Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Idiocracy? It Can Happen Here

Since nobody was paying attention last class,
consider this a remedial session.  Ahem!
Have you all seen this wonderful B-grade movie, "Idiocracy?"  It's got a marvelous premise. Essentially, people in the future are really, REALLY dumb, but the United States is still a democracy, so instead of electing smart leaders, the idiots in this "idiocracy" elect leaders who are slightly smarter, but way more flashy.  Check it out:




This begs the question: can our republican democracy prevent the U.S. from electing a really dumb, silly, dangerously uninformed, mentally unbalanced or otherwise five-fries-short-of-a-Happy-Meal president?  To answer this question, we will have to go back to the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

In or around the year 1787, democracies were rare in the world: we were pretty much it.  Even the much talked about Dutch Confederation still had at its core a hereditary prince called a Stadholder, who was usually Orange --that is, usually the Prince of Orange.  There was a decent reason for all this aristocracy in the world.  Only aristocrats had the free time to become educated and thus make wise, informed decisions about what a country should or should not do.  They had all this free time because the reason for their existence had pretty much evaporated.  You see, the aristocrats were at the top of the social heap because they were supposed to spend all their time training how to kill and maim people while riding on a horse.  Since kings now used smaller, professional, paid armies, all tricked out with the most expensive new killing technology (black powder muskets with --wait for it! --bayonets on the end!), there wasn't a reason to call out the feudal host any more because someone would probably blow them all sky-high with a cannon.

Come to think of it, going to Kings College, Oxford sounds a good deal
more jolly than going to the Holy Land and having my balls cut off en route.
And most of the time, these aristocrats did make good decisions.  What the English aristocrats didn't count on was the fact that their ugly stepchildren in America --or at least the part that wasn't owned by Spain, France or Indians --were so damn cheap and stingy that they didn't want to pay any taxes at all which their colonial assemblies didn't, ahem, vote for.  The nerve!  Things got so bad that the otherwise sensible King George III fought a terrible war with the Americans over this issue, and he lost, first the Colonies, then his mind, then he got it back again, then he lost his life to old age.

For all their talk about democracy, America's Founding F-ers shared the same reservations about unbridled democracy as the Brits did, because let's face it: the average American in 1787 believed every word in the Bible was literally true, was pretty sure that grand-dad had done him a solid when he burned all the witches in the colony, and that Indians could fly, change color, sprout as many arms as they wanted, and probably had at least one parent that was a horse.  In order to stop the Ship of State from being skippered by these bumpkins, the Founding F-ers had a few rules about who could vote and for whom they were allowed to vote.  For instance, of the newly minted Federal Government, only Congressmen were elected by the voters.  And those voters had to be male, white, over 21, and own a certain amount of "property," which could be real estate, money, or even people, just as long as those owned people were black.

See if you can spot the new American Voter!
Hint: it's no one on the top row!
Senators were elected by the members of a state's legislature, who had to pass all the other qualifications as a regular voter, plus be one of the "popular kids" back home.  And the President of the United States?  Here's where the Founding F-ers got really, really creative.  Each state had a number of people chosen as Electors.  How many Electors a state had was based on its population, plus two extras thrown in just for giggles.  These people would gather after a Presidential Election and cast their own votes for president.  Whichever candidate had the most votes would be the President; whomever had the next most votes would be Vice-President.  And it was this half-assed shit show that elected Washington and Adams as POTUS and VPOTUS not once, but twice.

Over the years, the system has been tweaked around a bit, but it is still the Electors who actually elect the President and Vice President.  Sure, there are formal and informal rules that pretty much say that Electors must vote for whichever candidate gets the majority vote in the state on Election Day, but things are sort of vague about what happens if an Elector goes off-script and votes for someone who --and I'm just speculating at this point --the Elector believes would actually make a good president.  I'm guessing they have to pay for their own lunch at the meeting of the Electoral College (I am so not making this name up!).

So okay, now this guy is running for President:


Whoops, wrong country, wrong election.  Wait a sec... ah, here he is:




Long story short, he makes "Idiocracy's" President Commacho look like Abraham Lincoln by comparison.  And who do the Democrats have lined up to run against him?  Either Hillary who for some reason is liked less than her skirt chasing husband, Bill "Bubba" Clinton, or some old, transplanted to Vermont New York dude who has an actual Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream flavor named after him (again, so not kidding!)  There is a very real chance that this dipshi-  uh, Donald Dude could become our next president,  Who can save us?  Superman?  Batman?  Nope, they are for reasons still unclear to me squaring off to fight each other this year.  Well, can the Supreme Court?  Nope, they're too old and they're down a member besides.  Who can help?  I'll tell you who: The Electoral College!!!

Horse and I would help, but you're not in the
British Commonwealth of Nations any more.  Sorry!
I'm telling you, if Trump does somehow manage to win in November, we've got to go to the one firewall standing between us and worldwide ignominy.  We've got to make sure that the Electors elect someone, anyone else.  Hell, at this stage Sarah Palin would be a better risk.  She at least had been a state governor --in a state that has more caribou than people, and more Arctic fox than minority people, but at least she can hire a bunch of handlers with some solid experience, while the Donald would probably move a bunch of his corporate ass-lickers and hatchet-men into Cabinet level positions and stack the Supreme Court with Celebrity Apprentice fails. 

So give it up for the Electoral College, my peeps!  And be sure to know WHO THEY ARE from your state and threaten them with an infinite number of noogies and purple-nurples if they cast one friggin' vote for Trump.  Because although they were flawed men, the Founding F-ers usually knew what they were doing.
Your Electoral College at work: Electing Presidents since George Washington.  We could be America's last hope :-0


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