Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I weep for the electorate

I read an alarming headline for some Internet editorial a while ago about how the electoral college is "destroying" democracy.  I didn't have the patience to watch it, so I don't know what direction it really went in, but I wondered about all the people who also stopped at the headline but didn't know any better and walked away thinking "Yeah, why shouldn't my vote directly apply to presidential races?"  I wondered if the guy who did the piece also didn't know any better or like the Democrats a few years ago acted surprised when the electoral votes didn't strictly line up with the popular vote (an inexcusable display of hypothetical ignorance from a politician, in my not so humble opinion), just to try to score rhetorical points with a public that has largely forgotten its civics lessons.

Listen:  presidential voting is representative in order to be more representative, not less. In a purely democratic system, candidates could woo the top half dozen population centers, ignore the other 80% of the country, and walk into the Oval Office.  It would just be the most expedient way to run a campaign.  It would also be unfair to people who lived too spread out to be reached except by social media or snail mail.  Yeah, they have to take the bad with the good of their lifestyle, but don't talk about fair representation in a system that would consistently disregard them as bad investments.  If a president could focus on three states and skip flyover country, why would he care about the disapproval of everyone else?  So the electoral college forces them to address a broader base.


I have a coworker who has been saying for months, in his defense of Bernie Sanders "Socialism isn't what everyone says it is!  It's the exact opposite!"  I didn't have the stomach to probe, but recently someone else did, and hence I have some material to write about.  He wasn't satisfied when our resident lawyer read an online definition of socialism as being a system that has common ownership of all means of production and no private property.  Instead he tried to explain how socialism doesn't mean government control of businesses, just that the people get to have a say in how businesses are run.

He's not stupid, but apparently he didn't ask himself the question about how the people are supposed to "have a say" in how, well, everyone else's business is run:  basically, it would have to be either the government somehow granted authority to impose its will on the people's behalf, or something so much like that as to be practically indistinguishable.

I like Bernie; he seems to be the most human candidate still out there mixing it up with the electorate.  But some sort of large scale town hall meeting where every business decision and property variance is ratified by consensus is not going to be what any stripe of socialist would be able to bring us.

Maybe we're just not "ready for it," as yet another coworker put it.  I shudder to think of us being conditioned to gleefully accept all the baggage that comes with American liberalism, or of us being so ground down as to be willing to tolerate it as just another circumstance.