Electoral College

September 6, 2007 at 5:43 pm | Posted in America, Bush, democracy, Democrats, government, news, politics, Republicans, society | 1 Comment

Do you want your vote to really count? Then what’s up with the electoral college? FairVote.org published an article regarding how over half of Americans would prefer to get rid of the electoral college.

With this in mind, we just finished reading an excerpt of Immanuel Kant’s essay, What is Enlightenment? in my Humanities class. One point of emphasis made by our professor was that Kant would have advocated free speech and perhaps even freedom of the press. But when it comes to voting as an inalienable right for everyone, he may not have been so “liberal”.

The reasoning behind this deduction has to do with Kant’s definition and understanding of enlightenment. Look around, would you describe all of those who you interact with as enlightened? Probably not, and this is the difference between an “enlightened age” and an “age of enlightenment”.

Many would probably like to believe that the world of today is far more enlightened than that of Kant’s day in 1784, but I would beg to differ. Just flip on the news. We’re not quite there yet…

So what’s all of this have to do with voting? Well, Kant’s idea of government and the role of the governed is not that different from what we have today. We all can say what we want, believe what we want, pray to whomever we want, and vote for whomever we want, but when it comes down to it, not many of us are that influential.

In our democracy, wealth and economic power seem to translate very well into political power. Some of us would like to believe that those in power aren’t all that superior intellectually (ahem…GWB), but I have argued and will continue to argue that they wouldn’t be where they are if that was not the case. Luck and stupidity will only get you so far, brains and brawn are much more successful at building successful people.

I know I have, and I am sure others have too, run across someone whose intellectual capabilities were called into question the moment they opened their mouth. So should their vote count just as much as someone as learned and capable as yourself (or at all)?

I think there are some definite “no” answers to that question, but we would all agree that there are exponentially more “yes” answers.

So what’s a thinker to do? Well back to “our democracy” again, everything used to work out OK. For those that you would rather not take part in the important responsibility of electing government officials, you didn’t used to have to worry about them. They were so “dumb” or “ignorant”, most wouldn’t bother with politics and such.

But now aggressive “grass roots” campaigns, churches, television, radio, and the internet has got all kinds of people coming out of the woodwork to exercise their right to vote. I mean, how do you think George W. Bush got re-elected?

I’m all for a well-informed citizenry – evident in my latest project, Open:Source:Polity – but let it be those who want to be informed. The campaigns of today are all about recruiting and having the most numbers. What might the 2008 election look like if it were all about swaying votes by debating real issues rather than being wishy-washy and vague and concentrating on recruiting more bodies to hopefully vote for their campaign?

To have or have not an electoral college? The electoral college seems to be an extension or at least related to the philosophies of Immanuel Kant. It allows “the people” to have a voice and an opinion, but still allows smaller group of hopefully more competent and knowledgeable individuals to execute an informed and appropriate decision about our nation’s future leader.

If you think the campaigns are recruiting endlessly now, just imagine the scene if there was a “popular vote”. A wise person once said, “Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true.” I’ll leave you with this quote from John Adams to James Sullivan, 26 May 1776:

“Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end of it. New claims will arise; women will demand a vote; lads from twelve to twenty-one will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.”


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  1. I wish we had an electoral college system at state levels when choosing governors here in Illinois. The huge Chicago popular vote always vaults the governor into power. In turn whomever they push to power as governor feeds Chicago’s hungry maw from the rest of our pockets which leaves the rest our us scrambling for breadcrumbs to survive. Our current Gov. Blagobitch is the worst yet.

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