Friday, March 15, 2002
Breaking newsNever let it be said that Arthur Schlesinger is behind the times. He has a hard-hitting news story in the current American Prospect which makes the heretofore unreported point that George Bush didn't win the popular vote sixteen months ago. He uses this newsflash as a jumping off point to discuss, in tedious detail, the history of the electoral college. You can't learn this stuff elsewhere -- at least not without staying awake in a high school social studies class. Amazingly, while listing the instances where the popular vote leader lost the election, it never once occurs to him that candidates campaigned, and voters voted, based on an electoral vote strategy, and might have acted differently if a different system were in place. But nevermind.
This all leads up to various proposals to "reform" the presidential election process, but I fell asleep while reading, so I can't summarize them. Mostly because, well, who cares? This is one of those issues of great interest to history professors and Al Gore, and nobody else. As Schlesinger himself notes, with regard to the 2000 election:
I expected an explosion of public outrage over the rejection of the people's choice. But there was surprisingly little in the way of outcry.Surprisingly? If people were passionate about Al Gore, he would have won the election outright. But they weren't, and he didn't. Surely there must be something more interesting to talk about. I suppose this raises the question of why I did talk about it; the answer, I suppose, is that if I had to suffer reading it, I might as well spend some time mocking it, so that it wasn't a total waste.
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