The much-maligned electoral college

electoral-map-16Every four years like clockwork, people prove they have no understanding of why the electoral college was put in place by the framers of the Constitution by calling for it to be abolished in favor of a direct election.   To add fuel to the fire, it looks like the winner of the electoral college and the winner of the popular vote this time around could be two different people.  It’s not surprising, everyone learns in grade school that America is a democracy.  Problem is, that is only half-true.  The U.S.A. is a democratic republic.  Somehow, the “republic” part of it always gets forgotten.

Here then is an explanation of why we have an electoral college, probably oversimplified a bit…

The framers of the Constitution realized that in a direct democracy, the states with larger populations would dominate the states with smaller populations.  If you look at today’s electoral map, you’ll notice that most of the highly populated states tend to be blue (Democrat) and the less populated states are red (Republican). This has been the typical result for decades now.  Our founders knew that the chief concerns of citizens in the rural areas were usually different from those living in urban areas.  In order to provide for a more level playing field, they engineered the electoral college system where voters vote for electors who in turn are pledged to vote for the winner of their district.  That way, candidates would be forced to win states, not just population center.  Under a direct democratic vote, the candidates would only have to campaign in the cities.  There would be no incentive to go to the rural areas as well. In today’s world, that means that candidates would never have to consider the wishes and concerns of the farmer in Midwest, the rancher in the Southwest or the shrimper living on the gulf coast.  He or she could win having campaigning exclusively in the big cities.  New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and a very few other cities would wield tremendous power, even more so than the already do, over the “flyover” states in the interior.  The electoral college is a means to slightly level the playing field for the smaller states.

Although they would have called it something different, the electoral college was meant to serve as a firewall between the elected and the electorate. They knew from history that direct democracies could be manipulated to bend to the will of a demagogue, or could be corrupted.  Even today, virtually every dictator won their job by a “fair” election.  Hitler before he seized total dictatorial power, was elected by the German people. The framers had the foresight to see this sort of thing could happen and sought to insulate the office of the President from the passions of the people.  It keeps the election of our president from becoming a power grab.

Much-maligned of late, the electoral college does serve a purpose.  Its main function is to equalize the power between the small and large states so that all states matter, not just the more densely populated ones.  It provides the farmers in rural Kansas with some parody to their counterparts working on Wall Street.  It forces candidates to campaign outside as well as inside the big cities.  It recognizes that different regions of the country have different economic and social priorities.  Without it, only the priorities of the urban areas would be attended to.  It also serves as an insurance policy against demagogues, or a corrupt population selling its vote to the highest bidder.  The electoral college often gets a bum rap, mainly from people unaware of its purpose, but has served this country well for over two hundred years. Maybe we should cut it a break.

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It’s 1787 all over again.

Election 2016What direction will America take?  Will she choose to take the easy, intellectually bankrupt path to European-style socialism, or will she stay true to her self and take the less easy but potentially more rewarding path?  Will we decide that things like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are just curiosities of a bygone era, or that those documents still mean something and still ought to be followed?  America is at a crossroads, it’s cliche but is no less true. Where other elections have been about tax rates, or what the defense budget should be, this election is over the very what the very purpose of government is, and what America’s role in the world should be.

U.S. ConstitutionIf you’re voting for free education, or for lower taxes, you’ve missed the whole argument, the real question being put to the voters this year.  This year you have to choose sides. The question before us is no less than that put before the Constitutional convention in May of 1787:  What sort of republic will America be?  We have to decide anew what sort of country we’ll have for the rest of the 21st century.  People will say this is exaggeration, hyperbole.  They don’t get it.  They would be at a loss to explain why those men spent all that time in the hot Philadelphia summer many years ago, deliberating, discussing, arguing, deciding.  They would not understand what the big deal was, how momentous that achievement was.  They do not see that it is 1787 all over again, and the choice  once again is:  Who will rule the people of this country and how?  Will Americans be the rulers or be the ruled?  We need to choose wisely, and understand the far-reaching effects of our vote.

End of lecture.

Second Debate, Initial Reaction

2016-debatesTonight, Donald Trump came to the second debate much more prepared than he did to the first one.  He was not on defense the entire night and learned the art of the pivot. The difference between his performance between the two debates was night and day.  Hillary on the other hand had little in the way of new material.  It was widely speculated that she used up most of her ammo during the first debate.  That speculation seems to have been proved correct. Most of her attacks were predictable and Trump was obviously ready for them.  The moderators played less of a role in this debate than in either the first or VP debate.  That’s probably for the best.  I’m predicting that Trump will be widely seen as the winner.

 

The 2016 Presidential Debates Drinking Game

2016-debatesThe 2016 presidential debates promise to be something extra special.  The debates will be a battle royal between two heavy weights (metaphorically speaking)  for the political championship of the world. If you’ve paid any attention at all to the race so far, you may have heard some of the favorite words and phrases from each of the candidates. You may be sick of hearing them, so here’s a fun way to reward yourself for having to hear them again, and again, and again….

The rules are simple, every time during the debate one of the candidates says one of the designated words or phrases, you take a drink of your favorite adult beverage.  You must of course, be of legal drinking age to play, unless your favorite adult beverage is non-alcoholic, in that case…you’ll probably make yourself sick either way!

Take a sip anytime any candidate says one of the magic words or phrases:

  • Disqualified
  • Tremendous
  • Unqualified
  • Leading from behind
  • Fair share
  • Reckless
  • What have you got to lose?
  • Historic election
  • For all the people
  • Fat cats
  • Unhinged
  • Failed Policies

Expert level:

  • Drink every time any candidate breaks out into a coughing fit.  (one drink per instance)
  • Drink at any remark that gets booed. (counts for moderator remarks too)
  • Drink every time the moderator “fact checks” a statement by one of the candidates.

Think you can last all the way through?  You might want to have a good supply of chips and pretzels on hand. Enjoy!

Disclaimer:  No-one except you is responsible for any foolish thing you might do after playing this game, like: driving, drunk-texting your boss, or voting third-party. So there!

Trump’s Hail Mary

Featured Image -- 376Trump’s visit to Mexico on Wednesday was like a quarterback throwing up a Hail Mary pass on 3rd and long.  It was a mix of desperation and supreme confidence.  He went to Mexico City at the invitation of President Peña Nieto.  Many people, including loyal supporters questioned the wisdom of the move.  It was thought that President Nieto would dress him down on national TV.  He had after all, claimed Trump was another Hitler or Mussolini.  Trump was not deterred and went down where he was received quite graciously and cordially.  Afterwords, they held a short joint press conference where both stressed that both countries had common ground and both promised to work with the other to achieve common goals.  The world watched as the GOP candidate stood as an equal to a world leader.  He came away having impressed even his detractors.  Touchdown, Donald Trump.

I’m not his biggest fan, but Trump showed me something Wednesday. He showed me that he’s willing to do the hard things, he’s willing to put his candidacy on the line.  Meanwhile, Hillary has been MIA for most of the past fortnight.  She hasn’t even gone to Louisiana after both Trump and President Obama went.  Baton Rouge should be mostly dry by now, will she ever go?  Trump went into politically as hostile territory for a high risk, high reward move that paid off.  Hillary showed me something too, she is not willing to do even the not so hard things, and no one will remember what she did on Wednesday, only what she didn’t do. Trump is going for the end zone, meanwhile Hillary is playing the prevent defense. Anybody who watches football knows how that usually turns out.

The Politics of Division

Politics of DivisionThe Democrat stock in trade has always been division.  Whether it was the quite literal division they sought between American Indians and whites during the 19th century, the societal division between blacks and whites during the 20th, or the division of every minority group against every majority group in the 21st. Pitting American against American has been part of the formula that has driven virtually every Democratic campaign in this country since Andrew Jackson.  Through most of American history, they have been on the wrong side of virtually every civil rights issue.  In the 1960’s they came up with what would become their new template for their politics of division:  Identify a group, offer them help, but then implement laws and regulations that insure they continue to need it.  Anyone opposed to their scheme is then be labeled a bigot.

Another way to describe their Democratic divisive formula would be:  Favor one group that constitutes a large enough voting bloc, and offer them just enough, not to solve their problems, but to get their vote.  Most of the time, the quickest and easiest way to buy a group’s vote is to create a program with a high-sounding name, like “the war on poverty”. The program may or may not actually help the community, but regardless, the administrators who lobbied and donated to the proper candidates get paid or otherwise rewarded. The obvious question then becomes: Who do you get the money from?  You can only take so much money from the middle-class before they stop voting for you, so you take from the rich.  How do you get the voters to go along?  Convince them that the money the wealthy have was ill-gotten and at the expense of one or more of the favored groups.  To do this, you first need to portray the economy as a zero sum game– stress the notion that the economy is a pie, and every slice that someone takes out of it leaves less for everyone else.  If someone is making more money, someone else, probably you, must be making less.  If you convince a large enough segment of society that the rich one’s gain the poor one’s loss, then it is easy to pit one segment against the other.

When it comes to civil rights, Democrats have consistently been on the wrong side of history.  The civil rights battle at the forefront of the American psyche is still the one for black equality.  They got that one wrong and have been trying to find new civil rights causes that they can get right ever since. Liberals have to feel good about themselves.  Problem is, the policy that feels good may not actually be the best policy. Conservatives have a nasty habit of pointing this out when it occurs.  Nothing can stand in the way of the liberal and their need for unconditional approval.  Anyone who stands in the way must be demonized and marginalized.

If you believe in dealing strongly with the issue of illegal immigration on the basis that it robs citizens and legal immigrants of jobs and wage earning power, you’re anti-immigrant.  Of course the logic involved in calling someone who supports legal immigration anti-immigrant when they don’t support illegal immigration is questionable, but it’s never been about logic with liberals, only emotions.  The same thing can be said about how the left tries to portray those who don’t want to let in refugees from predominantly Muslim countries who can’t be properly screened.  If you’re against letting in vast numbers of Syrian refugees in without proper vetting, you’re anti Muslim. To be vocally against Islamic-extremism, is somehow to be against all Islam.  The left needs to see themselves as not just right, but morally superior to those who disagree with them.  If there is no real point of disagreement then one must be invented.  The language that the other side uses must be condemned and discredited in order to maintain that sense of superiority, hence if conservatives use the term “Islamic extremist terrorism” and that goes to the identity of a group, then identity politics demands that the term be deemed wrong.  Those who seek to be the arbiters of right and wrong with regards to a group must then control its identity so it can be tied to a voting bloc.  No one really cares about hurting the feelings of terrorists, so that sub-group must be tied at all times to a group that voters do care about i.e.:  Muslims.  The use of the modifiers “Islamic” and “radical” to describe “extremists” by conservatives affords the liberal a chance to create an imaginary division between they who don’t use the term and the those who do; even when it is clearly understood both sides are speaking about the exact same group of murderous fanatics.  It’s a complete contrivance meant to create division where there is none for the sake of being on the ‘right’ side.

The politics of division is the main weapon in the Democratic arsenal.  Their strategy is simple:  divide and conquer.  They pick a voting bloc, along any lines it doesn’t matter, give them victim status then assign a villain.  Then come the promises…  Give the ‘victim’ a largess, and/or take punitive action against the alleged bad guy.  The oppressor is always the larger party, usually they call them ‘big’ as in ‘big oil’, or ‘big pharma’, just so you know who to blame.  As an aside, you’ll never hear reference to ‘big academia’ or ‘big government’ from the left as those are clients and are thus exempt. Anyone who would dare to criticize their divisive agenda is demonized as a bigot, sexist, or (fill in the blank)-phobe.  They claim to stand for tolerance while at the same time exercising extreme intolerance when it comes to opposing viewpoints. Theirs is the only morally defensible position, therefore tolerance is not required.  If public sentiment is not initially on their side, a massive propaganda campaign is launched to ensure you know who the opponents of their agenda are and who to despise.  There are no exceptions, countries, competing political philosophies, even major world religions are fair game to be condemned and marginalized as it suits the Liberal cause.  Finally, they ensure their propaganda cannot be assailed by argument, as they control the very language to be used around it.  Their allies in the media and academia see to that.   Their words need not be honest, their ideas need not even work, so long as the formula works to get them the power they seek before their charade is exposed.  By the time that happens, they have moved on to the next con, the next group in need of their “help”.  And so it goes….

 

 

 


Originally posted in Poliltical Storm as: The Politics of Division

Should other Republicans emulate Trump’s pivot to the black community?

Election 2016“…I love France so well I will not part with a village of it.” – Shakespeare, Henry V 5.2

Republicans should take note of this famous line from the Shakespeare play.  Republicans love America at least as much Shakespeare’s Henry V loved France, so why do they every four years, simply cede roughly 13% of the population to the Democrats?  That is exactly what they do when they fail to court in any meaningful way the black vote.  Why do they, as King Henry put it, “part with a single village of it”?  Donald Trump does not seem to want to part of a single village (read precinct).  He does not seem prepared to let the Democrats have the inner cities without a fight.  Given the Democrat’s dismal record of running cities, especially those with large African-American populations, this should be considered low hanging fruit by any Republican with the guts enough to try and grab it.  There are reasons, one’s that should be revisited, but there are reasons:  First, the electoral map puts a premium on winning entire states.  Democrats have done such a good job of demonizing Republicans in the eyes of the African American community that it takes courage for a Republican to go into the inner city.  Lastly, some conservative solutions are less obvious to the voter than Democratic ones. Republicans need to revisit their reasons for not actively courting the black or any other minority vote.  Trump had made the determination to do just this, other Republicans would do well to take note.

In the electoral college, the Democrats already have a big head start on the race to 270.  This is almost entirely because of demographics.  States with large urban areas populated with large numbers of minority voters have something else, huge electoral vote counts.  Cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and NYC can sway their entire state to go blue on election night. If Republicans ever want to get those states back they’ll have to start winning precincts in those cities, or at least doing competitively in them.  The experts will point out that even if you do well in a state, but lose it by a single vote, all your campaigning there was for naught. It’s better then to campaign in those states you have a reasonable chance to win.  The problem for Republicans is, demographics favor less and less states if you don’t do well with minorities.  Republicans have to either push to admit more states into the union with favorable demographics, or do better with the minority vote in the current fifty.  The good news is that many GOP candidates for Governor have figured it out.  New Jersey is a deep blue state with every one of its citizens living in an urban county. Currently it has a Republican Governor.  Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, even California have, or have recently had Republicans in the state house. You don’t win any of those states without at least some minority support.

Democrats with the aid of a sympathetic left-leaning mainstream media have successfully crafted a totally bogus, cartoonish image of Republicans and conservatives as being racist, sexist, homo-phobic, and now Islamo-phobic.  So thoroughly have liberals perpetuated this fraud, that cable news anchors and pundits regularly and with a straight face compare conservatives with fascists, Nazi’s and the KKK.  It’s a ridiculous notion, one that Trump until very recently, has unfortunately contributed to.  Now, if you’re an African American in the inner city, and never actually met or had a Republican hold a speech in your neighborhood, that fallacious image of the white-hooded, jackbooted, fascist is all you have to go by.  If you asked the average black person living in Baltimore just how many Republican candidates have actually come to address their church congregation or civic organization, they answer would probably be “none”.  Rand Paul during his presidential run did to his great credit, actually attempt to redress this situation. He challenged his fellow Republicans to do the same.  Sadly, hardly any did.  Several GOP candidates did reach out to the Hispanic community during the primary season, so at least that is a start.

It is not always them messenger that has to break through to the minority voter, sometimes it is the message. The Democrats have a simple to understand message that they offer to each and every minority constituency:  Give us your vote and we’ll send your community money.  Conservative policies tend to be a little less straight forward:  Keep your money, don’t give it to the government in the first place, that’s better than us giving it back to you with strings attached, or worse yet, to someone else with no stings.  It’s so much easier for the voter to understand how putting money directly into their pockets benefits them than it for a conservative to explain to them that the more money their employer gets to keep, the more money they have to pay you with, or use to grow their business so that they can hire you.  On this front, simpler is better. Republicans then must be able to cite examples that the voter can relate to where their policy has worked in the past, or cite examples of where liberalism has failed them.  Trump, say what you will, is a master at putting things into terms that anyone can understand, like recently in Michigan:

“Tonight, I am asking for the vote of every African-American citizen in this country who wants a better future. The inner cities of our country have been run by the Democratic Party for 50 years. Their policies have produced only poverty, joblessness, failing schools, and broken homes.”

No getting into the policy weeds for Trump here, just a straight-out request for support from African-Americans.   Do Democrats have better policies for the inner-city?  No, in fact liberal policies keep many citizens in these urban areas from advancing economically.  They have created what Dinesh D’Souza in his new movie Hillary’s America refers to as the ‘new plantation’.  Whereas the old Democrat plantations exploited blacks for their labor to produce crops, this new plantation– the inner city, produces something else for their Democratic masters:  Votes. What if a Republican, or many Republicans came to the inner city, pointed this out and offered a solution?  What if blacks and other minorities could be convinced that decades of top-to-bottom Democrat rule has produced the conditions they now find themselves in? They might try another direction, or as Trump put it in his own special way: “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?”

Trump had determined not to cede the urban areas of this country to the Democrats this time without at least a fight. He may or may not succeed in this, but make no mistake, Republicans need to find a way aggressively go after the black and Hispanic vote.  The changing demographics of this country demand that Republicans start to change how they deliver the conservative message to the inner city, but before they do that, they have to move out of their comfort zones and expand their campaigns there.


Originally posted in Political Storm:  Should other Republicans emulate Trump’s pivot to the black community?