The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Electoral College. The Founders wanted the power of the government to come from the people, but they were concerned about giving the power directly to the people in certain circumstances. One of those circumstances is the power to elect the President.
There were several proposals discussed at the Constitutional Convention about the election of the President. One idea was to allow Congress to elect the President, but this idea did not sound good to those people who wanted to keep the power of the federal government separate and contained in the three branches. Another idea was for the state legislatures make the decision, but this idea concerned people because they thought the President would be obligated to state interests. All of them seemed concerned with the idea of the people directly electing the President. James Wilson proposed the Electoral College, and his idea was accepted.
The term “Electoral College” is not found in the Constitution, but the electors chosen to choose the President “are traditionally called a College. In the context of the Constitution, the meaning of college is not that of a school, but of a group of people organized toward a common goal.”
The Electoral College is one of several concepts in the Constitution that are republican principles. Another is the original idea for state legislatures to elect the Senators for each state. These are republican principles. When the procedure to elect Senators was changed from state legislatures to the people voting directly for their Senators, the principle changed from a republican principle to a democratic one.
There is a movement in the United States at the present time to change the procedure of electing a President. The people involved in the movement want to get rid of the Electoral College and have the people vote directly for the President. This movement is called the “interstate compact,” and it is designed to “sidestep the Electoral College system defined by the Constitution.” Colorado legislature to pass a bill to join the compact, and the governor says that he will the bill. Jarrett Stepman at The Daily Signal says that the Colorado electoral votes will bring the total to 181 out of the required 270 for the compact to become effective. He then explains how the compact would actually affect elections.
While the Constitution, intentionally, gives wide latitude to states to create their own electoral systems, the law passed in Colorado, along with the rest of this effort, would be unprecedented. It would be the first time states potentially outsource their Electoral College votes to the will of the nation as a whole, rather than having elections determined by their own voters. The result of this, ironically, could be very undemocratic.
For instance, if the people of Colorado vote overwhelmingly for a Democrat, yet the total popular vote of the nation goes Republican, all of the state’s votes would go to the Republican, essentially overturning the will of the people of Colorado.
The Electoral College is already fairly democratic. Nearly every state switched to direct, democratic elections of electoral votes in the early 19th century, as opposed to selection by state legislatures. What the national popular vote would do is overturn the concept of federalism, which recognizes that states have unique interests that deserve representation in the electoral system. We are not just a nation of individuals, but a nation of communities and states.
Some have dismissed the Electoral College system as outmoded and unjust. But they are mistaken – the Electoral College system remains highly relevant and necessary today. The 2016 election actually demonstrated that.
In 2016, states that had done Democratic in presidential politics for a generation flipped to Republican, in large part because of a unique candidate who appealed to their interests. While one candidate capitalized on their support, the other took them for granted and focused elsewhere. The result was a startling upset that demonstrates why the Framers wanted an Electoral College.
Without an Electoral College, candidates could more easily write off certain constituencies located in limited areas. The Electoral College binds those votes up with a larger mass of votes so that in order to win the whole, candidates have to appeal to the interests of more constituents.
Under a popular vote system, candidates could ignore entire localities and focus on driving up votes among their natural supporters.
The numbers of Electoral College votes already tied into the compact shows that our nation is heading for trouble. Under this compact the states would give all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate that wins the national popular vote.
The legislation has been introduced in all 50 states. As of this month eleven states and the District of Columbia have adopted the compact with Colorado joining soon. One legislative chamber in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, and Hawaii passed the legislature in 2007 when the compact was introduced in 42 states. One chamber in the following states has adopted the legislation: Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Oregon. New Mexico passed it in both chambers but in two different sessions. Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington have attempted to repeal the compact, but their repeals failed. The twelve states that have adopted the compact have 172 electoral votes – 32.0% of Electoral College and 63.7% of the 270 votes needed to give the compact legal force.
The compact is not good for America, and it is a part of the effort to turn the United States into a socialist nation. If it had been in effect for the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton would have become President of the United States. She would most likely have continued down the same path that Barack Obama was taking us. Therefore, we would not have had the roaring economy, low unemployment rates, recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and US embassy moved there, and approximately 70 other great things that have happened under the direction of President Donald Trump.
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