The Instigator
Mr_smith
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
iamadragon
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

The Electoral College should be abolished

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
iamadragon
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/23/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 14,173 times Debate No: 9021
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

Mr_smith

Pro

I find that this is a pretty controversial topic, so I look forward to an interesting debate.

Electoral College- see scource (1)

Abolished- To do away with wholly; to annul; to make void; to end a law, system, custom or institution

The United States is a republic. By this I mean that we generally elect our government officials--our lawmakers and executives. The nation was founded with the belief that the common man ought to have some say in his who leads his government, so that there not be 'taxation without representation' (although at the time, only white landowning males may have qualified as common men). Over the course of time, we have expanded the width and breadth of our democracy with the passage of the 15th, 17th, 19th, and 26th amendments. We have done so with the belief that all people should have a say in the leaders of their country; the belief that leadership in our nation ought to reflect the will of people. And, to a large extent, we have been succesful in securing the blessings of democracy and the republican form of government for our citizens.

Unfortunatly, democracy has not always been triumphant. There is a now somewhat bureaucratic mechanism in the United States which makes it possible for the will of the people, the majority to be subverted. It is a mechanism that allows people to have their voice heard at the polls, only to have a candidate rejected by the majority leading the nation. This mechanism is the Electoral College.

Have no doubt, the Electoral College was created with the best of intentions. The electoral college was created to provide states with a way to have a say in presidential elections. It was also a compromise between those who wanted congress to elect the cheif executive and those who wanted the cheif executive elected by popular vote. It was believed then that a popular vote for president would be nothing more than mob rule.

Today, however, popular votes for president are presciely what occur. The electors usually just vote the way that their state population desires that they vote. The founders' point about mob rule is now entirely superflous. The electoral college does not do much do protect states themselves either, as it is ultimatly the population of the state, not the state electors, that determine the president.

As previously stated, the electoral college is outdated and makes it possible to subvert the will of the people. I have provided examples of where this has happened and where it has almost happened (1):

1876
1888
2000 (of course)
2004 (had Kerry won Ohio, he would have won without the popular vote)

I am sure that I will be doing a lot of elaborating soon. I look forward to a good debate.

Thank you

Sources:

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...(United_States)
iamadragon

Con

This should be an interesting debate. I do not have a large knowledge in the subject, nor do I really have that large of an interest either way, so this will be a good exercise.

As much as I hate this, my first argument will primarily revolve around a response to my opponent's arguments. I do not believe I have any sort of burden of proof; however, I will, as a side part of my arguments, attempt, with my lowly knowledge of the subject, to build a case for the Electoral College. That said, the onus is still on my opponent to show why it should be abolished.

I believe my opponent has contradicted himself in a couple of areas. First of all, there are a few classifications to the word "democracy" which make it more applicable to our type of government. We are a representative democracy, a Democratic Republic. [1]

"the belief that leadership in our nation ought to reflect the will of people."

While this seems to be an obvious claim, I would still like to ask for some kind of a source. There may be a distinction in a government which is supposed to protect the people, as opposed to reflect the will of the people.

"There is a now somewhat bureaucratic mechanism in the United States which makes it possible for the will of the people, the majority to be subverted."

I don't believe this is necessarily a bad thing. I think for a claim that it is bad to be substantiated, my opponent would have to show that the government is, primarily, supposed to reflect the will of the people. My opponent has not, so far, shown why it is a bad thing.

"It was believed then that a popular vote for president would be nothing more than mob rule."

I agree. This was one of the Founding Fathers' greatest fear´┐Ż€"tyranny of the majority.

"Today, however, popular votes for president are presciely what occur."

My opponent argues that the electoral college has become "superfluous." He implies that the majority decides the election anyway. However, this is in direct contradiction to what he has said and what he says next:

"As previously stated, the electoral college is outdated and makes it possible to subvert the will of the people. I have provided examples of where this has happened and where it has almost happened (1):"

My opponent argues that the electoral college subverts the will of the majority, which he has not shown is a bad thing. However, he also contradicts himself and says that the electoral college is superfluous and that the popular vote, the will of the majority, essentially prevails anyway.

It does not seem to me that my opponent has really presented a case so far.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Mr_smith

Pro

Okay, it's time to get serious

I would like to begin by thanking my opponent for accepting this. He makes a very pragmatic case, although to tell the truth, he hasn't given a single reason why we should maintain the electoral college, beyond delegating the burden of proof to me.

I admit that my opening was a little vague and somewhat lofty. It was, of course, nothing more than an opening speech, some ideas to get the debate started. Now I'm going to explain some things and adress what my opponent said about my opening.

My opponent's argument pretty much comes down to this:

1.) He claims that I cannot substaniate the claim that our government's leadership should reflect the will of the people
2.) He claims that I have contradicted myself by calling the electoral college superfluous and then claiming that it should be abolished

I will begin with the first point.

Perhaps the most famous phrase of the American revolution is "taxation without representation". It's catchy, and it gets to the heart of the problem with a tyranny or monarchy: the lack of popular sovereingty and consent of the governed. Both of these government principles are missing in a monarchy, and when the U.S. government was created, it was designed to include both. I have proof right here:

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Both of these imply that leadership should relfect will.

I have like 10 minutes, so I'll be quick.

Secondly, if something is superfluous, then it should be abolished. Otherwise, it only wastes time and energy. What I meant was that the electoral college fails in its intended purpose, and today it only succeds in inhibiting modern elections. I said that the popular vote should prevail, and we now run elections so that if often does, but the electoral college often prevents it from prevailing.

I have no time , so I've go to go.

Thank you
iamadragon

Con

"he hasn't given a single reason why we should maintain the electoral college, beyond delegating the burden of proof to me."

I'll do so, but it's your job to show why we should abolish it. You made the "time and energy" argument at the end of your round, and that can be applied here. You have to show why we should change the current system.

"It's catchy, and it gets to the heart of the problem with a tyranny or monarchy: the lack of popular sovereingty and consent of the governed. Both of these government principles are missing in a monarchy, and when the U.S. government was created, it was designed to include both. I have proof right here:

http://en.wikipedia.org......
http://en.wikipedia.org......

Both of these imply that leadership should relfect will."

I have a few issues.

1. I don't want to read your sources for you. Sorry, but it's your job to show exactly what supports your argument from your article.
2. I don't really see how these two ideologies directly relate. I'm looking more for specific language in an official document like the Constitution, which says or heavily implies that the U.S. government's first and foremost job is to reflect the will of the people. In fact, I will show why I think the U.S. government was specifically NOT created with the main intent to reflect the will of the people.

Besides from the obvious creation of the electoral college, which, in and of itself, can imply that the government's ideal was not to reflect the will of the people, we can look at Thomas Jefferson's own ideology:

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Specifically, "Republicanism is the best form of government and representative democracy is needed to prevent the tyranny of the majority, as Madison explained in Federalist No. 10. Jefferson maintained that, '[a] democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.'"

Rights > will of the people. A government that first and foremost reflects the will of the people, which you have defined as the majority, is a "mob rule."

Thus, I still don't see how the U.S. government is supposed to reflect the will of the people.

"if something is superfluous, then it should be abolished. Otherwise, it only wastes time and energy."

How much time and energy does it waste, really? Like you said, most of these electors seem to just go along with the popular vote. When following elections, people don't wait until the electors cast ballots. They just wait to see who had the most votes in a particular state.

Plus, how much time and energy would it take to completely abolish the system? All processes like that would have to go through the intense bureaucratic system that is amending the Constitution, which would be a massive pain.

"What I meant was that the electoral college fails in its intended purpose, and today it only succeds in inhibiting modern elections."

I don't see how it inhibits an election, since everything seems to go along with the popular vote anyway (like you said.) Your statement is contradictory.

"I said that the popular vote should prevail, and we now run elections so that if often does, but the electoral college often prevents it from prevailing."

Completely contradictory, and I still don't see why the popular vote should prevail.

I also think it's unfair to small states to remove the Electoral College. In a direct popular vote system, victories would largely revolve around the biggest urban centers. Thus, a candidate would only have to appeal to certain, highly populated areas, and smaller states would always have their interests unrepresented–basically, a tyranny of the majority.

In conclusion, my opponent's two responses to my arguments are, in the case of the first, vague and seemingly inapplicable, and, in the case of the second, contradictory.
Debate Round No. 2
Mr_smith

Pro

I would like to begin by apologizing to my opponent. In this first two rounds, I was not able to able to spend as much time as I would have like on this debate. As a result, my points and rebuttals have seemed weak and vague up to this point.

Secondly, 've found this debate kind of disapointing. I was hoping to discuss the merits of Electoral College. Instead, my opponent has just handed me the burden of proof and dismissed my sources. In fact, I get the impression he wouldn't have taken this debate if he would have had to have taken the burden of proof.

ANYWAY......

My opponent's argument still comes down to the same points as before:

1.) He claims that I cannot substaniate the claim that our government's leadership should generally reflect the will of the people
2.) He claims that I have contradicted myself by calling the electoral college superfluous and then claiming that it should be abolished

My opponent has also made a serious misconception concerning my argument. He believes that I am under the impression that "the U.S. government's first and foremost job is to reflect the will of the people." I am not. I never stated that the U.S. government's "first and foremost" job was the will of the people. I only said that it was a bad thing when the will of the people was subverted in an election (there are times when it is appropriate to subvert the people's will, but not when choosing candidates for congress and the presidency).

Now I will disprove my opponent's first claim. My opponent dismisses the sources I provided in round 2 on the grounds that he did not wish to read them. Sorry, I would have explained, but I didn't have time. Now I do. The two articles explain that popular sovereignty and consent of the governed are two principles upon which the United States is based. These two principles state that the authority of the government stems from the people. It is logical then, that the actions of government should generally reflect the people's will. See the sources I give in round 2 for proof.

My opponents also claims that my sources don't count, because they aren't straight out of an official document. Well, the constitution specifies the election of representatives in the house (see Article I, Section 2) and Senators (see Amendment XVII). Why would the constitution specify for representatives to be elected by the people? The only reasoning behind that could be that people's will should be reflected to an extent in their government.

I have another source: the quote and source used by my opponent. This quote explicity says "Republicanism is the best form of government". Republicanism is a form of democracy. In fact, it is the form of government I endorse in my opening.

My opponent also references federalist no. 10 (which I have read). Federalist 10 states that: "[an advantage of a republic is] to refine and enlarge the public views...". As you can see, Federalist 10 acknowledges that "public views" do have a place in government, elected officials simply "refine and enlarge" them. You see, when my opponent quotes the founders attacking democracy, he is quoting them attacking DIRECT democracy. The founders believed in a republic, as do I. And in a republic, the will of the people is taken into account.

In spite of all of this, my opponent will still probably claim that the popular vote should not prevail because of 'dangerous majorities'. I have several points to refute this:

1.) Dangerous majorities aren't as dangerous as the Founder believed. Otherwise, all hell would have broken loose with the passage of amendment XVII
2.) There are many other measures in place in the United States to prevent alledgedly dangerous majorities, including: federalism, the separation of powers frequently resulting in divided government, an independent judidicial branch, a bicameral legislature, a Bill of Rights, etc.
3.) My opponent asserts that "Rights > will of the people". Even if this happens to be true, the Electoral College does little to help the cause of Rights. Allowing the minority presidential candidate to subvert the will of the majority in presidential elections does practically nothing for the cause of rights. In fact, the Electoral College allowed George W. Bush to become president. This created a 'dangerous majority' by putting Congress and the President under control of the same party. Bush went on to use this majority to alledgely violate rights.

Now for my opponent's second claim, that I contradicted myself. He claims that I contradicted myself by saying the Electoral College has no benefits, and then stating that it should be abolished. How are those statements contradictory?If something fails in its stated purpose and is capabale of creating negative consequences, why should we maintain it? He also claims that I contradicted myself by saying that the popular vote frequently prevails, but the E.C. sometimes prevents it from doing so. This is not contradictory. I mean that the popular vote prevails like 95% of the time, but the electoral college it foils it the 5% (those are just approxiamations). The statements don't contradict.

My opponent continues to deny that the Electoral College inhibits elections. He obviously wasn't around for the 2000 election. Keeping the Electoral College is a recipe for 2000 all over again.

Moreover, amending the constitution isn't very bureaucratic. It's only hard because people like my opponent oppose the idea, prompting many congressmen to also oppose the idea.

My opponent finally made a point defending the E.C.: that small states would not be represented and would be ignored.

Guess what? That's already happening! No presidential candidates actually cares for states like Wyoming, Vermont, and Montana (all small states). The states that get all the attention are big swing states like Ohio, Pensylvania, and Florida (all of which are highly populated and fairly urban). Need proof? Go to my source in round one and look at the picture of the U.S. with the handprints and the dollar signs. The picture shows which states that candidates spent their time and money in. As you can see, all the handprints and dollar signs are in states that are swing states, especially the large swing states. The link is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org...(United_States)#Arguments_against_the_Electoral_College

I guess that's all that I have to say. Sorry about not spending time in rounds 1 and 2. Thanks to my opponent for taking this.

Thank you

Vote Pro.
iamadragon

Con

"Secondly, 've found this debate kind of disapointing. I was hoping to discuss the merits of Electoral College. Instead, my opponent has just handed me the burden of proof and dismissed my sources. In fact, I get the impression he wouldn't have taken this debate if he would have had to have taken the burden of proof."

Sorry you've been disappointed. I provided an argument last round. I said why I dismissed your sources along with your not really explaining them.

"(there are times when it is appropriate to subvert the people's will, but not when choosing candidates for congress and the presidency)."

Why? Why not? The two branches you mentioned are 2/3rds of the Federal Government, and arguably the larger two parts, since the Judicial Branch can't really initiate anything. If the will of the people should not be the concern of the ideal of the American government, then it's not the concern of these two branches.

"The two articles explain that popular sovereignty and consent of the governed are two principles upon which the United States is based."

The articles ABSOLUTELY do NOT say that. The first article, about popular sovereignty, says nothing about what the United States is factually based upon. The second article specifies "free and equal" citizens–the point I have been making is that when people aren't all equal, or when one majority dominates the other, the government might not be just.

"Why would the constitution specify for representatives to be elected by the people? The only reasoning behind that could be that people's will should be reflected to an extent in their government."

"To an extent." That's what I'm saying. It's not the definitive thing that should be reflected.

"You see, when my opponent quotes the founders attacking democracy, he is quoting them attacking DIRECT democracy. The founders believed in a republic, as do I. And in a republic, the will of the people is taken into account."

I never said it shouldn't be taken into account.

You argued against the Electoral College, because it supposedly subverts the majority, which you say is a key part of government. I'm saying that the government should reflect some will of the people, but not to the extent where it should just go along completely to what the majority says.

"Dangerous majorities aren't as dangerous as the Founder believed. Otherwise, all hell would have broken loose with the passage of amendment XVII"

...What? I don't even know what you mean.

In history, anyway, the majorities have shown themselves to be dangerous enough to completely take away what is just from ethnic minorities, women, and homosexuals (this is NOT a reference to gay marriage.)

"2.) There are many other measures in place in the United States to prevent alledgedly dangerous majorities, including: federalism, the separation of powers frequently resulting in divided government, an independent judidicial branch, a bicameral legislature, a Bill of Rights, etc."

Uh... I'm just not following you at all. Those measures may help, but how does that discount another measure that helps?

"In fact, the Electoral College allowed George W. Bush to become president. This created a 'dangerous majority' by putting Congress and the President under control of the same party. Bush went on to use this majority to alledgely violate rights."

So? You found one example. That doesn't discredit the system.

"Now for my opponent's second claim, that I contradicted myself. He claims that I contradicted myself by saying the Electoral College has no benefits, and then stating that it should be abolished. How are those statements contradictory?"

That's not even close to what I said.

"He also claims that I contradicted myself by saying that the popular vote frequently prevails, but the E.C. sometimes prevents it from doing so."

Again, that's not what I said. I've been refuting what you've been saying. You should go back and look at what you've said. You said that the College inhibits elections and thus should be removed, but then you went on to say that it's superfluous. Contradiction.

"Keeping the Electoral College is a recipe for 2000 all over again."

For this argument to come close to being legitimate, you'd have to show why the 2000 election was bad.

"Moreover, amending the constitution isn't very bureaucratic. It's only hard because people like my opponent oppose the idea, prompting many congressmen to also oppose the idea."

Here's a chart showing how to amend the Constitution.

http://www.national-convention.com...

Keep in mind that each of these bubbles contains a lot of bureaucracy–it's the nature of this government. It's an arduous process.

Here's a chart showing how to create a bill.

http://www.montclair.edu...

Even more bureaucratic.

Secondly, you just admit that it's a hard process. That's why you have the significant burden to show why it should be abolished–abolishing it would be a large, large pain.

"Guess what? That's already happening! No presidential candidates actually cares for states like Wyoming, Vermont, and Montana (all small states). The states that get all the attention are big swing states like Ohio, Pensylvania, and Florida (all of which are highly populated and fairly urban)."

This effect would only be increased with the abolition of the College. The places you mentioned are fairly urban. Without the Electoral College, a candidate would only have to focus in the largest urban areas to win an election, and then the views of anyone outside of these areas would not be represented.

My opponent's arguments aren't really based on anything. He still hasn't shown why the Electoral College is bad enough–his two arguments contradict each other–to warrant the energy that would go into abolishing it.

"I guess that's all that I have to say. Sorry about not spending time in rounds 1 and 2. Thanks to my opponent for taking this."

No problem, and thank you.

Vote CON.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by Gmoney 8 years ago
Gmoney
Mr_smithiamadragonTied
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Vote Placed by patsox834 8 years ago
patsox834
Mr_smithiamadragonTied
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