American Idol shows why we need an Electoral College

I don’t usually write on stuff like this, but I was struck last night and got to thinking about whether talent is enough, or whether the right person always wins. And in the event that the wrong person is winning, is there a way to correct that?

I saw two of the most talented individuals participating in the vanguard of American cultural expression that is American Idol get sent to the elimination round yesterday, with one of them having to be sent home. If that show had an electoral college (the judges?), that probably would not have happened.

In today’s political season, we may see something similar play out.

Is this extended Democratic Party primary ultimately leading to Obama and Clinton being sent to the elimination chairs, which means one of them will have to go home?

Going a step further, if the Obama-Clinton deathmatch is bloody enough, will they be paving the way for the Republican John McCain, the most wrong of the three?

The popular vote is generally the correct vote, as it is in the case of the Democratic Primary this year. However, this is not always the case (see the 2004 Presidential Election). When it’s not, how do we fix it?

The answer should be that the Electoral College, or Randy Jackson, or the Superdelegates, or something should be able to right such wrongs. After all, that’s why they were invented in the first place.

One Love. One II.

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora and am a National Campaign Director at I currently live in Washington, DC with my beautiful wife Ellen. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. Today I work at the crossroads of traditional political organizing and online activism. I speak before diverse audiences on empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation though emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet.

5 responses to “American Idol shows why we need an Electoral College”

  1. Ellen says :

    I guess the bigger question is who determines when the popular vote is wrong?

  2. Clarence says :

    “The popular vote is generally the correct vote, as it is in the case of the Democratic Primary this year.”

    Could you expound on this statement? I’m assuming you mean a true popular vote and not the current “popular vote” (i.e. exclusive of most caucus states that do not report or keep popular vote totals) that the Clinton camp is pushing as the metric for the nominate?

  3. Garlin II says :

    No Clarence, I do not mean the Clinton-talking-point-version of the phrase “popular vote.”

  4. Garlin II says :


    I think that is the question that Randy Jackson and the Electoral College are seeking to answer. I think it comes down to an issue of trust. In an era where we do not trust elected officials, having another individual or group of individuals that we do collectively trust can potentially help us define correct versus incorrect.

  5. webprospector says :

    Wouldn’t we save money if we just let the “American Idol” judges decide the presidential election. ;)

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