Wednesday, February 06, 2008

History Lesson of the Day: Why Our Electoral System Sucks and How it Got to This Level of Suckage

Eric Rauchway explains the history and development of our electoral system over at The Edge of the American West, another excellent academic (history) blog you should read:

So the function of the American party system is to thwart the genteel, deliberative process envisioned in the Constitution, by turning the party conventions and the electoral college into the deciders.

Let me put that more pointedly, just for the heck of it: the function of the American party system is to thwart original intent.

By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, 2/3 of the states had adopted some kind of direct primary to nominate officers, to democratize the party system a bit.

As for the electoral college, well, you know about that. You might not know about the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which was supposed to straighten out some of the mess thus generated. Would it shock you to know that the framers of that law “rejected proposals for federal court involvement in the resolution of disputes concerning electors”? Somehow the Supreme Court failed to take into account this original intent in 2000.



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