March 16th, 2006

Sitting Duck/Art of Michael Bedard

Personal/Random: To the Editor,

Huh. (I said it again.) Well, there it is. I feel kind of pleased with myself for finally having "made it" after probably half a dozen letters over the last few years. At the same time, I am underneath it all experiencing that vague anxiety where you think you've said something intelligent, but are worried that perhaps in fact you've said something idiotic, and that you--and only you--can't see it. Getting this printed, then, at a national/international level seems to really heighten the sensation.... :-)

It's not a major insight, of course, but when I read the Times' editorial yesterday on getting rid of the Electoral College, I certainly was aware of the fact that it was not the College that made me feel the most disenfranchised during the last election....
To the Editor:

While I can appreciate the reasoning of your call to drop the Electoral College as an antidemocratic force in American presidential politics, it seems to me that we have a greater antidemocratic threat than that.

Our system of presidential primaries as it stands grants enormous power to a few select states, and all but guarantees that most Americans in effect have two candidates handed to them by the major parties.

The people of Iowa, New Hampshire and the like have the opportunity to decide among many candidates. In theory, yes, someone could become a party's candidate by taking all the later primaries, but in fact we all know that momentum and the ability to raise the cash needed for our elections (another issue) all but determine the outcome of the primaries early on, if not the entire election process.

The Electoral College does not come close to the primary system in its power to circumvent democracy in American presidential politics.

Michael Anthony Novak
Milwaukee, March 14, 2006