Forget about gay marriage--the demise of the electoral college should be the Constitutional amendment of choice

President Bush's declaration of support for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman is a perfect example of delightful irony. Shrub's declaration is pure bushwa--meaning nonsense for those of you who have yet to discover the joys of A.Word.A.Day's Web site (www.wordsmith.org/awad). But laughs over language aside, one has to wonder if Tucson's "Walking Out of Homosexuality" conference, held at a church not too long ago, and a shameful example of intolerance and fear, would even have occurred had Dubya kept his perennially smirking mouth shut.

If it weren't bad enough that we're subject to Bush's melodramatic displays of ignorance, at least one petition, claiming more than one million signatures against gay marriage, is making its way through cyberspace. No one in Washington, though, has been dumb enough to, as of yet, do more than give lip support to the idea of an amendment narrowing the notion of liberty rather than expanding it.

It's too bad that during the next seven months, in addition to the usual mind-numbing rhetoric Americans have come to expect in presidential-election years, we will likely be subject to crocks of Republican poppycock about "traditional" marriage as the cornerstone of all civilizations throughout recorded history and even on planets yet to be discovered.

While too many Americans will be foolishly fretting over the looming threat of a lesbian couple moving in next door--or those two gay guys in their congregation who, by God, not only want to be tolerated, but may actually wish to wed--a depressingly small number will be writing letters to their representatives urging them to support the only constitutional amendment anyone with a functioning brain should be supporting: the Equal Voice Amendment. The EVA would dismantle the Electoral College and relegate it to America's past.

Forget about Nader. It was the existence of the Electoral College system, combined with Florida's third-world election rigging, that landed Bush in the White House. Remember: He never won the popular vote. Think long and hard about these six words: HE NEVER WON THE POPULAR VOTE. How's that bit of buried history from the hapless year 2000 to remind us how ludicrous it is to continue hanging on to the illusion that the United States is the pinnacle of democracy?

Bush won 50,456,002 votes to Gore's 50,999,897. In any self-respecting nation, those numbers would have placed Gore in the West Wing. But wait! The existence of the Electoral College makes those numbers moot. In electoral votes--the ones that really count--Bush earned 271 to Gore's 266. Adios, Al.

The Electoral College stands as an elitist and blatant reminder that the founders of this nation believed the rabble--that's us--couldn't be trusted with the task of directly choosing our president. So instead of the citizenry having the power to fill the office of the most powerful elected official in the country, it fell to each state to devise a system of electors who would do the choosing for us. Well sure, our votes would count--sort of, but not enough that if one candidate won the popular vote while another won the Electoral College vote--as happened in 2000--the candidate who carried the popular vote would carry the election. It's long past time to rid ourselves of this undemocratic, 18th-century relic that reduces the voice of the people to a backstage whisper. And EVA's the way to do it.

It would be a simple amendment: "That section of Article II referring to electors is hereby repealed. Henceforth, presidents shall be elected solely by majority vote of the duly registered voters." What could be clearer, or more democratic?

The first thing to do is set up an EVA Web site. Techies: The nation's future is in your hands. Besides making a case for ridding ourselves of the Electoral College, the site would provide a petition for visitors to sign. The petition would inform Congress that we were pissed as hell and weren't going to take it anymore: We want the Electoral College gone. The petition would, of course, also be available through e-mail.

Within several months, as enthusiasm for EVA mounts and millions of folks have joined the one-man (or woman), one-vote bandwagon, we enter the letter-writing phase of the campaign. All those people who signed petitions can write their representatives and demand that EVA is introduced as a bill so Congress has the opportunity to vote on the amendment.

More letter writing. Remember: In order for the amendment to be accepted, it has to pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives by a two-thirds majority; and that's just the first step. Then, it has to go to the states, where a three-fourths majority must ratify it, and where the smaller states will likely be a hard sell. Now you know why so few amendments ever see the light of day.

This may all seem like a lot of work for a purpose that may never be realized, but frankly, I can't think of a better way to ensure that the next time we elect a president, he actually gets to serve.

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