Let’s Kill the Electoral College
|November 21, 2012||Posted by Staff under Social Change|
Just three states hold a near monopoly over the US national election until Americans demand justice. We trim, blend, and append two 2012 articles from (1) Salon, Nov 5, on the Electoral College by A. Pareene and (2) Harper’s, Oct 19, on MONOPOLY by C. Ketcham.
by Alex Pareene and by Christopher Ketcham
The best argument for finally ridding ourselves of the Electoral College is that it assigns far too weighty a responsibility to states that are mostly run by asses.
This particular election has come down to three states: Florida, Virginia and Ohio. Mostly Ohio. Ohio is in the post-industrial Midwest. Florida is full of lunatics and run by criminals. Virginia might elect George Allen again. This is no way to run a country.
Thanks to the Electoral College, and our bizarre system of assigning electoral votes, and our easily demogogued system of determining who gets to vote, and when, and how, the minority of voters who show up to vote in midterms and off-year elections choose the men who control the ballots and the polling places, and those men do everything they can to ensure that people have a hard time of it.
(It’s depressingly rare that presidential elections end up riding primarily on the results in states with pristine histories of clean and fair elections.
At least this year the important states are rather large. But not as much as New York, California, and Texas.
We already have a form of government that heavily favors rural areas and small states — the next senator from the state of Nebraska will effectively have veto power over all the priorities of every member of California’s entire congressional delegation — and yet we wonder why Americans, especially young ones, are so apathetic about actually voting.
Let’s abolish the Electoral College, please. Then we can work on abolishing the Senate, expanding the House, instituting ranked or runoff voting nationwide, and establishing simple national suffrage. Seriously, will some centrist billionaire throw money at those things, please.
JJS: If Americans are to actually live in a democracy, major reforms are needed. However, do bear in mind that political power usually come from economic power, and that usually comes from privilege, so the two reinforce each other, forever, until we do something about it. Over a century ago a Quaker tried to do something about it by inventing an instructional board game.
Monopoly Is Theft
The board game’s true origins go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land in his book Progress and Poverty (1879).
The players could vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”
Shared freely as an invention in the public domain, as much a part of the cultural commons as chess or checkers, The Landlord’s Game was, in effect, the property of anyone who learned how to play it.
Before being monopolized by a single person working in tandem with a corporation, Monopoly had in fact been “invented” by many people—not just Magie and the Raifords but also the unknown player who gave the game its moniker and the unsung Ardenite who had perhaps aided Magie in advancing its rules. The game that today stresses the ruthlessness of the individual and defines victory as the impoverishment of others was the product of communal labor.
Robert Barton, the former president of Parker Brothers who was pivotal in helping Darrow secure a patent for his “invention,” admitted under oath that he was fully aware of the game’s history and that he knew Darrow had not in fact invented it.
JJS: The true story of MONOPOLY is repeated periodically in the mainstream press, then conveyed to these pages. The key, as Henry George noted, is not so much who owns the land but who gets the rent. Now in America with a large middleclass, many families own some land (under their homes) but the lion’s share of the rent for their location is captured by banks via mortgages. The way to prevent that is for owners to pay land dues to their community, leaving no site rent available to be capitalized into price, thence into mortgages. If the community pays rent dividends to its residents, then owners won’t lose but gain.