I'm Right Again Dot ComA new commentary every Wednesday — Nov 23, 2016
Why we should continue to have the Electoral College
Please permit us to explain how it operates, as we understand it. College is used in the sense of the 8th definition of the word in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: "An organized association of persons having certain powers and rights, and performing certain duties or engaged in a particular pursuit"—in this instance, the election of a president and then the election of a vice-president of the United States of America.
It should come to no surprise that neither Donald Trump or what's-his-name, the smaller, deferential person with the short, white hair always standing at his elbow while smiling benignly, will not officially be elected until December 19th in a meeting of the Electoral College.
By statutes in 48 states and the District of Columbia, the party with the nominee who wins the most votes in those states, appoints all of the electors for that state. Maine and Nebraska are the exceptions. In those two states, electors are allocated by congressional district, plus two "at large" electors are awarded to the candidate who wins the popular vote.
The Electoral College was established by the founders of our Republic in Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution, and as early as 1804 modified by the Twelfth and Twenty-third amendments, meant to clarify the process and then argued about on each four year span thereafter over why it should or should not be abolished in favor a popular vote.
It's natural to assume that this issue is nearly always raised after an election by backers of a candidate who gets more popular votes but nevertheless loses the election under the present Electoral College system.
After viewing other democracies burdened with numerous splinter parties, our democracy is often slow and cranky, still I believe we have a far more stable democracy by encouraging a strong two-party system. One would think that a process that had been tested for nearly 200 years has served us reliably and well.
Actually, the ancient Romans came up with idea. sort-of. They ranked adult men in groups if 100, according to their wealth. Each of these groups chose one man to vote aye or nay on every law proposed in the Senate.
"It would make the process "more democratic,'" supporters of a popular vote invariably argue. Some even add that computers have made this ridiculously easy. Using that reasoning, why not do away with Senators and Representatives and put every question usually brought before them to a national game show audience? Talk about audience share! At $10-million for each 30-second commercial, we could pay off the national debt in no time.
You and I, dear Reader, have computers. How much trust do they deserve? Can you imagine a national hand-count that would be necessary if one glitch, either accidental or intentional, was found to have taken place—as is bound to happen? (Especially if they owned my kerosene-powered HP000011)
We can disagree, but I'm a really, old, old-fashioned voter and I really like the "States-Rights" aspect of the current way of each state deciding what sort of process they prefer to employ in helping to choose our chief executive and his/her assistant— even if I can't always remember his or her name, and even if the voters in two (or eventually, more) states wish to change from the "winner take all" aspect that most states employ.
As for this idea of electors betraying their pledge, heaven forbid. I think it was President Harry S. Truman who said, "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."
-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken
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