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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Wednesday, January 11

Electoral College vs. Popular Vote

I seem to be on a political kick lately. Not hard to understand with all the news about the GOP hopefuls and the national interest in the upcoming duel between Obama and his Republican opponent. All this coverage of Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire and South Carolina nominating results. All this talk about the influence of the swing states, the states that political pundits are saying will decide who wins, who loses.

And that talk leads to the debate over the electoral vote vs. the popular vote to decide the next president. According to the latest Gallup poll, 62% (more Democrats than Republicans) of American voters are in favor of an amendment to do away with the Electoral College and to use the popular vote to decide who should be president. Granted, most winners with the 270 electoral votes have also had a majority of the popular vote. But three times in our history, people were elected who did not have the majority of the popular vote: Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000. Bush, with that strange Florida recount, beat Al Gore but lost the popular vote by 543,816. Gore had a valid argument then and the voters today have an equally valid argument against the outdated method instituted by the Founding Fathers as a compromise between those who wanted Congress to select a president and those who wanted it decided by the people.

Besides the unfairness of the above three examples, there’s another reason why we should use the popular vote: In states that seem to be already decided based on past voting (non-swing states for either nominee), too many voters might be discouraged from voting simply because they’d feel their vote wouldn’t matter. And it wouldn’t. The electoral votes in California, for example, are already decided ten months ahead of time. A vote for anyone other than Barack Obama wouldn’t matter. Might as well tear up your vote and throw it to the wind, maybe even skip voting entirely. A vote in South Dakota for anyone other than a republican wouldn’t matter. Throw that one to the wind as well, maybe even skip voting entirely. But, you say, they’d have other races to decide on a state and national level, so they’d still come out to vote. Yes, the dedicated and politically aware voters would still vote. But what about the millions of not so dedicated or not so politically aware, the semi-apathetic? Hmmm, the argument would be that we don’t want those millions deciding anything so important anyway, an echo of our Founding Fathers’ reason for not wanting a popular vote to decide such an important matter, their fear of giving too much power to the riffraff. Or as Ron Paul said in his 2004 essay “The Electoral College vs. Mob Rule,” “The Electoral College system represents an attempt, however effective, to limit federal power and preserve states’ rights. It is an essential part of our federalist balance. It also represents a reminder that pure democracy, mob rule, is incompatible with liberty.” So, Ron, who decides who the mob is? So, Ron, we should keep an elitist system for making this decision and not put it at least partially in the hands of the mob, the riffraff, the rabble, the great unwashed . . . the people? I don’t think so.

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