Segments in this Video

U.S. Government (01:46)


Is the way we elect a president a disaster waiting to happen? Should the United States do away with the electoral college? What does the Constitution say about political parties?

Who Can Run for President? (02:06)

Moderator Arthur Miller creates a hypothetical scenario in which he runs for president. Any natural born citizen who is 35 or older can run. The Constitution says nothing about political parties; George Washington was against what he called “factions.”

How to Win a Nomination (02:32)

Miller decides to run as a Democrat; he must win a majority of delegates at the Democratic Convention of 1984 to win the party’s nomination. Political parties establish their own rules regarding the nominating process.

Scandal, Representative System (08:31)

Miller describes a scenario in which a candidate seems to have a lock on the Democratic nomination but is involved in a scandal. Voters elect delegates, not the candidate. Party delegates are expected to respect the wishes of the people who elect them, but have some leeway to change their votes.

What Can the Courts Do? (01:29)

Miller poses the question of whether “hoodwinked” voters can sue delegates for not voting for the candidate they want. Retired Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart clarifies that parties are voluntary associations and protected by the First Amendment.

Unaccountable Electors (03:29)

The presidential election is a representative system in which votes go toward electors that will most likely cast their votes for the candidate of choice. Parties spend little time vetting electors, and the qualifications are not clearly defined.

Popular Vote vs. Electoral College (07:53)

Miller lays out a hypothetical scenario in which an incumbent president has 2 million more votes than his challenger but loses in the electoral college. Panelists propose remedying the situation by convincing electors to switch their votes or abstain.

Should We Eliminate the Electoral College? (05:50)

Lawrence Longley characterizes the electoral college as “an unworthy institution” that has never operated as the Framers of the Constitution intended. Donald Robinson disagrees, saying it has served a useful purpose. Panelists discuss fixing or eliminating the practice.

Congressional Tiebreaker (04:53)

Miller proposes a scenario in which electors abstained, leading to a tie in the Electoral College. The House of Representatives—voting state by state—would determine the presidency. Would representatives vote based on the will of constituents or along party lines?

Succession and the 25th Amendment (16:32)

The panel examines issues of presidential succession. Miller envisions a scenario in which the president is incapacitated by an assassination attempt. Will the president willingly release command or will Congress remove him from power?

Credits: Nomination, Election and Succession of the President (01:44)

Credits: Nomination, Election and Succession of the President

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Nomination, Election, and Succession of the President

Part of the Series : Constitution: That Delicate Balance
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



A tangled web of issues is involved in electing a president. Edmund Muskie, former presidential press secretary Jody Powell, party officials and others discuss the role of political parties, the electoral college, and what to do if a president becomes disabled.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL160412

Copyright date: ©1984

Closed Captioned

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