Monday, November 5, 2012

So, Call Me Chicken, I Wouldn't Try To Predict This American Election

Good ol' Sandy has certainly made this week's American Presidential Elections much more complicated to predict.  It was close before hand, and some of the pollsters have even said that Romney may win the popular vote and Obama the Electoral College. 

President Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney
DNA Research N Archives

The gruelling race to the White House between President Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney entered the final sprint as they made a last minute bid to win over undecided voters in key swing states ahead of Tuesday's presidential election, expected to be a photo-finish. (complete article)

If that's the case, will there finally be a strong movement to amend the American Constitution and "delete" the Electoral College?  That antiquated system certainly distorts the elections.  Senators, congressmen, governors etc in the United States of America are voted in by the citizens.  Each vote is worth the same.  Everyone is equal. But not when using the Electoral College.  The lower the population of the state, the more each vote is worth in that system.  I'd call it totally undemocratic.

One of the things I do like about the Israeli system is that each vote does count, and there are a variety of political parties.  If 10% of the population want a certain ideology/party, then there can be twelve MK's of that party.  There is a minimal threshold, number/percentage of votes a party must get to be in Knesset, so if the party you voted for doesn't get enough, your vote won't count.  The leftover seats are divided among the other parties.  

In the American system, you may have a situation in which over 50% voted for a candidate but he lost, which is worse.  And even if the winner does get more, the loser has lost completely.  He's not in the Senate or Congress with any power or position.  In Israel, the leaders of the losing parties, as long as their party got enough votes to be in in Knesset are still officeholders.  I like that.

We'll all be a lot smarter in a couple of days...


joshua manevitz said...

I personally prefer the American method because it evens everything out that way the Republicans can win even though they may have less registered voters it's actually a superior method just a bit hard to understand for the average person !13Hoadsay

Alan said...

The American "Founding Fathers" decided, after long deliberation, to AVOID a direct democracy and build instead, a Republic.

How far should we take the "democracy" thing? If 51% of a country's electorate decides to throw all the Jews into Gas Chambers.... is that good because the decision was arrived at "democratically"?

there's a school of thought that says that allowing people who don't work and pay taxes to vote (and please recall that the original US constitution w/Bill of Rights ==did not==), guarantees that there will always be a majority standing for the proposition that working taxpayers should be taxed more, and more....

We can also note that, unlike Israel, in the USA, the source-of-power does not flow from the top down. The USA still has that pesky 10th amendment which states clearly that only the enumerated powers DELEGATED BY THE SOVEREIGN STATES, shall reside in the federal government. And the US Supreme Court has ruled several times that the Amendment means what it says.

that (eg) New York State has decided to select its delegates to the Electoral college by the method of popular elections, is purely a custom. The New York State legislature can change that any time it wants. And no one could stop them. Because the USA is a Federal Republic.... not a Democracy.

Batya said...

Joshua, are you in favor of the Electoral College or the Presidential system and district system?

Alan, "shtuyot."

The Electoral College can also support the gas chambers since it's a technicality. I've written about the dangers of democracy many times. But Americans pride themselves on democracy and consider it a valuable religion of sorts. So either you do it right, or you're just a bunch of phonies.

goyisherebbe said...

America has a horse-and-buggy era constitution. We elect senators and congressmen, the lobbyists pay them off, and they do what the lobbyists tell them to. I think the US should abolish Congress and let every citizen who wants to, propose bills debate and vote on them over the internet. If you want democracy, that's it. The citizens who participate in political discussions over the net are smarter than the average congressman or senator. If a big donor or corporation wants to buy senators or congressmen and affect the governing of America, they can. But if every citizen had a vote every day instead of every two, four or six years, the fat cats couldn't buy them all.

goyisherebbe said...

On to the Israeli system. Of course first choice is, as for America, direct voting. But assuming the Israeli Knesset members would not vote themselves out of existence (in America it would not be Congress abolishing itself, but a constitutional convention doing it), I would not be so quick about electoral reform. When I first made aliya, I was sure that the constituency system was much more fair, logical and normal because that's what they do in every western democracy: US, Britain, Canada, Australia, etc. The advantage is that every MP is responsible to his/her constituents, has to report back to them, pay attention to the mails, e-mails and faxes. In a mixed-population district, the person elected has to concern himself with the different kinds of people and their economic, social, educational and cultural needs. Here that would mean that the same person would make sure that there would be shuls, stadiums, museums, halls for rock concerts, every possible kind of school or yeshiva to serve the population in the district. But I don't believe it would work that way in practice. Currently there is such a thing as party discipline that prevents MKs from doing whatever they want because there is are party leaders who can make life difficult for them to get a good place on the list when election time comes. After the election the parties get together and choose who will be the Prime Minister. It is clumsy, but if each of the 120 MKs were elected individually, the Israeli politician would consider himself in business for himself for the next four years. That would mean that there would be no voting blocs in choosing the government. If someone wants to be Prime Minister, they would have to negotiate individually with 120 fractious Israeli Jews. I said Jews because generally I would assume that the districts would be gerrymandered so that there would not be many, if any, Arabs in the Knesset. And what gerrymandering there would be! Don't get me started on that! In short, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it!

Batya said...

goyish, some excellent points. I always try to remind people that if we had districts, Israelis would bring gerrymandering to new deptsh.