Don’t Like the Electoral College? Tough!

So many of my friends still haven’t gotten over the 2016 election, and desperately want a change in the electoral system, aiming straight for the villain of the drama, the Electoral College.

“Get rid of it!!  The person who gets the popular vote should be president!”

Oh, my friends, my friends, you have forgotten your history!  The United States is not and never was a country in the usual sense. In a word, we are not a nation, we’re a federation and the Electoral College was the price we had to pay for there to be a United States at all.

Don’t you remember how in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention the small states were worried that if they signed on to what James Madison was proposing they would lose all their power?   They were afraid the big states like Virginia would always have more members in a Congress where representation was based on size of the population, and the big states would out-vote the little ones in everything. Thus was the Senate born in that famous Connecticut Compromise—a bicameral legislature with 2 senators for each state no matter how big or small, and that affects each state’s numbers in the Electoral College too. The small states in the West and Midwest (rural America) have disproportionate power both in the Senate and when it comes to voting for the President, but without that system, there would have been no United States. Today there would only be 50 separate countries or perhaps groups of smaller unions. Our government is a federal government and that’s the way it’s going to stay, complete with Electoral College until the whole thing breaks apart, which is not unlikely.   No country lasts forever, and that goes for federations too.

So to those who say it’s not fair that Hilary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the presidency in the Electoral College, the point is, yes, that would be true in most countries, but it’s completely fair in our federation, simply because those were the rules each state (each “country”) agreed to when we came into being. If we don’t like it, we can change the rules, but do you really expect all those western rural states to give up their power to the eastern states dominated by cities? That will never happen until there is so much unrest, so much protesting, so much chaos, that we will have to amend the Constitution or risk the break-up of our 239-year old federation.

In the meantime, it would be nice to think that the electors in the Electoral College were men and women of the highest character who would take their roles seriously and not slavishly follow a party line.   It turns out the Founding Fathers who later started the Federalist Party were correct in being leery of too much democracy.   2016 proved that “the people” sometimes make terrible decisions and it would behoove the Electors to reject someone who is egregiously unqualified to hold this exalted office.

 

 

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