2010

In the news yesterday

A homosexual federal judge in San Francisco ruled against California's Proposition 8. Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment passed by California voters and upheld as constitutional by California's Supreme Court, restricts marriage to one man and one woman. Now one man throw it out. It will be appealed and probably go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Up to this point, only judges and legislatures have favored homosexual "marriage". When given the chance to vote, the majority of the people oppose it. I wouldn't be surprised if government overruling of the will of the people eventually leads to the rocky disintegration of this country.

The state of Massachusetts has joined in a rear attack against the constitutional provision of the election of the President of the United States by electoral vote. Their governor signed a proposal (joining Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and Washington) requiring that participating states commit their presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote (this would only take effect when enough states constituting more than half of the country’s electoral votes sign on to it). The Electoral College has served this country well since its founding. There are arguments pro & con, but the electoral system follows the original intent of presidents being elected by states rather than popular vote. It prevents candidates from just pitching their candidacies to the large population centers and at least tends toward promoting the idea of appealing to people in all states and regions of those states.

To me, one interesting sidelight of this is that the choice of Massachusetts' governing elite could easily circumvent the will of the citizens of their own state. Should they vote for the candidate who loses the popular vote nationwide, their electors would go to the candidate they opposed!


toto said...

The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but now used by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Massachusetts (the 13th largest population state, with 12 electoral college votes) and 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states (with less than 7 electoral college votes) were not among them. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

toto said...

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Every vote would be counted for and assist the candidate for whom it was cast - just as votes from every county are equal and important when a vote is cast in a Governor's race. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota -- 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. These six states possess 73 electoral votes -- 27% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


R. L. Vaughn said...

Hi, toto. Thanks for stopping by and providing your well-thought out perspective. Just a couple of brief comments.

1. I do not disagree with, but definitely approve of, states determining how they award their electoral votes.
2. I believe the "winner-take-all" method used by our state and most others should be changed and improved upon. Interestingly, the change proposed by Massachusetts (and, I believe, all the others) is still a "winner-take-all" system. It just changes how it is determined who takes all the electoral votes.
3. Massachusetts can do as they please, but I would definitely object to my state making the candidate who lost in my state the "winner-take-all" of all our electoral votes.
4. Though the National Popular Vote campaign does not seek to eliminate the Electoral College (yet) it is a change in mindset from the founders idea of the President being elected by the states rather than the popular vote.
5. Politicians will not change. A change from electoral to popular vote will only change their strategy on whom they concentrate upon.

Anonymous said...

You can make the argument that the country is already disintegrated, in defacto means. It seems we are operating by a "puppet on a string" government, and have been for quite sometime.

What would it take for a revolution? Can there ever be one? If you study other countries over time who have revolted, a few things stand out. It was primarily the government being the ruler, with the people left with no alternative. In America, it is not quite the same way. Maybe the incentive is not there for enough people. for one thing, propery ownership comes into play. You have enough people that have ownership and other things to lay hold to, and I believe this is enough to prevent an all out uprising. The conventional wisdom would be that, "Why should I be concerned about an issue on homosexuality, or the electoral college, while I am enjoying prosperity." I believe this is the biggest difference between America today, and so many countries who have been enslaved by their government that decided to revolt, one way or another. They did not feel they had anything to lose by taking action. We still have a large enough percentage of Americans now that believe they do indeed have something to lose, so they will go along with the status quo. I guess you could say that their property, wealth, and other amenities, offers a sort of insulation against other things, although they are equally as important. I firmly believe it would take an economic event in order for citizens to finally take action. These current issues are social ones, and for many, just do not carry the same weight as their pocketbook. But friends and neighbors, I believe the time will come. Of course no one knows what lies down the road. If anything, The Social Security system could be the straw that breaks the camels back.