A National Popular Vote

A National Popular Vote

Last summer, I wrote several posts about the Electoral College. Among its many deficiencies, I argued, the worst is that a candidate can lose the election but win the presidency. Well, as the song says, don’t believe me just watch. Can the system be fixed? Welcome back to The Coffee House.

The Essex Result

The Essex Result

In his new book, The Sleeping Sovereign, eminent scholar Richard Tuck notes that the ratification process of the 1778 Massachusetts Constitution, “was the first general referendum or plebiscite ever mounted in any state anywhere in the world.” Remarkably, the proposed constitution was voted down—and thereon hangs a tale about Essex County, Massachusetts. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

Jim Crow and the Electoral College

Jim Crow and the Electoral College

If the Electoral College is as bad as all that, why does it still exist? Well, there’s an answer to that question, and it’s probably not what you would guess. Travel with me back to the days of Woodstock and Moon shots. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

The Case Against the Electoral College (Wonk Edition)

The Case Against the Electoral College (Wonk Edition)

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be looking at proposals to reform the Electoral College. Before turning to them, however, here are some thoughts about why things need to change. Put on your pocket protector, tape the bridge of your glasses, and let’s dive in. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

The Worst College in America

The Worst College in America

As early voting for president approaches, we are reminded again of the awful institution known as the Electoral College. It’s even worse than it looks, but smart people are proposing solutions. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

Gerrymander 2.0

Gerrymander 2.0

Gerrymandering has gone high-tech, and its creatures are devouring their own. That's a problem for everyone. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

Parliament Envy

Parliament Envy

In response to the endless gridlock in Washington, several commentators have recently suggested that the U.S. would be better off with a parliamentary system, where Congress appoints the president. Sound too radical? In fact, we already have a parliamentary system. Sort of. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

What It Takes

What It Takes

There’s no qualifying exam to captain the ship of state, so what makes a person fit to be president? My thoughts. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

People Are Awful, Long May They Reign

People Are Awful, Long May They Reign

The difference between popular government and popular sovereignty may seem like a verbal quibble. But it was much more than that to the people who wrote and ratified the Constitution. I think they could teach us a lesson. Welcome back to The Coffee House. 

Sitting Out the Sit-In

Sitting Out the Sit-In

The House Democrats’ sit-in will likely hinder gun control for decades. Welcome back to The Coffee House. 

The Millenarian Moment

The Millenarian Moment

You can't always get what you want in American politics, but sometimes it's for a very good reason. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

Demagogues and Us

Demagogues and Us

The influential pundit Andrew Sullivan is like Michael Corleone: every time he thinks he’s out, they pull him back in. In 2015, Sullivan gave up the political beat to focus on religion, spirituality, and other elevated topics. But the 2016 election drew him back into the fray. Earlier this month he published a major essay on Donald Trump in New York magazine. He’s right about what’s going on, but wrong about what it means. Or so I’ll argue here. Welcome back to The Coffee House.

The Government We Deserve

The Government We Deserve

The framers of the U.S. Constitution made Congress by far the most powerful branch of government. Yet in recent years it has virtually given up governing, with serious and ongoing consequences. My two previous posts looked at the roles of electoral incentives and political parties in creating this dysfunction. In a final post on the topic, I’ll turn the camera around and look at us, the voters. We’re a confusing bunch, but Montesquieu will help us make sense of it all.