Have you ever held an opinion for pretty much your entire life then one day you read something that makes you stop and immediately re-evaluate said opinion… and even change your mind? I had such an epiphany about a month ago. It has to do with the Electoral College.
Now, let’s be clear, most people like or dislike the Electoral College (EC) depending on whether they benefit or suffer from it. Reps generally tend to like it because they benefit from it. Dems, on the other hand, are sometimes thwarted by it, and thus hate it and want it eliminated. Dems claim they want ‘fairness’ and ‘one vote one person’, but I call BS. Dems want power no less than Reps do, and I flat-out guarantee you if the next Dem president were to lose the popular vote yet win the EC, 98% of Dems would cease to call for the elimination of the EC.
The right says the EC helps balance rural and urban, spreads the balance of power over the entire country instead of just a few select urban areas, and so on. Dems poo-poo those notions. Well, the Dems are simply wrong. All of those reasons are legit. Dems are throwing shit against the wall to see if any of it will stick. So what changed my mind?
Anyone who knows me knows that I abhor extremism, so when I read that eliminating the EC would drastically dial-back extremism because all candidates would have to try to appeal to all voters… not just their bases… I stopped in my tracks. I blinked my eyes a couple times, and… gulp!… changed my mind. Now, would it be paradise? Phfft, no. But it would be a hell of a lot closer to where most people are and what would serve most people the best than what we have now. The candidates and parties would be forced to come closer to the middle instead of their respective whack-job extremes. More moderate presidents would also eliminate cult-like infection of Congress and the parties, maybe allowing Congresspeople to vote more their conscience rather than fear whack-job retribution. That alone outweighs the other concerns, in my mind.
But wait… there’s more!
The EC affects only one election, the presidential general election held once every four years. What about all the other elections? Congress, states, even local. The problems are the same, but the road there is different, and this should be considered if you honestly want meaningful reform.
High-profile aspects such as campaign finance, gerrymandering, and ballot access limits need to be addressed but I was watching an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” this morning entitled “We’re Doing Elections Wrong” (s6, e7), where he describes how our current system of ‘winner take all voting’ is setting us up with bad choices, so of course we’re going to get bad representation. Basically, the biggest vote getter, even if they’re less than a majority, wins it all. It creates a perverse incentive in campaigning not unlike the EC.
Mr Minhaj proposed “rated (or ranked) voting”, where you rank all your preferences in order of your preference. If no one gets a majority in the base voting then the last candidate is dropped and the votes/rankings retabulated, rinse and repeat until somebody gets a majority.
I think the ranked voting idea has merit, an if combined with elimination of the EC, could be real meaningful election reform. Problem is, you’d have to convince the people who benefit from the current system to go along with it, which means they’d be out, which means keep dreaming. *sigh*