Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Favorable Action for Wrong Reason

More than once in my life I have observed a favorable result to a process which was achieved for a reason that had no direct relation to the substance of the process or the result. A recent example was the extinction, for the time being, of the Republican attempt to change the California law regarding the selection of Presidential electors. The present law requires that all electors are chosen to favor the candidate who obtains a majority of the popular vote in the State. A few States apportion their electors among the various candidates roughly according to the number of votes each candidate gets. Most States are like California; the winning candidate gets all the electoral votes from the State.

As you may know, the Republican proposal was to assign electors according to the vote in each Congressional district. Since there are two more electors than there are Congressional Representatives, the remaining two would go to the candidate who won the vote State-wide. Since Congressional districts have been designed to protect incumbents, this proposal would guarantee that at least 21 of California's electoral votes would be cast for the Republican candidate in the general election.

I wrote e-mails to several leaders of the California Democratic Party. I suggested that they combat this proposal with another proposal to assign electoral votes in a manner that the public would perceive as being fairer than choosing electors from Congressional district. My suggestion was to enact the law that would cast all of California's electoral votes to the candidate who obtained the most votes nation-wide. Some States have alread adopted this proposal. When States that have a majority of electoral votes adopt it, we will then have achieved the goal of direct popular election of the President.

None of the State Party leaders bothered to answer my e-mails.

It turned out that the Republican operatives shot themselves in the foot. Petition carriers made irrelevant and misleading claims about what the proposed initiative would accomplish. The California Secretary of State was able to shut down the signature drive because of these fraudulent claims. The proposal is dead for this year. It was stopped because of something that was unrelated to the merits of the proposal.

I won a civil lawsuit in small claims court once, not because my case had merit (it had) but because the defendant didn't bother to show up. The judge ruled in my favor without examining my claim or questioning my witnesses.
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