Author Topic: The Trump Presidency  (Read 75005 times)

Offline Halcyon Dayz, FCD

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #705 on: January 24, 2020, 11:48:44 AM »
If the US had a sane and fair electoral system the Left would have its own party, so he wouldn't need to be.

As a Canadian, I can say that having multiple federal parties to choose from isn't necessarily sane or good for the country. It leads to parties winning even though they don't have the majority of votes. So be careful what you wish for.
So Canada fails the fair part.
At least most Westminster-style democracies manage to have at least a 2-and-half party system., i.e. more choice.

I'm used to a strict proportional representation system where every vote counts and no party ever wins a majority.
Exactly as it should be.

For humongous countries like Canada multi-member constituencies Belgian style, or the German system where people get two votes, one list, one local.
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Offline LunarOrbit

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #706 on: January 24, 2020, 11:52:04 AM »
As a Canadian, I can say that having multiple federal parties to choose from isn't necessarily sane or good for the country. It leads to parties winning even though they don't have the majority of votes. So be careful what you wish for.

Our presidents keep winning without the plurality of the vote now, so I would say we are used to it. My impression is that multi-party coalition governments drive at least a modicum of different viewpoints talking to each other; would you say that is not really the case? Would a ranked choice voting system make the multiple party system work more smoothly?

Usually coalition governments just result in more frequent elections because they inevitably fail. But that is probably unique to a parliamentary system; it might not be relevant to the US since you have fixed term lengths and no way to force an election.

I'm not really an expert, but yes, I think there has been a push to change how the winner is selected from "first past the post" to a proportional system.
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Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #707 on: January 24, 2020, 12:02:08 PM »
There are a lot of failings in the US system--I used to support the idea of the Electoral College, but I'm done doing that now--but I'm not sure a multi-party system would automatically make everything better.

As to Sanders supporters . . . well, there are several kinds.  The two most vocal ones I knew four years ago didn't vote Trump.  One voted for Jill Stein.  One wrote in Jesus, because she couldn't bear to vote for Hillary Clinton no matter how many times I told her the things she believed about Hillary were demonstrably wrong.  (She wasn't quite to Pizzagate, but I believe she leaned toward the idea of the Clinton Body Count.)  Now, they were in Washington and Oregon, respectively, so they didn't really change things, but still.  On the other hand, I know a lot of people who voted Sanders in the primary and held their noses and voted Clinton in the general. 

And not all of those people are Sanders supporters this time around; a lot of them are frustrated by things like his whole "oops, I didn't realize my campaign was a toxic environment for women that also mysteriously paid them less."  One of my friends quite cheerfully votes for him--for Senator.  And doesn't support him for President, because she doesn't think he'd do a good job at it.
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Offline jfb

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #708 on: January 24, 2020, 04:52:02 PM »
Again, getting rid of the EC would require a Constitutional amendment, which isn't going to happen (not before this election or the next, at least).  The focus needs to be on lobbying state legislatures to apportion electors proportionally instead of winner take all and to impose substantive penalties on "faithless" electors.  That's hard, not gonna pretend otherwise, but it's not "let's amend the Constitution" hard.  Similarly states need to be lobbied to adopt non-partisan districting (which needs to happen yesterday - 2020's a census year, and districts will be redrawn accordingly).  TX stands to gain up to three electoral votes, and you know those new districts will be drawn to dilute Democratic influence even further.  If the Democrats ever win the Lege again, that's the first thing that needs to happen. 

And as I've said before, both the Democratic and Republican parties are already coalitions of fairly diverse interests - neither party is monolithic in thought or approach.  Pretty much the only thing that unites the various wings of the Republican party today is tax cuts, otherwise you have nation-builders and isolationists, hard-core social conservatives and libertarians, pro-lifers and pro-choicers, etc.  Democrats have environmentalists and labor, pro-choicers and pro-lifers, Keynesians and supply-siders, etc.  No, it's not the same as having multiple parties, but it's not quite as dire as some would claim. 

I freely admit my view of Sanders supporters is colored by my experiences at the county and state conventions, and I'm sure for every one that was an asshole there were 10 who were quite lovely people, but the assholes are the ones I remember (maybe because they were techbros who set my teeth on edge anyway).  There were some Hillary dead-enders, but by and large it seemed like most of the Clinton delegation was more focused beating Trump. 

Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #709 on: January 27, 2020, 12:41:56 PM »
The statistical behavior of the electoral college made more sense, I think, when there was not as great a difference in the populations of states.  Nowadays it really does simply amount to giving individual inhabitants of some states considerably more authority to choose the President than individual inhabitants of other states.  We have to keep in mind also that this form of choosing the executive was still relatively new and experimental when it was put in place in America, and has been supplanted in younger constitutional democracies by a more straightforward popular vote.  I think the younger generations of Americans lean toward this as what they want.  They see this aspect of the electoral college as having had an undesirable effect in the 2016 presidential election.

But if you read the Federalists, you hear in no uncertain terms that the other prominent feature of the electoral college was intended to insulate the high office of President from being easily attained to by an intemperate, unprincipled, or otherwise undesirable person simply by virtue of appealing to what the Framers feared would arise in the form of unbridled populism.  They were supposed to be the last line of defense, because the offices outlined in Article II of the U.S. constitution were designed to be held by people with at least some good will and sense of responsibility.  Put bluntly, the notion of a "faithless" elector is a relatively new concept.  The notion that the electors from a state would just mechanically (or, as later came to be, by statute) vote for whatever candidate their state's voters indicated is rather contrary to the original hope of electors as being sober, sound persons who will reject an evidently undesirable candidate.

Because eliminating the electoral college is a major structural change to the way the United States government is organized, it will have to clear a very high hurdle in order to be effected.  But since the states control how their electors are chosen and, in some cases how they are expected to vote, we can begin to implement and test changes that make our elections work the way we want them to.  As you say, eliminate the winner-take-all footing.  And repeal the faithless-elector laws, freeing up electors to vote their consciences.
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Offline Ranb

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #710 on: January 27, 2020, 02:44:18 PM »
…. And repeal the faithless-elector laws, freeing up electors to vote their consciences.
If we don't prohibit faithless electors, then we might as well just elect the president by popular vote.  If my vote is going to  count for something, then I want to be sure that my elector is required to vote the will of the people in his or her district.

Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #711 on: January 27, 2020, 05:03:33 PM »
If we don't prohibit faithless electors, then we might as well just elect the president by popular vote.

Which is what some people in America now want.  But by the same token, if electors are required to vote according to some presumption, then why have actual human electors at all?  Why not just apply the formula given in the constitution for the apportioning of the electors and let the President and Vice President be elected by simple arithmetic?

Quote
If my vote is going to  count for something, then I want to be sure that my elector is required to vote the will of the people in his or her district.

Which would be the effect of the direct popular vote, absent any actual human electors.  The constitution imposes little policy on how a state's legislature may choose their electors or how those electors must vote.  The notion of a "pledged" elector evolved later -- and not unreasonably.  Each state has nearly full authority over its electoral delegation.  A state could, for example, legislate that the sitting governor gets to appoint the electors without ever consulting the people.  Another state could legislate to hold a lottery and draw its electors at random.  At the constitutional level, nothing at all says that the electors' votes need to have anything to do with the will of the people.  In fact, it rather implies that they shouldn't.

Prudently enough, every state somehow ties its electoral vote to some canvass of its inhabitants.  This is because, as you rightly point out, it's the democratic way.  And if a state decides to do that by allowing electors to be themselves elected by direct suffrage, it would have a very difficult time doing that without requiring candidates for elector to pledge their votes.  The original intent was that you would campaign to be an elector based on your judgment and impartiality, not who you planned to vote for.  The pledged elector -- and its more refined offspring, the partisan elector -- is a consequence of what is obviously the most democratic way for a state to choose its electors, under the non-Federalist interpretation that the will of the people should be preserved.  And it holds up in court.

The Supreme Court just recently granted certiorari for a case asking whether a state can punish faithless electors.  The constitutionality of this hasn't yet been tested, although many states have such a law.  The only thing we've tested so far is whether the state can required the candidate elector to pledge his or her vote prior to being given the job.  This is more of a problem than it seems because the 12th Amendment requires the electors to vote by ballot (by which we understand a secret ballot).  Requiring a candidate elector to announce his intended vote seems to undermine that part.  But just as ordinary citizens are not barred from revealing their vote -- intended or actual -- electors for President are not barred from announcing how they intend to vote.  The first question the Court had to answer was whether a state could require a candidate to do so.

It can, because no one is coerced to be an elector.  A candidate presenting himself to his secretary of state to be an elector does so voluntarily.  And if he does it on behalf of a party, the party can make him submit to whatever qualifications they deem appropriate -- including, obviously, a pledge to vote for that party's candidates.

Where we take a turn is in the spirit of the 12th Amendment, which was always to say that electors were supposed to be fair, non-partisan, independent judges of who should hold the highest offices in the United States.  Reading the Federalists, one is struck by the deliberate and painstaking design that went into the electoral college, anticipating a number of potential evils and prescribing remedies for them.  And by the early 1800s it had all flown out the door.

The Framers directly considered the possibility that the will of the people would simply be wrong.  The safety-net feature of the electoral college was an integral, important part of why it was created.  And, paradoxically, it's the linchpin of upholding the pledge laws.  An candidate-elector's pledged vote may be required of him as a condition for the party he represents to certify him as such to the state, but that's solely a matter for the candidate and the party.  Once elected, the elector becomes a functionary of the United States and does not depend further on the party.  Once convened with his other electors, he could vote his conscience in secret.  So no constitutional principle is impugned in requiring the pledge.  Requiring the vote, however, will run afoul of Art. II Sec. 1 of the constitution and the whole body of the 12th Amendment.

Basically we're on the brink of deciding whether to abandon the whole quaint safety-net principle of the electoral college.  Whether that's a good idea or not is anyone's guess, but a lot of people were thinking about it in 2016.  As this august group demonstrates, it's possible to hear reasoned arguments on both sides of the issue.  By the time of the infamous 1824 election, the electoral college had pretty much run off the rails and become dominated by pleged partisans.  So given that this is how we've done it for nearly 200 years, is it okay to enshrine it as a required way of doing it?

Your statement is pretty clear.  You desire a certain person to be President, and you intend your vote to have the effect of electing that person without anything going wrong between you and that.  I wager that's probably how quite a lot of modern Americans think.  So I guess to revise my argument above, we should choose either one picture of the electoral college or another.  If we want to retain the safety net, then we should go the full way toward keeping it there, which means permitting electors to disagree with the voters in their states.  If we want to make the election of the President more directly popular, then we should get as close as we can to that without having to repeal the 12th Amendment.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2020, 06:22:56 PM by JayUtah »
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Offline Obviousman

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #712 on: January 27, 2020, 06:17:41 PM »
And repeal the faithless-elector laws, freeing up electors to vote their consciences.

What are faithless-elector laws? I have never heard that term before.

Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #713 on: January 27, 2020, 06:46:00 PM »
What are faithless-elector laws? I have never heard that term before.

In short, they're laws that require electors to vote as they pledged, under pain of removal and replacement, or fine.

The U.S. Constitution gives the state legislatures the authority to determine how the state's electors will be chosen.  Most states have followed a pattern in which the electors are themselves elected by a statewide election.  The original intent was for electors to be people whom the general public trusted with the judgment to pick a good President, regardless of who that turned out to be.  It was not originally intended that the President and Vice President be chosen directly by popular vote.  Very quickly the criteria for election as an elector became which specific candidate for President the elector favored, thus practically making a state's popular vote directly effective at voting for President.

Most state legislatures bow to this inevitability by prescribing partisan elections of electors.  Each party certifies its candidates for elector to the secretary of state, as for the election of any other partisan office.  (However, electors are expressly not officers but ad hoc functionaries.)  State law makes the winner of that election its appointees as electors.  Naturally, candidates for electors formally pledge to vote for whichever person that party's convention or caucus nominates for President and Vice President.  In a number of states, the legislature further requires the electors to vote as they pledged.  A "faithless" elector is one who has pledged to vote for one candidate for President, but votes for another, or fails to vote.  In states that have faithless-elector laws, this behavior subjects the elector to removal and replacement (e.g., by an alternate elector provided by the party), or to criminal liability.

The constitutionality of requiring electors to vote a specific way, as opposed to being free agents, has been variously ruled upon by lower federal courts (generally favoring upholding the laws requiring electors to act in faith), and is now the subject of a consolidated case in the U.S. Supreme Court.  The case is docket 19-465, which has not yet been set for argument.
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Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #714 on: January 28, 2020, 11:02:03 AM »
As I recall, faithless electors are now the reason a second black man, Colin Powell, has gotten an EC vote--and I know one of ours in Washington flatly refused to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton and cast it for a Native American instead, probably the first Native American to get an EC vote.
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Offline JayUtah

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #715 on: January 28, 2020, 11:19:42 AM »
As I recall, faithless electors are now the reason a second black man, Colin Powell, has gotten an EC vote--and I know one of ours in Washington flatly refused to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton and cast it for a Native American instead, probably the first Native American to get an EC vote.

The case involving these actual electors is the one before the Supreme Court.
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Offline Bryanpoprobson

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #716 on: February 08, 2020, 02:11:52 AM »


***BE AWARE THE VIDEO CONTAINS VERY COLOURFUL LANGUAGE***

Jonathan Pie is a UK spoof news reporter but his evaluation of the impeachment process and Trumps Acquittal is spot on.

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Offline MBDK

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #717 on: February 08, 2020, 03:51:19 AM »
Jonathan Pie is a UK spoof news reporter but his evaluation of the impeachment process and Trumps Acquittal is spot on.

Yes, it is spot on - as an affirmation of the leaps and bounds made by the anti-Trump Democrats to spread dis-information* and hate.  If you can laugh at this vulgar and uninformed video, then you are on equal footing with the Republican fools that laugh at vulgar and uninformed criticisms of the left.

*Example: From-
https://www.rollcall.com/2019/12/02/gop-report-evidence-does-not-prove-trump-pressured-ukraine-for-political-benefit/
“None of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” the Republican staff wrote in the executive summary of the report.
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Offline gillianren

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #718 on: February 08, 2020, 11:17:19 AM »
What witnesses?  The ones that the Senate wouldn't even listen to before making up their minds?
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Offline MBDK

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Re: The Trump Presidency
« Reply #719 on: February 08, 2020, 11:39:19 AM »
What witnesses?  The ones that the Senate wouldn't even listen to before making up their minds?
Pretty clear from the text they are (quote)"the Democrats’ witnesses* testified (unquote)

*"that" should be included here as an amendment to the quote in order for it to make grammatical sense.

As far as additional witnesses in the Senate goes, if the case wasn't solid in the House, it should never have been sent to he Senate in the first place.  Also, don't forget Clinton's Senate trial included no further witnesses, either.
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