Friday, April 24, 2009

The Electoral College and the National Popular Vote

Hendrik Hertzberg writes that, "Anyhow, the real reason for the electoral college wasn’t all that high-minded guff about voter information, or even some noble desire to protect small states. It was to enhance the power of slaveowners."

Hertzberg has been an eloquent supporter of the National Popular Vote Plan, which might allow states to ameliorate the anti-democratic features of the Electoral College, which magnifies the influence of small states.

What would be the rhetorical and political consequences of finding a way to achieve one-person, one-vote direct election of the president of the United States? Would such a change make politics more responsive to the needs of citizens (every vote counts), or merely make mass media demagoguery that much more convenient (achieve fifty percent plus one vote by any means necessary)? I honestly don't know, though since the botched election of 2000 it appears clear that the legitimacy of our electoral system depends on reform to bring about the direct popular election of the president.

Hendrik Hertzberg, "A Great Amarican," The New Yorker, 23 April 2009.

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