Every democracy is constructed day-to-day. And the electoral process reduces and minimalizes every single aspect of human complexity. We're putting it into pamphlets. We're doing a publicity show. We're becoming symbols.
In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore got more votes than George W. Bush, but still lost the election. The Supreme Court's ruling in Florida gave Bush that pivotal state, and doomed Gore to lose the Electoral College. That odd scenario - where the candidate with the most votes loses - has happened three times in U.S. history.
Power is action; the electoral principle is discussion. No political action is possible when discussion is permanently established.
The great disadvantage of our present electoral system is that it freezes the pattern of politics, and holds together the incompatible because everyone assumes that if a party splits it will be electorally slaughtered.
My sense is that economic anxiety means electoral volatility.
Andrew Jackson was the first president to claim that the desires of the public overrode Congress's constitutional prerogatives. Virtually every president since Jackson has claimed the mantle, even while lacking two ingredients of an electoral mandate: a landslide victory and a specific agenda.
When George Bush asked me to sign on, it obviously wasn't because he was worried about carrying Wyoming. We got 70 percent of the vote in Wyoming, although those three electoral votes turned out to be pretty important last time around.
No one likes the Electoral College, expect perhaps those who were elected because of it. No one likes gerrymandering, except those doing the gerrymandering. No one likes the filibuster, except those doing the filibustering.
It always seemed to me ironic that the McCain campaign kept referring sneeringly to Obama's meager resume - 'a mere community organizer!' - before he entered electoral politics. It was Obama's experience as a community organizer that proved such a killer app when he applied that skill to the Internet.
Presidents are elected not by direct popular vote but by 538 members of the Electoral College.