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Sunday, November 15, 2020

A few thoughts

 This will be a brief note.  Like so many others, I am continually learning and  thinking about the meaning of the election and pondering what the Biden Administration is going to be like.  I am not especially optimistic on either front, but I will save my thoughts on these issues for at least a week.  It won't be time to go into them until the Trump threat to overturn the electorate has clearly failed.  That certainly is the direction things are going in, but it will be a few weeks yet before electoral votes are cast.  

I do want to comment on one Republican idea: that state legislatures in Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere might direct the appointment of Trump electors, based on the constitutional provision that calls upon states to appoint electors "in such a manner as the legislature may direct."  That ship has already sailed.  The laws of every state require that electors be chosen by statewide popular vote (except in Nebraska and Maine where some of the voting is by Congressional district.)  The appointment process is already going on. Changing the rules in the middle of the election would violate a number of basic legal principles, and I'm glad to read that Republican legislatures are not showing any interest in this plan.

I also do not think that the changes in the Pentagon have anything to do with resisting the election result.  Trump fired Mark Esper vindictively, of course, but the other replacements of senior civilian officials at the Pentagon look like they might be related to a policy shift. (No senior military officials were affected.)  The two leading possibilities seem to be to ensure a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan--which would not disturb me--or to allow Israel to attack Iran, which would be much more serious.  Trump however may be too depressed and disoriented to make anything that significant happen now.

Now for the good news:  we seen to have fixed a lot of the problems in our electoral system.  Voting by mail has been a spectacular success, and it would have been even more successful if not for Republican-passed regulations that slowed the counting of mail ballots.  We have had one of the biggest increases in turnout in our history, and I haven't seen a single story about voter suppression.  Georgia, where there was more talk about voter suppression than anywhere, has gone Democratic. That, by the way, should encourage Democratic voters and organizers as they prepare for the two critical Senate elections in January.  

Really restoring our political system will require a lot more.  We will have to cope successfully with some major problems--and the Republican Party shows no signs of wanting to cooperate in that process.  That will be a subject for future posts.  


1 comment:

Bozon said...

Professor
Interesting post.
My own view is that the decision regarding electors in this country may be a boat that will never sail.
Here is your passsage:
"...That ship has already sailed. The laws of every state require that electors be chosen by statewide popular vote (except in Nebraska and Maine where some of the voting is by Congressional district.)..."

Apparently, the boat did not sail from Nebraska or Maine yet, as you point out.

I would suggest that it might be a fun Republican red state game to play to try to rig the selection of electors going forward.

One can envisage various different kinds of initiatives, including selecting elecctors by congressional district, one possibility your passage suggests.

Why not? At least that elector's vote might then have a hint of a local majority voter preference flavor.

But really, what do local preferences really count for, in a national, (and frankly also global) Presidential election?

Let's put it this way: The American electorate has no capacity for intelligent electoral decisionmaking merely by mass or even by direct voting, and voting here gets no one, anywhere here really, what they think they had wanted, or what they think they deserve, as their rights, from the local, state, or federal government.

This post is already too long.

All the best