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Views & News Online Week of November 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004, John R. Taylor
Alternative News & Editorials

South Georgia 1st Edition Page one

Who Elects the President?

by John R. Taylor

john@ucan.us

There has been much talk about how our President is elected of late, and it is true that Al Gore received more popular votes, (the votes you and I cast), than did George Bush. Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison were also elected even though they did not receive the most popular votes. It is also true that Bill Clinton never received more than 46% of the votes in either of the two elections for President that he won, and that means that at least 54% of the voters voted for someone else. It is nevertheless those votes that do, at least indirectly, decide the election.

In the original Constitution, before it was amended, only the members of the House of Representatives were elected by popular vote. The Senate was elected by the state legislatures and the President and Vice President by the Electoral College. The Constitution was later amended to allow the Senators to be elected by popular vote of their state. As in most state offices, Senators and members of the House must receive a majority of votes to be elected. If there are more than two candidates and no one candidate receives more than 50% of the votes then the two leading candidates have a runoff. This way no candidate can be elected to office without receiving more than 50% of the votes. But this is not true of the Presidency. He, or she when this becomes applicable, is elected by a majority of electoral votes. These electoral votes are cast by electors who are pledged to their candidate. When you cast a vote for a presidential candidate you are actually voting for the elector who is pledged to that candidate.

Their names are listed on the ballet. There is one electoral vote for each congressional district and one for each senate seat. In each state whoever gets the most popular votes gets all of the electoral votes for that state, except Maine and Nebraska who divide their electoral votes by congressional district.

Because of this system a third party candidate actually lessens the chances of the major party candidate that he most agrees with. In the Clinton elections the vast majority of those who voted for Ross Perot would have voted for President Bush or Bob Dole in a runoff. Because there is no runoff, Perot helped Clinton get elected. In the upcoming election, Ralph Nader will no doubt take votes away from John Kerry. Though Nader's liberal political philosophy is much more aligned to Kerry's, he will actually help Bush by taking votes away from Kerry.

 The Electoral College also creates a disparity in the value of a vote. We all like to think that our vote is worth as much as anyone else's, however they really aren't. Because most states use a winner take all system for awarding their electoral votes it doesn't' matter if a candidate gets 99% of the popular vote in a particular state or 51%. If a candidate wins several states by a large margin but loses several others by a small margin he could quite easily loose the election and have the largest total of popular votes. If you are a Kerry supporter and you live in a state which Kerry is going to win big your vote doesn't' really count. The same can be said of a state like Georgia for Bush.

The value of a vote form state to state is also unequal. Because small states get electoral votes that equal their entire congressional delegation the number of popular votes that represent one electoral vote is vastly different form state to state. From example an electoral vote in North Dakota represents only about half the popular votes as an electoral vote in California.

What is the answer? The simplest fix is to scrap the Electoral College altogether and have the President elected by popular vote. This would require amending the Constitution and the small states will never allow that to happen because they would be giving away their advantage. Another alterative is legislation that requires all states to divide their electoral votes by percentages. Here again the small states would be vehemently opposed to this because they now can use their block of electoral votes to apply disproportional influence in presidential elections.

What should not happen is that a few states decide to divide up their electoral votes for political reasons. This could result in not only having a president elected with fewer popular votes, but it is conceivable that the winner by electoral votes could loss the popular vote by a landside.

It is unlikely that anything will change at all, but if there is a groundswell of discontent at the present system, something might get done.

To the Top

Stop the Beheadings!

By Adam Armstrong

armstronga@ucan

Although I have not watch the gruesome video of the murder of the Americans and other westerners by what has come to called Islamic fundamentalist, I have seen the pictures of the poor victims and their captors, and my blood has boiled.  It is perhaps a very good thing that I am not the one with the authority and power to decide what this nation is going to do about it, far if I were my first gut reaction would be to announce that we would retaliate at a ratio of 7000 to one. If you kill an American we will kill 7000 of you. If our Joint Chiefs or our so‑called Muslim allies could present an alternate plan which would assure that the murders would stop we would consider it, but otherwise we would have bombers in the air the day of the murders.

Now this may not be the right response, but it may be effective.

The question is really are we at war. More than one of the talking heads on television, be they politicians, expert analyst or what have you, have made comparisons to our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan to our actions in World War II. They point to our record of wining a war and then building democracy. But have these actions since September 11, 2001 been a real war? The answer is no. They perhaps are best described as police actions. What is the difference? Well on December 7, 1941 the United States did not launch an investigation into who the Japanese pilots were who dropped the bombs and torpedoes on Pearl Harbor. They declared war on Japan and all the nations allied with it. And it was near unconditional

By the time we dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Germany and Japan were in utter ruins. All their major cities were bombed out rubble, their armies and navies had been wiped out and many of the citizens had been killed. That was war.

After the war those nations were rebuilt with the hard work and resources of the American people. That was the right thing to do, but it could not have been done had our former enemies not been totally defeated first.

 If we are to succeed in our present endeavor at national security, we must first recognize who our enemy is. We have defeated the Taliban. The Saddam Hussein regime is no more. Many al-Qaida leaders have been killed or captured. But these are only parts of our the entity which is our true enemy. Defeating them would be like sinking a Japanese battleship or capturing a German  army division in World War II.

In this nation, and in this culture, we hold freedom of religion as one of our dearest rights. It is altogether fitting and right that we  do this, but if a group has as its purpose to not only take away that right but to also utterly destroy us, then it behooves us to recognize that group is our enemy, even if that group calls itself a religion. On Sept. 11, 2001 they danced in the street for joy in Egypt when they heard that thousands of Americans had been killed. This in an Islamic country which is called moderate, and is supposed to be our friend. Almost all for the murdering hijackers  on Sept. 11 were Saudis, another Islamic country that is supposed to be our ally. If Islam is not our enemy, let their leaders announce it. Let them renounce terrorism. Let them stop protecting and facilitating murders. Let them stop preaching hate and violence.

Until they do this, and I donít believe they will, we must recognize that Islam itself is our enemy. Thought out history Islam has done its proselyting by the sword. It does not seem to have changed its ways.

 This editorial does not necessarily reflect the views of Views & News. If you have an opposing view you may submit it for publication to:

armstronga@ucan.us or mail:
Views&News
1509 Riverway
Valdosta, GA 31601

Nov 8, 2004 Edition page 2

 

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