Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nine out of ten dictators agree with Emperor Palpatine: "I love Democracy..."

In response to my previous post helping to rouse opposition to a harebrained scheme to dissolve Missouri into a National Popular Vote, one commenter objected that,
"The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for their party’s presidential candidate."
Hmmm. Does that language look at all odd to you? I began responding to the comments, but more and more it had that boilerplate look to the language, and doing a bit of Googling on that line alone told me that the truest thing this commenter said was this,
"I am clearly not odd or alone."
, which is only too true, for like Sybil, the commenter is simply copy & pasting the same boilerplate comments that have been pasted around the net in forums ranging from Ron Paul sites, to Christian forums, Bob McCarty & Bill Whittle articles, under the monikers of toto, SE, mvymvy, Susan Anthony and many others... apparently toto is Legion, which is particularly appropriate for a supporter of the National Popular Vote, a movement eager to transform the citizens of our nation into the Borg. One thing is clear, toto ain't in Kansas anymore, and with those green-energy powered emerald glasses on, everything smacking of Democratic collectivism looks like sparkling goodness... but for the rest of us with any concern at all for what is good and true, all that green just turns our stomach.

I was tempted to delete the twit, but then I thought, what the hey, it isn't every day you get to confront Legion, so... why not.
"I am clearly not odd or alone.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state...[reams of meaningless statistics]

Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win. They want to know every vote equal, and every voter to matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

American voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it's wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic."
Notice the measure of what is right and best, in tofu's minds, is what the largest quantities of people can agree that they all want... and why does that make it worthwhile? Because they want it, desire it, hunger for it, they want the power to do what they want to do. And the surest means of going about getting what they want, is as true today as it was 3,000 years ago, by switching out Quality, for Quantity; abandoning Principle for pleasing Particulars; aka Tempting you with what you Desire in exchange for abandoning what you know Reality requires - aka: what is Right.
But as has been the case since the Athens's majority democratically voted to put Socrates to death for speaking his mind freely about what they;d rather not to have had to think about, the question that should come to mind, is,
'Is having a majority the measure of whether or not something is right?'
, and of course, answering as an enthusiast of democracy, as Legion has always been, their answer is Yesss. They love democracy. The modern proregressive left (and right), Presidente Chavez, Sadam, Castro, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Robespierre, all the way back to Emperor Palpatine - well ok, that reference may be too long ago... and too far away, but everyone else, from Thracymachus who first put it to Socrates that Justice is whatever is to "the advantage of the stronger" or "Justice is what serves those with Power", or Might makes right!, whatever form the words take, democracy loves it.
Why? Look at a thumbnail sketch of Aristotle's Politics (I have some deep disagreements with his political advice in practice, but his analysis is top notch):

When the Sovereign power of the state is held by:
  1. One person, for their benefit - we call that a Tyranny
  2. Many people for their benefit - we call that an Oligarchy
  3. Many people for the benefit of the State - we call that an Aristocracy
  4. The Majority of the people for the benefit of the Majority - we call that a Democracy.
  5. ???
Do you see the resemblance between the first, and the last? The Sovereign is out to serve the interests of the Sovereign, at the expense of the people... does it really make any difference whether or not the Sovereign is made up of one person, or a hundred million? The only real difference between them, as all the truly crafty democratic leaders discover, is that The Majority cannot serve themselves without selecting someone as their spokesmen, someone who will keep them focused on how best to serve themselves, and that is the place taken by the Demagogue, the rabble rouser, the 'man of the people!'... and guess who gets the majority of the power and privilege in that arrangement?
What is the fifth? The fifth, and best form of government is none of the above. The best form of government is a constitutional govt, one where the power of the state is held by:
5. The Law, for the purposes of serving the Rights of - not one, or some or of most of the people - but of serving the Rights of all of the people - that form of government we call a Constitutional Republic.
This alone has the potential of being a Just government. And it is particularly the enemy of the Tyrant and the Mob, because it prevents both from using, or even of acquiring, the 'freedom' to wield physical force to serve at their pleasure, which is what they assume to be true power (they're wrong of course, but that's for another post).

Tofu had many other glittering jewels to share with us, such as this:
"the Founding Fathers meant to empower the states to pursue their own interests within the confines of the Constitution. The National Popular Vote is an exercise of that power, not an attack upon it."
An exercise of that power. Oh. That's all, just Power? Well... nothing to worry about there, then, nosiree Bob. But just to humor us right wing nut jobs, let's think about that, just for a moment, um kay? You see, Power can be exerted in many ways, power can be used to maintain stability. Power can be used to defend. Power can be used to attack. Power can be used to kill. To imprison. To uphold Justice. To commit injustice. To enslave. To take more power and leave others powerless in the face of it. There is no question that the power is in the hands of the States to exercise. The question is how should it be used, and why?

It is not a question of whether or not a state can choose to award its electoral votes pooled with how the popular vote of the entire populace, simple or plurality, might choose... but whether or not they should do such a thing, and why - or why not. Or do you think that simply having the power is justification enough for exercising it however you, and enough of them, wish... without restraint?
The fact of the matter is that our system was designed the way it is, with numerous restraints built in, and it is antithetical to the meaning, spirit and purposes of a Republic, of representative government, of federalism, and even to the rule of law itself, to allow such power to be used and abused by virtue of the will of a majority alone, inflaming the power and spread of demagoguery as it would unavoidably do.

What lures you, I suspect, and you reinforce, is the power to do as you will. The power of 'the people to choose!'... it is intoxicating, isn't it? Especially if you can throw it in the face of those who have lorded their power over you for ages? But what it will mean in practice, is the power it will give to those who can present particular choices, with rhetorical attractions and with as little substance as can be gotten away with. The 'National Popular Vote' is about accessing the power of the people, with as few obstacles as possible - obstacles such as consideration, discussion, vetting, deliberation on the proper application of principle, and with regard for the Rights of all, of whether or not the choice is right and wrong before considering whether or not it is desirable - but all of that, those annoying obstacles to action, are of little or no concern to those whose primary concern is whether it is popular, or not, because that majority vote is the closest thing to a straight line between two political points as possible - the two points being the Power of The People... and the power to take it and use it 'for' the people.

Our nation was created as a Republic for a reason, by men who spent a great deal of time reasoning upon the issues you blabber on about so thoughtlessly. Our Constitution was designed to hinder and slow down the 'will of the people!', so that a Just decision had a better chance of being acted upon, than a passionately desirable one. I do not have the least respect or admiration for Democracy, or those who advocate it, because I understand what it is, what it means, and what must and will result from it if it is ever attained.

Flunking out of Electoral College
Tofu continues to follow its nose, wherever it goes, now in the direction of the Electoral College:
"The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for their party’s presidential candidate. That is not what the Founders intended. "
, and its words actually gets a lot correct here, though I suspect by accident only . The Founders intended the electoral college to be made up of those who represented the people of their districts - which is a very different thing from simply transmitting their will - the college was to be filled with those who could be counted upon to vote as their best judgment and conscience dictated. That is the meaning and purpose of representation - in the legislature, or the electoral college, a person represents the people they serve, they do not, or at least should not, simply serve as a proxy for the majority of them.

The issue of rubber stamping is in fact yet another 'unforseen' (my ass) consequence of what the popular vote mania of a century ago brought us with the 17th amendment - also constitutional, and also extremely damaging to our republic and to your actual, meaningful representation in Washington D.C.
"The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections."
B.S. It does so in name only, gutting it of its purpose and meaning and making the Electoral College into a rubber stamp for a popular majority, aka: Democracy.
"It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College. "
"The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens."
Double Duh. Not only did they not require it, they feared it, and did what they could to avoid such a thing ever coming to pass. Being well versed in actual, worthwhile, history, our Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine to the contrary, knew better than to encourage such idiocy.
"The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution."
Triple Duh and you're out! (If only).
"States have the responsibility and power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond."
Thank you Dora the democratic explorer (ralph). Please, take your pathetic 'make all of their voters relevant' back to your drum circle, along with all the rest of your therapeutic crap and shove it. Damn that's sickening.

The question that most needs to be asked, which we'll get to at the end, is what do you mean by 'relevance'? Is it simply seeing your hand counted amongst the millions of others? And what do you assume that representation does not include? But first you've left a couple other low hanging stupidities to be knocked down. Like this:
"Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments."
Yes, the people have spoken, or at least repeated at the polls what others led them to believe would make them more relevant, and those democratically driven attacks upon republicanism began before the ink dried on the constitution. Tell me, how 'relevant' should a person be to the governing of his community, if they have invested little or no responsible time and effort and property into that community? We're not talking about Rights here, or equal representation before the law - that is a given no matter your status or wealth, all are equal before the law - but how the community should be maintained, grown, the directions it should take - governed - if you have little or no stake there, why should you have a voice in deciding those affairs? If I had my druthers, I'd reinstate property requirements (though modest ones) for voting in everything from dog catcher to president. If a voter doesn't have a stake in the community that is being governed, they shouldn't be having a say in voting for those who are governing it.

And if you want to argue with that, answer me this, what is the likelihood that someone who has no stake in the community, is going to make good decisions for those who do? See modern day Detroit for reference.
"Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors..."
Unable to agree... really. Although there was dispute as to the best way to implement it, as there was on nearly every single clause of the constitution, the reasoning behind Article 2, Section 1, Clauses 2 and 3, was fairly broadly understood, more so than many other areas of the constitution. Madison said of it,
"The difficulty of finding an unexceptionable process for appointing the Executive Organ of a Government such as that of the U.S. was deeply felt by the Convention; and as the final arrangement of it took place in the latter stage of the Session, it was not exempt from a degree of the hurrying influence produced by fatigue and impatience in all such Bodies, tho' the degree was much less than usually prevails in them."
It was not so much of an example of being unable to agree (you can read the full debate here), as it was an example of understanding that the federal, representative nature of the republic, required that such matters should as much as possible, be decided locally and outside the common concerns of power. And with that in mind, it is interesting that you chose to leave off the rest of the clause, here it is in full:
"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."
, which part of it did you wish to avoid? Was it " which the State may be entitled...", or maybe the last "...but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.", or both? Or have you given it no thought at all? With 'The State may be entitled', that gives some significance to the consideration of the interests of the people of Their state itself, doesn't it? And with 'no Senator or Representative' or anyone else who held an 'Office of Trust' implies a quite a lot as well, doesn't it? 'Or Profit'. Why do you suppose that they were so adamant about that? An Elector to the Electoral College was to be none of these things, because they wanted to make sure that Electors would be as little influenced by popularity, or by being in any way beholden to those in positions of power, or commerce, or to the people at large - they made explicit that the Elector was to be free from powers other than their own reasoning and conscience when casting their votes. And I think that it's fairly clear that included in those powers that they were and are to be free of, is that of the power of popular opinion.

And although it is one of the most amended sections of the Constitution, the original wording is interesting,
"The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. "
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot. Individual Electors were to vote by ballot, not by show of hands, not by polling or caucus, not with any concern for popular opinion at all, but from out of their own level best judgment. And their votes were intended to be tallied by State, not through a plurality of votes. James Madison, a few decades after the Constitutional Convention, in discussing needed revisions to the matter with George Hay, had a comment about your plurality of votes:
"The mode which you seem to approve, of making a plurality of Electoral votes a definitive appointment would have the merit of avoiding the Legislative agency in appointing the Executive; but might it not, by multiplying hopes and chances, stimulate intrigue & exertion, as well as incur too great a risk of success to a very inferior candidate? Next to the propriety of having a President the real choice of a majority of his Constituents, it is desirable that he should inspire respect & acquiescence by qualifications not suffering too much by comparison."
In other words, wouldn't providing a ready means for faction to escape the bounds of Federalism, be an engraved invitation for popular demagogues to excite interests and passions across borders? It would indeed, and that - that which you seek - was precisely what the Electoral College was devised to prevent. Joseph Story, in his Commentaries on the Constitution, had this to say,
" ...there remained various other modes, by which it might be effected; by the people directly; by the state legislatures; or by electors, chosen by the one, or the other. The latter mode was deemed most advisable; and the reasoning, by which it was supported, was to the following effect. The immediate election should be made by men, the most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favourable to deliberation, and to judicious combination of all the inducements, which ought to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass for this special object, would be most likely to possess the information, and discernment, and independence, essential for the proper discharge of the duty. It is also highly important to afford as little opportunity, as possible, to tumult and disorder. These evils are not unlikely to occur in the election of a chief magistrate directly by the people, considering the strong excitements and interests, which such an occasion may naturally be presumed to produce. The choice of a number of persons, to form an intermediate body of electors, would be far less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of one, who was himself the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors chosen in each state are to assemble, and vote in the state, in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation would expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all convened at one time in one place...."
Our tofu Legion continues its ignorant opposition,
"...With National Popular Vote, the United States would still be a representative democracy, in which citizens continue to elect the President by a majority of Electoral College votes, to represent us and conduct the business of government in the periods between elections."
And here you finally show yourself. We are NOT a 'representative democracy' and we are not a 'constitutional democracy', not sort of, not kind of, not at all. We are a Constitutional Representative Republic, some of whose members are democratically elected (Ideally only the Representatives).

For the would-be Dictator, what's not to love in Democracy?
But it is in here, that the demagogue seeks to have the people hear his wiles,
"Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election."
That is the sales pitch of the power luster,'Every vote will be counted!' but nothing could be more false than the assertion that a popular vote means that you, your vote, will gain in relevance and power. Under a National Popular Vote, every vote would be counted, and relegated to even more irrelevance, than the individual voter now 'enjoys' in their Senatorial elections, thanks to the 17th amendment.

Which is a good place to start, as everyone can see and feel it in practice right now.
Prior to the 2nd worst amendment to the constitution (loses by a hair to the 16th), each senator had to court, impress, reason with and keep faith with a relatively small number of legislators (Mo is something like 135), in order to win enough of their votes, to be elected as one of their state's senators. Of those handful of legislators, there were at least two (your state rep & sen) which you could easily know and have some influence with, and if you had friends with similar concerns on particular issues, you and your fellow citizens could easily make several of your state legislators aware of your concerns, and those legislators had easy access to the ear of your Senator. If that Senator did not give a good faith effort towards those concerns, concerns which your local legislators own elections might hinge on, then that Senator could easily lose their support and their vote in their next election - the equivalent of losing large swaths of the population in a popular vote.

That is representation that is relevant.

The original method of having your State's representatives elect your United States Senators, gave individuals not only a real measure of representation - their interests made known and relevant - to their Senators, but it secured their Senators attention, efforts and concerns, for the real interests of their states - they owed their office to local legislators, who knew the interests and needs of their constituents, and they had to address them in good faith to continue as a senator.

That ended with the 17th amendment, which brought "Equal Say! Every vote counts! Real Democracy!" to the people, trading away representation for a hand count and securing their relegation to sound byte status. Why?

When the senators depended upon the votes of a relative few legislators representing the entire state, campaigning and consulting with them was not only relatively simple to do, consumed little time and even less expense - visit the state capital, walk the halls, and it was accomplished. Substantive discussions could be had, and worthwhile decisions could be made, with very little in the way of concern for misleading publicity tactics and empty, but crowd pleasing, speeches.

Today, a senator ideally must campaign through, meet and greet, smile, blather cheery or condescending platitudes to the masses - quickly - across the entire state. Which is not possible. It isn't feasible in terms of time or logistics, and the expense of even attempting it would be prohibitive.
So what they must do, is what they do do - they hit only those areas whose populations are sizable enough, and potentially favorable enough, to make it worthwhile (meaning get 'name recognition' out there). And even to do only that, is exceedingly expensive, it requires not only ads, signs, bumper stickers, campaign workers and staff, but transportation and a deep indebtedness to those who can provide the funds to do such a thing - hello special interests.

So thanks to "Popular Vote!" of the 17th amendment, you, the voter, are exceedingly unlikely to have any influence upon your senator whatsoever, you are unlikely to be able to let them know what concerns you, if you were able to meet it would be brief and shallow - heavy on sympathy and light on substance - and the person who will have real and lasting influence on your senator, will be those few people who can produce dollars and crowds.

And as far as your Senator caring about what your legislators care about in your neck of the woods... ask you local legislator when the last time was that their senator called them, let alone returned a call.
A national popular vote would go even further than we've already gone, towards making Mr. & Mrs. American an irrelevance in their Presidential Elections, becoming even more irrelevant, than every one's vote has been made by the 17th amdt (also constitutional, also fundamentally opposed to the concepts this nation was founded with). Despite the slight of hand methods of tallying votes and then 'awarding' electoral votes from your state, what it amounts to is that a candidate for president will need to travel only to those few population centers in those few states that can help deliver a majority of the popular vote. The reality of that means that wealthy and powerful special interests who can gin up popular opinion in their population centers, will become even more powerful, than they are now, while the suburban and rural voter will be of little or no concern as politicians will have even less incentive to fly over fly-over country than they do now, let alone stopping and campaigning through them.

That doesn't spell more relevance for the individual voter, but less. That is what it means to trade away your Representation for Relevance, and the enthusiasts for Democracy know it only too well.
We are a Republic, and each and every state is guaranteed to be a Republic by the Constitution, and your Liberty depends upon that fact more than you know. We are not a Democracy, get that out of your head, get that out of your ideas as standards to be measured against, and you can then concern yourself with what it means to have representation, and hopefully, eventually, you'll work to help us all regain it.

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