#116 Who Are We to Export Democracy? (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

The Bushies are still jabbering about "nation building" and "holy wars."  Bush preaches that "we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region (Iraq)," while doing everything to repress democracy and reform in the US.  More of that "do what I say, not what I do" parenting. Business that can't build quality products find that they can't design them, either.  Governments that aren't democratic will be as disabled when it comes to building democracies. 

Bush was the first unpopularly un-elected President since 1888.  Even worse, Bush is the first appointed President in the history of the nation.  Not only did he lose the popular vote, he lost the fair count of the state and, therefore, the electoral vote.  He used his daddy's Supreme Court to overrule state and federal Constitution law.  The Republican brown shirts revel in this triumph of power over public choice, but the rest of the world wonders "what is next?" for the most powerful country in the world. 

The makings of a democratic undoing have been with us since the beginning.  This isn't the first time the country's future as a semi-representational democracy has been in doubt.  This may be the worst time for it to happen, though.  The Electoral College is a decrepit concept that was intended to compensate for pre-electronic communications difficulties and the founding ruling class's distrust of the "unruly masses."  Alex Hamilton was one of the big supporters of the Electoral college and he's possibly the least democratic of all of the folks who had anything to do with the authorship of the Constitution.  Aaron Burr did the nation a great favor by shooting Hamilton.  Burr should have kept going and shot the Electoral College. 

Since 1789, barely 20,000 people have elected all of the Presidents in our nation's history.  In 2000, a half-million more citizens voted for Gore than Bush, but 271 electors voted for Bush and that's all she wrote for democracy.  The rest of us were just exercising our right to put marks on pieces of paper and to waste a few hours on a November Tuesday.  This country is as far from a one-man-one-vote nation as was the old Soviet Union.  In fact, in the least populous states (like Montana), one man exercises approximately 670,000 votes. 

Let's look at this institution that elects our President and Vice President.  When we're through, if you still believe your vote counts, I'd like to hear your opinions on the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, informative news outlets, and honest politicians.

First, the electors are selected by the two major parties long before the election takes place.  This is to ensure that no third party ever has a chance in hell of winning an election.  48 states have a winner-take-all elector selection system, regardless of how split the state's vote actually was the winner takes all of the electoral votes for the state.  This further entrenches the two-party system and, effectively, tosses out the minority voters before their vote leaves the state.  One-man-one-vote?  Hardly.  Only Maine and Nebraska have a proportional system that divides up the state's electoral votes in relation to the actual citizens' vote.  The majority of states don't even care who you vote for, as long as you vote Demolican.  If you vote for a member of one of the major parties, it's assumed that you voted for the candidate that party has selected.  Names don't matter.

In half of the states, the electors are legally committed to vote for the party's candidate, in the rest of the states the electors can vote for anyone they see fit.  Electors rarely exercise judgment or ethics, but they do have the right to do so if an actual human ever managed to be in that position.  Our system has been so perfect at eliminating humans from the Electoral College that only 12 people in the history of the institution have bucked the Powers That Be.  It's a nearly perfect, immoral, mindlessly undemocratic system. 

The actual voting for President and Vice President takes place on January 6, most years.  The votes are counted by the US Senate in a special, damn-near secret meeting in the chamber of the House of Representatives.  If no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the 12th Amendment allows the House to pick the president.  Of course, they can pick anyone they see fit, regardless of how you and I voted.  I wouldn't put it past the birdbrains we've had in the House in the last few years to select their favorite Hollywood actor or the King of England, if there weren't minimal limitations on their options.  However, they can only pick from the top three candidates in the general election.

In the 2004 election, 538 electors will decide the Presidency (based on the states' 100 Senators + 435 Representatives + 3 electors from the District of Columbia).  A candidate just needs 270 votes to win.  Some fools think that the college was founded to protect small states.  The fact is only 11 states are necessary to elected a President.  For example, if California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey, and North Carolina vote together, the rest of the country can go to hell.  If that's a representative democracy, I am a Republican. 

It's true that the citizens of smaller states wield greater influence on their state's electoral votes, but the states themselves are less important.  States are not the big issue in a democracy, though.  States are just border lines between sales tax rates.  The real issue in a democracy is citizens' ability to govern themselves.  The Electoral College is another example of how corporations have installed themselves in the real power seat of the country.  They select the candidates, they control the electors, and they decide who will be mismanaging the country for the foreseeable future.  The rest of us are just expendable employees. 

The "battleground states" are the states with big Electoral College membership.  The first seven, California through Ohio, are the most populous states and they possess 256 of the necessary 270 votes necessary to win the election.  This system makes it possible for corrupt politicians to cater their platform to these states, damning the rest of the country to political purgatory.  If you still have any questions about why California receives so much federal personal and corporate welfare, the Electoral College is as far as you need to look.  Want to do your own math, as the Demolicans have already done?  To see how few states are involved in electing a President, here are the numbers for your experimentation pleasure:

The 2004 Electoral Vote

California - 55
Texas - 34
New York - 31
Florida - 27
Illinois - 21
Pennsylvania - 21
Ohio - 20
Michigan - 17
Georgia - 15
New Jersey - 15
North Carolina - 15
Virginia - 13
Massachusetts - 12
Indiana - 11
Missouri - 11
Tennessee - 11
Washington - 11
Arizona - 10
Maryland - 10
Minnesota - 10
Wisconsin - 10
Alabama - 9
Colorado - 9
Louisiana - 9
Kentucky - 8
South Carolina - 8
Connecticut - 7
Iowa - 7
Oklahoma - 7
Oregon - 7
Arkansas - 6
Kansas - 6
Mississippi - 6
Nebraska - 5
Nevada - 5
New Mexico - 5
Utah - 5
West Virginia - 5
Hawaii - 4
Idaho - 4
Maine - 4
New Hampshire - 4
Rhode Island - 4
Alaska - 3
Delaware - 3
D.C. - 3
Montana - 3
North Dakota - 3
South Dakota - 3
Vermont - 3
Wyoming - 3

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