Politics: December 2004 Archives

Voting For Electors

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My idea: vote for electors a year or two before the Presidential election.

You vote for actual electors, not who those electors are pledged to. You vote for people you respect, who are knowledgeable, before you even know who the candidates are (except, perhaps, for the case of a first-term President).

This would have one big obvious problem: if you vote for an elector because you like/dislike the incumbent, your feelings could change by the time the Presidential election comes around. But this should only make us more willing to vote for electors regardless of their party affiliation, picking people who can make good choices for the people they represent.

And of course, it would only further entrench the electoral college, which some people don't like anyway. But I don't care: that's not the topic here. If you don't like the whole idea of the electoral college, that's a separate issue.

It would produce tremendous benefits. To a greater degree, candidates would be campaigning on a higher level, not needing to talk down to Americans, because their audience is the electors. The primaries and caucuses would not change much, except that they would not need to hold them all so early, because there's less need to get them over with to get the campaigning started.

And of course, it would help provide some of the benefits Hamilton discussed in Federalist 68. One of the main reasons they had the electoral college was to decrease the tumult and disorder caused by everyone voting for the one man to lead us. Clearly, this objective is not being fulfilled, and this plan would help fulfill it: we go back to voting for several instead of one, and we get it out of the way a long time prior, even before we know who the candidates are.

And because the campaigns would cost less and rely less on good press, that means the candidates would also be less beholden to special interests, whether corporate or Congressional, helping to fulfill others of Hamilton's most important desires.

Of course, this won't ever happen, because the people erroneously believe their voice is more likely to be heard the closer they get to direct elections. The truth is quite the opposite. The more direct voice we have in who the President is, the less actual voice we have, because there are too many factors more powerful than our voices: the press, money, the party machines, and our own fickle natures.

I am not against democracy, but I think the Framers were wise to keep Senators and Presidents out of the direct hands of the people, and put a buffer in place, and that buffer has already been all but destroyed. Whether or not you agree with that buffer, it is all but gone, and we should either re-establish it (and this is one plan to do so), or finish the job by moving to direct election (which will give us far more chaos and special interests and pain than we have now ...). slashdot.org

Intel Bill

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So many people have attacked Rep. Duncan Hunter over refusing to support the intelligence bill, because, in his opinion, it did not protect the access that battlefield commanders had to tactical information on the ground.

How is this worthy of being attacked? It's a perfectly valid concern, and obviously many other people shared it because they followed his lead. And now, as soon as that one issue is resolved, Hunter supported the bill, and the House passed it.

This is how legislation is supposed to work. Don't slam people for raising concerns and then voting accordingly.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner is another story. He is opposing the bill not because of what is in it, but because of what is not in it, and what is not in it is something that has nothing to do with the core purpose of the bill: reforming the intelligence community. He opposes it because the bill doesn't have provisions about immigration reform.

His immigration concerns are valid, but beside the point. There should be a separate bill about immigration reform, because it is a separate -- though related -- issue. Why refuse to pass a bill we have ready to go now to try to include something that will make the bill take much longer to pass?

The answer is clear: it will be harder to pass an immigration bill, and Sensenbrenner was trying to force people to agree to those controversial provisions by piggybacking on a bill they are ready to vote for.

Don't lump Hunter and Sensenbrenner together. One was blocking a bill that he believed would do harm. The other is blocking a bill because he was unable to attach controversial and off-topic provisions to it. slashdot.org

Energizer Election

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What's been happening in the Washington state governor race:

Republican Dino Rossi was declared governor-elect this week by the Secretary of State, after winning the recount by 42 votes.

The state Democratic party vowed to call for an additional recount, as is their right. They can call for recounts only in certain places, or statewide. They must make a payment of $.25 per vote for a hand recount, $.15 for machine. If the recount overturns the result, they get their money back. If it is a *partial* recount that overturns the result, then a full recount (paid for by the state) results.

John Kerry gave them a third of the money they needed, $250,000. Howard Dean made a nationwide appeal for donations that brought in much of the rest.

Everyone knew a partial recount was politically a no-win for the Democrats. If they lose, they just wasted everyone's time. If they win, then they waste everyone's time AND money, especially if the statewide recount flips it back to Rossi. So a full recount is the only good way to go.

After realizing that the money would be there for a full recount, Democrat Christine Gregoire said she would concede unless they had a full recount. (Magnanimous of her, don't you think?)

The Democrats ponied up the dough, and filed a lawsuit with the state supreme court to change the way votes are counted.

The (Republican) Secretary of State announced that no new votes would be included in this recount. It would be a recount: the exact same number of ballots in the last count would be in this count. This is vitally important, because it's the difference between trying to scrounge around for votes, and making sure we counted the votes properly the last time.

I have no problem with a recount, per se. Follow the legal process. And I am glad this will be a real recount, not including additional votes. I am not even necessarily against the Democrat's lawsuit, if they can prove that the current rules violate someone's rights under the state Constitution (I doubt that is provable, but I don't know the state law or Constitution well [note that Bush v Gore can apply, since though this is not an election for national office, the 14th Amendment specifically includes "the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof"]).

But what really bugs me is the idea that a hand recount is necessarily more accurate. Maybe in the case of punchcard ballots it would be, since we know those have many physical problems more easily identifiable by hand. But optical scanners do not have such significant issues, and the possibility of simple miscounting by human handling is likely greater than the possibility of machine error.

Anyway, this whole thing should be over by December 23, said the Secretary of State, barring legal challenges.

Which means it probably won't be over by December 23. slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from December 2004.

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