Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Vox Populi

Lawyers tell one another, “If you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you don’t have either one on your side, bang on the table.” This is supposed to be a joke. It may not be funny to the rest of us who have to watch as lawyers increasingly take over business, the media, and politics.

The current, perhaps last, strategy of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President after she is finished banging on the table is to whimper that she won the popular vote. Let’s even assume for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that this is true. What difference does that make? There is no system in place to nominate anyone by popular vote. The system is to count the delegates.

Ask President Al Gore about winning the popular vote. Look it up in your history book under President Samuel Tilden, who won 51 percent of the popular vote but lost by one electoral vote. Grover Cleveland ran for President three times and served twice, with a break in between terms. As the incumbent President, he lost his bid for re-election, despite winning the popular vote.

The U.S. Constitutition does not provide for the election of President by popular vote.

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress...

George Washington was elected President of the United States by this system. Actually nobody ran against Washington. The Founding Fathers were not as big on the popular vote as Hillary Clinton is. They went to a lot of trouble to invent checks and balances, weights and counter-weights against the big states bullying the small states. New York got two Senators, and Rhode Island got two senators. The Electoral College was composed of the number of representatives in congress, the equal distribution of Senators, plus Representatives based on population. It was a balancing act. Additionally, the Founding Fathers believed the election of the President should be left to people who had a clue. The Founding Fathers were elitists.

Alexander Hamilton favored the indirect election of the President by electoral college. “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,” he wrote in The Federalist Papers. “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. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union.”

The political parties have pretty much followed suit, with one formula or another to dilute the impact of mob rule and to preserve a heavy voice for those who might actually know something about the process. There are some persuasive arguments in favor of smoke filled rooms. I’ll just mention a few: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D.Eisenhower.

There’s going to be a lot of talk after today about Democratic party unity. Probably big political smiles and gracious, even flattering comments from people who, deep down, I’m only guessing here, may not really mean it. Do I want to see Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama’s Vice President? Would I bet against it?

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter


annette said...

It is mid-afternoon June 3. Hillary is offering her services as V-P. Will the manipulation never end? If Hillary Clinton is the vice president, Obama will need a food taster. If Hillary's followers either help, or watch John McCain become president they will be allowing war ad nauseum, more tax cuts for fat cats, and supreme court justices who will reverse Roe v Wade pdq . Would I bet these women are not that self defeating? You bet I would!

Tina said...

As a diehard Yellow Dog I am ready to work until election day to help put the Democratic nominee in the White House. Thoughts of organizing a rally are already dancing in my head ! Let the race begin !

no spring chicken said...

Tonight we had McCain reading badly from a teleprompter and remembering to Smile from time to time. Then we had Hillary's heartfelt soliloquy to Hillary.
And then we had our guy - and I hope the whole world was watching, because he sounded like a world leader.
As for Clinton, one odd thing I know about denial is that people can know everything bad that's just happened in a factual sense, but not be feeling it yet. She was unnaturally upbeat, smiling and enthusiastic. It hasn't hit her yet.

Anonymous said...

Don't cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don't keep your distance

And as for fortune, and as for fame
I never invited them in
Though it seemed to the world they were all I desired

They are illusions
They are not the solutions they promised to be
The answer was here all the time
I love you and hope you love me

Don't cry for me Argentina


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