Gun Control Politics Shot


At least for now, anyway. Dems from rural areas just can't afford to be on the wrong side of the issue. And with blue-collar hunters of the Midwest a key presidential demo, '04 hopefuls will tread lightly too.

NEXT: Who Is Ned Fenton Roscoe?

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  1. Joe-

    I agree. But it’s hard to argue on this forum that empowerment of a minority (well, at least a small-state minority) is a bad idea. So I stuck to the argument that “The Senate already empowers minorities [well, small-state minorities] but if the President isn’t chosen by popular vote then the majority gets no seat at the table”. Many people here are very unsympathetic to empowerment of the majority, but they may be more sympathetic to the notion that the majority at least deserves at seat at the table alongside the minority.

    And we’ll just leave aside the fact that the Senate only empowers one particular type of minority, people living in small states. Other types of minority groups (libertarians, ethnic groups, religious groups, economic groups other than farmers, etc.) gets little if any protection there. Arguing in favor of any minority group other than residents of small states is a non-starter in many circles.

  2. Good or bad, the electoral college saved us from having Gore as President.

    The EC has had something like 2 or 3 electoral anomalies in 200+ years. That’s probably a lot less harm than we’d have if we let the our dear politicians get under the hood to ‘fine tune’ things.

  3. “Under a popular vote scenario, every vote counts as much as every other vote. Under the EC, votes in some places (close states) matter more than votes in other places (safe states). That’s not right.”

    If the govt actually confined itself to it’s ennumerated powers as required by the 10th Amendment, it wouldn’t much matter either way since the things that govt would be doing and therefore the issues that drive the voting would be drastically reduced from what they are now.

    We don’t live in a democracy – it’s a Constitutional republic with the things that are supposed to be subject to majority vote being extremely limited with the narrow confines of small, limited government.

  4. The problem isn’t even the anomalies.

    The problem is that the EC is actually an excellent way to keep the pork rolling. Who would dare oppose farm subsidies when some midwestern swing states have a lot of agriculture? Never mind that the vast majority of America would be better off with a free market for food.

    Who would dare support free trade with Cuba when Florida has twenty-some electoral votes, a very narrow political split, and a lot of Cuban immigrants? Never mind that the embargo has failed miserably and runs counter to principles of free trade.

    Who would dare oppose the steel tarriff when Pennsylvania is a swing state with a lot of steel workers? Never mind that it makes imported goods more expensive for everybody else.

    And even though a lot of younger voters are very skeptical that they’ll ever see social security or medicare, and instead are more likely to see saving as the only road to a secure retirement, Florida is a swing state with a lot of elderly voters, so God help the candidate who opposes handing out free pills to the elderly.

    I’m not suggesting that Presidential elections via popular vote would guarantee us Presidents who support the free market. I am suggesting that the alleged minority protection afforded by the EC does little to protect minorities from Big Government. Mostly it just ensures that certain minority segments of the population will continue to enjoy their pork and favors. Ending the tremendous veto power of these small special-interest groups is a necessary (though by no means sufficient) step toward a more sensible federal government.

    Remember, a government that’s big enough to give swing voters everything they want is big enough to take it away from everybody else.

  5. “Texas is always going to vote Republican.”

    This betrays a lack of knowledge about Texas political history (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Up until about 20 years ago, Texas was a yellow dog Democrat state – the Dems had a stranglehold on elective office in this state for about 130 years – that’s one of the reasons 11 Democratic Senators are currently sucking their thumbs in New Mexico – minority status is completely new to them, and it hurts. It all goes back to reconstruction and I don’t want to bore you but trust me – if you had predicted, back in 1975 or 1980, that in 2003 Texas would be a Republican stronghold, everyone would’ve been clamoring for whatever you were smoking.

    My late grandfather, a native Texan and devout Republican (he refused to capitalize LBJ’s name when writing it, and always referred to him as Goddamn lyndon johnson) acted like being a Republican in Texas was akin to being a Christian in (pre-Christian) Rome…

  6. If their votes are that important to them, residents of California are free to move to any state in the midwest, any time they wish.

    But then they might not be allowed to recall their governor there.

  7. I’ll can see that there are very valid reasons for and against the EC, however I’m far less concerned about that as I am as the one thing that REALLY cheapen the individual vote: Winner-take-all-democracy.

    Our voting system makes only allows for two possible outcomes: One individual will win the seat, while everyone one else who didn’t vote for them is disenfranchised and must suffer under the whims of the majority. Of course this winner/loser set-up is going to benefit the two parties that can get the most votes (i.e the Dems and the GOP) leaving other smaller parties in the dust.

    If we are ever really to have a the sort of representation that we want, the system needs to be changed to either a proportional system, or a system where instead of voting for representatives they can gain their seat by getting enough endorsements from supporting citizens.

    Of course, since both parties benefit from the winner-take-all set up, don’t count on this sort of reform happening anytime soon–if ever.

  8. Mark-

    I completely agree with you. But even though legislatures can be divided up like that, there can be only one president, or governor, or mayor, or California Insurance Commissioner (just felt like throwing a random office out there, don’t read too much into it). So the winner-take-all problem will never be completely solved.

  9. Nevermind Joe; to think that two or three of the largest metropolitan areas should decide what is best for everyone else is to completely miss the whole point of our Constitution.

    He is confused and talking about dirt and rocks voting. He simply doesn’t understand that it is a matter of the citizens being free to live their lives as they see fit.

    In a nutshell, the Constitution was drawn up, not to grant us rights but to limit the scope of federal government while not reverting back to a confederation of states. So on the matter of self government, issues fall to the lowest local level possible, which usually means the states.

    Do we need a simple majority in a few coastal areas deciding how people in Iowa should live their day to day lives on matters not rightly involving them? Let the Iowans decide how they want to run their state and let the New Yorkers make their own decisions; if it is not a federal matter, keep your stinking, plenary hands off of it.

  10. I wonder what the argument would be against maintaining the electoral college but awarding electoral votes by congressional district. Personally, I think that’s more fair than the whole state going one way or another.

    Nebraska does it by congressional district, as does one other state, I think (Maine?). It actually almost came into play in Nebraska in 2000; there was talk that the most Democrat-leaning of the state’s three districts would go to Gore (didn’t happen).

  11. Ray-

    I completely agree that the powers of the federal government should be limited. However, I don’t see limiting the power of the federal gov’t means we must elect the President in the way that we do. You can make a good case for the Senate, but the existence of the Senate makes the necessity of the EC a lot more questionable.

    If anything, giving so much power to swing factions (whether they live in New Mexico or Florida) while giving little power to places that are safe for one side or another (whether it’s populace California or rural Wyoming) ensures that small groups can command perks that are mentioned nowhere in the Constitution (e.g. farm subsidies, prescription drug benefits for retirees, etc.).

    So I’m still stumped on how the EC limits the power of the feds. It’s worth noting that in many ways George Bush has been an incredibly powerful President despite losing the popular vote. Even before 9/11 he had a very disciplined party at his command, and he was doing well with his legislative agenda. So 9/11 isn’t the only reason Bush is so powerful. And I’m not sure it’s a good idea for the President to be powerful.

    Somebody will now accuse me of not caring about limited government because I think a Californian or Wyomingite (apologies if I got the term wrong) should have the same influence as a Floridian or New Mexican.

  12. thoreau – in your post above, you make the best argument I’ve seen yet for getting rid of the electoral college. The electoral college necessarily leads to the formation of special interests in “swing” states with a lot of electoral votes, particularly the examples you cited (the AARP in Florida, steelworkers in Pennsylvania, etc).

  13. “joe, if you care to run the nation without most of the land mass and resources that are exploited for the benefit of northeastern and left-coast city-dwellers — indeed, makes these cities’ wealth possible — be my guest. you won’t last long.”

    Gee, who would have guessed that the most rural, white sections of the country would demand a privileged position in exchange for remaing part of our system. I’m shocked – it’s so unlike them.

    One man, one vote. Is that so frickin hard?

  14. I didn’t say it could be completely resolved, but in the grand scheme of things which is more important? The President or the make-up of the Congress? Hell, I’d be happy if they’d drop the executive branch entirely and just have the president ride herd over congress enforcing Robert’s rules.

    If you feel the need for more safeguards against unconstitutional or otherwise insane legislation, add more “houses.” I would say that a tricameral or, better yet, a quadcameral legislature would be a much better safeguard for our liberties than what we have now.

  15. I don’t see PR happening in the US Senate ever. The Senate is the only part of the Constitution that can only be changed by the _unanimous_ consent of the states (see Article V).

    However, each state electing its House delegation by PR is achievable with legislation rather than an amendment.

  16. ^^^Make that 54 empty chairs. That’s what I get for doing math in public. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Beyond the smartass, Brad, the interesting thing you’ve hit on is that the Commies, Confederates, Greens, etc. would have much higher turnout than the major parties.

  18. joe – you can always count on me to be a smartass. Or at least, to be an ass. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    On a serious note, though, my point is that there is a huge block of non-voters out there. If a candidate is able to tap into a small percentage of that non-voting block, that candidate is at a significant advantage.

  19. The two large parties would have to stop being “catch all parties” and actually begin standing for something. The GOP may split into $conservatives and Evangelicals, but the Democrats – labor, DLC (actually, they’d probably merge with the Rockefellar Repubs), various identity groups. On the other hand, the winner-take-all nature of Rep. seats and the White House would tend to keep them together.

  20. I’m very skeptical that many states will follow the lead of Maine and Nebraska and award electors either by district or in proportion to the statewide vote.

    In swing states, there’s too much at stake to change. Right now a handful of Floridians can swing 25 or so electoral votes. With district allocation a handful of people could only swing 1 vote, maybe 3 if the 2 statewide votes were also close. And swinging a district is harder if the district is gerrymandered.

    In safe states, well, why would the Democrats in Sacramento decide to split the state’s electoral votes and give the GOP 20 or so votes? The same holds in other states. Even if the state legislature is divided, with one house controlled by the “safe” party (party guaranteed to win that state’s votes in Presidential elections), the house controlled by the “safe” party will not support handing over some of the electoral votes to the other party.

    The only exceptions might be states with unusual political cultures (e.g. Nebraska with its unicameral and officially non-partisan legislature), or states that are “safe” for one party but have a legislature dominated by the other party. However, states in the latter category need more examination. If a state legislature is dominated by old-school southern Democrats, I’m not sure the legislature would be all that upset if a conservative Texas Republican like Bush got the electoral votes. And I’m not sure that a state legislature dominated by old school liberal Yankee Republicans would be too upset if a liberal Democrat got that state’s electoral votes.

    In any case, such states are rare.

    Now, admittedly, the invididual voters might be keen on proportional or district allocation, so that a previously ignored safe state gets attention. But the partisans who control the legislature will be thinking “If we open this up, the candidates will have to negotiate for votes from the _other_ side as well as votes from our core constituents. If we keep it a statewide winner-take-all race, our core constituents will dominate.”

    So I’m pessimistic here. The only way we might get rid of the EC is if the Democrats win the electoral vote by a decisive margin with no close states (no hanging chads) and no credible fraud allegations, while the GOP wins the popular vote with a majority, not just a plurality, and the margin is unambiguous (no credible allegations of voter intimidation). This is unlikely.

  21. joe,

    The problems you refer to don’t result from the Electoral College itself, but from the winner-take-all rule. And that exists on a state by state basis, under state law. A few states have proportional representation in the EC.

    But more generally, the reason for supermajorities, concurrent majorities, etc., is that it is supposed to be harder to get the federal government to act. The idea is that a federal policy should reflect not only an immediate, bare majority, but should reflect majorities, plural, of the major regional and economic interests in the country. The federal government is supposed to be one of limited, strictly defined powers. And besides the delegation of powers in the Constitution, the checks and balances within the federal government and the supermajorities needed to get anything done are extra lines of defense against the federal government overstepping its bounds.

    Not that it’s actually worked out that way. I’ll readily concede that the procedural restraints on federal power have hurt the little guy a lot more than giant corporations with an inside track. That’s probably the way Hamilton et al really meant their machine to work: to stymie populism while providing a central state apparatus for serving mercantilist interests.

    But it makes no difference. The federal government would serve corporate interests first and best even in a pure one man one vote system. I think some form of corporatism or oligarchy is inherent in large size; once you get away from direct, participatory democracy, all you’re going to have is class rule by men in suits. The only thing making the system more formally “democratic” at the federal level would accomplish, would be a plebiscitary dictatorship that concealed a corporatist economic policy behind the trappings of populism (as did fascism). The answer is to paralyze the central government as much as possible, and to make local units as autonomous, democratic and participatory as possible.

    For reasons of justice, it’s good for significant minorities to have a veto power on the national government. On a local level, here in Washington County, Ark., the sales tax proceeds are given back to the cities on a pro rata basis, and all county spending comes from the rural areas’ share which is left over. In the case of county roads and EMS, one can make at least a plausible case. But several years back the county Court voted to buy the First South building, property of a bank that really needed to sell it bad, as the new country courthouse. So the price of this bit of petty corporate welfare was being funded entirely by rural residents. At the time, the local alternative newspaper was resurrecting Calhoun’s old concurrent majority argument on the need for the substantial rural minority to be protected against oppression.

    Finally, the specific issue of gun control illustrates all these arguments in spades. 1) the state has no right to prohibit firearms; 2) it’s none of urban areas’ damned business what firearms people in rural areas are allowed to own; so 3) it’s a mighty good thing rural areas have a veto power on the limousine liberals. As far as I’m concerned, the million moms should have stuffed their cell phones right up their rectums and driven their SUV’s straight into Chesapeake Bay.

  22. Kevin-

    I completely agree that minority veto via concurrent majorities and supermajorities is a good thing. The key point is that a majority is always _necessary_, but NOT sufficient.

    The question is whether the President should be elected according to popular/majority will. My answer, controversial as it may be around here, is yes. If there were no Senate my answer would be very different. The appointment of a judge or high official, and the ratification of a treaty, should not occur without a concurrent majority, i.e. a popularly elected President and a Senate representing the federal nature of this country. When the President is not popularly elected the majority is cut out of the loop. That is minority rule, the anithesis of concurrent majorities.

    Moreover, it seems that the huge power given to swing states is mostly used to extend perks and benefits, not to limit the power of gov’t. When’s the last time a swing state was won with a promise to eliminate an unconstitutional subsidy?

    So, as nice as the grand justifications for the electoral college might sound, as eloquent as the invocations of the founders might seem, in the end it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. The notion of concurrent majorities is supplanted by minority rule, and the notion of limited government is supplanted by perks for key interest groups.

  23. Here’s a little bit of an aside;

    Anyone ever take an historical look at voter turnout records? The more people that become enfranchised, the lower the turnout. Seems obvious huh, but that doesn’t stop the punditry from acting like it’s a brand new crisis every election cycle.

    I say the fewer the better inasmuch that, if you have to be coaxed to the polls, how informed of a vote is it going to be anyway.

    My own little far-out fringe belief; if a person has received any government assistance within the last 12 months before an election, they would be temporarily disenfranchised. Excluding student loans and FHA loans.

  24. protection of the minority is axiomatic to me. And it is perfectly consistent with the notion of “concurrent majorities.” Get a majority of the population (or representatives thereof) to support something, and a majority of the states (or representatives thereof). But when the President is disapproved by a majority of the population, and he proposes a treaty or judicial nominee to the Senate, the machinery of concurrent majorities breaks down.

    The majority ALSO needs protection. Concurrent majorities is supposed to balance the majority and the minority, not let the minority run roughshod over the majority.

    As for proportional representation and majority rule, or at least an assurance of majority consent contingent on minority veto: Proportional representation actually ensures majority consent on a bill. If we elected the House via proportional representation (each state electing its own separate delegation via PR, as the Swiss do), gerrymandering wouldn’t be an issue. We’d know that a party (or a coalition of parties) got a majority of the vote if it has a majority of the seats. Right now, a party might get 55% of the seats with 48% of the vote (I have no data on any particular occurence like that, but it’s easy to see how it can happen with heavy gerrymandering).

    And it’s all completely compatible with our presidential and federalist system: Keep the Senate as is (like the Swiss do) and elect an independent executive (unlike the Swiss, but I was only using them as an example, not a beacon, I’m not a fan of parliamentary government).

  25. ?But when the President is disapproved by a majority of the population, and he proposes a treaty or judicial nominee to the Senate, the machinery of concurrent majorities breaks down.?

    Then you really don?t understand a representative republic. If the president doesn?t win more than 50% of the popular vote, he can?t propose a treaty or judicial nominee? You?re implying majority rules in spite of an electoral system, which I?ve already made the case for.

    Everyone has their own personal ?farm subsidy? but under your majority rules, only those on the densely populated coasts would have any tangible ?special interests? in the form of subsidies or whatever. The hinterlands would simply pay for the coastal welfare programs while receiving nothing.

    So we minorities are protected by the electoral system and if the president proposes something loony and my personal representative backs him, then my representative is who I hold responsible first and then that president during the next election cycle.

    No one ever questioned the validity of Bill Clinton in 1992 when 57% of the population voted against him because he walked away with the electoral votes.

    And proportional representation is not in the best interest of the people. The state delegations would in reality in be a splintered conglomeration of fringe groups with no internal mechanisms to weed out the bizarre. So essentially the single digit % of the bizarre faction would have an undue influence over the majority.

  26. There appeares to be a gaping hole in the character of all politicians. Perhaps this deficiency is what it makes it possible for a person to become a politician. Unfortunately enough of the general population have either the same gap or are utterly oblivious to its existence.

    What is this character gap? it is the huge gaping hole in theor souls where the concept of principle should sit.

  27. It’s a little disheartening how the electoral college makes a 1% swing in a small, close state mean more than a 10% swing in a big, safe state. 10,000 votes in Ohio mean more than a half million votes in Texas or California. And if that swing population in the close state holds a view which is opposed by the majority of Americans, you end up with things like this.

  28. it’s how you avoid disenfranchising most of the land mass and natural resources of the country, joe — and the founding fathers understood that (especially in their time) there was no guarantee of continued union.

    i would also note that being a hunter does not mean you have a “character gap”. one may see one as a result of one’s adopted religion — but a reasonable person knows otherwise.

  29. If it weren’t for the electoral college, presidential candidates would only campaign in (and take an interest in) California, Texas, Florida, NY, maybe 3-4 other states. Whether that’s good or bad probably depends upon where you live.

  30. thoreau, I am also skeptical that states would do this. It would require action at the federal level, compelling each state to divide up its electoral votes this way. We’re in a Mexican standoff. The only way to solve a Mexican standoff is to have someone with even more firepower get the drop on both parties.

    Ray, it’s good to know that you consider welfare that helps your sort of people to be more morally and socially acceptable than welfare that helps “those people.” “My own little far-out fringe belief; if a person has received any government assistance within the last 12 months before an election, they would be temporarily disenfranchised. Excluding student loans and FHA loans.” I’m seriously ready to puke here.

    Kevin, I think you give the Founding Fathers (cue angelic choir) more credit for philosophical consistency than they deserve. It was a political compromise among politicians who had vastly different interests and wanted to come to mutually agreed-upon solution, not the expression of a coherent, shared ideology.

    “The problems you refer to don’t result from the Electoral College itself, but from the winner-take-all rule.” Well, Kevin, if you divide up EC votes proportionately, you’ve basically got popular voting, except you express the outcome differently.

    And I think Renaissance Italy and the destruction of American Indian nations by the US have adequately demonstrated that a collection of tiny independent states is a recipe for constant war and outside domination.

    And the EC doesn’t protect minorities; it protects some minorities and not others; that is, it enshrines an aristocracy, in which a minority of small staters get extra power, while other minorities get little or none at all. I’m all for protecting minorities; I just don’t think the system should be rigged in favor of certain ones. Of course, Ray disagrees with me, becaue his minorities are so much more deserving than anyone else’s.

  31. “disenfranchising most of the land mass and natural resources of the country” When exactly did dirt and rocks get the vote? This is like those Red/Blue maps that conservatives like to put out, showing how “most of the country” supports Republicans.

    dude, I think you’ve got it backwards. Right now, swinging a few votes in a big state can make or bread an election. Getting 50,000 additional votes in New York makes the voters in several states entirely irrelevant. Also, Texas is always going to vote Republican. Right now, no one cares whether the GOP wins Texas with 52% or 89% – but that 37% of Texas voters is a huge number of people, more than the entire voting population of several states, and certainly more than it takes to swing a close state like Ohio or New Mexico..

    Under a popular vote scenario, every vote counts as much as every other vote. Under the EC, votes in some places (close states) matter more than votes in other places (safe states). That’s not right.

  32. “So essentially the single digit % of the bizarre faction would have an undue influence over the majority.” No, Ray. The single digit minority would have a single digit influence over the majority, as opposed to now, where a 49% minority has 0% influence over the majority. That’s the way it works under the current Republican leadership, anyway. Traditionally, the majority party actually let the minority use meeting rooms, have say into in-state judicial nominees, etc.

  33. And the primary way the overrepresentation of small states represents itself is in the massive transfer of funds from coastal and Great Lakes states with modern economies to the ruggedly individualistic, backwards-ass red states in the interior, who suck off the government’s teat via farm subsidies, highway pork, and military contracts to firms that wouldn’t exist in a free market.

  34. I’ve heard the electoral college argument many, many times. I must admit it is an interesting phenomenon when a candidate can win a few states by a small margin and win the election. 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency. Based on the 1991-2000 distribution of electoral votes, a candidate could win California (54), New York (33), Texas (32), Florida (25), Pennsylvania (23), Illinois (22), Michigan (18), New Jersey (15), North Carolina (14), Georgia (13), Virginia (13), and any one of 15 other states with at least 8 electoral votes to get the 270. Theoretically, a candidate could win each of these by a single vote, lose every other state by a landslide, and get elected president. Realistically, that won’t ever happen, but of course, it can (and has) happened that a president loses the popular vote and wins the electoral vote, most recently Bush. Although there was a time during election 2000 when it looked like the opposite might happen – that Bush might win the popular and Gore the electoral. Funny how things turn out sometimes.

    The central issue in the electoral college debate is which is preferable at the federal level – true democracy, or a federation of democratic states (i.e. a democratic republic). There are solid arguments for both.

  35. ^^Sorry…that was me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. A second best solution would be to assign electoral votes by Congressional district.

  37. Oh, I should also say this: The chance of the Electoral College misrepresenting the popular will isn’t really affected that much by the much criticized assignment of 2 “extra” electoral votes to each state no matter how small. Even if the number of electoral votes were purely proportional to population, the fact that they’re assigned en bloc, with 50.1% of a state’s voters sufficing to give 100% of the votes to a single candidate, is the main reason why the popular vote won’t always match the electoral vote.

    And now somebody will accuse me of not caring about federalism or limited government.

  38. What your argument misses, throreau, is that the EC also allows an outright minority to behave as if it won 100% of the vote under certain circumstances.

  39. Now that I think about it, the one core problem I do see with the electoral college is that, in the first place, it leads us to this whole discussion of “this person’s vote is more important than that person’s, etc.” The notion that everyone’s vote should count equally in a democracy is a sound notion, at least in my mind, and it does undermine the electoral college.

    I don’t want to excuse Democrats for whining about it after 2000 – both candidates knew the rules before the election, and campaigned accordingly. Without digging up the can of worms that is Florida, by the rules of election 2000, Bush won the electoral vote (which counts), and Gore won the irrelevant popular vote. I would advocate, in future elections, to do away with the electoral college.

  40. joe, if you care to run the nation without most of the land mass and resources that are exploited for the benefit of northeastern and left-coast city-dwellers — indeed, makes these cities’ wealth possible — be my guest. you won’t last long.

    the price of keeping the federation of states together is this arrangement. is it a utopian direct democracy? no. but it is a highly useful working arrangement that seems to have served the united states pretty well over the last 230 years, hm?

  41. While the EC is a component of the underlying article refernced in this comment; the central issue is the “relevancy” of the Second Ammendment. In my contact experience with the “average” American, support for extreme infringement on the right to keep and bear arms is not there. Political parties must recognize that citizens value that right with the sole encumbering “infringement” that the gun owner be capable of existing within the dictates of society.
    In other words, law abiding citizens should be able to acquire and use firearms; long guns and handguns, without excessive government interference. Also said privatley owned firearms should not be subject to confiscation at government whim. Any surrender of the right to keep and bear arms should be at fair market value of the firearm.

  42. “What your argument misses, throreau, is that the EC also allows an outright minority to behave as if it won 100% of the vote under certain circumstances.”

    in theory, sure. in practice, however, the EC does not distort the popular vote in this way. only twice in almost fifty such elections has the popular vote possibly been at odds with the college outcome. even then, in 2000, i don’t think you can effectively make that case — the several thousands of votes claimed to be the margin oof popular victory for gore are clearly well within the error rate of balloting in any election (estimated at least to be 3%, or 3 million votes in 100 million). 200 was a statistical dead heat, and any statistician will tell you so.

  43. thoreau:

    I actually like the idea of proportional representation and a multi-party system. And I fully understand the idea of majority support as a minimum prerequisite for policy. I don’t have any problem with a popular vote, for that matter. My main intention was to defend the idea of concurrent majority and geographical representation against joe’s apparent belief in pure majoritarianism on a national level.

    But if we’d kept the Articles of Confederation in the first place, we wouldn’t be worrying about this shit now. Oh, well, maybe the NEXT revolution will take.

  44. drf, I chose the great state of Ohio as an example of a close state, not a small state. It is consistently contested in Presidential elections. Actually, maybe because of its size, it was the first such state to pop into my head (other than Florida, which conjures up other, less relevant images these days).

    Kevin – I wouldn’t describe my position as “pure” national majoritarianism. I still believe in Congressional districts, and even suggested assigning electoral votes by them. I can see the need to balance majority of America vs. regional majorities (which are national minorities). I just think the current Senate makeup is tipped way too far in one direction.

    And “it’s none of urban areas’ damned business what firearms people in rural areas are allowed to own” was absolutely true 100 years ago. However, I95 has become a pipeline to move guns purchased legally in Virginia into NYC to be sold illegally. I’m not suggesting we, um, go back to the original point of this thread (gun control), just pointing out that the nationalization of issues which were once purely local has occurred because of historical changes which has made actions and laws at a local level have significance nationally. The political system needs to reflect this social reality.

  45. hey Joe,

    um, as someone who was born in the buckeye state and who didn’t have access to a computer yesterday, i have to take great issue with the brain-burp phrase, “10,000 votes in Ohio mean more than a half million votes in Texas or California”. Um, there are about 11 million people in ohio. 10 in ohio would be about 30 thousand in california.

    in 2000, ohio maintained its position at #7 on the ol’ population list. ( — texas has 20 million.
    calif. has 33.8

    now, dammit. go Twins and KC!!! get those White Sux (sic) outta there… dammit.


  46. hey Joe!



  47. Joe,

    You can apply the same argument to just about any issue, so that education, legalized pot, etc., all become “national problems.” That’s the very logic by which the Commerce clause is used to create a Congressional jurisdiction over every problem that flesh is heir to.

    People in rural areas arguably have an interests in ceasing to pay taxes to compensate for the urban social pathologies caused by disarming victims and restricting self-defense. New York and Washington DC would probably have reduced rates of violent crime if peaceable people could own and use firearms in self-defense. You could ban firarms nationwide and the only real effect would be to further increase predators’ confidence they were dealing with disarmed victims.

  48. “However, I95 has become a pipeline to move guns purchased legally in Virginia into NYC to be sold illegally.”

    What’s your source for this? The last actual trace of NYC crime guns that I saw showed that very few came from Virginia.

  49. I did a quick Google, and didn’t find any numbers for NYC. However, I did find an ATF report for Jersey City:

    Virginia was the source of 6 of the 94 “crime guns” that were traced, or 6.4%. This is year 2000 data.

  50. “I still believe in Congressional districts, and even suggested assigning electoral votes by them. ”

    Interesting. By this method, Gore would have been really stomped back in 2000. Most counties in California went for Bush. It was the big cities that went for Gore. Frankly, if we put that idea into practice, the Republicans would dominate in any forseable future.

    I happen to belive that the current system works just fine. It doesn’t matter to me that a vote in Cali doesn’t equal a vote in, say, Idaho. The goal of voting is to obtain a good government, not to ensure each individual has a perfectly equal share in choosing the government.

  51. Opps, I confused Congresional Diestricts & counties above. Me bad.

  52. “New York and Washington DC would probably have reduced rates of violent crime if peaceable people could own and use firearms in self-defense.”

    You mean like in Dallas?

    “You can apply the same argument to just about any issue, so that education, legalized pot, etc., all become “national problems.” That’s the very logic by which the Commerce clause is used to create a Congressional jurisdiction over every problem that flesh is heir to.”

    Yes, you could. The society we live in is now “America,” rather than your state or municipality. If you want to argue for the superiority of federalism, you’ll have to do it with that fact in mind.

  53. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/25/2004 11:32:56
    Buildings burn. People die. But real love is forever.

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