There are a lot of things I don’t understand. And when I say, “I don’t understand”, I’m not using “I don’t understand” the way Dr. M uses it when she says, “I don’t understand how you can put your dirty dishes in the sink without running water over them.”
When she says that, Dr. M doesn’t really mean, “I don’t understand.” Not in the sense of, “I don’t understand how to program the DVD player.” “I don’t understand”, in the context of my not running water over the dirty dishes in the sink is Dr. M’s way of saying, “You’re an idiot.”
Dr. M’s trying to be polite by saying it another way. And I appreciate that. But she and I both know that when she says, “I don’t understand”, it has nothing to do with the issue of understanding. Unless, in fact, she’s talking to herself, and she’s saying, “I don’t understand why I married this idiot!”
When I say, “I don’t understand”, I mean I really don’t understand. And what would be great is, if you, out there, understood what I don’t understand, and you contacted me and cleared up the thing I don’t understand so that, hopefully, I could, then, understand.
Though there’s the possibility I may still not understand, because, if you apply the “not rinsing the dishes in the sink” standard, I’m an idiot.
Let’s give it a try anyway.
After a yearlong public humiliation of the candidates known as the Democratic Primary, it appears that we finally have our two nominees for the presidency. I like Obama. And I have a really good reason. He agrees with me on just about everything.
I wrote a book – which is currently stored under my desk – entitled, Both Sides Make Me Angry. In my book, I say many of the same things Obama says, especially concerning how, as a result of a polarizing partisanship, each of the two sides – who have remained the “two sides” since the Sixties – has no ability to and little interest in hearing anything the other side has to say.
In my favorite TV drama ever, The West Wing, this entrenched mutual animosity was labeled “the hate the Right has for the Left, and the mountains of disrespect the Left has for the Right.” This continuing hostility has not helped usd solve or even seriously discuss the major problems confronting our country. I believe there’s a better way to handle things. And so does Obama.
Let me be clear here. I’m not saying that Obama stole my ideas. I’m almost certain he hasn’t read my book. If a tall, skinny guy who looks great in a suit had been hunkering under my desk reading Both Sides Make Me Angry, making notes, I’m pretty sure I would have noticed. He’s welcome to read it if he wants to. He can come over any time. And he doesn’t have to sit under my desk. He can sit in my chair.
Now, that the campaign for President has officially begun, the issue I don’t understand moves powerfully front and center. And that issue is:
The Electoral College.
It’s not that I don’t understand the whole thing. I understand some of it. I understand that the Electoral College came into existence, because The Founding Fathers didn’t trust the people to do the right thing when they voted, so they threw in a little “checks and balance”, called the Electoral College.
Because of the indiscriminate head loppings that took place during the French Revolution, the “rule of the people” got a unfortunate reputation. Those Frenchies went crazy. The Founding Father’s went, “That’s not happening here”, and they came up with the Electoral College system to avert the possibility of massive head lopping in the newly-formed United States.
I understand that.
Another issue is that, due to population deficiencies, the small states were afraid they’d be overlooked in presidential elections, if only the popular vote was considered. The candidates would simply campaign in the more populated states, where the greater number of votes could be had, and totally ignore North Dakoka.
I understand that too.
What I don’t understand is why is the Electoral College voting allocation system is “All or Nothing”? Which, except for one state – and I don’t know what state it is but I know it’s small – the Electoral College voting allocation system is:
It’s “All or Nothing.”
A presidential candidate gets one more vote in a state with, say, a million voters in it, and by doing so, the candidate receives every one of that state’s electoral votes.
When I went to law school – I attended the University of Toronto Law School for five weeks – I learned two lessons. The first lesson was that I had no business being in law school. That lesson led me to leave law school. The second thing I learned in law school was a Latin phrase, which applies to the law, though I’m not exactly sure how, because by the time they explained it, I wasn’t there anymore.
I still, however, remember the phrase. The phrase was this:
I took Latin in High School for five years. I was good in Latin, though I was immediately aware that this talent presented few career opportunities for a Jew. However, as a result of my useless Latin education, I know what Cui bono? means.
Cui bono? means “To whom does it benefit?” (“Cui” is in the dative case. Just something I happen to know.)
Cui bono? is the Latin cousin of “Follow the money.” “Follow the money” is purportedly a “Deep Throat” Watergate term. In that case, the investigators followed the money paid to the Watergate burglars into the White House, which ultimately led to the President of the United States being kicked out of the White House.
Similarly, if you follow the trail to who benefits from a statute or a policy or a longstanding institution, you can get an understanding of why that statute, policy or longstanding institution came into effect and why, against all logic, fairness and common sense, it hasn’t been eliminated or changed.
The Electoral College is not democratic, but we live with it because it’s a tradition, we’ve avoided the head loppings, and because, generally, throughout our history, the electors have “rubber stamped” rather than overruled the will of the people, as expressed through the popular vote. So far, so okay. We don’t need those guys, but fine. It gives them a job.
But why does the electoral vote allocation have to be “All or Nothing?”
(I’m going Q and A now. I’ll be both Q and A)
Wouldn’t an allocation of electoral votes in proportion with the popular votes in each state be more democratic than “All of Nothing?”
You would think so.
But we’re not doing that.
Okay. Who “Cui bono’s” most from the current “All or Nothing” Electoral College allocation?
By winning battleground states through the promotion of “wedge issues”, such as Gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, gun control, evolution versus “Intelligent Design”, school prayer, sex and violence on television and any other divisive cultural issue they can think of.
How does that work?
By mobilizing passionate supporters, “Wedge issues” win “battleground states”. “Battleground states” win close presidential elections. Therefore, “wedge issues” win close presidential elections.
When did that happen?
In 2000 and 2004. Maybe 1968 too, which employed the “Southern Strategy”, a “wedge issue” based on racial discomfort. And in 1988. Same reason. Remember Willie Horton?
Can the strategy work in 2008?
With a left of center black candidate with a Muslim-sounding name? Are you kidding me?
It is constitutionally possible to change the Electoral College voting system, to make it proportional rather than “All or Nothing”?
It appears that it is. As I said, there’s one state that already does things that way. I tried to research which one it is, but I got tired and gave up. But I’m almost certain it exists.
And you’re sure a proportional allocation would be better?
If “All of Nothing” disappeared, every state’s electoral votes would be in play. There would be no more “battleground states”, because all the states would be “battleground states”. And you couldn’t ignore the small states, because if the election’s close, you’re going to need every electoral vote you can get.
When every state’s a “battleground state”, “wedge issues” lose a considerable amount of steam. Nationally, stem cell research is supported. And so, or pretty close to “so”, is Gay marriage. With the blunting of “wedge issues”, you could focus on the war, health care, education, the environment and jobs. What some – and by “some”, I mean me – would call real issues.
Didn’t California recently try to get an initiative on the ballot making the electoral vote proportional to the popular vote?
Yeah, but that was a scam. These Republican wise guys simply wanted to siphon off some electoral votes in a state where, because of the “All or Nothing” system, they haven’t been getting any. Changing the process isn’t fair unless you do it in every state. That way, you allow Democrats a shot at some of the electoral votes from, say, Texas, where they, of late, have been shut out. The whole country has to change its system at the same time.
Democrats currently control the House of Representatives and the Senate.
And Democrats have suffered as a result of the current “All of Nothing” allocation of the electoral votes.
Are Democrats calling for a modification of the Electoral College process?
If they are, I haven’t heard about it.
Why don’t they do that?
You got me, Pal.
I don’t understand.