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Monday, November 15, 2004

It's Not Farewell

Posted by DavidNYC

I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately - I think I need a longer break than I originally realized. After a year of running this blog, I must confess that I'm a bit worn out, and I think I'll be taking an extended hiatus from the Swing State Project. That doesn't mean the SSP is going to disappear - to the the contrary, Tim (whose debt I am in) will faithfully take over the helm of this good ship. I leave it to you, the readers of this site, and Tim to chart the future course of this blog - something many of you have already discussed.

I am also incredibly, deeply grateful to the guest posters who helped make this site strong - a place truly worth visiting. Seamus, Fester and Rob provided insightful updates about their corners of the swing state world and taught us all quite a bit. I now know more about Pennsylvania and Arkansas than I ever imagined I would!

Above all, Chris Bowers' indefatigable devotion to the Cattle Call provided us with a lot of fodder for discussion and really kept this site humming at all times. Chris was also largely responsible for linking us up with Ginny Schrader and pushing our very successful fundraising drive. I owe Chris a tremendous debt of gratitude - and a whole bunch of beers.

Finally, the people to whom all of us truly owe thanks are the readers and commenters here. Like just about any blogger, when I first started this site, I was thrilled when I had 100 visitors a day. It was with amazement that I watched the site start to attract 1,000 people a day late in the spring, and then 10,000 a day in the run-up to the election. But it's not the numbers which thrilled me - it was the fact that we reached a critical mass which enabled us to have truly enlightening discussions in the comments section. I think we managed to do a little more than that, even: We created a vibrant community here.

With that in mind, I want you to know that I think this community can and should continue, and that I am not departing. As I said, Tim will run the show for as long as he likes, but I will likely drop by with a guest post every now and then, and I'm sure to surface in the comments. And as Tim asked below, if you have any thoughts about the direction this site ought to take, please share `em.

So once again, thank you to everyone. I wish you all the very best of luck, and keep up the good fight!

Posted at 02:41 PM in General | Technorati


Thanks very much to David and Tim for all your work! As someone from Colorado, I think this site might be a useful, or at least informative, place to drop in, discuss wing states, ballot initiatives, and local activism. One thing I like is that this site attracts posters from across the political spectrum, including moderate (within the party) Dems like myself, and Republicans.

With the original purpose in mind, there are 2 good swing state articles I've read recently, one on West Virginia, one on Wisconsin; one Republicans will like and one Democrats will like:

West Virginia Heads Down a Political Road Less Taken

Reasons for Hope http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1111-28.htm

Thanks again,

Posted by: Marc at November 16, 2004 02:56 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thanks for your careful mentorship, Mr. NYC. The site has been a valuable contributor to my thoughts and understanding of the process. I look forward to reading under the continued excellent guidance of Tim et al.

Posted by: shimamoto at November 17, 2004 08:50 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Sorry by I had to share this one regarding the "silent majority" of relgiious moderates and progressive in America. I think this is important for folks thinking about building a future democratic majority:


Posted by: Marc at November 17, 2004 07:51 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Hi David,
I just found your site while doing some research on the Constitution. Followed a link here to some topic about the electoral vote. I was reading in the Constitution how the President and Vice-president were originally elected and am amazed at how far we have allowed the government to get away from the Constitution. I've been more concerned about our rights and what we can do to keep and defend them and hadn't even noticed that the government had stayed this far regarding the election process. John Locke once wrote that a government is dissolved if the legislative is altered and one way to do that is "by the arbitrary power of the prince, the electors, or ways of election, are altered, without the consent, and contrary to the common interest of the people"
"Of the Dissolution of Government" CHAP. XIX Sec. 216. Voter fraud and electronic voting will even make thing worse.
Originally the electors nominated the president and vice-president. Now half the states electorals MUST vote for the candidate instead of nominating their own.
If the electors HAVE to vote under what amounts to be duress then it is unconstitutional. They should vote of their own volition according to conscience. They should not be made to pledge to vote for a certain candidate or party since there are more qualified people in which to choose from than those who are campaigning for president.
I was just wondering if anyone had any ideas on how we could get the electors elected by the people and have them be free to choose nominees according to the Constitution. Seems unconstitutional and wrong to have them selected by a governor or someone and force them to pledge to vote for a party candidate. I haven't a clue how this change happened but I think we should do something to roll it back to the way it was. No winner-take-all system either. What is constitutional about that? A real Constitutional republic would be great for a change.
Anyway, Dave, good luck on your hiatus. I started a forum also about a year ago and it does get to be a drain after awhile. It's been worth it though. I'll keep looking over your blog when I can. Great Job. Wish I had found it earlier. Take care.

Yours in Liberty,



Posted by: Quicksilverdime at November 18, 2004 05:01 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

One question that arises is, if we want the people to elect the President rather than the state legislatures, why would we need independent electors? It seems to me the electors have largely become a formality to institute the winner-take-all system. The Colorado amendment that failed this year (but began w/majority support in polling) would have assigned our electoral votes proportionately to the popular vote. I assume then each party would get its assigned share of electors.

Speaking of the constitution, I think one thing we struggle with is that the President was meant to be a "chief ambassador" with few direct powers. The founders felt it basic that in a republic, the power rests with the legislature as a supreme branch. Only since this century did the President have the gall to approach congress with a budget, for example. My feeling is with partisan gerrrymandering, and two houses of Congress with complicated rules and no clear leadership, it would be hard to acheive -- those same founders purposefully made our Congress unweildy because they feared democracy. Its a far cry froma parliament. But I was shocked to hear the President say, "Going to war is one of the hardest decisions for a President to make." Wait a minute .... the Constitution gives that power to the Senate alone, and it takes a 2/3 vote!

Posted by: Marc at November 18, 2004 11:49 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Quicksilverdime, I'm confused by what you mean by "unconstitutional." If something is spelled out in the constitution, it's constitutional. For instance, the restriction on non-native born citizens running for president would be unconstitutional if it were a statute. As it is in the constitution, it can't be unconstitutional.

Attack the electoral college or other aspects of federal elections as bad ideas, if you like. Calling them "unconstitutional" only confuses the issue. The fact that we once ran elections one way, then amended the constitution, and now run elections a different way is wholly constitutional.

I am very happy, for one, that we elect a president & vice-president "ticket." Previously, we usually ended up with a president and vice-president from opposing parties who didn't get along well (eg, President Adams and Vice President Jefferson). Among other things, that system gave an incentive to partisans to assasinate the president and have "their man" take over. Even where a president died of natural causes or assassination for other reasons, it would engender strong opposition to the new resident in office. Imagine what would have happened if Nixon had taken office after Kennedy's assassination. Or if McClellan had taken office after Lincoln's assassination.

The direct election of senators is another good electoral change accomplished by amendment, I think. Previously, states defined the means of selection of senators, usually appointment by the state legislatures.

I do think there are problems with the electoral college. But it's not unconstitutional. It is in fact constitutionally mandated. But we can change it by constitutional amendment if we want.

Posted by: PAVoter at November 18, 2004 01:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I must confess that my interest in the workings of the government is quite new and therefore am certainly no Constitutional scholar and have lots of catching up to do in regard to the changes that have occured in the method of selecting a president since the writing of the Constitution.
Whether or not it is unconstitutional for states to regulate how the electors are to vote, without a constitutional amendment, I think is debatable. As far as I know, there has been no US Constitutional amendment to deprive electors from nominating a president and vice-president according to their own individual choices. It would seem better if the electors were made up of all the congressmen and senators since they would probably be more aware of who would be most qualified to be The President and Vice-president. We were given a Constitutional Republic with a representative form of government for a reason so I don't believe we should go to a direct democracy. What an awesome responsibility the electors all once had. Carefully thinking about and nominating the two people best qualified and suited for the offices of President and Vice-president of the United States.
I'm sure the framers of the Constitution had no idea of the kind of circus act the election process would turn in to.

John Adams, the second President of the United States, said, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

My observation is, since greed and power is what most politicians thrive on, the cords of our Constitution have been broken nearly beyond repair. It doesn't really matter who would do the most good for the country, special interests are going to try to get their candidates elected. Our government has already pretty much been overthrown from within anyway. Our constitutionally guaranteed rights are being stripped away and people are being fined or incarcerated for exercising them. The President makes the decision to go to war and Congress signs bills like the "Patriot" Act without even reading them. The Presidents choose Supreme Court Justices and the Supreme court chooses the President and now Congress wants to be able to veto Supreme Court decisions. What's the point of having three branches of the government.

Anyway, good point about having a president & vice-president "ticket", Marc. I was in the Philippines during "Edsa II" and saw the President replaced by the Vice-president of an opposite party. Definitely can be a problem.
It must have been wrongly assumed by the framers that everyone would get along and work toward the same goals. If they could only see us now.
Too bad we didn't have just a one party system that was the perfect party. A party for the people. Some of us in our group have been working on an idea to come up with a platform that would be agreeable to the majority. Of course those I am working with are not Bush or Kerry fans. We find all the third parties lacking also. Some are talking of trying to form a coalition of the major third parties which some of you may be in a position to be instrumental in helping to get that started. Focus on the things that the parties do have in common and eliminate from the platform those things that divide. Election reform should be a big issue to everyone. Same with tax reform. I'm sure that's been tried before but wouldn't hurt to try again. About half the voting population didn't vote and many who voted for Bush were just voting against Kerry and many who voted for Kerry were just voting against Bush. Those are the ones we would go after. All the third parties combined got what? Maybe 2% of the vote? It won't get any better for them unless we come up with something that will apeal to everyone. Our rights are going to be a very big issue by the time 2008 get's here.

PAVoter, I can't argue with you about the constutionality of electing a foreign born person as a United States President. It seems pretty clear to me that you can't but like I said I'm not that learned in Constitutional law. I'm definitely going to be looking into it more though now that my eyes have been opened to the fact that even the voting process is not according to the plan of the framers. Whatever, I'm sure that you agree that there does need to be some reform regarding the elector vote and I agree with you on that and hope that we can all work together to bring that about. Good topic for Tim to Consider. Thanks again Dave and Tim.

Yours in Liberty,



Posted by: Quicksilverdime at November 18, 2004 10:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


Just a couple comments...

As far as having a one party system...it would be a complete disaster. Imagine if EITHER the democrats or republicans were allowed to move forward with an agenda without anyone keeping them in check! This country would move rapidly in a direction that would not be beneficial to the people. Also, in a one party system, power would be abused far more than it is now.

As far as a third party that would appeal to a large group...I'm not sure a coalition of third parties would work. I think your best bet would be a strong, popular candidate with solid ideas, name recognition, well-liked and well-funded. Ross Perot won a surprising 18 percent of the vote in 1992. That is really pretty amazing for a third party...even more so when you consider at the time he wasn't really well-known, and certainly wasn't very pretty. If Ross was handsome, tall and better known (and had picked someone better as a running mate) he might have pulled it off.

Posted by: John at November 19, 2004 06:37 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Quick and John,

Good comments ... I am considering writing an editorial in the Japan Times (if they'll take it) b/c there they are longing for an American-style two-party system. Beware! This is half the reason this country is so divided. We even talk about people having democratic or republican personalities. Aren't these supposed to be parties. But you are on to something ... Ross Perot, as well as Jesse Ventura, were considered in the middle of the two parties and either won or were leading in polls. Granted, ina 3-way race it onylt ake 34% to win -- a really flawed system. The reform party is still out there, and a group of moderates/progressives could take it over by just showing up in numbers.

Re: "It must have been wrongly assumed by the framers that everyone would get along and work toward the same goals. If they could only see us now." The founders expected only white male property owners would vote and so it would be fairly clubby, with commerce, agriculture and manufacturing being the interest groups.

A one-party system would tend toward oppression & demogoguery. As Clinton said, our differences matter, but our common humanity matters more. I feel we should strive to represent all the interests (of voters, not contributors) in government, then devise a system where they can sit down and compromie (gasp!) for the wider common good. There are proposals that could achieve this, such as going to multi-member districts (congressional districts with 3-5) reps. And it is constitutional! States decide how to elect reps. Illinois until a couple of decades ago (?) had 3-member districts for their state legislature. This would lead to ... multi-party democracy ... no more either/or -- no more mudslingign because now you have to convince voters to support you, not oppose the other guy. Case in point -- latest polls show Bush getting a 48% job approval ... yet he just won by tearing down Kerry ... my goal is not to be off-the-wall and talk about changes to proportional rep (not sure I want this) but to look at what can be done to move us to a 3- or 4- party system.

Electing the Pres by senators and reps -- hmm -- that would take us to a parliamentary style system where the legislature and executive are together ... most European countries do it this way.

Posted by: Marc at November 19, 2004 12:50 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

A quick note to David and Tim -- I agree with what folks have been saying about wanting to see on this site. One idea would be to have more ongoing topic-based dicussion forums (not too many - maybe a half dozen) so that when a few of us want to get into a discussion about the constitution like this we can be doing it in our own area -- rahter than attach it to the daily post, and then drop the subject when the next daily post comes up. Thoughts?

Posted by: Marc at November 19, 2004 12:55 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


Posted by: jinja at November 19, 2004 05:36 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


Brother Wayne: "The Hard Stuff"


Posted by: Larry the Duck at November 20, 2004 09:31 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment