It's almost Halloween! My kids love Halloween. I always liked it when I was a kid, but I was strange, I didn't like it for the candy or the costumes, I liked it because it meant that elections were soon! Yeah, I know, I was strange!
So with that let me remind you to get out there and vote. If you're like me, you had a mail in only ballot, get it in! Mail in, or in person, get that vote counted!
Now that your public announcement is over, let's look at something that pertains to voting that has been in the news once again. I've heard it more than once this week that people are again looking to get rid of the Electoral College. Not a big deal this year, but be prepared to hear about it ad nausea next year. But before you leave and decide that this topic isn't worth talking about, let me point out some things that maybe you haven't thought of before. I'll try to make a stunning argument to keep the antiquated system. But please, you gotta read the whole story before you decide I'm a nut case.
Here's what's going on. When we elect our next President one year from now, we won't ACTUALLY be voting for the President. We'll be voting for a bunch of people that will vote for the President for us. If you went to school and had government class, they should have taught you that, however, I've noticed that government class isn't what it used to be, and some of us are getting older, so I will attempt to explain what the heck the Electoral College is and why it is so important that we keep it the way it is.
First off, what exactly IS the Electoral College? Simple, it's a slate of people that vote for the President of the United States. When you vote for a person, you are actually voting for that slate of electors to represent you at the official Electoral College vote. SO, based on the number of Representatives and Senators your state has, you are selecting between 3 and 55 people to pick your "guy" for President.
Now the hard part, WHY the Electoral College. This is where people get kinda weird. See the founding fathers actually had very little trust in Democracy. That's why they created a Republic. They even severely limited the participation in the Republic. They decided that the only thing that should come down to popular vote was the election of the Congressional Representatives. Senators were to be elected by the State Congress', not the people. SO, how do they make a compromise to allow the people to vote for the President, but not really allow it? That's where the Electoral College came in. The framers of the Constitution decided that Democracy can be influenced to easily by loud minorities, and the silent majority would then be ruled by an elite few. As a way to combat that, they decided that not only would they limit the new government to a Republic, but the President would not really be elected by a popular vote. It almost works out that the popular vote is also the way that the Electoral College swings, but not always.
But who really benefits from something as convoluted as this? Actually, the very people that the framers meant to protect. It can protect the silent majority, it can protect the loud minority, or it can protect everybody. Let's take a look at the way the country votes and the way things work out. Let's say we go with a pure popular vote. Who wins then? Well the largest states population wise are: California, Texas, Florida and New York. These 4 states make up 32% of the US population. By comparison they only make up 4% of the Electoral College. Now if you live in California, Texas, Florida or New York, I'm sure you'd love to have all the power that would come with getting rid of the Electoral College. What though, if you live in Michigan, or Colorado, or even Wyoming. Do you think ANY President would really care what you thought if you lived outside these 4 or 5 large population states? In order to get to half the US population, you only need to go to 11 states. Now, take into account voter turnout, and the actual number of states that are needed to elect a President could easily turn into 3 or 4 of the largest states. I can see a Presidential candidate doing a HUGE push to turn out the vote, only in a largely populated state, and winning by only have 2 or 3 states vote for him. What about the other 47/48 states? How is that right?
The founding fathers saw this might happen. They made a compromise with the Electoral College. It’s not really that hard to understand, but it allows those small states population wise to still have a voice in who the leader is. Poor Vermont, who right now only has 3 Electoral College Votes, would just be a stop on the way to New York for some politician to go to the bathroom. If you live in “fly over country” just imagine how much you’d get ignored. People from the south western states would have nobody caring about water crises, droughts, illegal immigration, or anything else for that matter. The only thing the President would care about is how happy a large majority of people are in a few states. That’s not leading a country, that’s just being an elitist.
Now the funny part about any action like this is there is always an unintended consequence. One thing I think the people pushing for the ousting of the Electoral College don’t take into consideration is what about “the little man”? See most the people pushing for this type of reform are those that live on either coast. They have the most to gain by not having an Electoral College. As the world of American Presidential Politics sits now, it takes more than 11 states to decide who is going to be the Chief Executive. The world of popular vote could turn that into only needing a handful of states.
The rule of a few over many is called Oligarchy. We might be close to that now, but get rid of the Electoral College, and it will be that way forever.