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Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-24-2007, 06:05 PM   #1
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Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

Can a country be truly democratic with only two viable political parties? The two major parties seem to cooperate in various stratagems to maintain their monopoly over electoral politics and this discourages the growth of progressive third parties. There are so many laws that make it difficult for a third-party candidate to be placed on the ballot, let alone participate in the debates or to win an election. Both the democrats and republicans were frightened after Perot and Nader threatened this monopoly.

The reason I am asking this questions is because it appears that Americans are not voting, so much, for a candidate as they are voting against the current political party. Perhaps, a multiple party system would strengthen our democracy by providing a better candidate pool.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideol
Old 01-24-2007, 06:20 PM   #2
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideol

I agree with your premise that the two current political parties work together for their own self preservation.

Usually 3rd parties in the USA are marginalized and are not successful. However they do influence the two main parties to change slightly some of their policies to widen their base. After that they go back to their core values.

My thought is that in local elections people vote along party lines or they know something about the candidate. In national elections people usually vote for the least offensive candidate or along party lines.

I think the only time a 3rd party could win in the USA is when the USA in under some tragic or threatening event. For example, in the 1930s there were some out of the main stream candidates that if elected would have change the course of US and world history.

I don't know what the catalist would be that would create a 3rd party today. That may be the core of you question.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideol
Old 01-24-2007, 07:41 PM   #3
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideol

Quote:
Originally Posted by janeeyre
Can a country be truly democratic with only two viable political parties? The two major parties seem to cooperate in various stratagems to maintain their monopoly over electoral politics and this discourages the growth of progressive third parties. There are so many laws that make it difficult for a third-party candidate to be placed on the ballot, let alone participate in the debates or to win an election. Both the democrats and republicans were frightened after Perot and Nader threatened this monopoly.

The reason I am asking this questions is because it appears that Americans are not voting, so much, for a candidate as they are voting against the current political party. Perhaps, a multiple party system would strengthen our democracy by providing a better candidate pool.
You're correct in the assumption. Neither the GOP or the Dems want a third party. And unless you have some kind of decent percentage of other parties in the Congress, an Independent candidate won't be able to get anything done.
It's sad that people like me have to vote for the lesser of two evils each election. It makes me not want to vote at all and really dispells the idea that not voting means you don't care or can't complain. I wish I had a real choice.

The fact that we elect a president by the electoral college process is bad as well in my opinion. Your vote does not directly go to a presidential candidate. It goes to your Electorate who casts the vote. And while they will usually vote with the percentage in you state, they are under no obligation to. And I believe (tell me if I'm wrong) this has happened before where a state population elected one candidate and the Electorate voted the other party. I understand the reason for the Electoral process, but I think judging from the way the Federal Government views states rights, all people in the US should be able to vote directly for president.

I recall when Jesse Ventura ran for Governor of Minnesota. He won on the Reform party but realized he couldn't get anything done without towing GOP/Dem party lines. There was a change as well in his Reform party which sealed the deal and he didn't run for re-election. This is a case of a good man with the best of intention that was met with a door in the face everywhere he turned.

Multi-party systems, such as you have in Europe, are not without their problems as well. If you don't win a solid majority you have to look at run-offs or forcing co-governments. For better or worse, at least the people get some type of real choice at the outset that have a chance of winning the majority. America has a terrible voter turnout while many other countries with a multi-party system have a high turnout in comparison.

If you're super lucky enough, there are a handful of countries where the majority of politicians from any party agree on the basics that the population agrees with, but have a difference of opinion on administrating them.

We are fed all our lives that competition is good in a capitalist society, yet find that competition in politics is bad.

I'm no political expert and these are my own opinions that may need more research, but I feel that more choice is a good thing.



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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-24-2007, 07:56 PM   #4
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

The last successful 3rd party was the repubs in the 1840-50's. It all started with some disagreements with Andrew Jackson while he was president. At the time he was a member of the Republican-Democratic Party (the forerunner of the current dems). He made the statement in anger that he was a Democrat. The name stuck and the dissidents became Republicans. A key issue but not the only issue was slavery. A few presidential elections later we got Abe Lincoln and the rest is history.

There are a lot of issues that the Libertarian Party has advocated over the years that has become part of either the dems or repubs platforms/objectives. The Libertarians have never had much traction in the polls.

Generally, the modern 3rd parties are spoilers. Perot basically took the election away from BushI and gave it to Clinton. Without Perot, it would have been Bill who? Nader cost Gore the election.

The current 2 parties are very adaptive. If a large number of voters thought their should be an ice cream stand on every corner and a 3rd party emerged to champion the issue, one of the parties (if not both) would take it up as their cause. It takes something like slavery where neither party leadership would take the step forward that allowed the repubs to be born. The USA has been a two party country almost its entire history. The system is designed for it although that wasn't the intent.

Parlimentary countries allow minorities to devolop a slow following that grow. They have influence in picking the direction of government. In the USA the repubs are almost totally out of the loop because they are one seat short in the Senate.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-25-2007, 06:10 AM   #5
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

I vaguely remember voting for Anderson in 1980. He got 6% of the vote in some places. I didn't get the feeling he was just a 'spoiler' in the Perot/Nader mold.

In Italy, many people want to move in the opposite direction: TOWARDS a two-party system. In the most recent 2 elections, it was in some sense effectively between just "the right" and "the left".. a face-off between two big coalitions that had formed. These coalitions had their own names and slogans. Of course, once one or the other gets into power the winning coalition can fragment.

In the US there are also representatives that don't vote the party line or, on the rare occasion, officially switch sides. The difference here is that, while it affects certain legislation, it doesn't change the executive, which in the European parliamentary system is propped up by the number of reps and senators who form the "majority." When the majority shifts, the government falls; that's why Italy has had 57 "governments" since 1948. Some of these are "re-orgs" under the same PM, but in certain periods there's been a new guy at the helm every few months.. Only Berlusconi has ridden out his full five years intact due a high level of coalition discipline.

A significant number of others in Italy that don't like the 2-party idea are clamoring (believe it or not!) for a ONE-party idea.. the ultimate "big tent". This was the role of the Christian Democrats, once huge--by far the biggest party, that held a kind of conservative/Catholic/socialist sway over the country for much of the 60s/70s/80s. It was also, obviously, a hotbed of corruption which led to the "Clean Hands" movement and the exile (escape to avoid prosecution) of the PM Craxi to Tunisia. Obviously the bigger the party, the bigger the "machine" that doles out favors, and a lot of people miss that era, and Craxi is now post-humously undergoing a Nixonian, nostalgia-driven, political makeover..  with overtones of "why can't we all just get along?".. 

Yeah, 2B.. Booo hoo hoo. I see how "totally out of the loop" the Republican Senate is with that big Democratic win on the min. wage... (argh). 

I don't think the de facto 2-party system is the be-all and end-all; I just don't see a good logical alternative in which smaller parties could actually get the amount of attention they might merit.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-25-2007, 06:49 AM   #6
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

While I was in Turkey I was present during a national election. As luck would have it I worked with several people who were involved enough to talk about their election procedures. They were saying one of the biggest problems is too many choices. IIRC the winner is the person with the simple majority. So it is possible to win the election with a mere 20% of the total vote. That would be a tough job to have.

As too why there isn't a third party in the US. Personally I think any viable third party goes about gaining power wrong. They seem to want the crown and not the local or Congress. I think if they were able to put up a decent candidate for several Congressional seats they might have a chance. Once there if they could prove that they are not some nut job, their party could gain respect. An example would be the Libertarians. I've never seen a Libertarian run for anything other than President. Unfortunately they seem to select people who espouse the radical ideas of one party or the other. Here's an idea go for the middle. How's this for a party: Government get out of our personal lives (religion should be treated the same as any other social science). Government maintain nature without going to the fringe of no use for any public lands. An endangered species has more right to use the land than the citizens of the country.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-25-2007, 07:58 AM   #7
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

I lived through the Jesse Ventura stint in the Governor's office in MN.

If he had played his cards right (kept his mouth shut) I think he could have been a serious contender in the 2000 Presidential race. Remember the race that nobody could win ?

I think he would have gotten a lot of votes for people who wanted to vote for "None of the above".

Having a third party in office didn't seem to help a bit. It's just three parties that can't get along instead of two.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideol
Old 01-25-2007, 10:24 AM   #8
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideol

I think, for better or worse, we have more of a two party system in the last few elections than before. In Europe and most places, parties stand for something so you are electing a socialist or royalist or whatever and you expect the party to have a particular agenda. In some places you actually vote only for the party and they select their prime minister. For many, many years US parties stood for nothing. There were moderate New England republicans and conservative southern democrats and variation in between. Henry Jackson of WA was a domestic liberal and foreign policy hawk. Since Nixon initiated the "southern strategy" the republicans have purged all their liberal elements and almost all the moderates. The democrats have moved somewhat to the left although they do less ‘enforcement’ than the republicans with a member who disagrees with many party 'planks' as long as he wins.

In the long run this may be a good thing. The ‘problem’ right now is the country is pretty evenly divided. The republicans made the mistake of ignoring that, the democrats are less likely to do that. But if the country ever shifts substantially in one direction or the other one party will take over and ‘rule’ like they do in the UK until they are turned out of office, but each party would have a comprehensive plan that they stand for and would get implemented.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-25-2007, 01:24 PM   #9
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

Many countries have it - so if you have 3% green party or independent, or say woman's party or left handed people party , that's the percentage of the House they would get - it works and people feel like their votes COUNT...then people would have to work together to come up with - i know it's scary - SOLUTIONS! that's why most countries have a WAY higher percentage of women politicians and often their minority groups are represented as well...

Again, this is something the current parties would never support. just like the recent initiative in CA from the nurses association calling for major finance reform - got clobbered by lack of support from rep'ns or dem's...who both actively opposed it.

there are simple reform solutions out there, perhaps more worth our time than putting our hopes and dreams into a single candidate who cannot do much on their own to reform and historically end up playing the game even if they ever had hopes of changing from within...
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-25-2007, 06:04 PM   #10
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
It creates total chaos where it is in effect. Any wacko can always find a few percent that will vote for them if they get out and campaign. I can see it now. In congress we'll have 35 communists, 20 neo-nazis, 37 greens, 48 pro-life, 52 pro-choice, etc.... Based on the national vote, the parties will then select who will serve in Congress. Talk about "smoke filled room politics." Now let's decide on a budget and a foreign policy.

I'd rather we have a nation election to decide who we should surrender to. I'd rather get it over with ASAP and avoid most of the pain and anguish.

Our constitution does not create a very good form of government but it's better than everything else I've seen.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-25-2007, 06:07 PM   #11
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B
It creates total chaos where it is in effect. Any wacko can always find a few percent that will vote for them if they get out and campaign. I can see it now. In congress we'll have 35 communists, 20 neo-nazis, 37 greens, 48 pro-life, 52 pro-choice, etc....
Hey hey hey, that's our Electoral College you're talking about!

We call those wackos "Democrats", "Republicans", or, in special political situations where a lot of money national security is at stake, "Independents".
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-25-2007, 06:37 PM   #12
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

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Hey hey hey, that's our Electoral College you're talking about!

We call those wackos "Democrats", "Republicans", or, in special political situations where a lot of money national security is at stake, "Independents".
But there's only 2 wackos. Try proportial representation and live with 37.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-26-2007, 11:20 AM   #13
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

People vote for who they see on tv and hear about in the media, and a majority of voters will vote for the same party they've always voted for (yellow dog syndrome).

The current two parties control far more money than any 3rd party could muster to challenge the other two for paid tv time.

An effective 3rd party would have to offer a perspective rather different from one of the existing two parties, which wouldnt be comfortable for current voters in those two parties.

And the end result would be that whichever party was closest in ideology to the new 3rd party would lose voters to it, handing a victory to the party thats furthest away...influences that perot and nader had.

Now, if you limit the amount you can spend on advertising to something that would let 3rd parties compete economically, maybe somebody's marketing machine could drive a party candidate who is centrist to the existing two and pull votes from both.

But its more likely that a reasonable candidate in that situation would just bond with one of the existing parties and go from there. Why fight the established mechanism?

Hell, at this point we're lucky we have political parties and not the "fox party" and "cnn party".
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideol
Old 01-26-2007, 11:34 AM   #14
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny

Hell, at this point we're lucky we have political parties and not the "fox party" and "cnn party".

I really though we had a 'fox party' already.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-26-2007, 12:54 PM   #15
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B
It creates total chaos where it is in effect. Any wacko can always find a few percent that will vote for them if they get out and campaign. I can see it now. In congress we'll have 35 communists, 20 neo-nazis, 37 greens, 48 pro-life, 52 pro-choice, etc.... Based on the national vote, the parties will then select who will serve in Congress. Talk about "smoke filled room politics." Now let's decide on a budget and a foreign policy.

Our constitution does not create a very good form of government but it's better than everything else I've seen.
Are you that afraid of a true democracy

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/.../PRsystems.htm 21 of 28 western european countries use it...guess that's why we hear about all that chaos in those wacky Swedish elections every year huh? :

Sure, there might be wackos - but hey if you watch cspan long enough you know they are already many there - but i think part of the current wacko-affect of non majority party people is because they know there is slim chance they will ever truly have to govern.

Once people have that true responsibility/chance, the tenor would change.

the "majority republican" or democrat for that matter congress is decided by less than a quarter of the population - that's the best you've seen?
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-26-2007, 01:07 PM   #16
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

A few comments on some of the above..

Electorial college representatives.... you had said that they vote with the percentage in their state... well, unless I misread what you wrote.. you are not correct for most states. All votes goes to the winner. If the repub gets 50% of the votes plus 1... then he gets 100% of the electorial college votes. From what I have heard (no support), at least for Texas they HAVE to vote the way the state said on the first election (which by the way is usually the only vote).. but I believe they can change on other votes is there is not a winner. With two parties and winner take all, this is not likely to happen...

As for the third party in the UK. I think you are dreaming that they matter at all.. they have a very small percent of the parliment and no real power.. the Labour party had (I still think they do) over 50% of the Parliment... so they did not have to form a 'coalition' government.. they just ran everything.... kind of like what happens here...

I remember seeing the guy that was the leader of the liberal dems in the UK and he would talk constantly of not getting the representation they deserved...
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-26-2007, 01:46 PM   #17
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud
A few comments on some of the above..

Electorial college representatives.... you had said that they vote with the percentage in their state... well, unless I misread what you wrote.. you are not correct for most states. All votes goes to the winner. If the repub gets 50% of the votes plus 1... then he gets 100% of the electorial college votes. From what I have heard (no support), at least for Texas they HAVE to vote the way the state said on the first election (which by the way is usually the only vote).. but I believe they can change on other votes is there is not a winner. With two parties and winner take all, this is not likely to happen...

As for the third party in the UK. I think you are dreaming that they matter at all.. they have a very small percent of the parliment and no real power.. the Labour party had (I still think they do) over 50% of the Parliment... so they did not have to form a 'coalition' government.. they just ran everything.... kind of like what happens here...

I remember seeing the guy that was the leader of the liberal dems in the UK and he would talk constantly of not getting the representation they deserved...
The EC is winner take all in all but 2 states

In 21 states, electors are not obligated by law to vote for the candidate for whom they were selected.

In the 29 states where electors are obligated by law or pledge, they can often still vote against their party without being replaced. Some states issue only minimal fines as punishment. Other states instigate criminal charges varying from a simple misdemeanor to a 4th degree felony.

Since the founding of the Electoral College, 156 Electors have not cast their votes for the candidates they were designated to represent. from http://www.fairvote.org/e_college/problems.htm#wta
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-26-2007, 01:52 PM   #18
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

bright eyes.. you're right about how few people are really represented by the votes cast under the current system. Having extra parties would probably 'enfranchise' more people.

Texas Proud.. not so sure about how little power minor parties have in a proportional gov't.... The Speaker of the House equivalent here is the leader of the leftmost of the 2 Communist parties, the Foreign Minister is the leader of the other!

And, the most fetching new parliamentarian from the Communist Party: Vladimir Luxuria!!



Actually a very smart guy gal.. very witty and very committed to politics.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-26-2007, 01:56 PM   #19
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

Where's CT? He has some thoughts on this.

Basically, the fact that our elections are winnable with a plurality - not a majority - is the barrier to a third party. If we required a majority, a third party can gain traction, win runoffs, play kingmaker, etc.
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology
Old 01-26-2007, 03:18 PM   #20
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Re: Like England, can a third political party come along and challenge the ideology

The Electorial College is a relic of a time with poor communication and limited transportation to permit campaigning.  Also, a "gentleman" would not openly campaign for the presidency in 1800.  The EC afforded an opportunity for "educated" gentlement to meet, discuss the candidates and vote.  If no one got a majority, it became an issue for the House of Representative.  It never really worked as intended after George Washington.

Proportional representation is not "true democracy."  That would be all of us voting on every issue every time and all having the ability to call a vote on any subject.  The closest we come to that is the initiative process.  A key part of "proportial represented parliments" is that the party gets a certain percent of the votes and they appoint who will sit.  Many have the ability to to change out their representative just to make sure they won't leave the reservation.  It also fosters extremist positions and fragments any government (far beyond the dems and repubs).

For a 3rd party to work it will have to come about the same way the Republican-Democratic Party split.  Individuals ran as whigs, repubs or dems up until Abe Lincoln finally got elected as the first repub president.  By then, the whigs had become effectively marginalized and faded away.  If people keep waiting for that "great leader" to form the 3rd party they will wait forever for a successful launch.

Lincoln was elected in an absolute EC mess.  There were multiple candidates that totally fragmented the vote count.  He was representing the plurality in enough states that he won.  It's not unusual for a president to win the EC without a majority of the popular vote.

LIST OF PLURALITY PRESIDENTS
Year      Winner       Popular Vote         Electoral Vote
2000     Bush            47.9%                      50%
1996     Clinton         49.2%                      70%
1992     Clinton         43.0%                      69%
1968     Nixon            43.4%                     56%
1960     Kennedy       49.7%                     56%
1948     Truman         49.5%                     57%
1916     Wilson          49.3%                      52%
1912     Wilson          41.8%                      82%
1892     Cleveland     46.0%                      62%
1888     Harrison       47.8%                      58%
1884     Cleveland     48.8%                      55%
1880     Garfield         48.3%                      58%
1876     Hayes           47.9%                      50%
1860     Lincoln           39.9%                     59%
1856     Buchanan      45.3%                     59%
1848     Taylor            47.3%                     56%
1844     Polk               49.3%                     62%
1824     Adams           29.8%                     32% (decided by the House)

I really doubt that enough small states would agree to change the constitution to eliminate the EC.  It gives their state and their issues a stronger stake in the election.  Without the EC, the elections would be decided in a few large metropolitan areas.  I also think that the states that have eliminated their winner take all have marginalized their voice in the presidential election.


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