To the editor

Jul 202004

Joe Marshall’s column (“Electoral College A Potential Pandora’s

Box”, Collegian, July 7) contains terribly flawed arguments and a

highly biased look at the next election. His assertion that “the

possibility of this particular technicality deciding the outcome of

two consecutive elections is proof of the electoral college’s

obsolescence” is illogical. I strongly doubt that if Senator Kerry

loses the popular vote but wins in the electoral college, we will

hear a peep from Mr. Marshall. Mr. Marshall accuses Congress of

having rushed several states into existence some 110 years ago,

possibly prematurely for the sake of their electoral votes. Even if

true, how does this bear on the present issue? All have been

“adequately” populous for a long time, and thus this aspect of

Marshall’s “argument” is irrelevant. Much more scary is Mr.

Marshall’s question about whether the majority of Americans would

accept a repeat of the outcome of the 2000 election as legitimate.

Is he seriously questioning whether or not the majority of

Americans would defy the constitution, the ruling law of the land?

Or would he promote a coup d’etat? Scary stuff.

More troubling is Mr. Marshall’s implied assertion that

representation based on anything other than population is unfair.

No doubt, then, Mr. Marshall would also espouse the radical notion

of the abolition of the U.S. Senate, and our conversion to a

unicameral legislature. Our country is the United States; our

founders recognized our diversity and sought to protect that

diversity and prevent the populous states from dictating to the

less populous states. The electoral college is a brilliant

arrangement that preserves the importance of the less populous

states. Without it, less populous states (including Colorado) would

be ignored both during and between elections; candidates would only

mine votes where they are most densely concentrated. No candidate

would visit Albuquerque, Helena, or Denver for that matter in the

hopes of harvesting a few hundred more votes, which would be

insignificant if we elected Presidents based on a popular vote.

However, because a few hundred votes can make the difference in the

winner-take-all system called the electoral college,

small-population states do count.

Despite his being a history major, Mr. Marshall’s column is

sorely lacking in perspective. This is not a time of “unprecedented

ideological division”-far from it. Only a few years ago, Bill

Clinton was an enormously polarizing figure, with much of the

country despising his poor judgment, weather vane politics, and

unprecedented lack of morality. And then there was that minor

ideological division called the civil war–but maybe Mr. Marshall

hasn’t yet covered that in his studies.

Mr. Marshall also tries to create the impression of a current

populist uprising on the left, citing “hundreds of thousands of

individual contributions totaling less than $1000 each”. In fact,

according to the Washington Post, 64% of donors in 2002 giving $200

or less to federal candidates gave to Republicans, not Democrats.

In contrast, 92% of those giving $1 million or more contributed to

Democrats. By this measure, the Democratic party is floated mostly

by rich trial lawyers and left-wing Hollywood elites (including

George “I-hate-President-Bush” Soros, and Barbra

“I-hate-John-Ashcroft” Streisand), whereas the little guys and gals

are giving primarily to Republican candidates.

The electoral college was a intelligent creation that helps

balance the power structure within the country. If Mr. Marshall

does not like the electoral college, perhaps he would be more

comfortable with a system whereby each county receives one vote for

president in a winner-take-all arrangement. Of course, in that

system, George Bush would have defeated Al Gore by a 4 to 1


Jerry Magloughlin


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