Thursday, August 14, 2008

Alabama Policy Institute attacks Steve Flowers

They're willing to insult Steve Flowers? I know they've got to earn their keep from the Big Mules but couldn't they have picked on somebody like The New Yorker's Hendrick Hertzberg? Michael Ciamarra and Bob McKee have a spell of the vapors, with a version here (not sure about their citing the 2004 election and Al Gore's numbers) and a shorter one that made it into the Cullman Times here, over presumably Steve Flowers: Obama needs Clinton to have a chance which appeared in the Piedmont Journal. I missed this dust up. Although a bit dated I can't pass it up.

Steve, again hardly a DFH, wrote:

Many of you have wondered about my prognosis in last week’s column that Barack Obama would probably not win the presidency, although he has all but wrapped up the Democratic nomination.

The reasoning is based on the fact that we do not have a direct election of the president in this country. The person who gets the most votes does not necessarily win the White House.

Our Electoral College system is archaic, antiquated and undemocratic. Most Americans are not aware of the fact that the person who gets the most votes does not win in our American process. Whoever gets the most votes is each state gets all the electoral votes in that state. Each state’s electoral number is equal to the state’s number of congressmen and senators and these electors elect the president.

Steve responds to inquiries with a rational explanation, even though I think he's wrong on the general election prediction, and the hatchet men at API swing into action. Since the Cullman Times, where Steve's columns appear, rightly removed some of their hateful language, I'll go directly to API's hit job. The two gentlemen write:

He wants to elect the President of the United States by popular vote, a radical change fostered by those who are either abysmally ignorant of basic civics or think they’re smarter than the framers of the Constitution.
Huh? Where did Steve advocate anything of the such? Why would they be claiming he's a "wag of today" engaged in advocating a "scheme"? Would Maine and Nebraska be engaged in a "scheme" with their Congressional District system? Is Maryland?

API's Michael Ciamarra and Bob McKee claim:

The Electoral College ... was created to protect minorities and maintain a balance between large and small states and between regional interest groups. The Founders were especially concerned about maintaining balance between agrarian and industrial interests and between Northern and Southern states. The Electoral College serves these purposes.
I'd like either of these two to show us where the Founders mentioned "Electoral College" in the Constitution. Article Two surely doesn't nor does the Twelfth Amendment. Yet the idea Steve writes about is a "scheme"? Spare us the Founders argument! I don't dismiss their admitting a good number of the Founders distrusted the masses but I'd also suggest the arrangement agreed upon in those early years of the Republic was at least partly about protecting slavery in the agricultural South. That's something to build off isn't it? C'mon guys, the "small states" already have a tyranny of the tiny in the Senate. Why not consider ways to make our democracy more democratic?

I like what Hendrick Hertzberg wrote in another New Yorker piece.

... the deepest argument for a national popular vote has nothing to do with who wins. It has to do with the over-all health of a democratic order.

As has become increasingly clear over the past few general elections, with their red states and blue states, an American Presidential campaign is no longer truly national. It takes place almost exclusively in the purple states—the “battleground states,” where neither party can be sure of a lock. ...

The worst of it is the death of participatory politics in two-thirds of the country. If you live in a spectator state, it might be fun to persuade your neighbors to vote your way, or ring their doorbells, or hand them leaflets. But it can’t make a difference. And it doesn’t matter which side you’re on or which color your state is. Widening your ticket’s margin of victory or narrowing its margin of defeat is equally pointless. In this sense, our Presidential campaigns are not only not national; in most of the country they’re not local, either. They’re just not.

For fifty years, polls have consistently shown that seventy per cent of the public favors direct election.

Hardly a loony argument is it? National Popular Vote Inc. is a good place to examine some of the options we have. Here's another.

I know Michael Ciamarra and Bob McKee are but a part of Alabama's version of the right's "counterintelligentsia" but surely y'all have got better game than this? I'm sure API and their type like things just as they are. Actually, their attacking Steve Flowers might show just how much. John Gunn

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