Published Nov 2, 2004

(Note: as of this hour, the election has not yet been called for anyone.)

I’m all for the Electoral College. Bush may end up in the White House, but I’ll still love the Electoral College. The Electoral College is a good, Federal institution. It’s one of those things that makes us the United States of America, not just the Large Country Dominating The Continent Of (North) America.

Electing a President is, ideally, about putting someone in office with some kind of a mandate. Someone who a lot of Americans will follow and respect. America is a very diverse country, split on many many lines. Mandates do not come from being elected the president of Corn-Growing America, or Coal States America, or Urban America, or Sunny Year-Round America; mandates only come from being elected by Chicken-Farming America and Porn-Watching America and Meat-And-Potatoes-Eating America all at the same time. The Electoral College makes candidates try to do that. You can’t carry Illinois without appealing to Immigrant America and Banking America and Cow-Ranching America all at the same time.

This creates a truly Federal state. We’re all different, but, in a good year, we all come together behind a Reagan or a Clinton. In a bad year, like 2000, well, Gore tries to be President of Urban America and Bush manages to appeal to slightly more different kinds of Americans, getting Gun-Toting America, NASCAR America, Kids-Playing-Soccer America, Freeway America, and Tracts Of Identical-Looking Houses America: a smaller coalition numerically, but a more Federal one. And so Bush wins, even though more people hate him with deep and abiding vitriol, because all the people who hate him are the same whereas some of the people who like him are different.

So that’s the test this year: we know Bush kept Gun-Toting America and NASCAR America, and that Kerry kept Urban America, but can either of them appeal to the people who live in Tracts Of Identical-Looking Houses? Whoever can get Freaked Out About Muslims America, Ambivalent About Iraq America, Unemployed America, Broke Since We’re Paying For Health Care America, and Tasty Mexican Food Cooked At Home America will win this year. Ain’t that great? Ain’t that American?