Precinct 333

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Why We Need The Electoral College

I'd never read Jeffrey Gardner of the Albuquerque Tribune before today. I feel bad about that, because he wrote a charming, amusing, and laser-precise defense of the Electoral College today. I don't know whether he is liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between -- it is still the best defense (for the layman) of that institution I have ever seen.

He begins with a lovely hypothetical, directed at the typical EC detractor.
Next time you hear some free spirit say she wants to rid us of the Electoral College take her outside, look skyward and try to spot a big jet flying high overhead. Traveling east or west - it makes no difference.

Have her close her eyes and imagine her favorite presidential candidate on board the plane napping or reading a fascinating article in Newsweek or maybe plugged into an iPod listening to the whining lyrics of John Cougar Mellencamp.

Tell her to gin up a good mental image of said candidate, because that's about as close as she'll get to that candidate, should the Electoral College close its doors.

Gardner then goes on to explain how the high concentration of voters in a relatively few counties and states, combined with the diffusion of voters throughout the rest of the US, would result in a continuous focus on the folks in the smaller area served by a few major media. Using the famous red/blue map from the 2000 election, he points out that the battle would be fought primarily in the few areas that were blue on the map, because they contain nearly as many voters as the rest of the country.

He concludes
The genius of the Founding Fathers, he points out, was their design for a system which makes every state and region of the country important to the election of a president. As a nonresident of New York or Los Angeles, I'm not ready to cede my nation to those who live near an ocean. I like the fact that New Mexico Republicans can mess with liberals' heads with a pledge thing - as they did during Vice President Dick Cheney's recent visit to Rio Rancho - and make some noise nationwide. I like that Kerry and Edwards' train did more than whistle through the state.

Take away the Electoral College's ability to confer a presidential sheepskin, and that train blows through here faster than a tender moment between the Clintons.

Unfortunately, the contrast between the red and blue areas will intensify with the coming election. But that will further underscore the wisdom of the Electoral College.

It's a safeguard that ensures candidates can't take express trains through our state, on their way to bigger voting pools in Orange County or New York.

And as the resident of securely Republican Texas (near America's 4th largest city), I agree -- for I don't want my vote taken for granted, either.


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