"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


One of Salem Oregon's Unofficial Top 1000 Conservative Political Bloggers!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Silent Vote

While watching Obama appear before the press and peddle his boondoggle "Stimulus" Bill, I noticed him continuing to repeat the same mantra. He has the mandate of the people who voted for change. Mandate? A lofty word, I suppose. A word that suggests an overwhelming majority, a great sweeping authority granted by so much of the population. Mandate.

Indeed, it seems that even opponents acknowledge this idea. They appear conciliatory, offering up whimpers of disagreement like a scolded puppy. Far be it from them to stand against the great will of the people, the mandate they so overwhelmingly demanded.

The electoral college certainly suggests a mandate. 365 votes for Obama, 173 for McCain. More than twice the votes for Obama. Surely the people have issued a mandate. Obama supporters must clearly outnumber McCain votes by 2 to 1.

A funny thing happens when you look at the percentage of popular votes, though. Obama received 53% of the popular vote. That doesn't seem like quite a landslide when you look at it like that. Not quite a mandate. In fact, the numbers I've seen read like this:

Obama: 69,456,897 votes
McCain: 59,934,814 votes

Approx. 9 1/2 million votes separated the two. With an estimate of 303,824,640, that is slightly more than 3% of the U.S. population. Even taking into account that there are 207,643,594 eligible voters, 9 1/2 million is merely 4.6% of the voters. Not quite the 2 to 1 margin the electoral votes suggest.

The state I live in, Oregon, voted for Obama. I did not. My vote did not count. It was wadded up and thrown away. It was not as if I voted for the losing candidate. It was as though I didn't vote at all. My voice, my opinion, my values, everything that a vote is supposed to count for, is forgotten. I live in Oregon. Oregon's a blue state. Suddenly, I'm part of the mandate.

Now Republicans seem to be running scared, shifting to the left. They must heed to the mandate of the people. They must move to the left to maintain relevancy. The people have spoken (at least 3% of them) it seems.

We all remember in 2000 when Gore won the popular vote and lost the electoral one. Some people made noises about abolishing the electoral college, but most just schemed for a way to make sure their candidate won. Back in the very late 80s there were small ripples of abolishing the electoral college and instating a direct vote for the president. It went nowhere.

Now, because it makes the jobs of political strategists easier and more predictable, we're stuck with this outdated electoral college. A voter in a minority lives with the frustrating truth that his/her vote just doesn't count.

A presidential election was never meant as a national referendum, but since it has become that shouldn't we allow everyone to count?

3 comments:

  1. The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

    In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

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  2. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

    The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    The National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Miami Herald, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sacramento Bee, The Tennessean, Fayetteville Observer, Anderson Herald Bulletin, Wichita Falls Times, The Columbian, and other newspapers. The bill has been endorsed by Common Cause, Fair Vote, and numerous other organizations.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in Arkansas (80%), California (70%), Colorado (68%), Connecticut (73%), Delaware (75%), Kentucky (80%), Maine (71%), Massachusetts (73%), Michigan (73%), Mississippi (77%), Missouri (70%), New Hampshire (69%), Nebraska (74%), Nevada (72%), New Mexico (76%), New York (79%), North Carolina (74%), Ohio (70%), Pennsylvania (78%), Rhode Island (74%), Vermont (75%), Virginia (74%), Washington (77%), and Wisconsin (71%).

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 22 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

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  3. These comments are full of some good info. I'm annoyed that I had not heard more about the move for the National Popular Vote until now. Thanks. I hope that, should the bill pass, people will take more interest in their voting rights and that candidates begin to diversify their time and their de facto constituency.

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