Electoral College – an important safeguard

Alexander Hamilton, who brilliantly explained the Commerce Clause and our Presidential system. He also saw the danger in a man without a theory. He is a prize example of American exceptionalism and the statesmanship that produced it. And also such things as the electoral college. Sadly, he also founded paper money, the bane of a free republic.
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Many have urged me to explain the Electoral College vs. popular vote provision of our Constitution and the reasoning behind it. Close analysis without biased political party thinking shows the brilliance of the people we call the founding fathers in establishing this type of voting system for selecting a president. It is for that one government position only, because it is the only government job for which we hire someone with a nationwide election.

Creating a new federal government

We must remind ourselves, that when these men met to draft our constitution, there was no Federal Government, only states with their individual laws. Writing a Constitution was part of the process of forming the Federal government. It was done in order to, by Constitutional law, set the powers the states were willing to allow the Federal Government to have and the ones they would retain, and protect the rights of the people which could not be infringed upon by either.

The original proposal was to have the two branches of Congress together elect the president. However, it was not adopted because that would be conceding power to the Federal Government to elect the president. It being the only elected position in the Federal Government representing all Americans, the states rightfully and successfully argued that they would have no voice in electing the president, and initiated the process at the state and local levels by choosing electors from each state to vote for president.

Well-known leading citizens were chosen, originally by state legislatures, now by the voters for the special purpose of selecting the president. The electors would assemble and cast the votes allotted to that state. The number of votes allotted were the state’s number of Representatives and Senators combined. Their model for this was the very structure of the Constitutional Convention itself, where each state had a number of delegates representing that state.

The Electoral College today

Even though it does not function exactly as the Founders originally intended, the Electoral College remains today an essential Constitutional safeguard of, not only American Individual Liberty, but of the liberty of the states from the Federal Government. As stated, each state is allotted as many electoral votes as it has senators and members of the House of Representatives. To become president of the United States of America, a person must, even today, win the national election state by state. We speak of “the presidential election” when, including Washington D.C., there are actually 51 separate elections for president. The United States is a nation of 50 separate and sovereign states. The electoral college gives your state a voice in electing the president.

Why not to abolish the Electoral College

We hear much talk to eliminate the electoral college and elect the president by popular vote. One group is headed up by Eric Holder with the financial support of other Liberal Progressives, and they are determined to do it. If successful, it would completely transform the office. The person elected to it would in effect become the president of the big cities of America, and the last trace of independent self government guaranteed the individual states by the Constitution’s electoral college system would be lost forever. We must preserve and protect the Electoral College at any cost.

A President of California?

I here give you an example of what could, and would in fact have happened on November 8, 2016 if we had a national popular election instead of the Electoral College. This, I hope, will help one understand the true wisdom of the writers of our constitution. These numbers were put together on November 28 and there might have been a small number of votes still being tabulated in a few counties across some states. Sources are, Election results from The Associated Press, Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, and The Cook Political Report:

The total popular vote count shows Donald Trump won the popular vote in 30 states and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 20 states plus D.C. The total count for all states for Trump was 62,510,659, and for Clinton was 64,817,808. The difference has Clinton winning by 2,307,149. However, in all states except California, Donald Trump won the popular vote. In California the vote count was Clinton, 8,292,775, and Trump, 4,276,750. Now, let’s deduct Clinton’s California vote from her national vote. 64,817,808 – 8,292,775 = 56,525,033. Now let’s deduct Trump’s California vote from his national vote. 62,510,659 – 4,276,750 = 58,233,909. The difference has Trump winning by 1,708,876.

So, in effect, Hillary Clinton was elected president of California and Donald Trump was elected president of the rest of the country by a substantial margin. This is the finest example I can relate to you of the wisdom of the Electoral College system of electing the American President. It prevents the vote of any one densely populated state from overriding the vote of all the others. Ask yourself, “Do I really want California, or any other state, electing the president for the rest of us?” Without the Electoral College that is exactly what will happen.


Featured image: portrait of Alexander Hamilton by Ezra Ames. In the public domain.

2 Responses to Electoral College – an important safeguard

  1. Capt. Norman says:

    I think the best way to explain the electoral college is like the super bowl. It isn’t the teams that score the most points, (popular vote), but the teams that win the most games, (electoral collage). There are teams that score a lot of points, and still lose winning many games. By the same token, there are some teams that win many games, but don’t score many points.

  2. JeffA says:

    The “Super Bowl” is in fact won by the team that score the most points during the game. Maybe you mean during the regular season which is problematic as no game has the same match ups so each score is really a rating of particular offense vs defense.

    Or more likely, you meant “World Series” which is as you describe. No one was complaining that the Indians and Cubs tied in overall runs that I am aware of.

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