Tuesday, April 20, 2010

End Run Around the Constitution for Electing the President

There are changes being contemplated in state legislatures all across the country. There is a popular movement afoot to alter the way in which we choose the President of the United States. Delaware is just one of many states to consider these changes.

Delaware HB 198 would diminish the voice of Delawareans in the selection of the President of the United States. The goals sound reasonable on first glance, but on further examination, the warts start to show. This bill is an attempt to ensure that the nationwide winner of the popular vote could not lose the presidency to someone who got fewer popular votes, but more Electoral College votes. This is what happened in the Bush vs Gore election of 2000.

It accomplishes this by coordinating legislation in the various states to award all their Electoral College votes to whichever candidate wins not the statewide popular vote, but the nationwide popular vote. This is a nationwide movement to get as many individual state legislatures as possible to pass similar bills. Delaware HB 198 is an attempt to circumvent the Constitution without formally amending it. The Electoral College mechanism remains intact, but the states change the way they allocate their votes. Here is the synopsis of the bill from the Delaware Legislature website.

The goal may be appealing, ie. the popular vote determines the winner, but there are a couple of problems. First, even if Delaware votes overwhelmingly for one candidate, all of our Electoral College votes would go to a different candidate if that candidate won the nationwide popular vote. The other problem with the legislation is that candidates would have no incentive to campaign in small states or cater to their interests because their Electoral College votes could be secured by appealing to regions with greater populations. They could promise the people of California, New York, Texas etc. whatever they wanted, even to the detriment of smaller states like Delaware, without jeopardizing their Delaware electoral votes. This disenfranchises small states like Delaware.

As appealing as the idea of popular election of the president sounds, there are elements on both sides of the political spectrum who object to the concept. Here is a blogpost from one of Delaware's more liberal websites. Here is one from a conservative site. What do you know. The spirit of bipartisanship lives.

If you agree with me that this bill mutes the voices of Delawareans in choosing a president, please write your State Representative and State Senator and tell them you do NOT support HB 198.

State Senate Contact Info

State Representative Contact Info

Jess McVay

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Organizational Capital - Building the Libertarian Party from the Ground Up

It has been more than 100 years since the modern two-party system evolved in American politics. The two parties currently in control have been raising funds, organizing voters, and winning elections since just before the Civil War. Over that time, they have built national and statewide organizations of party committees and PACs. These organizations can raise lots of money and allow these parties to buy lots of ad time, organize lots of rallies, and give confidence to the average voter that a vote for a Democrat or a Republican would not be a wasted vote because other voters will stand with them. On the other hand, a vote for a libertarian candidate is wrongly perceived as a "wasted" vote.

The solution to this problem is to focus the energies of libertarian activists on state and local races. By focusing on smaller races, a single candidate can more easily begin the crucial process of creating these organizations from the grassroots. Once these organizations exist, even a losing campaign can add to the number of organized libertarians and identified libertarian donors. These organizations can be put to use in future campaigns, aligned for political convenience with one of the major parties, or aligned with each other to elect libertarians to national office.

I have heard more than once that were I to run as a Republican or a Democrat, I would stand a better chance of being elected. While this is certainly true and good advice, it misses the point of my campaign. My goal is to win this election, but I will be satisfied to have established a libertarian organization in the 32nd district. This organization will focus on:

- Registering Voters and Expanding the Libertarian Party
- Encouraging Volunteers to Assist the Libertarian Party
- Seeking Donors to Contribute to the Libertarian Party
- Meeting to Discuss Issues of Importance to the District
- Introducing Voters in the District to Candidates for Public Office
- Coordinating with Other Libertarian Organizations to Win Elections

The ideal pattern of organization will be based on the election districts. Each election district has a specific polling place, and different sets of election districts are combined to form the representative districts, the senate districts, and the levy court districts. Well organized election districts will be able to join forces to elect candidates to each of these offices. They will also be able to join forces further afield to elect county and state officials when their strength is sufficient.

Before these organizations are able to elect candidates on their own, they will be able to create a political value for their endorsement. Creating this value will encourage candidates in the major parties to espouse libertarian positions and court libertarian votes. Our ability to provide or deny the margins of victory will allow the Libertarian Party to constrain the coercive impulses of the major parties. We will organize independent and disillusioned voters to support freedom at every turn.

Please contact me if you would like to volunteer in one of the 32nd representative district organizations or one of the 2nd levy court district organizations. Residents of the respective districts will be preferred.