The Electoral College


The U.S. Constitution was designed to deal with the failings of the human condition. The Founders had many fears of the excesses of human nature, notably the desire to control and accumulate ever increasing power. This is why they put so many checks and balances into the system. Everything the Founders did was intended to disperse power so as to create consensus among all the participants of our representative government. 

One of the issues at the Constitution Convention was the fear by smaller population states that the populus states would run the country for themselves and the smaller population states would have no say. To create a balance of power between the large and small states, the Founders created the Senate which would have two Senators from each state regardless of population while the House of Representatives would be based on population. This “great compromise” was intended to create a consensus between the large population states and small population states when legislation is passed in Congress.

Creating the Electoral College for the election of the President was a continuation of the idea that brought about the creation of the US Senate. Electing the president through the Electoral College was a compromise between those who wanted election of the President by a vote in Congress and those that wanted election of the President by popular vote. This is another method of keeping a balance between smaller population states and large population states. 

Some people want to eliminate the Electoral College. This is a very dangerous idea and would be a severe blow to representative government. The Founders considered a Republic a much more stable form of government then a democracy, which is essentially mob rule. John Adams said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” 

Abolishing the Electoral College would allow a supermajority of voters in a relatively small number of states to decide who wins the presidency. Consider the situation in America today. We have two Americas increasingly divisive with the other. What would happen if a supermajority did away with the various checks and balances in our Constitution? This majority would create a permanent hold on power to control and rule over the detested minority. 

Contrary to popular belief, most advanced countries do NOT elect their national leader by popular vote - including Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany, India and other countries, which use the parliamentary system. Multiple parties run candidates for parliament. People vote for the candidate from their party. If no party has a majority, different parties will try to form a majority coalition. The leader of this Coalition will be the Prime Minister. If no majority coalition can be formed, there is another national vote.

There is a movement underway that will effectively abolish the Electoral College, called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, or NPV. Under NPV, the state electors would give their states electoral votes to whatever party won the national popular vote, regardless of how their own state voted. To change the election results of an entire state would be the ultimate in voter disenfranchisement.

Many people today don’t recognize the brilliance of the US Constitution. They argue that it is outdated and inadequate to govern a modern nation in the 21st century.  The truth is the Constitution is as relevant today as it was back when it was written in 1787. The principles and concepts in our Constitution are timeless and as long as humans are prone to a lust for power and control, they will continue to be timeless and applicable to any nation that values individual liberty and limited government. The Electoral College was and still is a brilliant idea!!!

Additional reading:

Feb 2020

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"Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%."(1) Thomas Jefferson