Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Republic vs. Democracy and the Electoral College

The real purpose of the electoral college, which is spelled out as clearly as it can be spelled out in Federalist 68, is to put a layer of independent representation between the voters and the choice for President. His idea was that you wouldn't vote for Trump or Hillary. Who you would vote for are people who might choose between Trump or Hillary, or maybe put someone else in if they thought there was something wrong with both of them. If you take the republic vs. democracy argument seriously, that is where it leads you. I would admit that there is an element of geographical balancing in that the College is modeled on congressional representation, and so states with two senators and one congressman actually get more representation per capita than their population would warrant. But we aren't more of a republic and less of a democracy if we have a rubber-stamp electoral college and we reduce the college to a revised counting system. For centuries now people vote for actual candidates, and once their votes are counted, the electors have never surprised anyone or exercised any independent judgment, except for a few "rogues," and some states have passed laws making it illegal to do what Hamilton originally intended for electors to do, that is, exercise independent judgment.

The electoral college was designed to, among other things, stop demagogues from becoming President. The idea was that if a demagogue were to get the support of the people, the electors would exercise their own judgment and vote someone else in, even if the people who put the electors in wanted him for President, the electors could be counted upon to say no. You may disagree, but I think Trump is a dangerous demagogue with inadequate respect for the rule of law. In any event he had held no political office prior to the Presidency. If we had enshrined the Hamiltonian concept of the Electoral College into our system, I believe that the seasoned judgment of the electors would have prevented him from becoming President. A genuinely "Republican" conception of the electoral college would not have put Trump in the White House. And irony of ironies, the Democratic Party, with its superdelegate system, was far more "Republican" in its selection process, while the Republican party as more "Democratic," providing no way to stop a marginal Republican with great mass appeal to get the party's nomination for President. 

Now, either we buy the Republic vs. Democracy argument or we don't. If we do, we keep the electoral college, outlaw pledged electors and encourage independent judgment on the part of the electors. If we don't buy the Republic vs. Democracy argument, then we abolish the Electoral College and go to popular vote. But I can't see a good reason for keeping the Electoral College around after its primary function, to put a layer of independent, seasoned judgment between the people and the selection of the President, has been effectively eliminated. What Hamilton was talking about in Federalist 68 never came to fruition, and it is an equivocation to say that Hamilton was defending the Electoral College as it now exists.
Manage

Monday, May 21, 2018

The original purpose of the electoral college

The electoral college was put into place so that people would not elect the President directly, but would put that decision into the hands of other people who were better informed and would do the voting for them. The electoral college was set up before there even were political parties in America, and when the system of pledged electors emerged, Hamilton and Madison were horrified, claiming that this defeated the whole purpose of the Electoral College.

Now, you may like the idea of a system where living in a densely populated area means that your vote counts less, and living in a more populated area means your vote counts more. I don't see an argument for this offhand, unless large states were somehow exploiting the smaller ones, and they're not. No one is crucifying Middle America on a cross of gold. I don't see much force in the Argument from Geographical Balance myself. But even if this were a good argument, you cannot say that this is the reason the founders put in the Electoral College. Alexander Hamilton would not recognize the Electoral College as it is currently employed. The original purpose of the electoral college went by the boards shortly after our country was founded. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A rebuttal of Judith Jarvis Thomson on Abortion

Here. 

Does the multiverse solve the problem of evil?

I once wrote a paper suggesting that the multiverse solves the problem of evil. So God could have created a better world? He did. Then he created this world and all the worlds worth creating.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I had to take the abortion cartoon down

Because it was messing things up. But instead I want to discuss a statement I made many years ago, that if politics were logical, Democrats would be pro-life and Republicans would be pro-choice.