In my last two issues, I described the influence of both the media and money on US elections. For the final part of this series, we’ll be looking at the election process itself. The tumultuous 2020 presidential election has made the fairness of elections a hot topic, but when examining their history, we see a pattern of murky and inconsistent regulations dating back to the Constitution.
A cynical interpretation is that arguments about process are never principled; losers complain about rules and refs while winners defend them. Speculating that the Founders would've arranged things differently if they'd anticipated that the party of good would be hampered, and the party of evil helped, by their rules is at best the stuff of partisan pep talks.
Given that the states which formed the federal union adopted a set of rules (and rules about how to change the rules), what should the party of good do today?
Consider what would have to happen to abolish the electoral college and rely instead on the national popular vote to choose the President and Vice President. In whatever state the party of evil held a majority, for some reason, that evil majority would have to give up power. Unlikely, no? Of course the rules could be amended without all of the states that are dominated by the party of evil going along with it, but if more than 12 held out the project would fail.
Changing state laws to require electoral votes to be allocated to the popular vote winner in congressional districts might be easier to sell. (California could set a noble example.) But even that change would be thwarted if the party of evil held a majority in the state and were on its toes. The devil is nimble and that seems to be a nonstarter (pace Maine and Nebraska).
The filibuster is a Senate rule which, I imagine, could be changed by majority vote. If 50 senators voted to end it, the Vice President could break the tie and it would be gone. But game theory gets interesting in the Senate. The majority has changed hands time and again and the filibuster has stayed in place. Therefore it must be serving someone's interests and perhaps there's a paper in that for a political science grad student. Or for a finance major. If everyone has a price, what is Sinema's? Or Manchin's? Or Romney's?
Leave all that aside. The question was posed: what should we do to make elections more fair? Or, in grown up terms, what should be done to make them come out as one prefers?
I'd rather rule myself without having my choices thwarted by anyone. Therefore, as a preliminary matter, I'd prefer a system of much more limited government. If the set of choices that government could interfere with were small enough, I wouldn't care about elections. But government leaves little uncontrolled and is insatiable.
So I must care about elections. But there is no chance that my preferences would be enacted. There is simply not enough support for restricting the franchise to tax payers and active duty military personnel. There is probably not even enough support to adopt measures like those in Canada, Mexico and France to improve the security of elections. So I might as well sip bourbon and bid adieu to the middle child project. Ciao.
Electoral College is one thing but the truly evil beast is the filibuster. Always odious and particularly odiferous. The historical peak of voter suppression. And I dare say I don’t need to remind you who it was used against. Help Shitcan the filibuster big guy!!!!!!!!! Dan Brown