By George Schroeder | Broadcast Reporter
To say the Electoral College is “dumb” is at best a profoundly flippant remark, and at worst is an intentional disservice to the brilliance of our founding fathers and our governmental system.
Let me begin by explaining two fundamental points. First, the United States is not a democracy, it is a constitutional republic. While our political systems are forms of democratic government, the United States is not, has never been, and was never intended to be a pure democracy.
Most of the time, the crux of the entire argument against the Electoral College is hung on this one point, that it “isn’t truly democratic.” The simple fact that the United States is not a democracy, but a republic, demolishes much of the argument from the recent editorial and many others like it.
Second, the Electoral College was created with the main purpose of being an alternative to a direct popular vote, not, as the editorial board claims, “to protect the government from uneducated voters.”
This is entirely backwards. The founding fathers did nothing in order to protect the government from the people, but did everything in order to protect people from the government. The primary reason for the creation of the Electoral College was to prevent mob rule, or as our founders fearfully called it, the tyranny of the majority.
While the article written by the editorial board does a good job explaining how states are allotted representation through the Electoral College, their reasoning behind why it should be replaced is misguided and flawed.
To address the claim that voters in some states have more power than voters in others, again you have to understand that the United States is not a pure democracy. The Electoral College is rooted in the idea of federalism and has upheld the individual identities of states in every election for centuries.
Yes, proportionally a voter in Wyoming has a more direct say in who will be president than someone in California or Texas, however that is precisely the point. Large states still have a built-in advantage in the Electoral College, but cannot drown out the smaller ones.
To overcome California in our current system, it would take the 15 smallest states combined, and even then, they would only “win” by one electoral vote, 55-56. Abolish the Electoral College, and winning small states essentially become worthless in an election.
Do you think a candidate would care about Wyoming or Nebraska if there was no Electoral College? All candidates would have to do is appeal to population centers and large states, leaving fly-over states and rural America in the dust.
The editorial board claims candidates mostly campaign in swing states, and that this is a problem. Key point: swing states change. States that would never be considered swing states can change very quickly, as seen in just the past three presidential elections.
You know what doesn’t change quickly or sometimes in our history, ever? Population centers. Abolish the Electoral College, and the populations of the smallest 15 states wouldn’t be able to overcome the will of America’s three largest cities.
It is sleight of hand to say that the abolition of the Electoral College would remove the “problem” of swing states. This would only shift the issue into a dangerous position. Instead of candidates campaigning heavily in the constantly changing swing states, they would only have to campaign in the same big states and cities, making small states, including some of the states we recently considered swing states, irrelevant.
The editorial board says “abolishing the Electoral College wouldn’t benefit any state over another.” The founding fathers desired that candidates would have to appeal to people all across the county. Abolishing the Electoral College would absolutely benefit big states over small ones, like I said, simply requiring them to appeal to large states or even just large cities.
The editorial states that when it comes to abolishing the Electoral College, “this isn’t a partisan issue.” Simply put, by that same logic, neither is the Electoral College.
“How can we hold onto a system that goes against the ideals we were built upon?” asks the editorial board. They mean this in the context that America is not founded by “We the states,” but by “We the people.” Thus, a national popular vote must be a better and more ideologically sound alternative to the Electoral College, right? Wrong.
The phrase “We the people” doesn’t end right there, it continues with “of the United States,” and in the final words of that phrase lies the answer to their question: we are not going against our ideals with the Electoral College, we are protecting them.
The overlooked portion of that powerful phrase is “the United States.” We are unique because we are not simply a country, but states united together. In reality, this country really was built by “We the states,” which includes “We the people.”
The genius of the founding fathers’ system is the fact that the Electoral College protects the voice, influence and individual rights of states which empowers their citizens and fuels the fundamental idea of American freedom in federalism.