August 31, 2006
By Fax to: (916) 445-4633
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
I'm writing to urge you to veto AB2948 (Umberg), a bill that would radically change the way that Presidential elections are held in the United States.
The bill - through an interstate compact - effectively abolishes the Electoral college and substitutes the results of the popular vote. While many people complain about the process or results involved in our creaky Presidential election process, I'd like to point out a few things and ask you to consider them as you weigh your response to this bill.
First, and foremost, that the current system works. We are the longest-lived republic in the history of the world, and the cranky genius of the Founders who managed to build a federal system that manages to keep balancing all the moving parts of our society as it's changed over the last two and a quarter centuries.
Next, simply, because one of the keys to the success of our system is specifically the balance it strikes between majority power and minority rights. I've lived all my life in California, one of the most populated, wealthy, and powerful states. But I have friends who live in New Mexico and South Dakota - friends whose vote for President would be effectively discounted as we moved to a purely population-based election system.
Finally, because a change of this impact and import should not be made without the clear attention, participation, and voice of the public, rather than in a late-session legislative maneuver that has been thinly publicized and is not well-understood.
I've heard you speak of the affection and admiration you have for the American system of government. Why risk carelessly damaging something you hold in such high esteem?
Almost thirty years ago, you stopped as you walked through a gym in Santa Monica to correct me as I did situps. I paid attention - as did the audience that gathered around to listen - because you obviously had a history of success in exercise. America has a history of success in politics, and I hope that you will pay as close attention to America's success as I did to you that night.