It's been a sad month for the USA, as millions of people woke up to the fact that--for all the rhetoric and patriotic blustering--we live in a country where a very few "priviledged" people decide the course our nation takes. A "democracy"? Not hardly...any basic civics class will teach you that. But not even a "democratic republic" as many of us had been lead to believe. And yet, sadder than the fact that this is the way things are is the fact that, now that we all can no longer deny the truth, we're still going to do NOTHING about it. News broadcasters and pundits and others have blithered about how wonderful it is that this country can go through a minor catastrophy without uproar, turmoil, or--worse yet--civil war. I wonder if that's such a good thing. Certainly, I'm not stupid enough to believe war would be good...I've seen enough pictures of Bosnia, Vietnam, Ghettysburg and other places to know that war is hell especially when it's in your own back yard. Despite growing up bombarded by the pro-war "patriotic" rhetoric of the Reaganite Hawks, I know this. Yet, I wonder how much better it is to be a nation of blind followers. We've seen how flawed our system is, we've seen that we have little to no say in our nation's direction...we've seen how futile the whole election process is, yet we are doing nothing about it. We just sit by our TVs and watch various elite groups (The US Supreme Court, the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Congress, etc) decide our fate. We yearn for some conclussion, even if it completely ignores the will of the voters. We're anxious for someone else, some father-like government figure, to come out and say "It's all over. Go back to your lives...go back to your meaningless, toilsome, pathetic lives and don't worry about deciding your future, because WE will do it for you."
Now, let's look at the most prolific myth we've been peppered with over the past month of election turmoil: "The electoral college was put into place to insure that small states aren't forgotten and still have a voice in the election process." I've heard this thrown about by all sorts of people when others have rightly asked, "why do we HAVE the electoral college anyway?" The answer that it's a protection for small states is an absolute lie, yet it's swallowed up by most people and never even questioned.
First of all, history does not support the idea that our "founding fathers" wanted to protect the rights of the voters, either in the small states OR the large. The electoral college was designed for the specific purpose of NOT allowing the public to select the president. The common man was not considered smart enough to elect his own leader, and the "founding fathers" were not reticent about saying so. And remember, they only thought that white, christian, land-owning males should be allowed to vote in the first place.
Aside from the historical record, simply looking at mathmatical facts shows us that the electoral college actually can have the opposite effect described in this myth. It can--and often does--magnify the influence of the heavily-populated states and minimizes those with small populations. As the electoral votes are alloted now, it is possible for a candidate to win the required 270 electoral votes by only winning eleven states: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Georgia. Now, those quick to defend the system (or in denial at the idea that our government is not really OURS) will say "yeah, but if you win those eleven states, you're going to win the popular vote because of those states' overwhelming population", but that is simply not true. For example, a candidate could win each of these eleven states by a narrow margin, say only 1,000 votes (or really just one vote). So, the candidate could win those eleven states by a TOTAL of only 11,000 votes and not get a single vote in any of the remaining thirty-nine states, and that candiate would win the election. Conceivable, then, a candidate could lose the popular vote by a three to one margin (or more) and still win the presidency. Candidates can focus their attention on those key large states and never concern themselves with Alaska, Wyoming, or Rhode Island.
So, the fact is that we do NOT elect our leader because the "founding fathers" did not want us to. Usually, this has not been an issue, because presidential elections have been such landslides. But this year showed us the flaws of the US system and reminded us that we live in neither a democracy NOR even a democratic republic. And the way that the majority of the public has swallowed the party-line rhetoric tossed at them to explain it all away insures that this will continue to be the case.
I, for one, am standing up and protesting this travesty of an election. For what it's worth (and I realize that is NOTHING), I hereby declare that George W. "Bumbling" Bush is NOT my president. This is not because I think he's an idiot (which I do) or a sycophant to the big polluters, NRA, and cigarette industries (which I do) or a horrible hypocrite for his "get-tough" stance on drugs when he himself is a recovering addict of at least one drug himself (which I do). It is because we did not elect him, plain and simple. I hold this government to a higher standard than the outdated, racist, esoteric rules set down by our "founding fathers" and believe the people should elect our leader. Just as we've rejected their notion that women should not vote, that black people should not vote, and that "peasants" should not vote, we need to reject this electoral college farce and demand the right to elect our own president.
Well, I was going to go into a few ways to reform the system, but this rant is long enough and my arms are tired. Maybe I'll add it later. Or maybe I'll just say "To hell with this country" and leave it behind without a care when I move to the Netherlands. Whatever the case, I can say for sure that George W. Bush is NOT my president!