Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dionne Still Angry about 2000

Well, that's understating it. He seems to be unhappy with the American political system, generally. And he uses Mexico's challenging Presidential election to make his silly points. First off, he doesn't like the electoral college, and he says Mexico would be roundly mocked if they had a system such as an electoral college, that awarded disproportionate power to small Mexican states:

Mexicans have one thing going for them: There is no question under Mexican law that the winner of the popular vote will be the winner of the election.

Imagine the global outcry if Mexico chose its president indirectly through some sort of electoral college that gave advantage to smaller states over bigger ones and permitted the loser of the popular vote to become president. The world would be merciless in deriding Mexico as a backward place living under undemocratic laws written in the early 19th century. Mexicans can be proud that this won't happen.

Uh-huh. And what if Mexico were like, oh, I don't know - Europe - with a number of political entities that have to be sold on coming together in a larger entity (the European Union)? And what if there were bartering to convince some to join? That would at least be an accurate comparison to the creation of the US system.

Or is EJ saying that we should have amended the Constitution, because a system that allows the popular vote loser to be elected 3% of the time, just to protect the influence of small states, is an outrage! Perhaps he wants amendments to be approved more easily, so we could have Presidential election by popular vote, and a flag protection amendment, and a federal prohibition on same-sex marriage. Is that what EJ wants?

Dionne continues:

But there are potential problems. López Obrador has had questions about the results in the state of Tabasco. Mr. Calderón and Mr. López Obrador, please, please make sure that you don't have some close relative in charge of things down there.

How would it look if the governor of the state was your own brother? What would people think if the top official in charge of elections was your sibling's partisan ally who made every key decision in your favor?

Yes EJ, it would obviously be better if the US had a system where Jeb Bush was forced to resign the moment his brother ran for President. And when Bobby Kennedy became Attorney General, JFK would have had to retire. And family members of elected officials would be required to change their names when they seek elective office, so that they wouldn't derive unfair benefits from the popularity of the name. What a stupid system the US has! Probably someone like EJ Dionne should choose who can run for office and who can't.

Dionne also decides to rewrite the history of the 2000 election to fit his flawed analogies:

Another thing: Whichever one of you is ahead at any given point, please don't ask that the counting be stopped abruptly just because you happen to hold the lead. Don't have some high-class lawyer with a name like Jaime A. Panadero III come out and say things like, "I don't believe that the people of Mexico want this national election turned over to lawyers and court contests" -- and then have the very same lawyer direct other lawyers to go to court to stop any further counts.

Yes EJ, we know you think that if there is a count, and a legal recount, and a certified election, that it's wrong to call for an end to endless counting. And let's say that the if you do call for an end to the counting, it's only because you are ahead. If George Bush's team called for an end to the recounts, it's because Bush was ahead. And when John Thune lost to Tim Johnson, and John Ashcroft lost to the late Mel Carnahan, and they didn't fight the results, it was because they were happy they lost - not because they actually believed in a principle.

I'm not saying that the US system is flawless; I'm not even saying I disagree with EJ on some of these points. I'm just saying that he doesn't seem to ackowledge that every change he wants comes with a downside. He just seems to want to wave a magic wand to produce the outcomes he desires.

I'll be kind: that's pretty shortsighted.

Back to the top.


dave s said...

The biggest virtue of the USA system is shown right now in Mexico: every single vote cast anywhere in the country is potentially in play. In the Bush-Gore thing, only Florida (and potentially WI and NM) were worth looking at, every other state the electoral votes were unchallenged. It's a huge mess. We had a much more limited part of the country to worry about. New York? Gore. Virginia? Bush. In terms of clarity of outcome, ours is much better.

The Editor at IP said...

That's a great point! Thanks for the comment! I hadn't considered the fact that 50 small elections are much more manageable than one large one.

Thanks for the comment,

The Editor