On The Electoral College, Nov 7 2016


So, this morning I’ll be tottling down to the polling place to cast my vote; a vote which we all recognize lies somewhere between a part of democracy, and an opinion poll. It’s mostly a waste of time, I think, but I live in a swing-state and I loathe Trump, and I’m casting my vote as a “twittergram to the donald” more than anything else.

Thomas Jefferson, gadabout dirtbag

Thomas Jefferson, gadabout dirtbag

For Oligarchs, By Oligarchs

For most of the early history of voting in the US, you could only vote if you were a white male landowner. It didn’t matter if you were a foreign landowner, as long as you were white and had a penis. In other words: from day 1, the US was an oligarchy. Maybe the number of oligarchs was large in some spots but that’s beside the point: it was government by the rich, for the rich, and many of those rich supported their wealth with smuggling, land speculation, and slavery. In other words, we shouldn’t call them “the rich” we should call them “the dirtbags.”

One popular narrative is that the founding dirtbags were great political minds. Another is that they were ruthless political operators who didn’t trust eachother and designed a pseudo-democracy that allowed them to maintain power throughout their lives without having to worry about any of them encroaching on eachother.

That latter issue, encroachment on eachother, was a big deal f0r the slave-owners. Especially since slave ownership had become illegal in England a few years before the revolution; as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, one of the many causes of that revolution was the preservation of the odious “freedom” to own people and make them work for you for free, and to use them as your sex toy, occasionally, as some of the founding dirtbags were wont to do.

Most people who know anything about voting in the US have heard of the electoral college. A smaller number know that the electoral college was almost done away with in 1970, by a proposed bill following George Wallace’s 1968 campaign, where Nixon won handily in the electoral college, but barely eked out a victory in the popular vote. Crazed racist goon George Wallace and his running mate, nuker-of-cities Curtis LeMay scared the congress by actually winning a few states, threatening to upset the two-party applecart, so some politicians supported the removal of the electoral college, while others did not. The whole matter was put to bed by a filibuster led by racist politicians like Strom Thurmond(R), James Eastland(D), and Roman Hruska(R).

Why was there an electoral college? And why are there certain numbers of electors?

Short form: Racism.
Slightly less short form: to protect the southern states voting block. (i.e.: slavery, then racism)

Here’s the problem the founding dirtbags had to deal with: they wanted a united set of states, but some of those states simply were not going to accept a power-sharing structure in which the other states could tell them what to do. “Tell them what to do about one certain specific thing,” of course. So the southern states insisted that congressional representation be based on size and population – knowing that if they did it based solely on population the northern states would be able to simply steamroller the issue in congress. Power-sharing had to be balanced – because none of the founding dirtbags trusted the others not to try to tell them what to do.

The story given to the masses was that the electoral college and the congressional representation system was balanced so that larger states could not unfairly dominate the smaller. If you think about that for a second, you’ll realize that that simply means that then less populous states could then dominate the more populous states. So much for “one man, one vote.” Essentially, they “kicked the can down the road” for future generations to clean up, after it no longer mattered to them. Some bunch of visionaries, huh?

college-votesThe electoral college was structured based on congressional representation as well (Senate and House) as population. That was done deliberately to allow the slaver states in the south to protect their odious institution. That’s why the south came up with the infamous “3/5 rule” – that a black person (who couldn’t vote) for the purposes of the census counted as 3/5 of a person so the southern states could have more congressional representation and electoral college votes on the backs of enslaved people. It wasn’t quite as un-subtle as “We own these people, therefore we get to throw 3/5 of their vote” but that was the political effect.

Worse, when slavery was repealed, the southern states switched their census representation to 1:1 – freed slaves counted as one full person (yay!) but then their votes were manipulated away from them and the southern states continued to maintain a higher level of congressional representation and thus electoral college votes once they got that extra 2/5 of black people on their census.

In the Backstory Podcast (I’m quite a fan, are you?) “Pulling the Curtain in America” episode, one of their interviewees, Alexander Keyssar, casually threw out a mind-blowing fact: (at 29:03)

In 1910 there were more votes cast in New York and Pennsylvania than were cast in the entire south, by a very large margin, and yet the south had twice as many electoral votes.

In states where there were african-americans elgible to vote, like Mississippi and North Carolina, small percentages were registered to vote (on the order of 7%) by 1964. Talk about “vote stealing” and “rigged elections”? The fix has been in since the 1780s.

The electoral college is not simply a convenience and a way of ensuring a smooth representative government. It’s the festering left-over of a power-sharing arrangement that was intended all along to perpetuate slavery, in order to prevent the oligarchy from fragmenting over its own racism.

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From wikipedia:

Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning “few”, and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning “to rule or to command”) is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious or military control.

The election is controlled by 538 oligarchs, who are the representatives of the 1%, special interests, American racists, banks, and the wealthy. We’ll need seats for 538 in the first wave of tumbrils. Executive platinum, extended legroom, first class all the way.

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It’s a system that deserves to be burned to the ground and plowed with salt.
It’s a false democracy; a special effect, a bad joke. A power-sharing arrangement
between unscrupulous demagogues and slavers. The two party system “divide
et impera” splits us amongst ourselves, so that we don’t wake up and build guillotines.
That we haven’t, yet, is shame enough to bear. But we will, eventually, we will.

Congressional Quarterly: “Electoral College Reform the Victim of Senate Filibuster.” The last attempt to get rid of the electoral college.

 

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    I strongly suspect this rigging was planned to dominate the House of Representatives, with leverage on the (relatively lesser) Presidency as a secondary effect.

    Some people try to paint the 3/5 rule as a sinister slaveholders’ scheme to diminish black influence, not realizing that northern politicians wanted it even lower. Daniel Webster cracked jokes about how Southerners wanted representation for those they used as farm animals, so that for fairness census-takers should also count northern horses and mules.

    Bonus trivia: the 3/5 “compromise” was the primary Constitutional Convention contribution of a South Carolina plantation owner named Pierce Butler (yes, a relative; no, not a direct ancestor).

    Further even more trivial bonus: after the debacle of 2000’s election, a certain new New York senator vowed she would introduce a Constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College. During the next eight years she held that office, she boldly proved her follow-through and leadership by, uh, …

  2. Raucous Indignation says

    Aah, your bile smells delicious! I shall spread it, piping hot, on toast points as a snack later tonight as I watch the returns come in.

  3. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#1:
    Some people try to paint the 3/5 rule as a sinister slaveholders’ scheme to diminish black influence, not realizing that northern politicians wanted it even lower. Daniel Webster cracked jokes about how Southerners wanted representation for those they used as farm animals, so that for fairness census-takers should also count northern horses and mules.

    Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I got so head-asplodey mad when I started researching this topic: both parties were in on it, gaming the voting power of disenfranchised slaves. Those of us who despise the two-party system will often observe that it’s really a single political party with two different public ideologies – if there’s anything that illustrates the truth of that, it’s the way both parties cynically manipulated the construction of the electoral college. Another good illustration is the flip-flop where the former party of obstruction and slavery flipped ideologically for its electoral convenience. There are perhaps a few people involved in the US political process that are not utterly compromised, but, eh, I’m not even looking.

    the primary Constitutional Convention contribution of a South Carolina plantation owner named Pierce Butler

    Oh, that’s interesting! You’re related to one of the great sausage-makers!

    Further even more trivial bonus: after the debacle of 2000’s election, a certain new New York senator vowed she would introduce a Constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College. During the next eight years she held that office, she boldly proved her follow-through and leadership by, uh, …

    I had no idea about that. I’m going to have to research that a bit. Might make for an interesting post.

    This recent election was “fact checked” to death. What I want is a “promise tracking” system. No, wait, that’d just make me want to saw on my wrist with a piece of glass.

  4. says

    Raucous Indignation@#3:
    Aah, your bile smells delicious!

    (Yells back to the kitchen, “Another bowl of the bile chili for M. Indignation!”)
    How about a big slice of buttered sourgrapes dough bread to go with that?

  5. DanDare says

    My recommendaton as an Australan for you folks n the US:

    1) Electoral Seats must not be gerrymandered. Create an independent boundary commission that uses a formula of population and “community of interest” data to set the seat boundaries between elections.
    2) Preferential voting so multiple candidates can compete without “splltting tickets”.
    3) Compulsory voting so no one can be tricked out of voting or disenfranchised.
    4) And for goodness sake make sure the election is on a day off!

    My humble opinion and basically just what we do here in Oz.

  6. dreikin says

    In 1910 there were more votes cast in New York and Pennsylvania than were cast in the entire south, by a very large margin, and yet the south had twice as many electoral votes.

    I don’t know about 1910 (yet), but during the 1912 presidential election PA+NY cast 2,806,051 votes, while the solid south cast 2,522,653. Woodrow Wilson won the entire solid south and NY. Only eight states voted for someone else, and PA was one of them.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    DanDare @ # 7: … basically just what we do here in Oz.

    Yet even all that didn’t/couldn’t Abbott-proof you.

    Not enough deadly-poisonous organisms around?

  8. John Morales says

    Pierce, point.

    But it’s a bit different here in Oz. We don’t vote for the Prime Minister, we vote for politicians either directly or via their party (group voting ticket).

    The Prime Minister is chosen by the party (or coalition, in the case of Abbott), but can be changed by the party too — as actually happened with Abbott.

    In the USA, the President can’t be changed by the party as a matter of convenience, can they?

  9. John Morales says

    Since the Mad Monk came up…
    US election: What Australian politicians have to say about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

    Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott (Sky News, October 13, 2016)

    “The tapes that have been playing are gross. Gross beyond belief.

    “I think they’re completely indefensible … the vast majority of Trump supporters are not deplorables, they really aren’t.

    “They’re decent people who want to see change inside their country and that’s fair enough. And many of the Trump positions are reasonable enough.”

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    John Morales @ # 9: In the USA, the President can’t be changed by the party as a matter of convenience, can they?

    The closest we’ve ever come (not counting assassinations, none ever proven party-driven) was the double-dumping of Agnew & Nixon – a decidedly bipartisan effort.