Wednesday, May 31, 2006

No More Electoral College?

The California Assembly passed a bill which will (should enough states also sign on) grant California (and the other states) electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. This is an interesting idea. I am not a big fan of the electoral college. It seems absurd that a vote in North Dakota counts for two times that of a vote from California.

The two counter arguments from the article:

"Small states suffer here," said Assemblyman Michael Villines (R-Clovis). "Yes, California is a big state. But I don't want a candidate to go to 10, 12 big urban centers, win a majority and walk away with the presidency."

I don't understand why it is socially preferable to discriminate against voters in cities. Why should urbanites preferences for the holder of a national office count for less than residents of rural areas? What benefits justify these costs? Sure, small states lose in this change, but large states lose under the current system. Why would we think that the gains to the small states outweigh the losses to the large states?

"Direct democracies were properly seen by the founding fathers as very unstable because 50% plus one of the people can vote themselves anything and run roughshod over the rights of the minority, run roughshod over rule of law," DeVore said. "That is what the Electoral College is all about."

The founders were rightfully concerned about the dangers of direct democracy, but that's is why they wrote the bill of rights -- which is far more important for the protection against tyranny of the majority than the electoral college.

Seriously, how does a move toward direct presidential election raise the danger of tyrannical majorities? I am curious if the move to direct election of Senators met similar arguments. Do we think that was bad? I am asking. I've never really thought about it.

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