Rilalities XI

Electoral College: We can provide an answer to the debate over whether the Electoral College is an outmoded way of electing presidents in two simple sentences. America is a Representative Republic. It is not, as some have suggested in a variety of ways, a democracy. The distinction, as it pertains to the Electoral College and presidential elections, is that the American voter is not voting for a presidential candidate when they cast a ballot, but for a representative that votes on their behalf in the Electoral College meeting that occurs a month after the election to determine the official winner of the election.

Those of us that are not scholars cannot claim to know all of the ideas that went into the formation of America’s federal government, but one of their goals was to create a system that made change difficult. They made it difficult to pass legislation, they made the Amendment process even more difficult, and they instituted numerous checks and balances on the powers of the branches. The Founders also instituted federalism to give the states more power, and thus provide an even greater check on federal power. By doing so, we can make the educated guess that for all the consternation that the system the Founders created has caused legislators, and their constituency, their goal was directed more towards stability than it was the equal representation that a democracy can provide.

In that vein, the Founders created the Electoral College. The Electoral College was, in effect, a check on the majority to provide some balance to the minority. The Founders knew that the majority would rule regardless of their efforts, but they did not want the majority (i.e. the passions of the mob) to hold a tyrannical rule over the interests of those in the minority. The Representative Republic form of government was their answer to allow minority interests, such as those in modern day Nebraska and Kansas, to have some say in the manner in which the federal government conducted affairs. The Founders believed that Rome’s version of a Republic was a superior form of government, because it allowed its representatives to make tradeoffs, or compromises, to form legislation for the common good. The Founders also believed that the people would hold these representatives accountable for their tasked role of providing representation. If America were a pure democracy, the interests of the larger states in our union would hold a tyrannical rule on the minds of national politicians.  

Some state that due to the fact that such a large percentage of the nation’s population now live in urban areas of California and New York, the votes of individuals living in Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska are given more prominence, in the Electoral College system. They state that this violates the principle of voter equality, and they declare that this is a violation of our democracy, and might be if the United States of America were a true democracy.

Those that pose the democracy argument rarely encounter an effective counter argument, for it is tough to argue against the idea that our system of representation should be population based to provide greater voter equality, and that a vote from a citizen in Kansas is disproportionately more important than a vote from a citizen from California. One of the many counter arguments is that the Founders based three-fourths of our government branches on this idea of equal representation, as opposed to providing population-based representation. The only branch of our government that provides population-based representation is The House of Representatives.

A proponent of the equal representation principle, provided by the Electoral College, might be willing to cede to the idea that the system we have in place regarding presidential elections is inherently flawed. They might also be amenable to changing it, if the opponents of the Electoral College were willing to cede that the other two branches of our government also provide population-based representation. If the proponent began his argument with the notion that we change the Senate to a population-based representation, most opponents of the Electoral College might be willing to compromise on that, as that would give the larger states even more power in the Senate. Would these same opponents be amenable to changing the Supreme Court into a more representative body? The proponent could argue that the unelected nine jurists on the Supreme Court do not represent the population as well as the judicial branch could if fifty-one jurists sat on the highest court in the land. (This proposition suggests that Washington D.C. be included, and we would deem it necessary to have an odd number of jurists, I suspect). Not only would that provide more representation for a wider variety of interests on the Supreme Court, it would provide some dilution of the vast power the nine jurists currently wield. In this scenario, we could have Governors, or even State Legislatures, nominate jurists to make sure that the jurists represented their state well. The proponent could also argue that one president doesn’t represent the population well and that we might want to consider having fifty-one presidents, 435, or however many it takes to provide better representation.

Those that seek to “guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all fifty states and the District of Columbia” have made strides to basically end the original intent of the Electoral College. The first and last question these reform-minded citizens should ask themselves, is if we are going to make changes to the federal government, the Electoral College, and the manner in which the government represents the people how far do we take it?

The idea that these reformers only want to change that which furthers their agenda is obvious, but there are other agendas. That question asks the question, ‘Can a reform movement make all of the people happy all of the time?’ Of course not, and they are not driven by that goal. Their goal is to satisfy a personal, partisan agenda. Most reforms begin as personal, partisan agendas, however, and if this action makes America a better place then we should all be for it. That’s the question. Would this National Popular Vote bill make the country a better place? It would provide greater voter equality of course, but the goal of the Founders was to provide the nation what they believed would result in long-term stability. Those efforts have resulted in the fact that America is still on her first Republic since 1776, and France is now on her fifth since 1792, so one could say that if that was their goal they succeeded. If that stability is a direct result of all of the checks and balances on government power, including the check that the Electoral College places on what they believed would result in a tyranny of the majority, what would be the unforeseen and unintended consequences of the alternative.

Diet: “Pay attention to what you eat?” nutritionists say. We ignore some of the nuggets of information nutritionists provide, because some of them can go a little overboard. They suggest that we follow a plan that we don’t want to follow, from food we don’t want to eat, to smaller portions, to massive intakes of various vitamins and supplements. Most of us do not want to spend our free time reading ingredients, creating detailed charts of protein intake versus carbohydrate, and fiber. That could be overwhelming, and it could leave us eating nothing but grain and tofu. We may do this short term, but we don’t want to deprive ourselves of the goodies that make life enjoyable. Yet, from every philosophy comes a nugget of useable information.

“If you are what you eat, why would I want to mimic the diet of a person from the Paleolithic Era (AKA the Paleo Diet), if that person had a life expectancy of thirty-five point four years if they were a man, and thirty if they were a woman? Why would I want to mimic anything from an era whose highlights consisted of some use of tools, art that was limited to cave paintings, and whose controlled use of fire came so late in their existence?”

The answer to these questions, say some, is anatomical. The answer lies in various places along what Rob Dunn of the Scientific American calls “the most important and least lovely waterway on Earth”, and what he calls “a masterwork, evolutionarily speaking”. What Mr. Dunn is describing is the human body’s alimentary canal, or our digestive  tract. Rob Dunn also states that while “most canals take the shortest course between two points, the one inside you takes the longest.” The theory behind the Paleo Diet, put simple, is that we only eat food that which the human alimentary canal recognizes before enhancements and we added preservatives to the foods in various agricultural cultivations.

What’s better for the human body margarine or butter? The competitor to butter lists the tale of the tape. The makers of margarine state that it is a vegetable oil based product, as opposed to butter’s saturated fats. They state that butter contains milk, and milk is a dairy product, and anyone that knows anything about losing weight knows to eliminate dairy from their diet. Butter contains contain 100 calories per tablespoon, a typical serving size. One serving has 11 grams of fat, and 7 grams of it is artery-clogging saturated fat –about one-third of your recommended daily value! It also contains 30 milligrams of dietary cholesterol (10% of your daily value). Butter also contains vitamins A, E, K2, and it “contains a type of fat called butyric acid, which helps maintain colon health. It’s also rich in conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that may actually help protect against weight gain.”

Margarine is a plant-based alternative, but some margarine contains some trans-fats. Some margarine products suggest that they contain no calories, but most of the products have fewer calories than butter, so margarine is the winner right?

The question that Rob Dunn, and most enthusiasts of the paleo diet ask, and that which might be a usable nugget of information in the debate between butter and margarine is, what does your digestive tract consume in a quicker and more efficient manner? 

The human digestive tract does not process the imitation egg, for example, as well as it does a natural egg that is prepared in the most natural manner possible. The theory holds that weight can be lost, as a result of the digestive tract recognizing how to metabolize that egg in the most efficient, quickest, and most natural manner possible. The theory also holds that the more familiar our digestive tract is with the egg, butter, meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts that could be found in the Paleolithic Era, the more it knows what to do with the food that has been introduced to it, the greater the health benefits.

I may be wrong in my assertions here, regarding the import of the Paleo diet philosophy, but I do not believe it calls for an exact mimicry of the diet of the Paleolithic man. Rather, it suggests that based on the current evolutionary design of the human body, we should study the diet of the Paleolithic man. We should take some nuggets of information that we believe made the Paleolithic man healthier, in lieu of the more processed foods that have additives and preservatives that can inhibit processing food in the digestive system, and make choices on our dietary habits based on that information. The paleo diet does not call for a complete overhaul of our diet, in other words, it just provides details that allow humans to make choices. Mimicry is a stretch, in other words, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

An Argument for the Electoral College

Liberals and Democrats have tried numerous methods to prevent people from voting Republican. They’ve tried calling Republican candidates for any office dumb, stupid, uneducated, an amiable dunce, a hick, a hayseed, ignorant, and the numerous other adjectives Roget’s Thesaurus offers for the term ‘dumb’. When liberals and Democrats proved unsuccessful in their attempts to convince a sufficient number of the subset that Republican candidates are dumb, they attempt to divide and conquer the voter by groups. They attempt to convince the voter that the Republican candidate is anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-science, anti-health care, and anti-legal immigrant. If that does not work, they declare the Electoral College antiquated.

This time it’s different,” Democrats and Democrat loyalists say in every election cycle. “This candidate is no (fill in the blank with a former Republican office holder). This candidate truly is dumb, incompetent, racist, anti-whatever.” This casual observer wonders why no one calls them out on this, for this is the very definition of talking points. I must concede that if it ever became ineffective, they would not do it anymore.

With great frustration, many liberals and Democrats are forced to admit that many of their efforts have been in vain. In frustration, one liberal theorist stated that if it weren’t for the invention of air-conditioning we wouldn’t be in this mess. This mess was a description of having a Republican in office rather than an Algore. The liberal said this, because he was miffed that people in the Midwest, and in the South, continue the stubborn, mean-spirited tradition of voting Republican. If it weren’t for air-conditioning, the liberal furthered, no one would want to live in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, or the Dakotas. It would be unbearable to live in those states were it not for air-conditioning, and if they couldn’t live there those people would have to move here (California), and they would get swallowed up by the enlightened and sophisticated voters to such a degree that their votes wouldn’t count as much as they do in air-condition-ville.

In this ever continuing saga of trying to get people to stop voting Republican, or at least take some of the weight away from those Cro-Magnons that do, the state of Massachusetts passed a law in July, 2011 that they hoped would set a precedent for the rest of the country to follow. This Massachusetts state law states that the winner of the national popular vote will receive the Massachusetts electoral votes after the fact. Now, no one cares about Massachusetts. Massachusetts has a mere eleven electoral votes, and the last time the state gave its Electoral votes to a Republican was the last time the other choice was Mondale. That’s right, they weren’t the state that voted for Mondale. That was Mondale’s home state of Minnesota, and he won that state by .18%. No, what Massachusetts was hoping to accomplish with their law was precedent. They were hoping to create a bandwagon that Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and (cross your fingers) Ohio and Florida would follow.

A president-elect losing the popular vote and attaining the office has happened a total of five times, as of 11/15/16, but liberals and Democrats don’t care about all that nonsense. They’re still smarting over their most recent loss in the presidential campaign, and they never want it to happen again. They want to further remove whatever minuscule power is currently afforded to Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska and drown it in the power of the California, New York, Pennsylvania and other “sophisticated, enlightened” voters.

“Presidential candidates now ‘ignore wide swaths of the country’ they consider strong blue or red states and focus their campaigning on contested states,” State Senator James B. Eldridge said. “If the president were picked by national popular vote, he argued, candidates would spread their attention out more evenly.

“That’s really what we’re talking about is making sure that every voter, no matter where they live, that they’re being reached out to,” he said.

Actually, the candidates may never leave California in the presidential election. Why would they? Unless it was go to New York, or maybe Pennsylvania, or maybe Texas. Long story short, the power to swing states, such as Ohio and Florida, would be forever countered by those with specified interests. The states listed above have a profound effect on an election, but my contention, based on my knowledge of how different the interests are in each state, is that the popular vote alone would not represent the geographic interests as well as a constitutionally-based, representative republic does.

In the creation of a constitutionally-based Republic, one of The Founders, James Madison, had a theory regarding the creation of a representative republican form of government, as reported by Michael J. Klarman in his book The Framers’ Coup.

“Madison’s theory of the large republic—that better government decision-making would occur over a larger geographic area, both because a greater multiplicity of interests would exist and because representatives would have greater opportunities to “refine and enlarge” their constituents’ views through a system of indirect elections, large constituencies, and lengthy terms in office—was in fact mainly inspired by his wish to design a system that would suppress paper money emissions and debtor relief laws. Madison essentially admitted as much during one very candid moment at the convention, when he noted that the fundamental challenge facing a republican form of government was figuring out how to prevent power “slid[ing] into the hands” of those who “sigh for a more equal distribution of [property].”

In an effort to make joining this idea of a Representative Republic more attractive to smaller states, The Founders decided the best solution was to give them some representation in the government. They gave them equal representation in the Congress, by making representation equal in the Senate, and they decided to give them some voice in declaring who the president would be through the Electoral College. In their formulation plans, The Founders also had to ask themselves, “Why would Rhode Island or New Jersey want to join the union if their sovereignty was swallowed up by their more densely populated neighbors, and why would a futuristic Wyoming want to remain in the union if they did not have what they considered some measure of equal representation?” Wasn’t representation the theme of The Founders’ fight? Another theoretical they must have asked regarding the president is, would a Rhode Island, or a future Wyoming, recognize the comprehensive power of a president if they felt they had no say in that president’s election? Right now, Wyoming residents have the power of three electoral votes versus California’s fifty-five, so their power is minuscule by comparison, and some might say largely symbolic, but imagine their complaints if they didn’t even have a symbolic level of say in their representation, especially when that Representative Republic was formulated by people who fought against their lack of representation in Britain. Why would a Wyoming, a Rhode Island, or a New Jersey want to give up all semblance of sovereignty to join a union in which they don’t even have a minuscule amount of representation. If it’s taken away, why would they want to stay?   

States that continue the stubborn habit of voting in an “uneducated, mean spirited” manner (see Republican) would no longer count as much in a popular vote in which every vote counted. Iowa could still have its one day (I guess), in the primary, but other than that the entire Midwest wouldn’t count anymore. (Can I get a HAZZAH!) These states have VERY LITTLE power now, but with this new Massachusetts law, the larger states could wave good riddance to them for once and for all.

The Electoral College

Whenever a Democrat wins the popular vote and loses the electoral college, liberals take to the proverbial streets to proclaim the electoral college antiquated. If the tables were reversed, and Republicans were winning the popular vote and losing the electoral, something tells me the roles in this discussion would be flipped.

As many before me have said before, America was not founded as a democracy. It is a representative republic. As such, the only pure population based representation this Constitutional Republic offers is located in the House of Representatives. The representation in the Senate is not population based, the representation in the Supreme Court is not population based, and neither is the executive branch. If we were to do away with, or diminish, the comprehensive power accorded to smaller states in the electoral college of a presidential race, would we then have to revamp the Senate, and the Supreme Court, and our entire system of governance?

vvl0jFor those decrying the unfairness of the Electoral College in a presidential race, there are just as many on the other side decrying that one un-elected “swing” judge, on the Supreme Court, who decides to vote on a case before him that decides the fate of 320 million people. If we addressed the concerns of those that deem the Electoral College antiquated, would we then have to decide the “fairness” of having nine un-elected judges on the Supreme Court? Would it be more fair to have fifty-one Supreme court jurists, each appointed, or elected, to their seats by the fifty states, including Washington D.C.? Before those espousing this “fairness” doctrine, under the equal protection clause, agree that this is only fair, go ahead and take a look at the 2016 presidential election map. By my count, that would equate to at least twenty-nine Republican jurists.

As Madison declared, the basics of a representative republic are such that geographical concerns take precedent. The concerns of the rancher in Wyoming are given some representation in this form of government. The ranchers are not given as much representation as the orchard owners in California, or the Wall Street employees in New York, but in a population-based, pure democracy, the rancher would have little-to-no voice in the government. Furthermore, in a popular vote world, no presidential candidate would visit the Midwest.

The reason a Constitutional Republic is the preferred method of government, according to Aristotle, and I paraphrase, is that people will vote their own selfish concerns, as all politics is local. To quote Benjamin Franklin, on this note, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.” My interpretation of these two quotes is that the electoral college of the Constitutional Republic keeps the interests of various groups throughout the country varied enough that no one group’s interests become a primary concern of the governing. Or, at the very least, the minority interests have some say.

I read of an interesting analogy. The World Series. The winner of the World Series is not determined by the total number of runs in a given series, it is determined by the team that wins the most games in a seven game series. In the same vein, the presidential election is basically fifty-one different elections (including the District of Columbia).

The liberals say that the Electoral College was developed because the Founding Fathers believed the masses were too stupid to vote in an educated manner. This is not true, but if it were then we must ask if they want to dissolve the institution of the Electoral College to take away power from the uneducated voters (or anyone not in New York or California, or anyone that doesn’t vote for Democrats en masse), or to give more power to the uneducated voter. As I said, it’s not true that the Electoral College was developed because the Founding Fathers believed the masses were too stupid to vote in an educated manner. It was developed as an effort to help thwart the idea of a direct democracy. The founding fathers saw direct democracy as a possible evil that could lead to demagoguery, susceptibility to bribery, and possible poisonous political patronage. The Founding Fathers also wanted to give power to the states. In other words, the Founding Fathers wanted to give some power to the minority to prevent the tyrannical rule of the majority.

The Founding Fathers were so against putting any prominence on the popular vote that the popular vote wasn’t even counted until the 1824 election, the first election in our nation’s history that didn’t include a Founding Father. Guess what happened? That’s right. Controversy. The eventual winner, John Quincy Adams, did not win the popular vote. In this particular election, however, no candidate won a plurality of the Electoral votes either, and the House of Representatives was forced to decide the president, a precedent that would never occur again after the 12th Amendment was passed.

Liberal Democrats have claimed to be supporting “the little guy”, for as long as I’ve been paying attention. They claim to support the minority, but these claims are limited to the voting groups that favor them. If they were truly for the minority, in the sense that the Constitution was set up to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority, they would favor the Electoral College, until it revealed itself as not favoring them.

The Democrats make the claim to be anti-corporate, even though it could be argued that “Big Corporate” America flourishes during Democrat administrations that provide the country regulations that large corporations can afford to comply with and small mom and pop companies fold under, and they claim to be anti-rich guy, even though it could be argued that the divide between rich and poor exacerbates during Democrat administrations. Yet, this idea that the Electoral College was set up to protect the minority from majority rule is deemed unfair when their candidate doesn’t benefit from it.

As I argued against the majority of people that believe the Electoral System is antiquated, I wondered what my own feelings would be if my guy won the popular vote and lost the electoral vote. Would I be just as hypocritical as I believe they are, if the roles were reversed, or would I remain steadfast in my belief that the Founding Fathers attempted to set up a system that did not sway to modern desires and wants, until those wants and desires proved so great that the difficult amendment process, or a state by state process like the one developed by Massachusetts, could be implemented to correct it? Or, would I be so emotionally distraught by the election results that I would say Constitution be damned, I want my guy in, and I think this whole idea of a constitutional government is antiquated? I would like to think that my knowledge of the Constitution, the theories behind it, and the idea that America has flourished under the comprehensive ideas inherent in the Representative Republic would sway me to accept it as is, as opposed to the way I want it to be.