Jump to content

The Impeachment of Trump?


Airbrush
 Share

Recommended Posts

Not really. He was elected by an electoral system. In a purely democratic election, you have one man, one vote and every vote counts equally. With our present presidential election system a vote from a low population state like North Dakota has more voting power than one from a high population state like California. This is why it is possible to lose the popular vote and still win the election.

 

Yes, when they framed the Constitution the sparsely populated states were unwilling to enter into a system in which they'd be totally dominated by the populous states. And the populous states were likewise unwilling to enter into an "every state is equal" arrangement. The Founders didn't really view the federal government as primarily related to citizens; it was fundamentally an arrangement amongst states. Of course, a lot has changed since then and the federal government is now much more important in the life of the average citizen.

 

Having proportional representation in the House and equal representation in the Senate was another thing they worked out for the same "balancing" reason. It's really not quite fair to look at any one of these things and call it unfair - the whole package of arrangements was a thoroughly debated compromise to try to have a system considered fair in an across the board way.

 

It's not unreasonable at all to take the position that changes should be made to one or another part of that package of compromises, but please do keep in mind that if the Presidency was determined by popular vote only you wouldn't even have the same candidates that you'd otherwise have. The parties currently try to field candidates that will win, and the method of election is a factor in that. If we switched to a popular vote system, they'd choose candidates based on that. You'd wind up with urban issues totally dominating the Presidential campaign and mind set. Urbanites would utterly control the Presidential election, and the interests of all other citizens would fall by the wayside. Feel how you wish about it, but I think that wouldn't be a good outcome at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Yes, when they framed the Constitution the sparsely populated states were unwilling to enter into a system in which they'd be totally dominated by the populous states. And the populous states were likewise unwilling to enter into an "every state is equal" arrangement. The Founders didn't really view the federal government as primarily related to citizens; it was fundamentally an arrangement amongst states. Of course, a lot has changed since then and the federal government is now much more important in the life of the average citizen.

 

Having proportional representation in the House and equal representation in the Senate was another thing they worked out for the same "balancing" reason. It's really not quite fair to look at any one of these things and call it unfair - the whole package of arrangements was a thoroughly debated compromise to try to have a system considered fair in an across the board way.

 

It's not unreasonable at all to take the position that changes should be made to one or another part of that package of compromises, but please do keep in mind that if the Presidency was determined by popular vote only you wouldn't even have the same candidates that you'd otherwise have. The parties currently try to field candidates that will win, and the method of election is a factor in that. If we switched to a popular vote system, they'd choose candidates based on that. You'd wind up with urban issues totally dominating the Presidential campaign and mind set. Urbanites would utterly control the Presidential election, and the interests of all other citizens would fall by the wayside. Feel how you wish about it, but I think that wouldn't be a good outcome at all.

As of 2012, apparently over 80% of the US population lived in urban areas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And yet the other 20% count too. And are very important. For one thing, they feed the 80%. Anyway, the whole suite of things laid out in the Constitution was an attempt to achieve a reasonable solution to a difficult situation. I think they did at least reasonably well. The solution they came up with might not remain optimum given the way the influence of the federal government has changed over the years, but I don't think it goes without saying that having everything be made proportional is the best answer either; some arrangement at least similar in philosophy strikes me as still making sense.

 

I also think that the electoral college is not something people are really having calm, rational thoughts about right now. Clinton supporters are just royally pissed over it at the moment - they're not thinking about "the big picture." They're just focused on the fact that they wanted to win and didn't, so something should be done. I think it's a much more complex issue than that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't deny that the other 20% exist or that their needs need to be addressed as well.

 

I take issue with the narrative that the system would be broken if politics were dominated by issues that affect the overwhelming majority of the country. Right now, we have the opposite situation where rural issues get a very disproportionate amount of attention in US national politics.

 

Regardless of that, though, I've had an evolving opinion of the Electoral College over time and my present opinion of it is not just a knee-jerk against Trump. I understand very well the concerns that it was meant to address and the general logic involved defending its existence. The problems, however, are twofold.

 

One, the rural concerns vs urban concerns narrative of the Electoral College does not hold up to scrutiny. For starters, while it gets candidates to put extra attention on less populated states, they still generally campaign in the population centers of those states. That means the cities, rather than the country. There are some states that we think of as being more rural, but you still get the biggest bang for your buck by targeting the city populations of those states rather than the more thinly populated areas.

 

Two, rather than spreading the attention around, I simply shifts which states get the most attention paid to the concerns. Instead of the most populous states, it's the "swing states" that get pandered to. Iowa has a hugely disproportionate influence on setting the platform for major party candidates.

 

In summary, the Electoral College doesn't actually do anything to prevent disproportionate campaigning in cities or in a handful of specific states, it just changes which cities and which states they target. It's the same exact issue that you get with straight popular vote except that it also increases the chances of getting an outcome that a majority of voters are unhappy with.

 

It's an issue that is fundamentally insurmountable in a first past the post system where there is only one winner and consensus is neither necessary nor particularly encouraged by the rules. This is exceptionally hard to get around when you are electing a single person, where you can't exactly implement proportional representation, and a highly polarized environment only exacerbates the situation.

 

The only solution I can really see would require ranked choice voting of some sort in order to allow a candidate that was everyone's second choice to beat out a candidate that was loved by 51% of people and despised by 49%. (Not that that is the situation we find ourselves in now or even necessarily a solution that would have fixed the current situation, but in general we need more of a consensus building system).

 

The Electoral College is, like you said, a compromise between states and does not really reflect the role that states and the federal government play in the modern world. The arguments laid out in favor of its continued existence are predicated on the idea that it smooths out disadvantaged interests, but it doesn't really. It just changes which interests disadvantaged, and actually winds up increasing the number of people who are at risk of getting shut out by government attention on their problems instead of decreasing that number, which is not a particularly ringing endorsement of the effectiveness of the system in my mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll just note that a "disproportionate" share is not a dominant share in the current case. Urban areas already wield tremendous influence. I don't really feel like getting drawn into a debate, though - this is just another of those issues where no one ever changes their mind and it goes on and on and on, exhaustively. There's a process for modifying the Constitution, which of course can be blocked by substantially significant minorities of any kind. We have lots of elements in our system to prevent "mob rule," and I for one am glad to have them. If we're going to have disproportionality of any kind I certainly think it should favor minorities rather than majorities.

 

There's also an organization out there trying to get enough states to count to form a compact with one another, via the usual state compact method, where they all agree to vote their electors for whoever wins the national popular vote. I wouldn't swear to you it would prove legal, but I wouldn't swear to you that it would fail to, either - the C. really leaves it entirely up to the states as to how they choose their electors, and that might prove to be a perfectly valid way. I also don't know enough about interstate law to know how binding compacts are, and what's done if they're broken. But any way, the point is that if you'd like to see the President chosen by popular vote you may eventually get your way, though my understanding is that the compact faces a pretty stiff uphill climb to the get the remaining support it needs.

 

As I noted, I think many people are irrational about this. They just see that their party lost twice in their memory because of it, so they want it gone - without regard for whatever reasons it was put their in the first place and whether those reasons are valid or not. Win, win, win - all that matters these days. Destroy the adversary, and stomp them so hard into the dirt that they never even THINK about getting up again. Those are the same reason that free speech and academic freedom and so on were really cool things in the 1960s, but now they're inconvenient, since the same group that fought for those things back then would now like to muzzle the other side.

 

And for something that's happened only three times in 200 years (I don't count 1824 - that one went to the House) the electoral college is surely given a lot of street cred as a big deal. But usually only right after an affected election, when people are more emotional than rational.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, because I've had this discussion before in the past, the idea that the Electoral College gave preference to the smaller, less populous states when it was implemented is actually incorrect. As part of the 3/5ths compromise, it's actual effect was giving more power to the slaveholding states regardless of relative size.

 

Virginia, then the most populous state in the nation, had approximately 12% of the white male voting-age population of the country. They also had 15% of the available electoral votes. Edit: As of 1800, for clarification's sake.

 

The electoral college actually gave the most populous state even more of a say in who was ultimately elected than it would have had under a direct popular vote election.

 

I feel like a lot of people don't spend nearly enough time looking at what the actual outcomes of the way certain things are set up before accepting their popularly claimed reasons for existing as valid defenses of their existence.

 

 

Just to add, two things. First, it has happened 4 times in the last 200 years if you discount 1824 (which I think is valid), not three times. And two of those times are in just the last 20 years.

 

Second, I take exception to the implication, intended or not, that a position that I have given a great deal of thought, time and research to over the last several years (and have gone back and forth on in that time for a variety of reasons) is driven mainly by an emotional response to the most recent presidential election a mere few months ago.

Edited by Delta1212
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That may very well have been part of the debate, but the things I mentioned were as well. But I'm not going to haggle.

 

I do have a question, though, and it would likely be OT, so you can PM me your answer if you'd like. Can you provide a short list of "liberal positions" that you disagree with or conservative positions that you do agree with? Honestly, it often feels to me like the left has absolutely nothing good to say about anything it's opposed to, and will concede absolutely nothing negative about anything it supports. In other words, the liberal position is perfect. Absolutely, completely, and totally perfect in every way.

 

Very few things in the world are so completely black and white.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That may very well have been part of the debate, but the things I mentioned were as well. But I'm not going to haggle.

 

I do have a question, though, and it would likely be OT, so you can PM me your answer if you'd like. Can you provide a short list of "liberal positions" that you disagree with or conservative positions that you do agree with? Honestly, it often feels to me like the left has absolutely nothing good to say about anything it's opposed to, and will concede absolutely nothing negative about anything it supports. In other words, the liberal position is perfect. Absolutely, completely, and totally perfect in every way.

 

Very few things in the world are so completely black and white.

 

 

Interestingly enough I often feel that way about the Right. Just look at how many people continue to find no fault with Trump.

 

Guess it depends on which side of the fence you reside how you view the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess so. I voted for Trump (as I noted before - I voted against Hillary). For a few weeks after the election I indulged in a hope that perhaps Trump might actually be awestruck by having that level of trust put in him and would decide to knock himself out to be a good President. Those hopes got dashed of course. So my feelings about him have changed a lot. So how many people, really, do continue to find no fault in Trump? Do you really think that everyone who voted for him remains pleased with him, or do you think we're just being shown the vocal / sensational stuff the media wants to show us?

 

I would have to say I'm likely more "right" than "left," but I have plenty of problems with the way the far right would like to run things. Hard to sum it up, really, but a big part of it is how "tight" the right is with big corporations. I do not equate "huge corporate profits" with the economic prosperity of the people of America.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The biggest difficulty I have with following through on that request is that, under the current US political spectrum, I'm honestly not sure what even qualifies as a liberal or conservative position these days.

 

Most of the things that get lumped into either category that are easily defined or discussed, especially with regard to one or the other "side", tend to be principles rather than true policy positions. And you can make a very wide variety of disparate policy positions appear to fit or be incompatible with a given principle depending on how you frame it, which feeds into the perception by everyone that "the other side" never has any room to budge or concede good ideas from the other side or what have you.

 

 

For example, let's take "smaller government." Who doesn't like the idea of a government that is efficient and doesn't waste money? There's a narrative that liberals love the idea of just expanding government and government bureaucracy and it is, quite frankly, very stupid bullshit. But what qualifies as necessary expense or service? I suspect that you will find a wide variety of answers to that across the political spectrum and and even more varied number of suggestions about what the most effective and efficient way of going about implementing those services.

 

What side of the spectrum does government investment in infrastructure fall under?

 

How about increased military funding which is technically an expansion of government but is more popular on the right of US politics?

 

I'm honestly not trying to dodge the question, but I find trying to answer it honestly in such an open-ended fashion to be exceptionally difficult.

 

For example, I recognize both the logic behind having an armed populous from an ideological standpoint as far as resistance to potential authoritarianism goes as well as the practical consideration of the difference in use and perception of guns between different regions of the country with them being much more important tools in some places whole being primarily associated with criminal violence in others.

 

I'd ideally like to see gun ownership treated in a similar manner to car ownership with guns being registered, requiring a training course and accident insurance in order to legally load them, but with ownership being minimally constructed within those constraints (which I do recognize some potential constitutional issues with, incidentally, especially given current legal interpretation).

 

Where does that place me? I support gun ownership in principle but have addendum a to that that would be considered very unpalatable to the core of the right. Does that qualify as supporting ideas of the left or rejecting them, or likewise for the right?

 

 

If there is a specific issue you would like to get my thoughts on vis-a-vis your own position, I would be happy to comment on it and give my thoughts on what I do and don't support, but I find the left v right position thing to be too ambiguous to give what I would consider a good answer when it's left more broad like this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess so. I voted for Trump (as I noted before - I voted against Hillary). For a few weeks after the election I indulged in a hope that perhaps Trump might actually be awestruck by having that level of trust put in him and would decide to knock himself out to be a good President. Those hopes got dashed of course. So my feelings about him have changed a lot. So how many people, really, do continue to find no fault in Trump? Do you really think that everyone who voted for him remains pleased with him, or do you think we're just being shown the vocal / sensational stuff the media wants to show us?

 

I would have to say I'm likely more "right" than "left," but I have plenty of problems with the way the far right would like to run things. Hard to sum it up, really, but a big part of it is how "tight" the right is with big corporations. I do not equate "huge corporate profits" with the economic prosperity of the people of America.

 

As I said, the side of the fence you reside on impacts how you view the world. Do you really think that everyone who is liberal will concede absolutely nothing negative about what it supports, and that they believe their position is absolutely, completely, and totally perfect in any way? I believe confirmation bias affects everyone to some extent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a good point re: the electoral college:

 

As the 2000 election reminded us, the Electoral College does make it possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and still not become president. But that is less a product of the Electoral College and more a product of the way states apportion electors. In every state but Maine and Nebraska, electors are awarded on a winner-take-all basis. So if a candidate wins a state by even a narrow margin, he or she wins all of the state’s electoral votes. The winner-take-all system is not federally mandated; states are free to allocate their electoral votes as they wish.

 

It's a very good point, actually. The college itself isn't really the problem - what a compact of states really should push for is for states to adopt a proportional distribution of their electoral votes.


 

As I said, the side of the fence you reside on impacts how you view the world. Do you really think that everyone who is liberal will concede absolutely nothing negative about what it supports, and that they believe their position is absolutely, completely, and totally perfect in any way? I believe confirmation bias affects everyone to some extent.

 

No, I don't really think that every liberal would feel that way any more than I feel that everyone who voted for Trump still supports him. It's just easy to observe the attitude in practice. I think the most thoughtful, calm people on both sides just tend not to be vocal. And I do think both sides tend to do it - I can't remember ever hearing Sean Hannity be critical of a Republican once the primaries were over.

 

It's easy to get disillusioned when the bulk of the rhetoric comes from the fringes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a good point re: the electoral college:

 

As the 2000 election reminded us, the Electoral College does make it possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and still not become president. But that is less a product of the Electoral College and more a product of the way states apportion electors. In every state but Maine and Nebraska, electors are awarded on a winner-take-all basis. So if a candidate wins a state by even a narrow margin, he or she wins all of the states electoral votes. The winner-take-all system is not federally mandated; states are free to allocate their electoral votes as they wish.

 

It's a very good point, actually. The college itself isn't really the problem - what a compact of states really should push for is for states to adopt a proportional distribution of their electoral votes.

 

 

No, I don't really think that every liberal would feel that way any more than I feel that everyone who voted for Trump still supports him. It's just easy to observe the attitude in practice. I think the most thoughtful, calm people on both sides just tend not to be vocal. And I do think both sides tend to do it - I can't remember ever hearing Sean Hannity be critical of a Republican once the primaries were over.

 

It's easy to get disillusioned when the bulk of the rhetoric comes from the fringes.

While I would support this, the problem is that this is far less doable than the "all votes to the national popular vote winner" plan.

 

In order to do a proportional plan, you need to get all states to agree to doing it that way. With the compact to apportion all electoral votes to the popular vote winner, you only need to get enough states to reach 270 votes within the agreement in order to implement that plan, and then it doesn't matter what any of the other states do. That's significantly more doable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I got that - each state wants to maximize its impact on the outcome - unless all states are playing along then it's an automatic "lose" for the ones that split their electors.

 

Regarding the compact, like I said above I'm not enough of a legal scholar to know it would stand up. It seems plausible to me - what business is it of state X's (a state not in the compact) how state Y (a state in the compact) handles its electors? It seems clean on the surface. But the details of law are anything but clean and simple.


At any rate, I don't think an amendment has any chance of getting through - all it takes is 13 sparsely populated states to stop it, and I think we'll always have those. So the compact approach looks like the only chance if it's something your in favor of. A good number of states have already agreed to it, but they're mostly the populous states that really lose nothing with the approach. The article I read said that scholars doubt it will get the remaining support it needs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I doubt it will anytime soon, either, but it has a better chance of succeeding than a Constitutional amendment, like you said, or any plan that requires cooperation by every state.

 

It's probably the most plausible route to fundamental electoral reform at this point, which is, of course, not the same thing as being an easy route or one that is likely to succeed in the very near future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think it's the thing we need most by a long shot. I think the most fundamental reform we could have would be term limits, or some other way like Phi for All alluded to of removing the "personal gain" that seems to come to all Washington politicians. The way things are now politicians tend to become a "permanently separated class." They live "above" the world they legislate for the rest of us.

 

The whole electoral vs. popular thing is really pretty minor. The popular vote has to be at least very very close in order for the two counts to split. I understand we want to "do elections right," but honestly when you have one candidate pulling, say, 50 million votes and the other pulling 50,500,000 they both really have more or less equal support. It's not like some broken system that lets the guy who only got 10% of the vote somehow win. At that point it's really sort of arbitrary. It's rather like looking at two women, one of whom is a 9 and the other of whom is an 8.9 and trying to claim that the 9 totally outclasses the 8.9.

 

I know when you wind up on the losing side it hurts, but you have to remember that there are "almost as many people" who are happy with the outcome. I'm not saying that makes it "ok"; just that it's not really a major inequity by any quantitative measure. It just happens that the two times it's occurred in my life the guy I voted for came out on top, but that was really just luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So we want a President who feels he's being forced to do the job??? Sheesh.

 

Not at all. The best candidates in the nation, who are objectively the best performers in college in relevant subjects, are INVITED to join Presidency School. If they have a history of strange or problematic behavior, they are not invited. They are not forced to join. Many would say no thanks. It pays well, so why would a gifted candidate say no? They can at least take advantage of a great education. After they are selected as promising candidates, based on objective measures of performance in relevant subjects, they are invited to go down the path towards presidency. If they run for president and lose, they may get a job in congress and run for president in the future.

 

Simply WANTING to be president, is not qualification enough.

 

Great deliberation would go into selecting the "panel of experts". The experts would not get to see the candidates, or know their gender, ethnicity, religion (or lack of), political persuasion, or anything that would skew the selection process. This is to get candidates only based on objective measure of the best grades in school, and lack of misbehavior.

 

Back to impeaching Trump, does anyone think the fact Comey would NOT confront Trump and say what Trump was proposing "pledge of loyalty to Trump" was unacceptable and stomp out of the office and report Trump to his superior, was that a mistake? No, Comey did the right thing. As a good cop, Comey kept his opinion to himself, and allowed Trump to talk and further incriminate himself over the following months. If Comey had confronted Trump that way, then that issue would have been shut down, and Trump would have gotten away with it.

Edited by Airbrush
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would have agreed with that about Bush v Gore to a large extent, although I should point out that Clinton v Trump was not 50 million to 50.5 million but ~66 million to ~63 million, for a difference of a bit over 2% of the total vote, which is relatively close but still fairly substantial for a national election.

 

Regardless of who came out on top, it's the fact that this happened again so soon after the last time and that the difference was much more significant this time and not just a rounding error that has me most concerned.

 

The last time, it was something that I wound up not being too pleased in the outcome of in retrospect (I wasn't old enough to vote at the time, and my parents are not generally very politically outspoken so didn't really have much of a horse in that race at the time), but it wasn't something I was overly concerned about. It drove an interest in learning about the Electoral College and its pros and cons, but I did spend some time defending it at times using some of the same arguments you have and declaring that what happened in 2000 was a once in a century fluke that was only likely to happen when the popular vote was insanely close anyway.

 

Further research over the years convinced me that a lot of the things I thought were advantages of the system did not actually play out that way in reality and were mostly something of a combination of popular myths about what the EC accomplished and more of a mixed bag than a list of real advantages.

 

That said, I still subscribed to the "fluke hypothesis" and so, while I became rather disillusioned with the EC (sometime during the Obama years and not in response to any particular political goings on), it was still stashed safely in my pile of "little to no concern" issues.

 

2016 did change my mind about the EC in one way, and that is the way in which is dashed that particular belief. I had previously been concerned about it in the abstract, but concretely I held certain beliefs about the likelihood of it ever turning out a result that differed at all significantly from the popular vote, and regardless of who benefitted, those beliefs turned out to be wrong this past year.

 

As such, it's been elevated from "no concern" to "some concern."

 

All that said, I don't think it is the sole or even most important (at this point) thing that needs to be reformed in the way that our elections are currently run up and down all levels of government.

 

Campaign finance reform, a solution to gerrymandering, a change in the way votes are counted (instant runoff, ranked choice, etc, etc) and some non-obvious things like a more progressive tax code and perhaps especially an increase in the inheritance tax are all things that I think would have more significant effects at all levels of government than anything to do with the electoral college.

 

 

Not at all. The best candidates in the nation, who are objectively the best performers in college in relevant subjects, are INVITED to join Presidency School. If they have a history of strange or problematic behavior, they are not invited. They are not forced to join. It pays well, so why would a gifted candidate say no? After they are selected as promising candidates, based on objective measures of performance in relevant subjects, they are invited to go down the path towards presidency. If they run for president and lose, they may get a job in congress and run for president in the future.

 

Simply WANTING to be president, is not qualification enough.

 

Great deliberation would go into selecting the "panel of experts". The experts would not get to see the candidates, or know their gender, ethnicity, political persuasion, or anything that would skew the selection process. This is to get candidates only based on objective measure of the best grades in school, and lack of misbehavior.

Are good grades and a lack of misbehavior traits that historically correlate with good Presidents?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok - that's better. It sounded almost like a draft when I read your first spin. The only concern I'd have with it is that you're putting control over the candidate pool in the hands of a select few. Power tends to corrupt, so you'd have to have awfully good public oversight of the whole process (and we aren't terribly good at public oversight these days).

 

I do lament the fact that the Presidency, and political office in general, seems to be more of a popularity contest than anything else these days. I read a bit a couple of weeks ago about The Rock considering going into politics. When asked what he'd start with, he said he figured he might as well start with the Presidency. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. :-|


Delta1212: it would be interesting to do an analysis that told us the "worst case possible." Just how big could the popular loss be, and still get someone into office. I agree that the larger that difference is the more of a concern it is, but there would be an upper bound. You just can't be President with just a few percent of the vote.

 

The extreme case wouldn't be very realistic, of course, but I guess you'd give the ultimate winner a margin of 1 vote in enough states to get him the office, and then tote 100% of the remaining states for the other candidate. I haven't done the math, but that feels like it could be pretty substantial.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only concern I'd have with it is that you're putting control over the candidate pool in the hands of a select few. Power tends to corrupt, so you'd have to have awfully good public oversight of the whole process.....

 

A large panel of experts should NOT have any control over the candidate pool. They only exercise authority by blindly selecting candidates based on grades. They don't know any personal details of the candidates. After selecting candidates the panel has no more connection to the schooling of candidates.

 

Surveillance is important. Total transparency at every step of the selection process is recorded, archived, and available to the oversight committee and the general public. Everybody is aware that everything is recorded, every step of the process is well documented by various sources.

 

I want my president to be smarter than I am and well educated in relevant subjects, not an ignorant con artist who gets power by telling people what they want to hear using clever sound bites and hand gestures.

Edited by Airbrush
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I don't require that my President be smarter than I am, provided he or she is wise enough to surround himself with smart advisors. It's really values and principles that matter more to me. But I'm not just shutting the door on your idea out of hand - if you could really mount the transparency you describe, and the objectivity, then it's not a bad idea. I think in practice it's just really really hard to make sure nothing "behind the scenes" is going on. You'd think with our modern technology we could just eradicate police brutality too, by making police surveilled every second they're on duty, but we haven't been able to do so. I'd love to have every officer on duty required to wear a body cam, and to have that footage made publicly available. I'd love to have cameras in every schoolroom, with the footage publicly available. Hasn't happened yet. I don't really see that public servants have any right to privacy while on duty, but they seem to demand it anyway.

 

I think the problem really begins and ends with us, though - the voters. We already have a nation with excellent institutions of higher learning - we could make excellence of all those sorts a requirement for office if we chose to deploy our votes that way. We're the ones who fall for the con artists, over and over and over again. We're a population that, by and large, doesn't value education for ourselves, so it's not surprising that we don't value it in our political candidates either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok - that's better. It sounded almost like a draft when I read your first spin. The only concern I'd have with it is that you're putting control over the candidate pool in the hands of a select few. Power tends to corrupt, so you'd have to have awfully good public oversight of the whole process (and we aren't terribly good at public oversight these days).

 

I do lament the fact that the Presidency, and political office in general, seems to be more of a popularity contest than anything else these days. I read a bit a couple of weeks ago about The Rock considering going into politics. When asked what he'd start with, he said he figured he might as well start with the Presidency. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. :-|

 

Delta1212: it would be interesting to do an analysis that told us the "worst case possible." Just how big could the popular loss be, and still get someone into office. I agree that the larger that difference is the more of a concern it is, but there would be an upper bound. You just can't be President with just a few percent of the vote.

 

The extreme case wouldn't be very realistic, of course, but I guess you'd give the ultimate winner a margin of 1 vote in enough states to get him the office, and then tote 100% of the remaining states for the other candidate. I haven't done the math, but that feels like it could be pretty substantial.

Well, let's do some math.

 

First, there is no actual cap on what percentage of the popular vote a person could get below and still win, because in an absolute mathematically worst case scenario you could have them win 270 electoral votes in states where only one person in the whole state turned out to vote and have 100% turnout in all other states so that the popular vote swamped those numbers. You'd wind up with a President that didn't even score a single percentage point in the popular vote.

 

That's exceptionally unlikely without some seriously blatant vote tampering or major changes in the way some individual states vote, though, so to get a more plausible worst case, I'll use some actual voter turnout data and then assume some kind of weird political realignment happens that groups states differently in terms of regional party affiliations and such than is currently the case. So the following would be very unlikely but not out of the bounds of possibility in terms of turnout but isn't as likely to happen politically given current circumstances.

 

 

Anyway:

 

 

If a candidate won:

 

Alaska

Delaware

D.C.

Montana

North Dakota

South Dakota

Vermont

Wyoming

Hawaii

Idaho

New Hampshire

Maine

Rhode Island

Nebraska

New Mexico

West Virginia

Arkansas

Iowa

Kansas

Mississippi

Nevada

Utah

Connecticut

Oklahoma

Oregon

Kentucky

Louisiana

Alabama

Colorado

South Carolina

Maryland

Minnesota

Missouri

Wisconsin

Arizona

Indiana

Tennessee

 

That would give them 271 EC votes from the states with the lowest Electoral vote numbers (and therefore the highest Electoral vote per capita numbers). I'm assuming that candidate wins each of the Maine and Nebraska congressional district electors by the same slim margins as the states overall for this breakdown.

 

Michigan was the closest state in the last election with 47.6% to 47.3%. I'm going to call that just 47% of the vote in each of the above states going to each candidate.

 

The widest margin I could find for a state this past election was Wyoming with 67% to 21% (D.C. was more extreme with 90% to 4% but I think that is a bit much even for this). So I'll make the other candidate get 67% to 20% in all of the other states.

 

So, with semi-plausible numbers, and assuming the same turnout from the 2016 election for the sake of simplicity, candidates Eric Electoral and Penelope Popular would each get:

 

Alaska - 149,000 each

Delaware - 208,000 each

D.C. - 146,000 each

Montana - 234,000 each

North Dakota - 162,000 each

South Dakota - 174,000 each

Vermont - 148,000 each

Wyoming - 120,000 each

Hawaii - 201,000 each

Idaho - 324,000 each

New Hampshire - 350,000 each

Maine - 351,000 each

Rhode Island - 218,000 each

Nebraska - 397,000 each

New Mexico - 375,000 each

West Virginia - 336,000 each

Arkansas - 531,000 each

Iowa - 736,000 each

Kansas - 556,000 each

Mississippi - 568,000 each

Nevada - 529,000 each

Utah - 532,000 each

Connecticut - 773,000 each

Oklahoma - 682,000 each

Oregon - 940,000 each

Kentucky - 904,000 each

Louisiana - 954,000 each

Alabama - 998,000 each

Colorado - 1,307,000 each

South Carolina - 988,000 each

Maryland - 1,307,000 each

Minnesota - 1,384,000 each

Missouri - 1,320,000 each

Wisconsin - 1,399,000 each

Arizona - 1,209,000 each

Indiana - 1,285,000 each

Tennessee - 1,179,000 each

 

Total: 21,679,000 each

 

(There are 37 states in the above list, so I'll give Eric Electoral an extra 40,000 votes to the above to make up his narrow victory margin spread across those states).

 

Massachusetts - 2,228,000 P / 665,000 E

Washington - 2,222,000 P / 663,000 E

Virginia - 2,669,000 P / 797,000 E

New Jersey - 2,596,000 P / 775,000 E

North Carolina - 2,128,000 P / 948,000 E

Georgia - 2,756,000 P / 823,000 E

Michigan - 3,215,000 P / 960,000 E

Ohio - 3,682,000 P / 1,099,000 E

Illinois - 3,709,000 P / 1,107,000 E

Pennsylvania - 4,130,000 P / 1,233,000 E

Florida - 6,311,000 P / 1,884,000 E

New York - 5,173,000 P / 1,544,000 E

Texas - 6,009,000 P / 1,794,000 E

California - 9,501,000 P / 2,836,000 E

 

Sub-Total: 56,329,000 P / 17,128,000 E

 

Total votes cast (including 3rd parties): 136,669,000

 

Penelope Popular - 78,008,000 / 57%

Eric Electoral - 38,847,000 / 28.4%

 

 

With Eric Electoral coming out as the winner with 271 to 267 Electoral votes.

 

 

It's unlikely that this exact scenario would ever happen. It would take a perfect storm of political and demographic factors, but I'd say this represents an upper bound on what is possible without active vote tampering while keeping it at least adjacent to plausible reality.

 

It's actually a bit more of an extreme divergence than I was expecting going in, frankly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, yeah - I didn't think of varying voter turnout to accentuate the worst case scenario, but that's a good point. And that is indeed a pretty severe spread. Nice to see that we've never come anywhere close to such a thing.

 

So, I know this is a really hard question to be objective about (to the point of almost being meaningless), but if it had been the other way around - if Trump had one the popular vote but Clinton the electoral vote and the Presidency), would you be thinking about the injustice of the electoral college in any way at this point in time? I do recall back in the Bush / Gore election while all that ruckus was going on after election day, I'd already decided that whoever wound up getting it I was going to consider my President (for the reasons I described above - that it was so close that you couldn't claim either candidate had failed to register a whole lot of public support). As it happened it went my way, but I promise I really did consciously have that thought before the decision was in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes. I mean, I'm human, so I'm sure that the particular person who benefitted from it this time around probably amplifies those feelings (moreso even than if it had been someone like Romney that had gotten in on the EC votes), but my biggest two concerns really are that it happened again so soon after the last time and that the spread was so much wider in terms of both electoral votes and popular votes.

 

I find that disconcerting.

 

A large panel of experts should NOT have any control over the candidate pool. They only exercise authority by blindly selecting candidates based on grades. They don't know any personal details of the candidates. After selecting candidates the panel has no more connection to the schooling of candidates.

 

Surveillance is important. Total transparency at every step of the selection process is recorded, archived, and available to the oversight committee and the general public. Everybody is aware that everything is recorded, every step of the process is well documented by various sources.

 

I want my president to be smarter than I am and well educated in relevant subjects, not an ignorant con artist who gets power by telling people what they want to hear using clever sound bites and hand gestures.

Who grades the prospective candidates?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm. I think part of that problem is our polarization - we're "freezing in" large segments of the population to voting on the same side, time after time. Unfortunately, it seems we're frozen in right on the edge oft he knife blade. :-(


Who grades the prospective candidates?

 

Yes, exactly. Who watches the watchers, who chooses the choosers, etc. etc. It would be human nature for any elite group thus selected to look for ways to benefit themselves. It would be so much better if we did it like we do it now, except with a population the large majority of which behaved with some semblance of rationality. But maybe that's counter to human nature too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.