Two (Not So Easy) Things

Today’s article will discuss two simple changes to how we do “political business” in America that have vast public support and almost no chance of being instituted in my lifetime.

It seems to be the topic de jour so I’ll tackle the debt ceiling first. (Much of this will be redundant to my regular readers.) My change is simple: just eliminate it. It serves no useful purpose. The underlying spending has already been approved by Congress and the borrowing capacity (at great rates) exists.

Theoretically this fix is simple. All Congress has to do is pass a law ending it and then the President must sign it. The reality is that both parties have used it (one worse than the other) as a negotiating tactic and both want to preserve that. An argument, which I buy, can be made that the Republicans have used it as an evil political tool but that is another discussion for another day.

Only Denmark also has a debt ceiling but they never use it as a political football. Obviously advanced democracies can and do function without one.

Next, I suggest we scrap the Electoral College. At the founding and in the early days of the country it may have served a purpose but today it is simply an unnecessary and undemocratic wrinkle. We are a democracy, albeit a representative one. The majority vote should simply rule. In the 2000s, twice that has not been the case. (Two of six presidential elections or 33% of the time. Not a rarity!)

At the adoption of the Constitution the literacy rate in America was low and mass visual or audio communication was non-existent. People largely got their information on candidates by hearing them speak. Sans the Electoral College campaigning would have been exclusively held in large states. Today, besides the facts that most Americans can read and have access to newspapers and websites, most news is garnered by audio and visual media. Especially during the campaign, I am exposed to presidential candidates regardless of where they physically are by virtue of TV and radio. I also read the online editions of several newspapers on a daily basis.

The Electoral College served a purpose in an America gone by. We simply no longer need it. Like the debt ceiling it serves no useful purpose and can only muck things up.

Scrapping the Electoral College (which I’m certainly all for!) would be more complicated because it would require a constitutional amendment. Considering that the Republican party has only won the popular vote for president once (2004, and then under “unique” circumstances) in the 2000s, that would be an uphill fight.

I don’t expect either change to happen anytime soon but that does not diminish from the fact that both changes would make us a more perfect union. Where have I heard that phrase before?

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