About the only certainty you can count on from today’s US election is that the US will have poor political leadership over the next four years. The result doesn’t matter much. As we showed in our election presentation, the mandatory spending locked into the US government virtually guarantees larger deficits. You have more retirees and fewer taxpayers with each passing year.
In the meantime, here is another insight into how the US electoral college works, and why it was set up in the first place. It’s important to remember that the United States used to be a Union of separate States. It wasn’t ‘The United States’ it was ‘These United States’. Things are a lot different today, of course.
‘I am an ex-Alaskan living in New Zealand and an avid reader of Markets and Money along with being an expert in US constitutional law. I love your work.
‘I thought your Indecision 2012 was very valuable for Australians unversed in US politics. However, your Electoral College explanation was a bit simplistic and left out some important details, many of which might bore your largely Australian audience. Admittedly, the Framers feared the mobs and popular majorities for obvious reasons. However, they created the Electoral College to balance the power of the states, which was particularly important given that the various states were once self-governing colonies and countries under the Articles of Confederation.
‘Each state had unique franchise requirements in 1787. Some like Pennsylvania or New York had close to universal white male suffrage. However, the southern states tended to restrict the franchise by imposing substantial property qualifications. If the popular vote determined the President, then a state with a broad franchise (one that allowed all white males to vote) could exert a disproportionate influence compared to a state with a narrow franchise (one that allowed only those with substantial property to vote).
‘If one state allowed all white males to vote and another state restricted the franchise so that only 10% of the white electorate could vote, then the state with universal white male suffrage would receive disproportionate representation if the popular vote solely determined the Presidency. Hence, the Framers formed the Electoral College.
‘The entire slavery situation is in the background. Under the 3/5 clause, slaves counted as 3/5 of a person for the purposes of taxation and representations. In this sense, the southern states received a bonus number of electoral votes, despite the fact that the slave population could not vote. In some ways, the Electoral College system arose as a way of placating southern interests and gaining their approval for the US Constitution by tilting the electoral scales in favour of the South.
‘I am abridging the explanation, but I thought it might interest you and your readers.
for Markets and Money
From the Archives…
A Deflationary Conclusion to China’s Bubble
2-11-2012 – Greg Canavan
When ‘Nanny State’ Deficits Becomes Unviable
1-11-2012 – Marc Faber
Why Economists Are Jackasses
31-10-2012 – Bill Bonner
Riding out the Storm
30-10-2012 – Dan Denning
What We Couldn’t Say on CNBC About Economic Stimulus and Other Things
29-10-2012 – Bill Bonner