Evan Bayh: Making a stand on stewardship
U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana
Rob Christensen, Staff Writer
Editor's note: Even though the presidential election is not until 2008, potential candidates to succeed President Bush are already making their way around the country. When they visit the Triangle, The News & Observer will try to ask them a few questions.
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh was in Raleigh over the weekend to speak at the Democrats' annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner when reporter Rob Christensen caught up with him. Bayh was twice elected governor in Republican-leaning Indiana before being elected to the Senate in 1998. He is looking at running for president in 2008.
Q: Why do you think we should abolish the Electoral College?
A: "I think our president should be chosen by the majority of the American people. That is ordinarily the case. But in 2000, as we all recall, we elected this president with fewer votes than the other candidate got. I just don't think in the modern era that is appropriate."
What a bone head!
Obviously, this Presidential candidate has never read the Federalist Papers, thought about the implications of the Electoral College, or taken a course in Engineering Measurements with Brother Austin Barry. The reporter and writer must have missed those experiences as well.
The electoral college is part of compromises made at the convention to satisfy the small states. Under the system of the Electoral College each state had the same number of electoral votes as they have representatives in Congress, thus no state could have less then 3. This ensures a republic; not a democracy. remember that the dead old white guys view democracy as mob rule and rightly so.
Thinking about the implications would expose a few hidden benefits. (a) The Electoral College presents the image of a plurality when the nation is closely divided. Thus, in 2000, 271 to 266 Electoral College vote disguises the razor thin popular vote. (b) It insulates the process from fraud. Stuff the ballot box in a red or blue state all you want, you'll only get that state's electoral vote. In a popular vote, that's a problem. (c) What happens if a candidate dies before inauguration? The Electoral College will solve the problem. The peaceful transition of power is the hallmark of the republic. (d) The States are sovereign entities. They make the rules for their own state. They could decide to pick them at random like jurors. (e) It ensures that the President MUST campaign in the small states. Popular vote could be decided in the big cities, even without fraud. The current system ensures that candidates know where New Hampshire and Iowa are. Remember if Gore had carried his "home" state of Tennessee, he'd be president. Kerry lost West Virginia. Ignore the small states at your own peril. (f) A state or local issue could bring a big turnout for someone in one state at the expense of another state. Turnout rates don't matter ACROSS state boundaries. (g) [My personal favorite] A third party elector could influence the election in ways that have not yet been seen. The Repubocrats and the Democans split the Electoral vote 267 each and NH elects 3 Libertarians. Those three guys extract promises to increase freedom, lower taxes, and curtail the growth of government from one side or the other. Probably the side that would lose by throwing the election to the House of Representatives. And the Libertarians could care less after that. Imagine the howls of "we wuz robbed" from the losers. And, the "winners" wouldn't be that happy either! Love it.
Finally, as Brother Austin Barry could have instructed the candidate, every measurement has blunders and errors. We don't worry about blunders, but we do worry about errors in measurement. Every measurement process has errors. Count a deck of cards ten times and you won't get the answer 52 every time. And we know the answer we are supposed to get. Unless the good Brother, took out a card or two OR stuck in a joker. Different people can measure the same thing and come up with different "correct" answers. Counting votes is no different (e.g., Florida recounts). The electoral system does not mandate that the vote tally be exactly right. Therefore it makes no difference if you win a state by 50.1% or by 80% of the vote you receive the same number of electoral votes. This confers the benefit that we don't need an exact nose count. "Close enough" is good enough. Some places don't bother counting absentee ballots when the plurality is larger than the number of absentees.
So the dead old white guy continue to earn my undying admiration for their political construction.
And, before anyone glibly says "amend the Constitution", remember all the bone headed results form messing with success. Prohibition gave us organized crime. Direct Election of Senators gave the States unfunded mandates. Presidential term limits gave us lame duck two term presidents.
Don't mess with what you don't understand!