State of the Union Address drinking game

Exactly what it says on the tin

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Postby Plowboy » Sun Feb 06, 2005 5:41 am

Nick,

I understand your point a bit better now ( I hope), and it is a valid one to be sure--splitting the Electoral College delegates for each state according the percentages of votes each candidate garners in that state vs. the present system of "winner take all" in each state. Before I say why I think the winner-take-all system is better, please bear in mind that the Electoral College system has evolved over the years with many changes. The 12th amendment to the constitution even deals with changes to it. It is not now as it was originally set up but the basic concept is still valid--and that is to prevent the "tyranny of the majority" that is possible in a pure democracy. (Standby-you might see what I mean in Iraq very shortly, what with the Shiites winning the most delegates to the constitutional convention.)

Why do I think the winner-take-all system is better?

1.There would be no difference in the outcome electorally with what you propose and a purely popular vote. Thus, why bother with the Electoral College at all. It would merely reflect the popular vote and thus rendered moot.
2.With winner-take-all, state governments, or more specifically the party in charge of any state's government at any given time, has less incentive to politicize the election of its electoral delegates. And don't think for one minute that they wouldn't try it--just look at how they gerrymander voting districts to their advantage. I think that, constitutionally, the states are still given the power as to how they elect delegates to the Electoral College. If any given party in any given state thought that they could somehow influence a national election just by coercing, bribing , cajoling,--whatever--a delegate or two, they would not only try it--they would make an art of it! Winner-take-all removes that incentive. While not really sure (you might want to look it up), I think that is one of the reasons winner-take-all was either adopted or changed to by most, if not all, the states.
3. Finally, with winner-take-all, the winning candidate is bestowed with the legitimacy that could not be had with a close, purely popular vote or with the system you propose. Bush won with only 51% of the popular vote to Kerry's--what? 48-49%. But if you look at his electoral votes, he won by a commanding 287-251. While he cannot claim a popular mandate, he can certainly claim an electoral one. An even better example would be Clinton who in neither of his elections garnered a majority of the popular votes, but won very handily in the Electoral College in both. This gave legitimacy to his presidency in spite of the fact that over half the populace didn't vote for him. True, there are anomolies like the election of 2000 but they are so few and far between as to be resolved without any disruption in the governing process--not to everyone's liking, of course--but resolved nonetheless.

BTW-please do not contrue in any way that my views on how to conduct a war or whether to go to war in the first place are the same as those of the Libertarian Party. The party is vehemently opposed to any use of force whatsoever excepting only in the defence of the country proper. I confess, I am a bit more hawkish.
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Postby Carter O'Brien » Mon Feb 07, 2005 4:08 pm

And while the Electoral College may seem antiquated, it still serves to ensure that ALL the people of the country are given consideration in how we are governed.


Sorry plowboy, I could not disagree more.

As someone who lives in a state that was considered solidly blue, but who campaigned for Kerry in a state "in play" (Wisconsin), I can assure you that at this stage of the game, states that are considered unshakeably red or blue are getting screwed - show us some love too, you know?

My tumbleweed comment had nothing to do with people, it has to do with the fact that empty tracts of land in the southwest & midwest should not carry the kind of weight that they get under the elctoral college.

Arguments about the wisdom of our founding fathers are moot, the founding fathers wanted to protect state's rights back when there were only 13 states, and each of those states had come a long way in its development. The USA bought up a goodly chunk of the continent with the Louisiana Purchase & lines were drawn in the sand.

Democracy is supposed to be about one person, one vote. All the electoral college does is monkey with this idea. If it's such a brilliant idea, one might ask why the USA has not imposed it upon Iraq, where we are supposedly planting the seeds of democracy. What's the deal there?

But I agree that the 2 party system is looking more and more like just one - the country would really be better off with some more diverse voices.
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Postby Plowboy » Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:11 pm

Carter O'Brien wrote:Democracy is supposed to be about one person, one vote. All the electoral college does is monkey with this idea. If it's such a brilliant idea, one might ask why the USA has not imposed it upon Iraq, where we are supposedly planting the seeds of democracy. What's the deal there?


Such an idea is not out of the realm of possibilities in Iraq. The people recently elected have the responsibility of drafting a constitution, as I understand it. While this would be the perfect opportunity to institute an electoral college, I seriously doubt that the Shiite majority will take the necessary steps to limit the "tyranny of their majority."

Iraq is a good example of why an electoral college is a good idea--expansive country with regional differences and a diverse populace. (Sound familiar?) Just as I shudder at the thought of people from New York and California having majority control of my government, imagine how the Sunnis and Kurds must be feeling now. With a pure democracy, they will no doubt have very little say in their government. We are NOT a pure democracy and neither should they be. Time will tell.

Thanks for clarification on your "tumbleweeds" remark. Sorry I took it the wrong way.
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Postby FSUGypsyJazz » Mon Feb 07, 2005 10:43 pm

Hey guys I don't want to stir things up but while were on the subject. I agree we should have more diverse voices in our government, but we will not be able to do that unless we drastically change our political process. Duvergier's Law (the only Law in Political Science) In a First past the post electoral system the country will be two two party dominant. It may not start that way but it will end up that way as we have seen. I have this same conversations with conservative Friends of mine (who are actually probably more in line with Libertarains these days) The largest problem I have with the Republican party (and a lot of Democrats who refuse to say something against it) is this Blind Pandering to the Religious right. I don't have a problem with people being Religious I have a problem with Politicians trying to limit personal freedoms because Susy and Johnny Bible thumper(Hope I didn't offend anyone there) think Children will spontaniously conbust into Hell fire If two (wo)men are allowed the same Constitutional rights as the rest of the population. In My oppinion those in Religious right are not worried about themselves so much as they are worried about ME!!!! Well thanks but no thanks If I want to watch Desparite Houswives or Sex in the City (Oh God did I just say that) Then me being an adult of sound mind and Judgement should be allowed to If you don't want your kids to see hear or participate then don't let them tell them I am going to hell or some other crazy fairy tale but Keep your dogma away from me. I understand you guys don't have this problem in Canada and most of Europe. Maybe sometrhing to think about

WOW I really went off a little there. Sorry If anyone got offended reading this, but its how I feel. Oh yeah and the reason I singled out the Gay Marriage thing as opposed to other things is; that is what really pissed me off the most this past Election. I have a very good friend who I have known since Junior High who "came out" about a year ago and we and some other friends got into very heated discussions. So maybe it's all still Fresh in the nogin.
Oh Well back to Practice.
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Postby nwilkins » Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:35 am

Plowboy wrote:Why do I think the winner-take-all system is better?

1.There would be no difference in the outcome electorally with what you propose and a purely popular vote. Thus, why bother with the Electoral College at all. It would merely reflect the popular vote and thus rendered moot.


Plowboy, this is not true - since states still have a set amount of seats under my proposed system, the outcome could differ significantly from a purely popular vote.

Plowboy wrote:2.With winner-take-all, state governments, or more specifically the party in charge of any state's government at any given time, has less incentive to politicize the election of its electoral delegates. And don't think for one minute that they wouldn't try it--just look at how they gerrymander voting districts to their advantage. I think that, constitutionally, the states are still given the power as to how they elect delegates to the Electoral College. If any given party in any given state thought that they could somehow influence a national election just by coercing, bribing , cajoling,--whatever--a delegate or two, they would not only try it--they would make an art of it! Winner-take-all removes that incentive. While not really sure (you might want to look it up), I think that is one of the reasons winner-take-all was either adopted or changed to by most, if not all, the states.


If I understand you here, your problem with my proposed system is the possibility of bribing the electoral college delegates to vote against the outcome of their district. Wouldn't that problem be solved more simply by an amendment to my plan whereby there aren't any physical delegates? The outcomes of the state elections would thus determine the number of electoral college seats won for that state. Do you see what I mean?

Plowboy wrote:3. Finally, with winner-take-all, the winning candidate is bestowed with the legitimacy that could not be had with a close, purely popular vote or with the system you propose. Bush won with only 51% of the popular vote to Kerry's--what? 48-49%. But if you look at his electoral votes, he won by a commanding 287-251. While he cannot claim a popular mandate, he can certainly claim an electoral one. An even better example would be Clinton who in neither of his elections garnered a majority of the popular votes, but won very handily in the Electoral College in both. This gave legitimacy to his presidency in spite of the fact that over half the populace didn't vote for him.


I find this last argument a bit silly - if you were to choose a president by playing "eeny-meeny-miney-mo" he would have an "electoral mandate", but it would be worthless because an "electoral mandate" is only as good as the electoral process. In a system in which ALL electoral college seats could be won with only 51% of the popular vote, an "electoral mandate" just seems empty and meaningless. Moreover, the current system could very easily fail to produce such a mandate if electoral college seats were split.

BTW thanks for a very interesting (if off-topic) discussion everyone :)
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Postby Plowboy » Tue Feb 08, 2005 9:08 am

FSUGypsyJazz wrote:Hey guys I don't want to stir things up but while were on the subject. I agree we should have more diverse voices in our government, but we will not be able to do that unless we drastically change our political process. Duvergier's Law (the only Law in Political Science) In a First past the post electoral system the country will be two two party dominant. It may not start that way but it will end up that way as we have seen.


BINGO, Fsu! You have hit upon the best (in my opinion, since I do support a third party) criticism of the Electoral College system. Proud to see that Florida State does more than field a great football team every year. And while you are absolutely correct that it does seem to favor,or at least evolve into, a two party system, you must keep in mind that laws passed by the states to limit ballot access and recognition of third parties also play a big part in third parties' poor showings in national elections. Here in Tennessee, we have to submit a certain amount of petition signatures each year if we don't get a certain percentage of the vote each election---or some such draconian, arcane formula. And even if we do get ballot access, the only candidates who get party designation on the ballot are the Democrats and Republicans--all others, whether Libertarians, Greens or whatever--are listed as "Independent". Of course, this is in the best interest of both Dems and Reps in order to retain the two party status quo, so it is easy to see why such laws are passed in each state. Why empower a devil you don't know when you can vouchsafe a devil you do know? All at the expense of us third party devils, of course. I won't even begin to get into the role that the media plays in their short shrift of ALL third parties.
So it can be argued as a chicken and egg thing--which came first? After all, the latest, newest outside party to gain ascendency is the Republican party in the election of 1860. Don't hold me to it, but I think there were four or five candidates in that election. And yet Lincoln was elected under virtually the same system we have in place today. So it CAN be done. It's just that we have so many more layers of entrenched incumbency and bureaucracy to overcome.

On the flipside, however, look at France--a country that is more democratic than our own--that more nearly adheres to the "one man one vote" principle than we do ourselves and no electoral college. What you see in their elections is a myriad of candidates none of which, when elected, has a mandate to govern, having gotten less than half the vote, thus they form coalitions with parties they would not be caught dead with otherwise in order to advance whatever agenda they may have. While this may have been a good thing when it was implemented, when the country was more homogeneous, it could become problematic in the very near future. And while I applaud their acceptance of peoples from other cultures AND their attempts to hold steadfastly to their own distinct culture, problems will surely arise--problems that an electoral college type insitution would abate--no doubt.
If I have to choose my poison, I'll take the system we have in place--here--now. Rest assured, if Washington touches it in any way, shape, form or fashion, it will surely turn into fatback.

Since this is the "Taking the piss" forum:

Reporter to Bobby Bowden, Head football coach at FSU, after an unexpected defeat: So coach, what do you think about your team's execution today?
BB: I'm all for it.

(Apocropha I know but you just gotta love that Bowden)
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Postby FSUGypsyJazz » Tue Feb 08, 2005 3:32 pm

Good One Plowboy that kid of his is ruining or offensive game. Bieng a former delivery boy for the big college Book/Merchandise store here I used to have to go to his office a few times a week to get footballs signed (people will pay insane amounts of money for these), and he is actullay a really nice dude hell of a tipper! Sorry for the digression now back to the Political discussion.
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Postby NickG » Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:07 am

How refreshing to discover such an informed and civilised political debate in these troubled times, and here of all places. Maybe all the posts involving death threats and damnations were removed before I arrived, but I'll stay optimistic. One of the truly great Americans (we Brits are prepared to admit there've been some :lol: No, wait, it was a joke, no please, NOT THE FACE!.....) once said he was considering voting a while back, thinking, "Should I vote for the puppet on the left, or the one on the right...?". Then he thought, "Hey, that sinister looking guy up there is holding both puppets.... Wonder what I should do now?". Regurgitating Hicks' joke like this may seem tame, but succint points like that are needed more than ever when two vast and frighteningly sycophantic groups are tragically involved in an unresolvable, nation-dividing, potentially diastrous conflict of interest such as this. And lest we not forget, you are all in a minority of Americans who are mature, well informed and above-all calm enough to debate on the level you are doing. The majority of debates seems to go something like "CAPITALIST PIGS!!!"...."HIPPY COMMIE SCUM!!", etc. making all the intelligent informed comments utterly redundant. But hey that was pretty obvious, no? Anyway, you have no idea how painful this is for the rest of world to watch. I'm sure it's bad enough for you guys....
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Postby justjack » Mon Feb 14, 2005 5:10 am

NickG wrote:And lest we not forget, you are all in a minority of Americans who are mature, well informed and above-all calm enough to debate on the level you are doing.


...as long as we're not talking about La Pompe!
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Postby Swing This! » Mon Feb 14, 2005 5:20 am

"If those who look to world federation as a solution to the world's
ills could limit their aims to a world-wide society for music, they
might rest assured of early success."
William S. Newman, "Understanding Music"


"Shut up 'n' play yer guitar!" Frank Zappa

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby nwilkins » Mon Feb 14, 2005 5:38 am

NickG wrote:And lest we not forget, you are all in a minority of Americans who are mature, well informed and above-all calm enough to debate on the level you are doing.


we are not all Americans :)
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