Perhaps it is Time to Abolish the Electoral College System

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Many Americans feel that electoral college system should be abolished because the practice has an inefficacious result: The popular vote reflects a real democracy, the electoral college system does not. The New York Times recently argued that the system should be abolished writing:

And so for the second time in 16 years, the candidate who lost the popular vote has won the presidency. Unlike 2000, it wasn’t even close. Hillary Clinton beat Mr. Trump by more than 2.8 million votes or 2.1 percent of the electorate. That’s a wider margin than ten winning candidates enjoyed and the biggest deficit for an incoming president since the 19th century.”

The paper continues, “Conservative opponents of a direct vote say it would give an unfair edge to large, heavily Democratic cities and states. But why should the votes of Americans in California or New York count for less than those in Idaho or Texas?”

OUR FREE OPINION

In a regular Democrat election, each citizen gets one vote. If the election were decided by the popular vote, citizens voting in lower populated states would seemingly be left thinking their votes didn’t count because the large cities would carry the day. That’s probably true.

Winning states like California and New York, and cities such as Chicago, New York, Los Angelos, Philadelphia, and so forth, would give a candidate the clear edge (and probably the Democrat). I don’t have a problem with this either.

Trump is just the fifth presidential candidate to lose the popular vote and win the electoral college totals. The other four are John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Harrison, Rutherford B. Hayes and George W. Bush. So the issue is not all that remarkable, particularly when one considers the momentous rank of these Presidents.

But because we think a popular vote rule would conform with the principal democratic value– one person—one vote– and because such a system tends to promote real equality– and because the original purpose of the electoral college was based on geographical and other outdated principles, we feel the time has come to abolish the system.

2 Comments
  1. Ryan Cahill says

    Bob, I could not disagree with you more about your conclusion that the time has come to abolish the electoral college system. I could write a full length article myself on the many reasons for keeping the current system. First, I would like to dispel with the conventional wisdom of a lot of Americans and particularly people of the liberal persuasion of what type of government we have in our country. I get irritated over and over again when people and a lot of writers for the Washington Post and New York Times and what is taught in our public schools that we live in a democracy. We do not. In fact, that is the type of government that our Founders feared the most. Our Founders, through our Constitution and Bill of Rights, established a constitutional Republic as our structure of government; not a democracy. As a matter of historical fact, many Founders criticized the French Revolution for trying to establish democracy and equality; they rightly called democracy “mob rule”, in which the majority can rule the minority at will with no or very little protection for individual rights. When you recite the pledge of allegiance, do you say in to the Republic for which it stands, or democracy? Of course, the answer is we swear allegiance to our Republic, the government that was established and what we are supposed to have; not a democracy. What we are is a Constitutional Republic with a representative government. That is why, if you will, the most democratic part of our Republic is in our Congress; particularly the U.S. House of Representatives and state houses of representatives. Those are the most democratic parts of our government because they are required to face the voters every other year for the votes that they take. Also, the most important issues that affect us are decided by the House: most important, whether we go to war or not, taxation, government spending, our currency (money) and many other important issues is the sole responsibility of the House in law by our Constitution. Unfortunately, over many decades, Congress has abrogated its constitutional obligations and surrendering their powers to the executive branch (Presidency). My point is that I take issue with you Bob and other writers that we need to abolish the electoral college system because it doesn’t fit in with democratic values of popular vote; but, as I have clearly demonstrated, democracy is not our form of government, we are a Constitutional Republic in which we have a representative form of government with strong protections for individual rights that a majority cannot take away; which they could if we were a democracy ruled by the majority. For example, I believe that if we had a stronger democracy with majority rule, our first amendment rights would be in jeopardy. Unfortunately, because of this majority, mob rule mentality, this is happening a lot on our college campuses today where free speech is being restricted. There have been numerous examples where this has happened. Another issue I have is this notion of equality. Our country is not based on equality and never will be. I don’t understand people that believe in equality or equal outcomes and using the coercive powers of the state to achieve this outcome. The fact is, we are not equal; we all have different abilities and we are all unique individuals. I believe in equal protection of the laws and that the laws need to be applied equally and consistently to everybody; otherwise then it is arbitrary and consequently discriminatory. But, I do not believe in a generic value of equality or equality of outcomes. And guess what? There is a built-in remedy if a President is elected without a majority of the popular vote. You can express that displeasure by voting that person out of office four years later. Obviously, if a President gets elected without a popular vote majority and then they are also ineffective and unpopular they will be defeated 4 years later. A perfect example of this is in the George W. Bush Presidency. He was elected by receiving the necessary electoral college votes to be elected President, but didn’t receive majority of popular vote in 2000. Of course, the losing side the Democrats complained then about getting rid of the unfair and “unequal” electoral college system. And how did the American people respond with their displeasure 4 years later? He was re-elected with both a popular vote and electoral college vote victory. So, my response to those who want to get rid of the electoral college system is you should spend your time on getting a candidate that can win both the popular vote and the electoral college vote so your candidate can win instead of fantasizing and dreaming that the electoral college will be abolished; which it won’t be. And I would like to add that the writers of the Washington Post and New York Times and others of their ilk would not be clamoring for the electoral college to be abolished if their preferred candidate Hillary Clinton had won. The fact is, President-Elect Donald Trump was masterful in focusing his time on the states he needed to win to be elected President and convinced the people there while Hillary Clinton did not.

  2. Bob Miller says

    I can see that you are very passionate about this issue and your comments reflect a deeper understanding of the actual underlying public policy behind the formation of the electoral college system than most. To be sure, it is the Democrats that are complaining the loudest for now, but it hard to discount the notion that a Republic is not, at the core, a system that rewards the candidate who obtains the most votes. Mob mentality is curbed by particular provisions contained in the amendments to the Constitution–, e.g., First Amendment (speech), Second (weapons) Fourteenth (due process), etc. Thus, we can have a majority rule and safeguards simultaneously.

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