Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And for the runner up . . .

All this talk of the Vice-President has sparked my interest in a long forgotten piece of political trivia. There was a time in our nation's history when the Vice-President was not part of a "ticket" running for President. It was a long time ago. Here is an excerpt from that bastion of knowledge and democracy, wikipedia:

Under the original terms of the Constitution, the members of the U.S. Electoral College voted only for office of president rather than for both president and vice president. Each elector was allowed to vote for two people for president. The person receiving the greatest number of votes (provided that such a number was a majority of electors) would be president, while the individual who was in second place became vice president. If no one received a majority of votes, then the U.S. House of Representatives would choose among the five highest vote-getters, with each state getting one vote. In such a case, the person who received the highest number of votes but was not chosen president would become vice president. If there was ever a tie for second, then the U.S. Senate would choose the vice president.

So what does all of this mean? It means that there used to be a consolation prize in our "first-past-the-post" electoral system. I never realized that electors were given two votes in this system, which is even better .

This system would be more conducive to a third-party candidate, there is actually something to gain by coming in second place. Presiding over the Senate is the primary function of the VP, there might not be a place in the President's cabinet for an outside party, but I'm sure that the government would function as well as it ever did.

Our political system has grown stale, everyone knows the answers to solve our pressing problems. Reduce CO2 emissions, get the cost of health care under control, stop illegal immigration (or change the law), "save" social security by either reducing benefits or raising the payroll tax.

Why is it that the simple and obvious answers are neglected and ignored until it is too late?

The institutions we have created can no longer be counted on to create useful answers or solve basic problems. It is way past time for a change.

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