Popular Election of the American President

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ndansmith
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Popular Election of the American President

Postby ndansmith » Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:43 pm UTC

I think it would be best for the US to eliminate the popular vote for the President. "What? You hate democracy!" No, I love democracy.

The constitution calls for electors (according to the number of elected members of congress from each state) to be selected by state legislators to cast two votes for President, one of which must not be for a person from the same state as the elector. Once all the votes are counted, the person who receives the most votes is Pres, and second place gets VP (and there are contingencies for ties). The way our current system works is that all 50 states instruct their electors to vote in accordance with a popular vote, casting one ballot for the winning candidate in that state and one ballot for that candidate's running mate (a state or two has proportional allotment instead of winner take all). So every recent presidential election has been a tie between the winning candidate and his/her running mate for most votes. The House technically breaks the tie in favor of the candidate, though there is no legal requirement to do so. 24 states have laws to punish electors who violate their pledge to vote in accordance with the popular vote of that state.

But why not ask your state to do the following: Have the state legislature use preferential voting to elect the appropriate number of electors from a slate of candidates. The candidate electors can promise or not promise anything they wish about their vote. Then when election day rolls around, have them cast ballots for their two favorite presidential candidates (whomever they may be who have been certified by the FEC). Winner gets Pres, 2nd place gets VP. This of course cannot be instituted at the Federal level, each state can make its own choice.

The reasons I think this is better than the popular vote are several. I do not think that the current system is helpful in picking the best candidate. I do not think that average voters make a truly informed decision on the issues. The amount of money/time/news-cycles spent on the Presidential elections is ridiculous. The popular vote minimizes the fact that, according to the Constitution, the president is the elected executive of the state governments (not of the people) to the federal government. He is the states' president, not the people's president per se. The people's representation in the federal government is in the House (and now Senate). This would greatly increase the importance of the state legislatures, which should be (according to the Federal system) more powerful than the federal government. The government which is closest to home and most accessible to its citizens should be the most influential. Therefore I would like to see the State legislators have more power. In the end, I think it is more democratic than the current system.

Also I think we should remove direct election of US senators and give that back to the state legislatures. OK, who hates me now? :-)

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Jahoclave » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:09 pm UTC

Well having watched many of Maher's caucus me (or whatever they're called) you do get a pretty cynical view of why people vote for who they do and it's not because of real issues. Really, I think the whole system of how people choose who they vote for is a sad, sad state right now that needs work on pushing people to be intellectually honest with their votes. Part of that, in my opinion, requires people to have more than two choices. How honest can you be with one guy that kind of represents some of the things you believe in versus some guy who is evil (I seriously need to stop reading this republican piece of trash newspaper my dad gets. There's one thing about holding a position, there's another thing about just plain fear-mongering and plays on emotion. One article, after reading I still have no idea what the bill he was railing against actually was about). Any change to the system needs to encourage more voting for third parties. That being said, I like the idea of instant runoff voting for something like the presidential election. You can vote third party and still not have to "piss away" your vote. I'd also like to see the house switched to proportional allotment of seats. Something like each party runs x number of candidates and then each party gets seats alloted in that state by the percentages and their top vote recipients for the part get the seats the party won. Kind of encourages party infighting a little as well.

But I do think the electoral college system needs something done to it. This next election is basically going to be decided by four states: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Missouri. Because, to be honest, say you're a Republican in California. Your vote for McCain isn't going to matter for shit. Same for a Democrat in Oklahoma. So you have a system where only a view votes by a few people in a few states matter in deciding the outcome and it sucks for people who live in those states and really get sick and damn tired of having to put up with the extra amount of bullshit visited upon us by the candidates. Please Claire, please let your friend Obama know not to go around calling us with recorded messages. I know where your offices are and I will come complain.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby telcontar42 » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:13 pm UTC

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the reason that we have vice presidents run with a presidential candidate instead of making the 2nd place presidential candidate vice president is because when that was tried it resulted in a vice president with completely opposing views to the president making it difficult for them to work together. Obviously American politics have changed a lot since then. Maybe it would work better now.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Jahoclave » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:17 pm UTC

telcontar42 wrote:Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the reason that we have vice presidents run with a presidential candidate instead of making the 2nd place presidential candidate vice president is because when that was tried it resulted in a vice president with completely opposing views to the president making it difficult for them to work together. Obviously American politics have changed a lot since then. Maybe it would work better now.

Well given both parties have become ineffective steaming piles of shit, then yes, it probably would work in their ongoing campaign to officially accomplish nothing.

But yes, they changed it because the system was causing quite a few problems including certain duels being fought because certain members of Congress changed certain votes to elect certain other people into office. It really was more of a headache than it was worth.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby tantalum » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:50 pm UTC

http://www.slate.com/id/2073262/

A system with winner-gets-all will never break out of the two party-system, simply by mathematics. Maybe we could have a committee take over the role of the president, with members being elected to the committee based on popular vote splitting, but that kind of goes against the idea of having a single president, and it's kind of like what the supreme court already is.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Jahoclave » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:57 pm UTC

tantalum wrote:http://www.slate.com/id/2073262/

A system with winner-gets-all will never break out of the two party-system, simply by mathematics. Maybe we could have a committee take over the role of the president, with members being elected to the committee based on popular vote splitting, but that kind of goes against the idea of having a single president, and it's kind of like what the supreme court already is.

I don't quite say that's true. There's other countries that have winner take all positions that have more than two viable political parties. They also have other bodies in their politics that are representative as well and I think that's where our problems arise as there's no way for minor political views to really get any play at all. It's one of the reasons I like IRV for single winner positions because you can at least mark that, hey, I do like this other guy more and let that be known in your vote.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby ndansmith » Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:05 am UTC

telcontar42 wrote:Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the reason that we have vice presidents run with a presidential candidate instead of making the 2nd place presidential candidate vice president is because when that was tried it resulted in a vice president with completely opposing views to the president making it difficult for them to work together. Obviously American politics have changed a lot since then. Maybe it would work better now.

As I understand it, the Vice Pres and Pres do not need to work together. The VP's primary role is to preside over the Senate and cast a tie-breaking vote. It seems that the decision to move to a running-mate system was made for the benefit of the party system (i.e. you want your party to have the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, so you want the VP to be from the same party as the Pres.).

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Jahoclave » Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:14 am UTC

ndansmith wrote:
telcontar42 wrote:Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the reason that we have vice presidents run with a presidential candidate instead of making the 2nd place presidential candidate vice president is because when that was tried it resulted in a vice president with completely opposing views to the president making it difficult for them to work together. Obviously American politics have changed a lot since then. Maybe it would work better now.

As I understand it, the Vice Pres and Pres do not need to work together. The VP's primary role is to preside over the Senate and cast a tie-breaking vote. It seems that the decision to move to a running-mate system was made for the benefit of the party system (i.e. you want your party to have the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, so you want the VP to be from the same party as the Pres.).

They really don't do much together. Well, it was to make the party system work better, but more to avoid problems like the Jefferson-Burr dispute.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby frezik » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:53 am UTC

tantalum wrote:http://www.slate.com/id/2073262/

A system with winner-gets-all will never break out of the two party-system, simply by mathematics. Maybe we could have a committee take over the role of the president, with members being elected to the committee based on popular vote splitting, but that kind of goes against the idea of having a single president, and it's kind of like what the supreme court already is.


It's a problem with first-past-the-post voting systems, but not necessarily winner-takes-all.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby BoomFrog » Thu Jul 24, 2008 3:00 am UTC

ndansmith wrote:The constitution calls for electors (according to the number of elected members of congress from each state) to be selected by state legislators to cast two votes for President, one of which must not be for a person from the same state as the elector. Once all the votes are counted, the person who receives the most votes is Pres, and second place gets VP (and there are contingencies for ties).


I never knew that's how it technically worked. Thank you for the lesson. However, everything your advocating seems to be, "the old way was better" without any improvements on the old way. Most likely there were good reasons all of the things that changed, were changed. The way to improve society by definition must lie with a new idea, not bringing back old idea. I'm not saying all new ideas are improvements, I'm just saying all old ideas have already been tried.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Indon » Thu Jul 24, 2008 3:49 am UTC

Optional proposal: That all states adopt the proportional electoral vote measures utilized by Tennessee and Maine.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Silas » Thu Jul 24, 2008 4:06 am UTC

ndansmith wrote:The constitution calls for electors (according to the number of elected members of congress from each state) to be selected by state legislators to cast two votes for President, one of which must not be for a person from the same state as the elector. Once all the votes are counted, the person who receives the most votes is Pres, and second place gets VP (and there are contingencies for ties).


I'm sure many people know this already, but this section is superseded by the Twelfth Amendment. The President and Vice President are elected separately by the electors.

Just wanted to have it on the record.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby ndansmith » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:05 pm UTC

Silas wrote:
ndansmith wrote:The constitution calls for electors (according to the number of elected members of congress from each state) to be selected by state legislators to cast two votes for President, one of which must not be for a person from the same state as the elector. Once all the votes are counted, the person who receives the most votes is Pres, and second place gets VP (and there are contingencies for ties).


I'm sure many people know this already, but this section is superseded by the Twelfth Amendment. The President and Vice President are elected separately by the electors.

Just wanted to have it on the record.

Thanks for pointing that out. I did not realize that the source did not reflect the changes made by amendments. I wonder why it is that no states (that I am aware of) have a separate ballot for VP.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Indon » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:13 pm UTC

ndansmith wrote:Thanks for pointing that out. I did not realize that the source did not reflect the changes made by amendments. I wonder why it is that no states (that I am aware of) have a separate ballot for VP.


Because a significant amount of the process is influenced pretty strongly by the party system, I imagine. Like the Primaries, those aren't at all a part of the actual election process, those affairs are 100% internal to the parties.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby ndansmith » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:35 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
ndansmith wrote:Thanks for pointing that out. I did not realize that the source did not reflect the changes made by amendments. I wonder why it is that no states (that I am aware of) have a separate ballot for VP.


Because a significant amount of the process is influenced pretty strongly by the party system, I imagine. Like the Primaries, those aren't at all a part of the actual election process, those affairs are 100% internal to the parties.

Yet paid for by the public, *grumble, grumble.

Wikipedia's US election summaries for each cycle have a great breakdown of how the electors were chosen.

So, in the first election, 6 out of the 10 states which actually voted in the electoral college had some form of popular vote for appointing at least some of the electors. That trend continued into the 19th century, with some variance as new states came on and some states changed their practices. By 1832 only South Carolina had no popular vote, a practice which lasted all the way until the seceded. After reconstruction it seems all states were voting via popular vote (which matches the general trend toward a strong federal government which the Civil War necessitated).

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Habz » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:57 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Really, I think the whole system of how people choose who they vote for is a sad, sad state right now that needs work on pushing people to be intellectually honest with their votes. Part of that, in my opinion, requires people to have more than two choices. How honest can you be with one guy that kind of represents some of the things you believe in versus some guy who is evil (I seriously need to stop reading this republican piece of trash newspaper my dad gets.


Coming from a Finn, this sounds biased of course, but I think it would be a great idea to have more presidential candidates. There would perhaps be more concentration on bringing forth the actual politics, rather than spending huge amounts of money trying to make the other candidates look like the spawns of satan.

This is actually a new topic in itself, but I think getting rid of the two-party system, which sounds awfully "left behind" in many instances, would bring various (in my opinion needed) improvements into U.S politics. Including more presidential candidates with wide variety of political views to choose from.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby ndansmith » Thu Jul 24, 2008 3:08 pm UTC

Habz wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:Really, I think the whole system of how people choose who they vote for is a sad, sad state right now that needs work on pushing people to be intellectually honest with their votes. Part of that, in my opinion, requires people to have more than two choices. How honest can you be with one guy that kind of represents some of the things you believe in versus some guy who is evil (I seriously need to stop reading this republican piece of trash newspaper my dad gets.


Coming from a Finn, this sounds biased of course, but I think it would be a great idea to have more presidential candidates. There would perhaps be more concentration on bringing forth the actual politics, rather than spending huge amounts of money trying to make the other candidates look like the spawns of satan.

This is actually a new topic in itself, but I think getting rid of the two-party system, which sounds awfully "left behind" in many instances, would bring various (in my opinion needed) improvements into U.S politics. Including more presidential candidates with wide variety of political views to choose from.

Who said anything about too few candidates? The main problem seems to be ballot access for "3rd-party" candidates.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Habz » Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:40 pm UTC

Hmm yeah... That post didn't really come off as intended. Sorry about that.

You see, around here, by presidential candidate, people in general refer to the person that's already been set for the elections by a party. That's where my logic didn't really translate very well to english/(american).

So, what I was trying to say is that ballot access for more people would be a good thing. That would give a clearer view of a nation's political stance and people's opinion, rather than just voters picking up the lesser evil of the two possibilities.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby ndansmith » Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:11 pm UTC

Habz wrote:So, what I was trying to say is that ballot access for more people would be a good thing. That would give a clearer view of a nation's political stance and people's opinion, rather than just voters picking up the lesser evil of the two possibilities.

I agree. I think a problem in America is that other candidate's views are considered "fringe" and therefore most Americans would not choose to vote for them.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Cooley » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:14 pm UTC

BoomFrog wrote:
ndansmith wrote:The constitution calls for electors (according to the number of elected members of congress from each state) to be selected by state legislators to cast two votes for President, one of which must not be for a person from the same state as the elector. Once all the votes are counted, the person who receives the most votes is Pres, and second place gets VP (and there are contingencies for ties).


I never knew that's how it technically worked. Thank you for the lesson. However, everything your advocating seems to be, "the old way was better" without any improvements on the old way. Most likely there were good reasons all of the things that changed, were changed. The way to improve society by definition must lie with a new idea, not bringing back old idea. I'm not saying all new ideas are improvements, I'm just saying all old ideas have already been tried.



Why yes, old ideas are considered "old" for just that reason. I disagree that it was "most likely" that things that are changed were changed for good reasons. And when you state that by definition the way to improve a society is with a new idea, then yes, you are saying new ideas are improvements. By definition. Not only that, but old ideas are rarely implemented as they were intended to be, if ever. Finally, changing the way we elect our President isn't supposed to ensure societal improvement, or even that the will of the people is followed: it's simply to put the best person available in charge for the next four years. If the majority of voters can't choose the best person to lead the country, then the direct decision should absolutely be taken from their hands and given to elected officials in their state legislators to choose yet another person, hopefully wise, to make the best decision.

The U.S.A.'s love affair with direct democracy really needs to end; it's not what the Founding Father had in mind when they wrote the Constitution, and that's obvious to anyone who's read the thing.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Jul 25, 2008 3:47 am UTC

Cooley wrote:
The U.S.A.'s love affair with direct democracy really needs to end; it's not what the Founding Father had in mind when they wrote the Constitution, and that's obvious to anyone who's read the thing.

Reminds me of this joke where France apologizes to Britain for helping us in the Revolution. Britain tells them it's ok, they had no way of knowing that the colonies were going to just let any ole dumbass run the country.

But I think a lot of fault with us electing morons is that we have so much bullshit ideology. Like the idea that elite is bad. The idea that highly educated people don't get it. The idea that there's an "intelligent" designer who created this cesspool of shit. The problem is that we took the enlightenment and shit all over it. Just talk to people about communism, marxism, and socialism and you quickly realize that they don't know shit. Even the idea that we defeated communism is quite laughable. Communist parties are still alive and kicking (and doing quite well) all over the globe. Communists in Nepal just basically kicked the shit out of everybody in the election.

But nothing is going to change in this country until we stop acting like ideas and theoretical economic models are evil and something we shouldn't discuss. Anytime I read a line like "dangerous ideas of the liberal elite in the ivory tower of Universities that are a threat to your children" I almost want to vomit. It's your kids who probably need to learn what the hell those "ideas" are in the first place. Because you sure as hell don't know.

The Saloons of the enlightenment France really need to make a comeback. This country could really use more discussion of ideas and concepts and less appeals to emotion. You know what debate I want to see, Obama and McCain locked in a room with access to all the information, statistics and experts they need and they're not allowed to come out until they have created a healthcare plan that'll provide healthcare to every U.S. citizen. Or at least that's what we should do to Congress. And nobody gets to use the term "Socialized Medicine" as an appeal to emotion. That term alone is pretty much an example of the type of bullshit that I'm talking about.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Cooley » Fri Jul 25, 2008 3:54 am UTC

Haha yeah, like that would ever happen coughThe Manhattan Projectcough... Oh wait...

I agree, and that's what Congress should be doing all day anyway. How did people get healthcare before all the HMOs and everything, anyways? America used to have a great healthcare system... I for one would gladly defer to an expert in designing a system as large and all encompassing as healthcare, why people would think they could make a better decision as a group is beyond me.

I mean, why even bother electing representatives, then?

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:09 am UTC

Cooley wrote:Haha yeah, like that would ever happen coughThe Manhattan Projectcough... Oh wait...

I agree, and that's what Congress should be doing all day anyway. How did people get healthcare before all the HMOs and everything, anyways? America used to have a great healthcare system... I for one would gladly defer to an expert in designing a system as large and all encompassing as healthcare, why people would think they could make a better decision as a group is beyond me.

I mean, why even bother electing representatives, then?

Well, to represent my interests really. Which, I would like to include, listening to experts in the fields. The problem is we continue to elect people that listen to the money given to them and what will get them elected rather than experts. Part of that is people will elect them based on bullshit. But if something's broke and you know there's a problem advocating doing the exact same stupid shit we've been doing isn't going to fix it.

But most of the time they're not even attacking the problem but just a symptom.

What I'm saying is that Americans should be listening to the experts. Should be trying to educate themselves on issues. Except they're too busy watching some guy get hit in the nuts and voting for whichever candidate makes them feel good or represents the Messiah. People shouldn't be able to label something "socialist," leave it at that, and then get away with it because such a large percentage of our population doesn't have a damn clue what it really means.

Worse yet, the media just encourages this kind of bullshit. It's kind of why I like comedy news shows like the Daily Show. If I want bullshit and to be entertained I'll watch an entertainment show based on the news. If I want the news I'd watch the news, except I can't, because it no longer exists. And Charlie Rose just bores me to death. That and I think news networks should be fined anytime they let a debate turn into a shouting match.

Honestly, I can't recall the last time I've heard Obama say something that actually touched on an issue intellectually. I'm really waiting for him to develop a cocaine addiction or something.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Silas » Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:10 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:You know what debate I want to see, Obama and McCain locked in a room with access to all the information, statistics and experts they need and they're not allowed to come out until they have created a healthcare plan that'll provide healthcare to every U.S. citizen.


What you just described bypasses the actual points of contention. Once you've decreed that every single citizen has to be covered to such-and-such an extent (and I think you have an extent in mind), there's not much left but to hire the clerks. The hard part of the issue is to decide (not figure out) how much coverage for how many people we can afford. Once that's done, how to do it is just a systems-engineering problem.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Hammer » Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:10 am UTC

Please don't have the healthcare debate in this thread. We're already having it in other threads. Use one of them, please.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Silas » Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:48 pm UTC

I'll keep that in mind, but I hold that my point wasn't really about healthcare.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Charlie! » Sun Jul 27, 2008 5:31 am UTC

Has anyone mentioned runoff voting yet? I'm shocked.

Anyhow, yeah, runoff voting. It eliminates most problems with plurality voting, like how third (fourth, seventh) parties are unstable. I would prefer this by far to reinstating the elector system, which would be all party politics anyhow.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Jahoclave » Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:37 pm UTC

Charlie! wrote:Has anyone mentioned runoff voting yet? I'm shocked.

Anyhow, yeah, runoff voting. It eliminates most problems with plurality voting, like how third (fourth, seventh) parties are unstable. I would prefer this by far to reinstating the elector system, which would be all party politics anyhow.

That's basically what instant runoff voting is, except you don't have to have multiple elections.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Iv » Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:48 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Reminds me of this joke where France apologizes to Britain for helping us in the Revolution. Britain tells them it's ok, they had no way of knowing that the colonies were going to just let any ole dumbass run the country.


Yeah, we're still sorry about that one :wink:

ndansmith wrote:The reasons I think this is better than the popular vote are several. I do not think that the current system is helpful in picking the best candidate. I do not think that average voters make a truly informed decision on the issues.


I would like to point out that no democratic system I am aware of fulfills this objective. I always had the opinion that an election was more or less a random choice but that the important part was that you could choose to change the people in charge. The present dem candidate leads the poll not really because the rep candidate is worse than him but simply because most people want to see a leader that is different from the previous one.

A candidate is just a candidate : you have no way of knowing if he is competent or just looks competent. Candidates are usually skilled in image-crafting. It is easier to know if the previous president acted smartly during his mandate.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Cooley » Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:49 pm UTC

It seems to me that people chosen specifically to make the call would look at all the issues, at least for a few months and make the best decision while we all went along with our lives. Isn't that the original intent of the electoral college system?

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby roc314 » Mon Jul 28, 2008 3:32 am UTC

Cooley wrote:It seems to me that people chosen specifically to make the call would look at all the issues, at least for a few months and make the best decision while we all went along with our lives. Isn't that the original intent of the electoral college system?


I think that if we let the experts choose the president, then we would have an excellent leader. It's obvious that the American people know next to nothing about running a country, and that if the USA wants a truly qualified leader that he/she should be chosen by highly qualified people.

The only problem is choosing the experts. If we elect them by popular vote (like the current electoral college system, except that they make their own choice and don't pledge for a candidate), then we simply have the same problem: uninformed idiots USAians picking people who campaign most effectively.
If we use the electoral college system, except that a different group chooses the elector (such as state legislators, etc.) we simply have corrupt people quit deceiving the public and start deceiving and/or bribing the legislators (chosen by popular vote, so still not chosen on actual merit).
If we try to make a panel or council of some kind to make choices like this, then said panel will last, at most, two days before everyone on the council was chosen politically. The people choosing the "experts" would simply give the job to whomever kissed the most ass.\

Conclusion: the current system is fucked up, but so is any alternative. Besides, advocating giving the public less direct say in the election of officials would quickly remove you from any position of power; might as well use your political capital on something more practical, like trying to educate voters (wait, that's not practical either... Hmmm, I guess you could just focus on getting reelected.).

(In other news, if America would have had a popular vote election in 2000, this would be less of an issue.)
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby InstinctSage » Mon Jul 28, 2008 4:11 am UTC

The thing that always gets me is the image of one person running around to every state attempting to convince the voting populace that they can adequately represent them. I'm an Australian and we have 1/14 the population of the USA. We also have far fewer states and territories (8). I feel disconnected from the happenings of most other states and territories in my own country, particularly those not adjacent. But still, it seems reasonable given the separation of federal and state issues that a party representative could manage the concerns of the country.

I was in the US from November to February and caught a lot of the build up to the primaries, but didn't really follow the concept for the longest time. Republican and Democratic parties electing their representative based on who they think can/will win the votes at the election makes sense. Drumming up support from the populace in order to convince the party to elect the representative seems convoluted and farcical. I'm likely missing the point, though. In essence, what I see is a system geared towards getting elected to the top job by popular vote, separate from the issue of actually running the country. It seems taken as fact that Republicans stand for X, Democrats stand for Y, and the representative of the party will follow that line, so what really separates them from the pack is how likeable/presentable they are; how well their character suits the position.

This is at odds with the idea that they're actually in control of anything. It follows that a president elected in this fashion should act as a figurehead, who sells party policy to the public rather than makes the decisions, which would actually be actioned by the senators and representatives of states and provinces.

Perhaps I'm supplanting too much of the Government I'm used to, whereby the ruling party is elected by proportion of seats in both houses, and thusly the Prime Minister and Opposition leaders are essentially speakers for both party's policies.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Charlie! » Mon Jul 28, 2008 4:57 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
Charlie! wrote:Has anyone mentioned runoff voting yet? I'm shocked.

Anyhow, yeah, runoff voting. It eliminates most problems with plurality voting, like how third (fourth, seventh) parties are unstable. I would prefer this by far to reinstating the elector system, which would be all party politics anyhow.

That's basically what instant runoff voting is, except you don't have to have multiple elections.


Oops, didn't notice that you mentioned that. Sorry :) And yeah, I meant irv.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Iv » Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:46 am UTC

Or one could keep the representatives in check by giving more direct power to the populace. I'm a big fan of the Swiss system where representatives can be completely shortcut : petition + federal referendum = 'new law' or 'old law removed'. Of course most of the laws are being written and voted by representatives who do that as a full time job, but an unpopular law would have to be well explained before being passed.

And yes, they manage to raise taxes, they also manage to cut spendings. In fact, because they have such a power, people in Switzerland are far more interested in politics than most other democracies population.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Cooley » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:51 am UTC

@roc314: I think I can choose someone from my immediate geographical area who's trustworthy enough to choose an elector. And if they pick someone to obviously political without any expertise, I take some serious issue to my state legislator.

Not a perfect system to be sure, but possibly workable.

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby roc314 » Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:54 pm UTC

Cooley wrote:@roc314: I think I can choose someone from my immediate geographical area who's trustworthy enough to choose an elector. And if they pick someone to obviously political without any expertise, I take some serious issue to my state legislator.

Not a perfect system to be sure, but possibly workable.


Touche.

I will concede that the fewer constituents an elected official has, the easier it is to keep him/her in line with reality and the will of those who voted for her/him. I just think that it doesn't fix the problem. The issue is public apathy, not access to public officials. Besides, the people who do nothing when their congressperson is hopelessly incompetent probably won't change and become involved if the elected official is more local. The 17th amendment (direct election of US senators) was added because the locally elected state legislators were ignoring the people who complained and kept choosing very political nominations for the national senate.
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Cooley » Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:13 am UTC

Sadly, the bane of our democratic republic is apathy in its citizenry. What we need is to have all our freedoms taken away, so that people will realize just how good we have it. That, or some really good pamphleteers.

Whatever happened to the pamphleteers?

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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby roc314 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:58 am UTC

Cooley wrote:Sadly, the bane of our democratic republic is apathy in its citizenry. What we need is to have all our freedoms taken away, so that people will realize just how good we have it. That, or some really good pamphleteers.

Whatever happened to the pamphleteers?


They got apathetic :D.

Well propaganda got us into a lot of this mess, maybe it can get us out. So many people have gotten elected on saying 'x' is un-American, maybe we can say not being an informed, active, participating voter is un-American. If you don't force corrupt politicians out of office, then you are un-American; if you vote party line because you can't be bothered to think, you're un-American. Anyone want to work to reverse this trend? All you need is the ability to twist the truth enough to represent reality and you're in!

If we had a truly informed and educated voting public, then most of the current reforms would be unneeded. Why do you need campaign finance reform when every voter looks at all the candidates (including the obscure with no cash) and doesn't vote based on who advertises the most? Unfortunately, it is too much against the rational self-interest of the two parties to encourage voters to become informed, as that would usually mean the voters voting for some obscure 3rd party candidate who had no chance of winning until 70% of the population realized he matches their view exactly. The major platforms are worded to be as vague as possible; the only ones who will give an accurate view of ideology are the random, unheard of parties. But no one cares enough to find out about them.

Seriously though, anyone want to start a pamphlet campaign to encourage people to get informed?
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby InstinctSage » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:00 am UTC

roc314 wrote:If we had a truly informed and educated voting public, then most of the current reforms would be unneeded. Why do you need campaign finance reform when every voter looks at all the candidates (including the obscure with no cash) and doesn't vote based on who advertises the most? Unfortunately, it is too much against the rational self-interest of the two parties to encourage voters to become informed, as that would usually mean the voters voting for some obscure 3rd party candidate who had no chance of winning until 70% of the population realized he matches their view exactly. The major platforms are worded to be as vague as possible; the only ones who will give an accurate view of ideology are the random, unheard of parties. But no one cares enough to find out about them.


You could tackle it from another angle and create a system whereby it is in each candidate's rational self interest to promote the policies of their platform in detail rather than merely getting elected. Of course this would likely require some means of forcing a candidate to actually follow through on their pre-election promises, and beating them with a ham if and when they can't. :P
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Re: Popular Election of the American President

Postby Cooley » Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:07 am UTC

Sudden-death recall?


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