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Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters Paperback – September 18, 2012
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None of it supports either expansion of popular vote or elimination of the EC.
Against her own interests in both expanding the popular vote and eliminating the EC, Bassetti fairly depicts the history of corrupt practices of machine politics in St Louis, New York and Chicago as well as the community organizing excesses of ACORN, Obama's former organization. There's little on the history of the gerrymandering issue.
There are a couple of curious references to Akhil Amar and Jason Brennan, both of Yale University. Amar, in 'The Unwritten Constitution' makes a very logical analysis proposing the 'equal protection' clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as a basis for the incorporation doctrine, applying the B of R to the states while SC decisions have heretofore cited due process. Bassetti also cites 'equal protection' without any rationale in the text. Is that an accident, or does she blindly follow Amar? Brennan, a Libertarian, would never countenance the proposed expansion of federal power proposed in this book.
There is no analysis of alternatives such as proportional representation or differences in a large republic from a small one popular democracy occasionally worked in Athens, but would give inordinate power to large urban centers in the USA. A corrupt machine in say Chicago might achieve the presidency in every election. For all of Bassetti's counter examples the EC has historically done a fine job in protecting us from such a travesty as it was intended to do.
Modification of local voting rules could achieve much more with less harm than expansion of government power. The Electoral College give power to the states with reason. Eliminating it would further erode the checks and balances built into the Constitution. The Seventeenth Amendment greatly lowered quality of Senators in the last century. Similarly, eliminating the EC will not improve the legislative branch.
Much of the electorate treats each election as a personality contest. Many others are dedicated to idealistic party loyalty. Indigents will vote for those who promise the most in entitlement benefits. The book doesn't make the case that expanding the vote will enhance either democracy or general welfare.
Segments of the book deplore low voter turnout in the USA. Syria and Egypt have 100% voter turnout. Is the direction Bassetti intends us to go? Francis Fukuyama in 'The End of History' has blamed the welfare state, arguing that the decrease in turnout has come after the government became more involved in people's lives. There's no analysis by Bassetti, who advocates greater federal regulation of the voting process. Voter turnout is affected by significance of vote. Votes count more in proportional representation systems than in the first past the post system in the USA. In general, the more winners the more voters. Of course 100% voter turnout can be achieved by edict as in the former USSR. I suppose that would fit Bassetti's idea of democracy.
Worst of all, Bassetti seems unaware that our selection process whereby candidates are vetted by oligarchies in the two party system is much more dysfunctional than the election process. Elections have become media popularity contests among unsuitable candidates.
Our fine presidents have been an accident with no credit to the selection process.
That applies especially to Truman who was first vice-president. Other such successors have been a disaster. Favorable treatment of the Twelfth Amendment is not justified; it has not served us well. More recently, no informed voter could think that Gore, Bush, Kerry, Romney, Obama, Biden or the Clintons would be among the 1,000 best candidates for the office of president. As long as the selection process is this dysfunctional, election democracy is a pipe dream.
There appears to be a misguided impression that our elected representatives carry out the will of the electorate. Nobody voted for the dysfunctional budget and financial regulation system in place today. Ultimately this shallow analysis will sell by telling the politically illiterate voting public what they want to hear.