Electoral College Article -- Pro

Electoral College Article -- Pro - Testimony On Proposals...

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Testimony On Proposals For Electoral College Reform Before The House Judiciary Subcommittee On The Constitution by Professor Judith A. Best Professor of Political Science at State University Of New York At Cortland Proposals for Electoral College Reform, House of Representatives, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, DC.: September 4, 1997 Critics of the electoral vote system believe that the principle of democratic legitimacy is numbers alone, and therefore they think the system is indefensible. On the contrary, the electoral vote system is a paradigm—the very model—of the American democracy, and thus is quite easy to defend. For all practical purposes it is a direct popular federal election. (The Electors are mere ciphers, and the office of elector, but not the electoral votes, can be abolished.) The critics' principle of democratic legitimacy is inadequate because it is apolitical and anti-federal. Logically it boils down to: the majority must win and the minority must lose no matter what they lose. It is a formula for majority tyranny. But majority rule is not the principle of our Constitution. Rather it is majority rule with minority consent . The critics, however, think that because the system does not follow an arithmetical model it may produce the "wrong" winner. In fact, I contend, because it is federal it produces the right winner. The following passage from my recent book, The Choice of the People? Debating the Electoral College explains my point. Politics and mathematics are two very different disciplines. Mathematics seeks accuracy, politics seeks harmony. in mathematics an incorrect count loses all value once it is shown to be wrong. In politics even though some people are out-voted they still have value and must be respected in defeat. Efforts must be made to be considerate and even generous to those who lost the vote, to make then feel they are part of the community, for if they feel alienated they nay riot in the streets. Further, mathematical questions, like those in all the sciences, deal with truth and falsehood. But politics is an art, not a science. Political questions do not deal primarily with truth and falsehood, but with good and bad. We do not ask whether a political decision on war or taxation or welfare or agricultural subsidies is true. We ask, is the policy good f or the country? And, will it actually achieve its purpose? Those who confuse politics and mathematics, the head counters, operate on an unstated assumption that the will of the people is out there like some unsurveyed land, and all we need do is send out the surveyors with accurately calibrated instruments to record what is there . They also assume that our democratic republic is a ship without a specific destination. Whatever most of the people want, most of the people must get, and the minority be damned. Mathematical accuracy being their sole criterion f or legitimacy, they make a great fuss about politically imposed devices, intermediary institutions like the
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This note was uploaded on 11/16/2011 for the course POS 2041 taught by Professor Beck during the Spring '10 term at Santa Fe College.

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Electoral College Article -- Pro - Testimony On Proposals...

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