28 March 2008

Not Exactly

John Yoo has written some daft things and some creepy things, so I shouldn't really be surprised by this dumbfounding display of dunderheadedness.
Mr. Yoo contrasts the (granted asinine) method the Democratic Party has chosen to nominate its candidate for President with the Founding Fathers* disdain for (and rejection of) congressional appointment of the president. In Mr. Yoo's scenario the super-delegates are equitable with the congress and represent an undemocratic, and potentially harmful, method of electing our executive.
Either through ignorance (doubtful), tendentiousness (more than likely) or some other incapacity, Mr. Yoo disregards the fact that the Democrats and their super-delegates are nominating a candidate, not appointing a president. The founders were silent, as far as the constitution is concerned, as to how candidates would be chosen to vie for the office and expressed hostility towards party politics.
The person who wins the most votes in the most states to give a majority of electors will win the office. If the decision to nominate is left solely to the super-delegates and they choose poorly, hopefully the people will not second the choice. The lack of "democracy" in a political party naming its candidate is not a concern at all of the constitution nor was it a thought in the deliberations at the Constitutional Convention. Too many people look to the two main parties as if they are part and parcel of our government system: imposing governmental requirements on the party or hoisting party issues into the government system.
I am reminded of when the New Jersey Supreme Court (undemocratically) put Frank Lautenberg on the ticket for senator after Robert Torricelli self-immolated--he dropped out of the race after the deadline for putting your name on the ballot, thereby, one would think, removing the Democratic Candidate from the race. The court held "it is in the public interest and the general intent† of the election laws to preserve the two-party system." After reading this I scoured the U.S. Constitution and the New Jersey State Constitution for any clause mentioning the establishment of the two-party system that required the Court's protection, finding none.
The parties are an unfortunate outgrowth of our government system, they are our (for better and for worse) our political system. But they are not necessary and they certainly shouldn't be given permanent legal status by a state (or federal) Supreme Court nor be projected to have the authority to sit our next president at the whim of self-selected super-delegates.
But being familiar with the work of Mr. Yoo, if it were the Republicans (who also have super-delegates) in this predicament, his piece would probably focus on the vibrancy of the debate going on and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers on their silence as to the naming of candidates for the office of President.

*It should be noted that the Founders weren't exactly rah rah for democracy. Senators were originally selected by state legislators and the method of electing the president had to be changed almost immediately after Washington left office. The idea that the state legislators must choose their delegates based on the results of the popular election is a myth, the states are free to come up with any method they choose to appoint their electors.
The more I think about politics and our system, I tend to think the founders were right in having the senators selected by the state legislators and not capping the number of terms a president may serve. Indirect appointment of senators would (maybe) restore the original desire for the senate to be more deliberative and perhaps have more people more involved in their state politics.

†Note that the court divines the intent of the legislators to preserve the two-party system. While there is no doubt that the parties will do everything they can to maintain the two-party system, even they wouldn't be fool enough to try to write this nonsense into law. Thankfully they have the judiciary to figure out what they "meant" to do without having to go through the trouble of actually, you know, passing a law saying it.

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