American National Government Discussion: The Electoral College, history homework help

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The Electoral College

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Prepare: Prior to beginning work on this discussion question, read Chapters 5 and 6 in American Government and review Week Three Instructor Guidance. In addition, read the following articles: What Are the Arguments Made in Favor – and Against – the Electoral College?GOP Leaders United in Defense of the Electoral College, and the ProQuest article Why the Electoral College is Bad for America.

[img width=”100″ height=”51″ alt=”Reflect Icon” src=”https://bridgepoint.equella.ecollege.com/curriculum/file/e0f926c5-852c-4a25-81d2-b9f5a46f1cbe/1/sized.zip/sized/Reflect.png”> Reflect: As the textbook author asserts, the Framers intentionally designed a process for selecting presidents that would minimize the president’s political power – the Electoral College. They hoped this institution would insulate the chief executive from the public because they feared the power of presidents who might be elected by the people. However, the Electoral College has also spawned a long ongoing debate about whether the Electoral College should be abandoned in favor of new methods, which would ensure that the candidate elected has the most popular votes. The controversy over the Electoral College must be understood in order to better understand how and why U.S. presidents are elected. After you have read and studied the Electoral College process, you will critically think about the process and share your insights as you write your discussion.

[img width=”100″ height=”51″ alt=”Write Icon” src=”https://bridgepoint.equella.ecollege.com/curriculum/file/e0f926c5-852c-4a25-81d2-b9f5a46f1cbe/1/sized.zip/sized/Write.png”> Write: For this post, the class will be divided into three sections. Please be sure to write about the specific topic you are assigned based on the first letter of your last name.

First, all students should summarize how the Electoral College functions.

Second, each student will focus on a specific argument regarding the Electoral College, based on the first letter of their last name.

If your last name starts with A-K: Explain the positive impact of the Electoral College and defend why the Electoral College should remain as it is currently. Be sure to include both the pros and the cons of keeping the Electoral College as it is currently.

If your last name starts with L-R: Explain the negative impact of the Electoral College and defend why the Electoral College should be abolished. Be sure to include both the pros and cons of abolishing the Electoral College.

If your last name starts with S-Z: Explain the impact of the Electoral College and defend why it should be modified, but not kept as it is currently written or abolished. Be sure to include both the pros and cons of modifying the Electoral College.

Explain some of the main pros and cons in the debate about whether to keep or abolish the current Electoral College process. In addition, evaluate one proposal to change how the system works without formally abolishing it. Would this proposal effectively address some of the cons that you identified earlier in your post? Please explain your response.

Fully respond to all parts of the prompt and write your response in your own words. Your initial must be at least 250 to 300 words. Support your position with at least two of the assigned resources required for this discussion, and/or peer reviewed scholarly sources obtained through the AU Library databases. Include APA in-text citations in the body of your post and full references on the references list at the end. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

 

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT: THE PRESIDENCY AND THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE, AND THE JUDICIAL BRANCH

“No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.”– John Adams (Quotes About Presidency)

Week Three Instructor Guidance

This week we will focus on the President and the Executive Branch, the Electoral College, and the Judiciary. The Executive Branch encompasses the office of the President (President, Vice President, etc.) as well as all of the federal agencies that make up the government bureaucracy (many of these are detailed in section 6.2 in your textbook). The federal Judiciary includes lower federal courts as well as the Supreme Court.

The President
We will explore the role of the President as a leader and a policy maker. As you read Chapter 5, be sure to focus on the powers given to the President by the Constitution – both the explicit powers (things the Constitution directly says the president can do) and implicit powers (powers that are implied by the Constitution). It can be difficult to separate out what the President has the power to do and what the media, the public, and the pundits often attribute to the President. All of our presidents come into office with the burden of increasingly high expectations, but are often limited as to what they can actually do. For example, without the support of Congress, the President cannot implement laws, improve the economy, etc. The Framers left much of the Constitution vague when it came to deciding the role of the executive (the power of prerogative), so it is interesting to think through what power is (and is not) given to the President.

Presidential Leadership
The President of the United States of America is granted significant powers by the Constitution and exercises others by tradition and precedent. The success with implementing these powers has varied widely among presidents. The framers of the Constitution were divided over whether the president should be a weak or a strong executive. Over the years, the presidency has evolved into an extremely complex job requiring balancing various constitutional roles such as head of state, chief executive, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, chief diplomat, and chief legislator. The president is also considered the leader of his/her political party. Because one person plays these roles simultaneously, the roles often conflict with each other. The position requires strong leadership capacity to rise above these conflicts while maintaining balance among them.

A president has limited time to exert leadership. Normally, he or she can be elected to only two four-year terms according to the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ratified in 1951). Under the same amendment, a president might hold office for up to ten years if he or she first became president through the order of succession rather than election No president has served longer than Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-45). Unless there is an amendment to the Constitution, it is unlikely that there will be any other presidents serving longer times.

As you are reading your textbook this week, consider the conflicting demands on the president and the challenges facing the nation and what kind of presidential leadership is needed in America today. Reflect on how the office has evolved over the years, the relative importance of the person who is president versus the institution of the presidency, and the sources of presidential power. Think about what capacities a president must have an in order to be an effective leader.

The Electoral College
We will also spend some time reading about the Electoral College and its role in Presidential elections. The Electoral College originated with the Framers’ fear that the general public could not be trusted to select an executive. Today, the Electoral College system produces frustration and confusion around election time – particularly the fear that a candidate could win the popular vote, but lose the Electoral College vote, giving us a president that most Americans did not vote for. While this has only happened four times in our history, most recently with George W. Bush in 2000, it results in some people not trusting our electoral system. You will consider this debate in the discussion this week.

Electoral College Impact
The Electoral College elects the president and vice-president of the U.S. The electors are elected by popular vote and declare in advance how they will vote if they are elected, so the people choose electors who will vote the way they would vote if they were electors. The election process uses the “winner-take-all” rule in 48 states, under which all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the one candidate with the most votes in that state. States having only three votes and states that are considered either safe or hopelessly lost are largely ignored by presidential candidates in the election campaigns under the current Electoral College Process.

As you read this section of the text, think about how the process of selecting a president affects the leadership capacities of the president. How do you think the Constitutional framers thought about the process of selecting a president and how this impacted their rationale for creating the Electoral College. Think about if you feel the Electoral College is currently working and if it is the best way to elect a president with the necessary leadership capacity that is needed in the United States currently.

Electoral College Reform
The Constitution mandates the process for electing the U.S. President and Vice President. Each state has as many electors as it has senators and representatives in Congress; and the District of Columbia has three votes. A winner-take-all rule operates in every state except Maine and Nebraska. Originally, the idea of the constitutional framers was to have electors use their discretion in deciding on the president. Electors no longer exercise the discretionary judgment envisioned by the founders because they are committed to the candidate having the plurality of popular votes in their state in the general election. Though pledged to vote for their state’s winners, electors are not constitutionally required to do so.

It is possible for a candidate to become president without acquiring a majority of the popular vote and while also having more electoral votes than an opponent who has more popular votes. This has occurred on four occasions. In the elections of John Quincy Adams (1824), Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), and George W. Bush (2000), the winning candidates had fewer popular votes than their opponents. A candidate must win 270 of the 538 votes to win the election.

How the Electoral College Works


(Grey, 2011)The Trouble with the Electoral College

(Grey, The Trouble with the Electoral College, 2011)

What if the Electoral College is Tied?

(Grey, What if the Electoral College is Tied?, 2012)

American Bureaucracy
It is also important to think of the role different agencies play in the governing process, including how they make rules that impact our daily lives, without the approval of Congress. How are bureaucratic agencies responsible for running the country? Make sure you can answer the question – who are the bureaucrats and what do they do? Pay attention to why the bureaucracy is not featured in the constitution, and compare it to the role the bureaucracy plays in our lives today.

Next, you will want to consider who controls the bureaucracy. Your textbook highlights the role that each branch of government plays in controlling and overseeing the bureaucracy. Make sure you can identify the tools each branch (President, Congress, Judiciary) has to exert control over the bureaucracy, and see if you can come up with examples for each.

Judicial Branch
As we discuss the Judicial Branch this week, the focus is specifically on federal courts. Keep in mind that there is a whole different set of state courts. State courts deal with questions of state laws (think about episodes of Law and Order), while federal courts deal with questions of states, crimes across state lines, etc. There is not a great deal of specific information in the constitution about the Judiciary, beyond the Supreme Court, so the rest of our judicial system was crafted in the early days of the republic (see section 7.2).

As you are reading the textbook regarding the Judicial Branch, be sure you understand how judges are selected to serve on courts, how the Supreme Court works, and the process of judicial and Constitutional review. Think about how these duties relate to more recent court decisions and consider the role of the current Supreme Court justices as activists and/or interpreters of Constitutional doctrine.

We often think about members of Congress as being the policy makers in our government, and in fact, that is the way the Constitution intended it to be. However, the President and the Executive branch both play large roles in policymaking and the implementation of policy (as does the Judiciary through the process of Judicial Review). As you are reading this week, think about the ways that each branch has the opportunity to shape policy and the circumstances that require them to work together.

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WEEK THREE LEARNING ACTIVITIES

Discussion #1 – The Electoral College

1st Post Due by Day 3 – Thursday

Before composing your response, please consider the following key ideas:

  • It is possible for a candidate to become President without acquiring a majority of the popular vote, which happens if a candidate wins more electoral votes than an opponent who receives the national majority of the popular votes. This has occurred on four occasions. In the elections of John Quincy Adams (1824), Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), and George W. Bush (2000), the winning candidates had fewer nationwide popular votes than their opponents. A candidate must win 270 of the 538 electoral votes to win the election.
  • The Electoral College is a state-based system in the sense that each state determines how it awards its allocated electoral votes. Currently 48 out of 50 states use a winner-take-all method that awards the total number electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote within that state. Maine and Nebraska are the two exceptions. They use the Congressional District Method that awards one electoral vote to the winner of each Congressional District, with the remaining two electoral votes going to the statewide winner. Unlike the winner-take-all method, the Congressional District Method allows for the possibility of dividing the electoral votes in these two states.
  • Please take a moment to consider that the Electoral College System was designed more than 200 years ago to create distance between presidents and the public. This was done for the purpose of limiting presidential political power. Explain some of the main pros and cons in the debate about whether to keep or abolish the current Electoral College process. In addition, evaluate one proposal to change how the system works without formally abolishing it. Would this proposal effectively address some of the cons that you identified earlier in your post? Please explain your response.
  • Be sure to review the discussion prompt for this week as you will be required to defend a specific stance on the Electoral College based on the first letter of your last name. Remember, your initial post must be at least 300 words in length. Support your position with at least two of the assigned resources required for this discussion, and/or peer reviewed scholarly sources obtained through the AU Library databases. Include APA in-text citations in the body of your post and references at the end, to support or provide evidence to back up your arguments as you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your position, and cite them properly.
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