Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2006.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

An out-of-date system?

Posted 11 May 2006

I was talking with a guy at work - Tom - and we were having a good discussion about politics. One of the more interesting things he proposed was that the Electoral College is no longer necessary. He noted that the Electoral College was helpful at a time when the citizenship's votes could not be reasonably tallied and aggregated across the growing nation, and at the time of its inception, the Constitution's Electoral College accounted for this.

The obvious alternative, given our vastly-improved vote-tallying technology, would be one vote per citizen, right? That subject was only lightly touched on during our conversation, but it raised my hackles:

I seriously doubt the viability of choosing a president through mob majority.

I try to pay attention to what's going on in the Senate and the House when their bills and resolutions pertain to technology: in my opinion, the majority of the bills pay lip service to consumers and citizens, but are passed because influential corporations and businesses pay people to persuade our congressmen and senators. That, or the bills claim to help stop Teh Terrorists by giving more and more power to less and less accountable federal machines. I find that stuff fascinating and abominable. And yet somehow I have never written my representatives!

If I can stay informed for years about several narrowly-defined issues, and yet fail to voice my concerns, how much less will so many of my friends, who couldn't explain to you why Bush won the election despite ~~Kerry~~ Gore having won the popular vote?

In his book "Getting Things DONE", David Allen writes that there are three potential actions to take when confronted with a task: Do, Delegate, or ~~Delay~~ Defer. I have a pretty strong sense that my generation (that is, Gen Y) does not have any interest in researching and staying current with politics. Further, I don't think they seek out informed opinion leaders - their minds are already made up! Thus, having not Done anything, nor Delegated their fact-finding responsibilities, they instead ~~Delay~~ Defer indefinitely. I'll term this action "Don't".

Therefore, given my personal experiences and my current understanding, I cannot but compare abolishing the Electoral College to a degeneration into mob rule. Worse, this mob would be uninformed, opinionated, and easily distracted by entertainment. Recognizing their current opinions of the office of the president, I have no doubt this mob would gladly hand the king more unconstitutional powers.

Shoot, I meant "the President". What'd I just say?!

I would like to think that the Electoral College offers a buffer between the people and the power, and that its members would be better able to choose who to hand the presidency over to - at least, better than Joe XBox. I can only hope that the system doesn't fail within my lifetime.

Now then, I need to go write my representatives: they've been jumping in bed with the music and movie industries again, and stealing away my consumer rights. Ah, those guys!

*[Gen Y]: Generation Y