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August 31, 2004



The appearance of illegitimacy is in the eye of the beholder. There is a tendency to assume that any election your side loses is illegitimate. Some people feel that elections where women and black people get to vote are thereby made illegitimate. Some people feel that including the votes of active members of the military or excluding the votes of illegal immigrants may invalidate the election.

There are degrees of legitimacy, just as there are degrees of enfranchisement. The best you can hope for is that the overwhelming majority are willing to support the rules and the process that determines the outcome.

The Founders were afraid of unbounded democracy, the kind of democracy that condemned Socrates, so they invented the Bill of Rights and sought to balance the powers of the various parts of government. The Founders were afraid of direct democracy and wary of its costs, so they established rules of representation and the Electoral College. Building a consensus on the issues that divided the states was extremely difficult. The result, however, has stood up pretty well over the years. Do you really want to monkey with it?

Maligning Hamilton because of his tragic failure of judgment with regard to Aaron Burr is an ad hominem argument that does not reflect on the content of the Constitution. Aaron Burr was the Ahmed Chalabi of his time, a charming, clever and disloyal schemer who had no real concern for the welfare of his nation.

The presidential election of 2000 was peacefully resolved according to the Rule of Law as established in the USA. The only tumult was in the media. We could have endured months of these legal battles without resorting to violence.

I, myself, still hold a certain amount of bitterness related to the deceptive configuration of the butterfly ballot and the hijacking of the recount by Republican dirty tricksters. I am also appalled by the attitude expressed by certain Republicans that inability to understand the process should disqualify the voter. I do not object to the role of the Supreme Court in principal nor in practice. Gore would not have been able to win in the House. He lost the election by failing to embrace Bill Clinton and his policies.


Imagine if there were no Electoral College in 2000
or in any year with a close popular vote.
Instead of fighting over county votes in Florida,
we would have been fighting over county votes in
every state.

How long did it take to come to a final analysis
of the Florida vote?
How long would it take to come to a final analysis
of the whole country vote?


That's right George! It also brings up an advantage of the winner-take-all strategy. If a statewide vote isn't close, then there's no reason to contest the individual delegates.

Frank has some earlier posts relating to the Electoral College on Aug. 29, on April 30 and on Dec. 23. I might have missed some others.


Here are the links:

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