Thursday, April 05, 2007

Circumventing the Constitution -- Why?

E.J. Dionne:

It does not have to be this way. As someone who lives in Maryland, I am proud that my state may pioneer a process that could lead to popular election of the president. The state Senate passed a bill last Wednesday that would commit Maryland's 10 electors to voting for the winner of the nationwide popular vote. The bill is expected to pass in the House of Delegates this week, and Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he would sign it.

The law would not take effect unless states representing a 270-vote electoral college majority pass similar laws. The idea is to create a compact among states genuinely committed to popular rule.

Yes, this is an effort to circumvent the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution. That's the only practical way of moving toward a more democratic system. Because three-quarters of the states have to approve an amendment to the Constitution, only 13 sparsely populated states -- overrepresented in the electoral college -- could block popular election.

I don't get it. Why do we want to circumvent the Constitution? Why wouldn't we want to have a public debate about whether to continue with the electoral college? Why wouldn't we want to have a nation wide conversation about the merits and the faults of amending the Constitution? And, why would we not want a super majority, as the Constitution requires, to agree on the rules that determine how our President is chosen?

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