Categories
Government History Politics Truth

The Brilliance of the Electoral College

By Rod Thomson

As it appears that for the second time this century the United States will elect a president who did not win the popular vote, there are the predictable calls for killing the Electoral College. The same thing occurred in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won the presidency. In fact, this is the fifth time in U.S. history this has occurred.

But as is often the case, the knee-jerk response overlooks well-designed reasoning. In many ways the Electoral College is yet another example of the brilliance of the Founders and Framers of the Constitution.

They purposely avoided a pure democracy majority rule form of governing at every turn. The reason is simple. Pure democracies do not work. Straight majority-rule democracy is sometimes compared to two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. That old saw depicts how a simple majority can tyrannize the minority — and inevitably will.

This is human nature. Mankind could never be expected to act selflessly and self-sacrificially for the greater good, so the Founders built in a tension between the three branches of government that harnessed basic human nature to keep government in check. They believed only a self-checking and self-limiting system could keep the tyranny of human nature at bay. And they actually used human nature to accomplish it.

They employed the same thinking for how we elect our government leaders through a process that ensured presidential candidates had to run in all the country, not just the population centers. This was to make sure that a diverse and growing nation would get representation from all sectors and that a President would have to campaign in all regions and demographics.

Here’s how it works

The president and vice president are not elected by popular vote, but by 538 electors — which is essentially the sum total of the House of Representatives, Senate and the District of Columbia. So there is population representation through the number of congressional districts, and state representation through number of Senate seats. This is the math for spreading out the Electoral College.

So when we vote for president and fill in the oval for our candidate, we are actually voting for the slate of electors in our state, who will then officially vote in December for president. If the Democrat wins, the Democratic electors will vote. If the Republican wins, the Republican electors will vote.

This is why 270 is magical number to win the presidency. It is 50 percent plus one of these electors.

With a straight popular vote, presidential candidates would only campaign in the major population centers along the coasts and some big cities inland. Regions such as the upper Midwest and rural South and western mountains would rarely if ever see a candidate. And worse, presidents would then feel free to ignore the interests of people in those regions. Need to dump toxic waste? North Dakota it is!

But with the Electoral College as the method, North Dakota’s three electors just might matter.

In this system, presidential candidates need to build coalitions and campaign nationally. A regional candidate cannot win nationally. A candidate with a narrow base cannot win nationally.

This creates the phenomenon of swing states, which get a hyper-media focus every four years. But those are not in granite. In fact they change all the time. Florida may well be the longest term swing state going forward because of our in-migration patterns from around the nation. But remember, until 1988, California was a reliably Republican state. Kind of astonishing to think about now. And Texas was as solid blue as the came. Virginia and North Carolina were part of the Democrat South, then became part of the Republican South and now are kind of swingy.

What this means, and this is just brilliant, is that no major party can ignore any state for too long without suffering. Even small states. Remember 2000? George W. Bush won that, hanging chads and all, because of Florida, right? Well, yes. But what is forgotten is that Florida would not have mattered if Democrats had not taken West Virginia for granted. It was a solid blue state, they ignored it, and Bush flipped it. That is what made Florida and its huge electoral count relevant. Yet West Virginia only has four electoral votes.

That is the genius of the Electoral College, forcing presidents to create coalitions, campaign nationally and represent even thinly populated areas. Another grand slam by the Framers that is still working.

Categories
Government Politics Truth

Comey Decision Clarifies Our Sacred Duty on Election Day

by Rep. Julio Gonzalez

Clearly, handing Hillary Clinton the keys to the White House under these circumstances flies in the face of the disdain the Founders had against abusive power by a ruling aristocracy.

In the latest action by a seemingly schizophrenic Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on November 6, two days prior to the presidential election, informing it that after reviewing “all the communications” involving Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State, Comey would not change the conclusion he expressed in July regarding Mrs. Clinton.  Moreover, the announcement comes on the same day we learned that Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin were using Hillary’s housekeeper, a woman with no authority in handling our nation’s secrets, to print up sensitive and classified emails in Clinton’s home and that the Clinton Foundation paid for Mrs. Clinton’s daughter’s wedding.

But the bigger picture surrounding Mrs. Clinton and our present Administration is one involving collusion, corruption, and perhaps even criminal actions at the highest levels of government.  Not only are there questions regarding the administration of the Clinton Foundation and the nexus between the presumed charitable organization and the official activities of the nation’s Secretary of State, but real and significant doubts are raised regarding the Justice Department’s ability to blindly pursue the delivery of justice under the effects of the brazen willingness by its highest members to indiscriminately interfere with their own investigations.

To say that this crass interference with our nation’s laws and procedures is dangerous to the very fabric of our nation’s foundation is no overstatement.

Indeed, the offensiveness of such a blatant disregard for the limits of authority topped the reasons the Founders listed as necessitating the Revolutionary War. In fact, the very first grievance listed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence was King George’s refusal to “Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,” and his “obstruct[ion of] the Administration of Justice” — both of which apply to Hillary Clinton.

Clearly, handing Mrs. Clinton the keys to the White House under these circumstances flies in the face of the disdain the Founders had against the abuse of power by a ruling aristocracy. The difference though is that today, we are blessed with the system implemented by those very men and women who fought so valiantly to radically and unprecedentedly change the relationship between man and state. And whereas the duty of which Thomas Jefferson reminded us to institute a new government in the face of a long train of abuses and usurpations had to be exercised through the tip of the musket in his day, today we can do so through the power of the vote.

In two days, the American people will hold the final say on the future course of our great Republic. One path embraces the status quo and will lead us to confront an innumerable number of situations, each with grave constitutional implications and affronts. The other, although uncertain, holds at least the promise of corrections and of the achievement of greater heights as a people and as a nation. There is no choice that will allow us to navigate between these two diametrically opposed futures.

And although the latter choice may appear as an uncertainty, the former certainly invites the continued destruction of the confidence Americans have in their nation’s leaders and perhaps the peaceful coexistence of the various branches of government.

Seen under this light, Comey’s about-face leaves only one choice, the same one exercised by our Founders when faced with a similar question.  On Tuesday, we must, in the words of Jefferson, exercise our right. . . no . . . our duty, “to throw off such Government and to provide new Guards for our future security.”

That choice is Donald Trump.

Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopedic surgeon, lawyer and most recently author of The Federalist Pages, available at thefederalistpages.com or at Amazon.

Categories
Abortion Christianity Culture Politics

Is Hillary Clinton the Best Choice to Reduce Abortions?

The Christian Post recently ran a provocative column entitled Hillary Clinton Is the Best Choice for Voters Against Abortion

It’s not click bait. The author means it. And so it demands a corrective reply.

First, we need to understand with laser clarity that abortion is not a woman’s choice. It is a deeply immoral, gender-indifferent act.

Eric Sapp, the author of the piece, does not dispute that and is apparently pro-life. His primary point — other than seeing hypocrisy only in Republicans — is that statistically abortions always rise under Republican presidents and stay steady or decline under Democrat presidents. He claims this makes sense because Democrats are better at reducing poverty — a metric associated with abortion.

Sapp writes: “Abortions rose steadily during the tenure of the first ‘pro-life’ Republican President, Ronald Reagan. They reached their highest level under President H. W. Bush. Abortions then dropped dramatically under President Clinton, falling to 60% of the high under his pro-life Republican predecessor. That downward trend stalled during most of President W. Bush’s tenure, and remained basically flat until the final two years of his term when Democrats retook Congress. And then abortions plunged again under Obama, falling to their lowest point in 40 years.”

This summary paragraph presents several fallacies and a few simple falsehoods. But it is exemplary of the overall dishonesty of the article.

  • First, the statistics are dishonestly cherry-picked. The charge that abortions rose steadily during Reagan is true. But they also rose steadily under Carter, also. Sapp leaves the Democrat president out of his stats because it does not fit his conclusions. The Roe v. Wade ruling was still fairly new and the culture was going through the sexual revolution. That they rose under both presidents makes sense, but he cherry-picked only one. Dishonest.
  • Second, he is factually wrong on his assumption that they reached their highest level under George H.W. Bush, then declined under Clinton. His own reference shows abortions declining in 1991 and 1992. Both years were part of George H.W.’s presidency. Clinton was inaugurated in January 1993 and his policies kicked in in 1994 at best — four years after the decline started. So he is factually wrong using his own citation. Did he and the Christian Post think no one would check? Dishonest.
  • Third, he claims abortions “stalled” under W. Bush. That’s a fun sleight-of-hand way of just flat out lying. Abortions continued to decline six out of eight years under George W. Bush until 2006 — when the housing and banking crisis hit (propelled largely by Democrat lending policies and Republican negligence) and people got very scared. So factually wrong and dishonest. Again.

Sapp uses overarching stats, which we have demonstrated to be totally dishonest, to make a causal point, when the best they can show is correlation. He may understand this, and so he tries to create the causal link by overlaying poverty.

Here is his somewhat snooty case:

“Want to guess which political party is more effective at reducing poverty and unwanted pregnancies? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the ‘pro-life’ Party that in this last Congressional session alone fought to cut medical care for poor mothers and children, food programs for kids, and contraception coverage and access for women.”

He betrays a lot of his personal politics in this paragraph. But notice what is missing? And it is missing from the rest of the article on this point.

Right. Statistics. He provides no links to any stats. He does not even try to back it up like he dishonestly tried to in the previous paragraph I quoted. Apparently, he actually uses his own fallacy for proof by claiming Democrats reduce poverty because they talk about reducing poverty. Words. Actually using facts, it is clear that Democrat policies do not reduce poverty. We can take a measure of the policies from the Great Society onward and see that after trillions of dollars in transfer payments, poverty is largely unmoved.

But let’s use the author’s admittedly weak method. This chart is from Wikipedia, as his above was. (See larger here.)

number_in_poverty_and_poverty_rate_1959_to_2011-_united_states

Looking at poverty overlaid with Republican and Democrat presidents, we see no correlation. Actually, poverty declined under Reagan, rose under H.W. Bush (recession) declined under Clinton, was flat under W. Bush and actually has risen under Obama.

So it turns out there is a good reason he did not use any facts to back up his smug “Want to guess which party…” sentence. There are none.

This is a wholly dishonest article, from logic to facts to reason. It’s sad that the Christian Post published it as something legitimate.

Categories
Culture Politics Truth

Why Negative Campaigning? Freedoms and the Mirror

A recent Republican primary for the Florida state Senate race in a Republican district offered the perfect storm for why people get so frustrated with political campaigns — including local ones. But it was also revealing about who we are and why such yuck campaigns are a constant in a close race.

There were five candidates, four of which were already office-holders and had good reputations in the community. It was a very strong field. Among the favorites in the conservative district, there were really only marginal position differences when looked at from the view of the broad electorate.

Because my family and I are what is known as “super voters” — we vote in all elections — we are targeted with the most mailers. The curse of the responsible citizen. We got up to 12 mailers in a day, with the majority being from this one race. The majority of those were negative. Flipping through on any given day, conservative Candidate A was variously a gray-pictured corrupt mugger of the public trust or a colorfully pictured, trusted family man and veteran. Candidate B was variously a gray-pictured opposer of freedoms who was going to take all our guns away or a colorfully pictured watchdog protecting your rights. Etc. Day after day after day.

Ugh, right?

Oh yes.

The reason? Get ready

But here’s the rub. This is what free speech looks like. It’s glorious and soaring and it’s messy and disagreeable and some people have a bigger megaphone than others. It is the opposite of college campuses with their speech codes and safe zones — a terrifying look at our future. It is true freedom and that is rare in the world. If your first thought reading this is “We should outlaw or ban or restrict XYZ,” you are saying you want to reduce our freedoms. That is not a good impulse.

Always err on the side of freedom. Giving it away is easy. Getting it back is a mountain.

Further, the reason for the unrelenting negativity in campaigning is that it works. And that’s completely on the collective person in the mirror. The electorate — which is not always the other person — can be so relatively uninformed, that perceptions are easy to shape through these simple mailers. It’s why yard signs with just a candidate’s name are so ubiquitous during elections season. Name recognition alone translates to votes. That also is on the collective person in the mirror.

So, the formula is to tear down the main threat to your election through negative ads, send out mom and apple pie pieties about yourself and plant hundreds of yard signs. It’s superficial, it’s tried and it truly works.

So remember next time you get into a gripe fest over negative campaigning; they are done because they work. They can be nauseating and effective. But we allow them as an option because we cherish freedom over government-enforced niceties and agreement. Attempts to clean up negative campaigning through restricting money or any types of speech must result in curtailing some of those freedoms.

Let freedom reign, including its ugliness. It is the best option.

 

(NOTE: I chose ads from the Obama-Romney campaign because neither are running this year and both are demonstrably more decent individuals than this year’s options. Yet both suffered withering negative attacks for the reasons stated above.)

Categories
Culture Media Politics Truth

Rigged Elections? Yes. Think Broadly.

by Rod Thomson

There has been much hot-air hissing over Donald Trump’s continual charge that the election is rigged against him. The gaseous releases come from Trump’s Democrat opponents, naturally enough, the media, also naturally enough, but also many Republicans.

This is an ongoing revelation in this election cycle. The elites (oh for a better word) in the media and the two-party structure separated from the heartlands of America cannot grasp how the ground has shifted under their Guccis.

The shift explains Trump’s appeal, Bernie Sanders’ appeal, even the appeal of the Libertarian and Green Party candidates plus third-party independents such as Evan McMullin, who has a very real chance of winning Utah in the presidential election. There is an almost bottomless pit of frustration with the country, both the direction it is going and the way it is getting there.

The frustration is appropriate. “Rigging” in the common, original sense refers to the system of ropes, cables or chains used to support a ship’s masts. These become part of the mechanism that controls the direction of the vessel. Think in those terms.

It’s almost like everything is rigged against every traditional thought and impulse of Americans, directing the ship of the nation and politics in a different direction. But the yawning chasm between elites (urgh…) in the three culture-moving centers of the nation — Hollywood, D.C., New York — and the rest of the country keeps each group from even understanding what the other is saying.

Let’s see if we can…rig up a bridge.

Before the ground shifted, a rigged election was understood to mean gross tampering with the actual vote. People voting illegally multiple times, ghost ballots sent in and ballots “lost” and “found” (think Minnesota and the 2008 election of Al Franken, where ballots kept mysteriously materializing over months until he had enough votes to flip from loss to win.)

When the elites (culture centers?) hear the charge of the election being rigged, that is what they are thinking. And in that respect, a nationwide rigging does sound far-fetched. Although to be fair, the Democrats and some in the media made that exact charge about the 2000 election where Bush beat Gore after the Florida recounts and appeals up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Selective memory.

But when others say rigged, including perhaps Trump, they are meaning the entire process is rigged. So for Trump — or any Republican — this means that the entirety of the formidable culture-moving apparatus is arrayed against him during the election.

The traditional mainstream media coverage from the alphabet soup of TV networks to the major and minor newspapers, all provide deeply biased coverage — often not even recognizing it. In this election, it is overt. But there is also Hollywood, which pillories Republicans on sitcoms, in movies and on late night shows. The music culture also throws in against the Republican, loving on Gore, Kerry, really on Obama, and Clinton. All these cultural stars have mammoth social media followings and often take to them on behalf of partisan politics. This mammoth assemblage of idea-moving firepower is almost impossible to fight against.

The same dynamic was in effect against Mitt Romney — perhaps the most opposite man from Trump that you can get. Yet this exceedingly decent man was also demonized (as was John McCain and George W. Bush) by the cultural centers.

And finally there is the university system where Democrat professors outnumber Republican up to 11 to 1, according to a study published in Econ Journal Watch. That system churns out millions of indoctrinated students voting Democratic at a rate of about 4 to 1.

So, in this broad sense, yes, the entire election process is rigged and rigged heavily against the Republican. That Republicans actually win sometimes approaches the miraculous.

The “professional” media particularly will tut-tut about using the word “rigged.” Trump is truly incautious with word choice. But a lot of Americans know what he is talking about. And it is that very elitist tut-tutting that makes them so distant and betrays their insularity. Out of touch does not do it justice.

There are deep dynamics running beneath our nation like fault lines. Use of the word “rigged” is just a little tectonic friction along those fault lines.