Down to a Coin Toss

10 Feb

In sports, as in the case of the Super Bowl, the action begins after the coin toss. In politics, the same sentiment holds true. Power and privilege can sometimes seem to come down to chance, literally the flipping of a coin.

If it weren’t already insulting that our individual votes are merely majority suggestions to the electorate, we also have to contend with an antiquated voting system that includes the decision by lot or draw. Most recently this meant that the democratic party winner in Iowa came down to, yes, a coin toss. Am I the only person who thinks that if we’re to buy into the clout of America being the greatest country in the world, we’d be far more advance in the way votes are cast and counted.

A few years ago I wrote about how the electoral college should be abolished. Sure, the topic is not glamorous and it’s clearly not important enough to keep most people’s interest after the elections have come and gone. However, isn’t it the definition of insanity if we ridicule a system that will never change. So, I’m either the insane one or the system is. I think it’s the system. When there are so many other deserving spotlight issues, why can’t this be and remain among them?

The President of the United States is the glass ceiling. There is no higher. However, getting there seems to be such a murky process. It’s hard not to become discouraged by the unnecessary complexity of the road to the White House. In 2016 why can’t each vote really matter and each vote actually count? There should never be a reason to leave it to chance. Again, this is for the highest position in all the land!

Every few years (I refrain from saying 4 years since the election cycle starts so much earlier which is another issue onto itself) we are inundated with yes, late night show fodder but most importantly, we are all the audience to what has become too much of a show, a comedy of errors. In this most recent election cycle, I have been overcome by disdain for the entire process. It’s as though anyone, regardless of aptitude or ability, can and will run for President. The art of this deal (tongue in cheek intended) is in electing the person who is among the smartest people in the room. I don’t need to be able to have a beer and cocktails with the person, but I do need to know that social graces and intelligence are a part of their full package.

Who needs a flash-in-the-pan kind of leader, one with comical one-liners but no fortitude? Then too, who wants to vote when, for any number of ridiculous reasons, our vote is cast in the hopes that our voices will actually be heard? Here’s Political Science and Wikipedia 101. US citizens don’t actually directly elect the president or vice president. We essentially give our proxy to a middle man, the electors who have pledged, yes, pledged, they’re not legally required to, vote a particular way in the election. If that alone isn’t a reason for concern, think then of the varying ways states can determine how votes will be cast. Since 2015, there have been 157 cases of electors not voting based on their pledge. And although this has not yet changed the outcome of any presidential election, why not allow for direct elections? It’s not as if having an elector is in our best interest. In 83 of those 157 cases, votes were changed by the elector’s personal interest. And while there are laws against this behavior in 29 states and the District of Columbia, those laws are rarely, if ever enforced.

This is one of the cases where I think that popularity should win and when the KISS acronym holds true. Keep it simple stupid. Or, I suppose, we could continue to limp along using a practice that dates back to 1787 and that was written into federal law in 1845. If the time it took for it to become federal law is any indication of our broken system, I can only assume it may be another century before we lean not on custom but on practicality and reason.

If the ruler of the free world could be decided in part or in whole by a coin toss, is there nothing truly sacred? As unhappy I remain to with our electoral process, I do take the time to exercise my right and privilege to vote. After all, I prefer being a participant than a spectator when it comes to matters of importance.

This article appeared on page 5A in the 3/9/16 issue of The Union-Recorder under the title, Our Elected Leader Should Not Come Down to a Coin Toss.

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Posted by on February 10, 2016 in The Union-Recorder


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