Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

The Electoral College – Why Keep It?

Posted by Warren Peterson on November 10, 2016

 

Love the Electoral College; it kept us from a President Al Gore and now a President Hillary Clinton. Hate the Electoral College; it gave us President George W. Bush and now President Donald J. Trump.

The reason for the Electoral College is much more fundamental to our election system than any one election. Our fore fathers (yes, I know they were mostly old white men some of whom had slaves) wrote a most extraordinary document. It established a republic, not a democracy. “A republic if you can keep it.” said Benjamin Franklin. The Constitution, that has served us well for over 200 years, reflects a populist distrust of an all-powerful central government. To protect us from such a government, it incorporated several checks and balances that devolved government to the states. (Amendment X) That is why the U.S. Senate is composed of two senators from each state regardless of population and the House of Representative’s membership is based on population. (Article I, Sections 2 and 3) It also explains why a presidential candidate must receive a majority vote in the Electoral College to win. If not, the election of the president goes to the House of Representatives where each state gets one vote with each state’s delegation voting to determine that state’s vote. The Electoral College and the process to follow if no one wins the Electoral College is one more protection from too much power for the federal government. (Article II, Section 1.3) These constitutional provisions also protect us from tyranny of the majority.

We eliminate the Electoral College at our peril. Beware the unintended consequences.

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