27.3.06

elections: Electoral College Pro and Con

The Strib had an Op-Ed today on the state-by-state Electoral College proposal. I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir, but this is important.

Now that Minnesota is a battleground getting lots of attention, it's a lot to ask the Legislature to do the right thing and endorse the new compact. But it really should. So should other states -- both red and blue -- join, for the sake of a better democracy.

What's Minnesota "getting" out of being a swing state? High dollar campaigns? Local media ad buys? High profile appointments for ambitious pols?

Frankly, who cares? The electoral college is an embarrassment, and there's no reason Minnesota shouldn't board the reform train.

If you need more proof, look no further than the Washington Post columnist David Broder's opinion piece arguing against the state-by-state E.C. reform. Here's his main argument:

That argument is a bit curious. It seems to assume that voters in New York and Texas are somehow excluded from awareness of everything that happens in the campaign -- as if the newspapers and TV stations in their states were not covering it every day.

Meanwhile, it ignores the implications of a direct election plan for two of the fundamental characteristics of the American scheme of government: the federal system and the two-party system.


That's the best you've got, Washington D.C.? That New York voters know what's happening in Iowa, and that the "founders" wanted it this way? The founders never explicitly asked for a two party system, and they certainly wouldn't have argued for a president that didn't get the majority of the nation's vote. And even if they had wanted the E.C., so what? Things have clearly changed, and most of the nation's population lives in large cities. Yet a handful of rural states get greater weight in Washington -- effectively disenfranchising millions of urban Americans.

Given the decrease in public confidence in U.S. elections -- and especially the 2000 debaucle -- civic-minded Democrats and Republicans at the state level should move to reconnect voters with their elected officials. And that even includes the President.

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