Tuesday, October 26

schooling the electorate

I sometimes find myself trying to explain arcane details of American politics to Europeans at my work. They seem reasonably interested. Last week it was gerrymandering and the electoral college. I said the electoral college is leftover from the early days of the country and it needs to go. Or does it?

This article from Discover magazine follows the argument of a physicist who mathematically analyzed voting in different types of elections, comparing direct democracy where everyone's vote is combined into one heap, and varying degrees of clumping, into states, districts, whatever. His conclusion: the electoral college actually gives individuals more power and helps minority groups retain their rights and power.

I'm not convinced he's right that the electoral college does all this. But it's an interesting idea. Perhaps this archaic system that arose because the elite feared handing the vote over to the common man could today actually empower them more than direct democracy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have my sympathy trying to explain American politics to non-Americans -- especially during this election. What have been your observations about the Swiss political system, with its emphasis on referendums? Do the Swiss people have really intense discussions about the pros and cons of each issue, or do they just quietly reach their own conclusions?

PS: I also enjoyed your post above about "easy English" and "Latinate English."

Miss Authoritiva (USA)

3:33 AM  

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