Total Posts:8|Showing Posts:1-8
Jump to topic:

Hamilton's Electoral College

augcaesarustus
Posts: 368
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/13/2016 7:25:17 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
Alexander Hamilton wrote in a series of papers known as the Federalist Papers, about 'The Mode of Electing the President.' Before I continue, the Federalist Papers were the first of several articles supporting the new Constitution, and explained in detail about the American form of government. I would like to address one now: No. 68 - 'The Mode of Electing the President.'

Some people with whom I've debated have argued that the Electoral College was designed to ensure a stable majority in presidential elections; but this was not what the original intention of the college was, at least according to Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton said (I quote): "It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any pre-established body, but to men CHOSEN BY THE PEOPLE for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture."

So far, what's the big deal? This is essentially what happens now, right? Keep reading:
"It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men [or women] CAPABLE OF ANALYZING THE QUALITIES ADAPTED TO THE STATION [that is, the Presidency), and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A SMALL NUMBER OF PERSONS, SELECTED BY THEIR FELLOW-CITIZENS FROM THE GENERAL MASS, WILL BE MOST LIKELY TO POSSESS THE INFORMATION AND DISCERNMENT REQUISITE TO SUCH COMPLICATED INVESTIGATIONS."

What does this mean? In my view, the process for electing President, according to Hamilton's idea, so far goes like this: "the State Legislatures nominate persons to be electors for that State; the people then, in turn, choose from amongst the nominees a number of electors....THEY DO NOT VOTE DIRECTLY FOR THE NOMINEE. These electors then DELIBERATE to nominate and choose persons to the office of the President - i.e. the sole decision-making process rests with the electors. In order to illustrate what Hamilton's vision is, take this analogy. Who can make a better judgement about a person's character: a townhall full of people who have one hour with a candidate; or a committee of 5 people who have one-hour with a candidate? Clearly, the latter will have more opportunity to question and discuss issues with the candidate than some 100 people in a town-hall (I mean, how many follow-up questions do you get in a townhall). Now, imagine if those 5 people were elected to represent you, the people; they would be like your local Congressman, someone whom you can contact to raise certain issues, which they can take to the presidential candidate. Given that the elector would deal with many people, it would be his/her responsibility to absorb all the information she has received in order to ask the right questions. In this sense, the elector is a representative of the people in choosing the President; and would, in my view, be able to ask more appropriate questions, thereby increasing accountability and scrutiny over the candidate's policies.

But, there's another point to make which is highly relevant to this election cycle. Hamilton continues by saying: "....The choice of SEVERAL to form an intermediate body of electors, will be MUCH LESS APT TO CONVULSE THE COMMUNITY with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes...."

You see where I'm going with this, right? DONALD TRUMP. Whether you agree or disagree with this policies, he has undoubtedly convulsed the community with violent movements, and his various controversies. This is because HE is the object of the public wishes. My hypothesis is this: in Hamilton's electoral college, Trump wouldn't even be considered as a candidate for President. An Electoral College of Hamilton's design wouldn't consider such a person.

Finally, Hamilton's electoral college ensured that "the process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications...."
--
Sorry, not finished there; I need to pre-emptively address this point. You may be thinking that Hamilton's design is undemocratic and you'd be correct. But, the Founders didn't create a democracy, they created a Republic and a COMPACT between the Union and the States, not the Union and the people, so Hamilton's design fits in perfectly well with this vision. Second, in a separation of powers system, the Legislature is supposed to be the most important branch of government. Having a popularly-elected President upsets this balance because it popularizes the office of the President. The advent of the imperial presidency was (in most respects) due to the politicization of the office of President; the President's powers expanded (among other reasons) because he/she now had a popular mandate to do so (thanks, Andrew Jackson....). This is the key: political legitimacy (at least in the 21st century) is determined by how someone is elected: if he/she is popularly elected, then he/she has greater legitimacy and a stronger mandate; if he/she is unelected or appointed, then the legitimacy is less. The popularization of the Presidency has created a struggle between the Legislative and executive branches for obtaining the 'popular mandate'. This has the unintended side-effect of blurring accountability, because you don't know who's to blame. Sometimes, having a clear line of accountability is an important part of democracy.

So, do you agree with me?
Stymie13
Posts: 2,162
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/13/2016 12:10:06 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
No as most constitutional scholars, poly-sci professionals believe the electoral college was set up specifically for 2 major reasons:

1. To provide the smaller states a proportional say in the election
2. By nomination by the state legislators rural areas had equal say to urban areas
augcaesarustus
Posts: 368
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/13/2016 10:59:13 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/13/2016 12:10:06 PM, Stymie13 wrote:
No as most constitutional scholars, poly-sci professionals believe the electoral college was set up specifically for 2 major reasons:

1. To provide the smaller states a proportional say in the election
2. By nomination by the state legislators rural areas had equal say to urban areas

Those are two reasons as well. It is also fact that the electoral college was designed for such purpose as Hamilton described in the Federalist Papers. The original intent was to have a President who was not directly-elected by the people. Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing: I think that the genius of the system relies on having the Chief Magistrate elected in such manner. The idea was that the President wasn't supposed to be a political office but a CIVIL office.

Which means this: the current system of electing the President is unconstitutional, and directly violates the principles enshrined by the Founding Fathers.
Stymie13
Posts: 2,162
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/13/2016 11:58:43 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/13/2016 10:59:13 PM, augcaesarustus wrote:
At 9/13/2016 12:10:06 PM, Stymie13 wrote:
No as most constitutional scholars, poly-sci professionals believe the electoral college was set up specifically for 2 major reasons:

1. To provide the smaller states a proportional say in the election
2. By nomination by the state legislators rural areas had equal say to urban areas

Those are two reasons as well. It is also fact that the electoral college was designed for such purpose as Hamilton described in the Federalist Papers. The original intent was to have a President who was not directly-elected by the people. Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing: I think that the genius of the system relies on having the Chief Magistrate elected in such manner. The idea was that the President wasn't supposed to be a political office but a CIVIL office.

Which means this: the current system of electing the President is unconstitutional, and directly violates the principles enshrined by the Founding Fathers.

Many agree that it is.

The question begs: why an Aussie takes such interest in our political system?
augcaesarustus
Posts: 368
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/14/2016 1:04:59 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/13/2016 11:58:43 PM, Stymie13 wrote:
At 9/13/2016 10:59:13 PM, augcaesarustus wrote:
At 9/13/2016 12:10:06 PM, Stymie13 wrote:
No as most constitutional scholars, poly-sci professionals believe the electoral college was set up specifically for 2 major reasons:

1. To provide the smaller states a proportional say in the election
2. By nomination by the state legislators rural areas had equal say to urban areas

Those are two reasons as well. It is also fact that the electoral college was designed for such purpose as Hamilton described in the Federalist Papers. The original intent was to have a President who was not directly-elected by the people. Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing: I think that the genius of the system relies on having the Chief Magistrate elected in such manner. The idea was that the President wasn't supposed to be a political office but a CIVIL office.

Which means this: the current system of electing the President is unconstitutional, and directly violates the principles enshrined by the Founding Fathers.

Many agree that it is.

Of course they agree. They're not going to advocate what seems to be undemocratic processes.

The question begs: why an Aussie takes such interest in our political system?

Why not? Can not an Aussie know more than an American? The reason is this: I'm very passionate about British institutions and believe they are superior. I also admire the American system because I'm fascinated by the fact that it was solely the product of human minds. It was an experiment that was bold and progressive but it has serious flaws. And second, I strongly believe that if you reform America's political system you will improve public policy in America, which in turn then has a positive influence on the world. America as a superpower needs to show the world it can change, that it can adapt.

Political reform is the most important thing a nation can deal with: more than the economy, more than any other issue. Nothing can change unless the institutions upon which those policies are built improve and change. It should be the only thing that should be talked about by American people and I mean the ONLY. To use an Aussie expression, the only way to keep the bastards honest is to subject the establishment to rules that enhance accountability. I'm not the first to advocate reform and I won't be the last. I would use the same arguments for reform in Australia, although we need it less here than you do.
Stymie13
Posts: 2,162
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/14/2016 1:18:19 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
There are actually some simple reforms that would vastly transform the political landscape:

1. Money out of the presidential cycle. There are multiple ways
2. Congressional term limits. I advocate 3 terms for the house and 2 for the senate
3. Repealing multiple amendments including the IRS, direct election of senators (vs state legislature vote... Again getting money out of elections)
4. Repeal the 11th
5. Reword the 14th from citizen to sovereign
6. Repeal the 27th

Disentangle from Europe
Nullify the war powers act so that only congress can declare war (no more 'authorization')

One final is a 90 day up or down vote on Supreme Court nominees to stop the current chicanery
augcaesarustus
Posts: 368
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/14/2016 1:33:20 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/14/2016 1:18:19 AM, Stymie13 wrote:
There are actually some simple reforms that would vastly transform the political landscape:

1. Money out of the presidential cycle. There are multiple ways
2. Congressional term limits. I advocate 3 terms for the house and 2 for the senate
3. Repealing multiple amendments including the IRS, direct election of senators (vs state legislature vote... Again getting money out of elections)
4. Repeal the 11th
5. Reword the 14th from citizen to sovereign
6. Repeal the 27th

Disentangle from Europe
Nullify the war powers act so that only congress can declare war (no more 'authorization')

One final is a 90 day up or down vote on Supreme Court nominees to stop the current chicanery

I agree with all of your reforms. I think they're sensible and are very progressive. Whether or not you agree with my reforms, I don't care. I just want people to talk about it. All presidential candidates should include at least a constitutional convention as part of their agenda, among other things; they don't even have to give specifics, they just need to make it a policy. The thing that annoys me is that no one is talking about it. i agree that in reality other issues are important but there's no reason why a presidential candidate shouldn't include it as part of their agenda.