The United States Presidential Election sample essay
The recent victory of Barack Obama in the United States Presidential Election of 2008 is one of the biggest issues among many other big events that have occurred in America this year. Early on, even during the presidential primaries, the topic of whether or not then Presidential candidate Obama would be influential enough to win the electoral vote was an issue. It was undoubted that the Democratic Party enjoyed the support of the popular vote yet the bigger was issue was whether or not they would be able to gain enough of the Electoral College votes.
The events and debates leading up to the election have also brought about a controversial election topic which is that of Electoral College reform. This brief discourse shall tackle the issue of Electoral College Reform and whether or not a different method for the selection of the United States president should be used. To arrive at a better understanding of the issue, it is important to first discuss the pros and cons of the current system. As such, there will be a discussion into the historical antecedents and the impact of such electoral changes.
Finally, this discourse will highlight the reasons why the method used by Maine and Nebraska is more effective. Electoral College Reform In 1888, the election of Benjamin Harrison was controversial because for the first time in American History the winner of the Electoral College lost the popular vote. This raised a lot of questions because it was thought to symbolize the lack of support for the President by the American public. It would also mean that the mandate of the public was not for the President and it would make it very difficult to pass reforms and laws.
This is because the United States has a democratic government. It must be remembered that a democratic system is often mistakenly characterized as the rule of the majority (Davenport 380). While there is usually a large group of middle class individuals that comprise this democratic system, it does not necessarily mean that the majority rule. This only means that the majority usually elects the representative to office but the hallmark of any democracy is still the protection of the rights of the minority.
As such, the system of Electoral College ensures that while the majority may influence the outcome of an election it also makes sure the people are able to freely select their representation at all levels, most especially at the level of the presidency. Most recently, the issue of Electoral College Reform once again made the headlines as President George W. Bush narrowly won the electoral vote but had lost the popular vote.
This victory raised a lot of questions and even the former Senator Hillary Clinton called for a constitutional amendment that would allow for the selection of the President to be through popular vote and not the electoral vote. It is clear that this measure did not pass yet it certainly did bring to the consciousness of the public the necessity of reviewing the issue of Electoral College Reform. Pros and Cons It stands to reason why such a system, which has been in place for so long and been the reason for the election of several Presidents, should be replaced with an antiquated election style.
In order to arrive at a better understanding of the issue, it is important to first discuss the concerns of the Electoral College system. This is with the goal of proving that there is a need for Electoral College Reform and the adoption of the Congressional District method which is being used in Maine and Nebraska. The first reason is that it is argued that the system of Electoral College Reform does not accurately reflect the sentiment of the public.
This is because as the examples in the recent elections have shown an individual can still be declared as the President of the United States even if he or she does not have the support of the majority or the popular vote. Under the Electoral College system, as long as the candidate enjoys the support of the States with the heaviest weight, he is virtually assured of victory. This is because of the fact that the framers of the Constitution sought for equality in representation and wanted to ensure that the voters in the sparsely populated states would have more weight as compared to those in the more densely populated states.
This was done to ensure that those in smaller states would be able to be heard and have representation. This was also done to ensure that the majority would not overwhelm the minority. Another peculiar aspect of the Electoral System is that a candidate can win the election if he so happens to accumulate wins in many states that are relatively small in size even if his opponent is able to get larger wins in smaller states. The reason for this is that the Electoral System also features the “winner take all” system which rules that the proportion of the electoral vote often bears little resemblance to the popular vote.
The winner take alls system also creates a few problems because the smaller number of electoral votes creates a discrepancy with the amount of random round offs which has been stated as an error. The presence of this error is also problematic because most studies have shown that it reduces voter turn out in areas and states where there are dominant parties. Seeing that they are not able to swing the vote either way, certain voters do not even attempt to exercise their right to vote for fear that it will all be for naught because of the numbers involved.
Being the minority party in the state, they are aware that if their state uses the Electoral College System they will be unable to sway the outcome of the election either way. This is the reason why there is a voter apathy problem in most of these states. Perhaps the main problem with the Electoral College arises from the fact that in case there is no candidate who gets the majority of the electoral votes, it falls upon the House of Representatives to settle the issue. From this point alone, it is clear that there are several ramifications from such a method.
The first is that the results of the election will not matter in any case because it will be the House of Representatives that will determine the winner. This may also be interpreted as a situation wherein the party which is able to get the most number of seats in Congress will decidedly determine the outcome of the election. The resulting partisan battle is no longer representative of the will of the public but rather the will of a representation that does not effectively carry the approval of the majority of the voting public.
The second reason is because it often results in horse trading in order to determine the next President of the United States. Since the House of Representatives is composed of several congressmen, it boils down to trading votes for concessions when determining the leadership of the country. This totally disregards the electoral process and in a way can be construed as frustrating the will of the voting public. As such, the entire electoral process boils down to which side is able to gain more support for their candidate and which candidate is able to give more concessions to the parties.
This is similar to events that transpired in 1824 and 1876. The leadership of a country boils down to tax measures and funding instead of what it is really supposed to be about, the will of the voting public. This system also creates another problem by limiting the choices of the public. Since it has been determined that the party which has a better network generally wins, the Electoral System leaves out the alternative parties such as the liberals. In the past elections, it has been shown that it is only the Republican or the Democratic Party that is able to field the candidates.
While the liberal party has shown more strength, the realistic candidates are generally from the two party systems which in effect limit the choices of the voting public. One of the other problems in an Electoral College comes from the fact that there is a necessity for primary elections. This means that the long drawn out process of Elections is really simply just a process that was already more or less decided when the primaries were cast. As the recent elections have shown, when there are primary elections it already becomes clear where the popular votes are and where the electoral strengths are.
This also results in a frustration in the vote and the will of the electorate because having the primaries means that in most cases the votes of the last states does not really matter, except when it is a really close election but in most cases this is not often the case. The reason for this is that the results of the elections have been decided because most of the candidates have conceded even before all the votes have been cast due to the projections of certain candidates having insurmountable lead. The end impact of all of these negative aspects is quite simple.
It means that the electoral process is frustrated and the right of the voters to be heard and make a difference with their vote is disregarded. This is based on the fact that when the electoral process is determined before it is over it sends the signal that the vote of those who have not voted is no longer necessary in determining the results. This may, in the long run, lead to voter apathy and lack of support from certain states. From the point of view of the electoral process, it is not a real electoral process because it does not allow for the real sentiments of the public to be reflected.
Through the electoral process, the foundations of a democratic system become all the more evident. The right of the people to vote and to choose who they will elect as president is one of the important foundations of a representative democratic system (Lijphart 139). Without these foundations in place, there would be no way to ensure that the rights of the people are protected. The right to select a representative ensures that everyone has a chance to be heard. In the wise words of Abraham Lincoln, Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.
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