Tuesday, December 20, 2016

NYT Ex Post Facto Electoral College Opposition

NYT Ex Post Facto Electoral College Opposition

by Stephen Lendman

In the wake of Trump’s  unexpected triumph over Hillary, Times editors urged ending the Electoral College. Arguing its merits or demerits should be considered separately from the election’s outcome. 

What’s really needed is ending America’s money-controlled system. The Electoral College is a peripheral issue. The Constitution’s Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 states:

“Each state shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”

The 12th Amendment says in part “(t)he electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President…”

It’s fair arguing for electing presidents directly, not giving unelected electors final say. It’s not so much an “antiquated mechanism,” as Times editors claimed. It’s a dubious one. No other nation operates this way.

Five times in US history, popular and Electoral College votes differed. They favored:

  • John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay in 1824;

  • Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden in 1876;

  • Benjamin Harrison over Grover Cleveland in 1888;

  • GW Bush over Al Gore in 2000; and

  • Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Times editors: “…Trump won under the rules, but the rules should change so that a presidential election reflects the will of Americans and promotes a more participatory democracy.”

Fact: Trump indeed won “under the rules,” but no “participatory democracy” existed since the republic’s inception - not earlier or now. The founders rejected one to assure rule by powerful interests, not popular ones.

Times editors propose changing how America elects presidents, urging “electors vote for the winner of the national popular vote.”

Then why have an Electoral College in the first place? Eliminating it requires a constitutional amendment, approved by 38 states (a three-fourths majority).

Under the current system, if no candidate wins an elector majority, House members choose the president. America’s money-controlled system reinforces duopoly power rule, independents shut out, including getting scant major media coverage.

Seventeen times in US history, winning presidential candidates won a minority of votes. Under a winner-take-all system, no runoff occurs. 

When half the electorate opts out, as in 2016, presidents are elected with as few as around one-fourth of eligible voters - hardly a popular mandate.

America’s money-controlled system is too debauched to fix. Major issues run much deeper than whether to retain or eliminate the Electoral College. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 


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