Once again Progressives are talking about ridding our country of the Electoral College. They hate it because their candidate lost the election, but won the popular vote. Instead of having a candidate that appeals to citizens from across the country, the left wants states with large populations to decide who’ll become President.
This call to change our system to ‘pure democracy’ is not surprising. Instead of winning within our checks and balances system, the left tries to subvert our institutions to forcibly get their way. We see this all the time. Today there are protests in large cities because ‘their’ candidate didn’t win. They think that the rest of America will now kowtow to their demands due to their belief in mob rule.
Knowing that subversives existed; our Founding Fathers had to make the difficult decision on how our new country would elect its President. The first choice they had was pure democracy, which is a popular vote by the citizens. All that would be needed is a plurality to win.
The Framers had concerns about using pure democracy by the public to elect our President. They could foresee the potential of a tyrant or other charismatic leader that appealed to citizens’ passions that led to mob rule. This mob could elect a President that had tyrannical or other subversive motives that the general population could not infer.
James Madison said about pure democracy, “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention”; “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property”; and “in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."
There was another form of tyranny that concerned the smaller states as well. Small states worried about the more populous, larger states having greater influence in the country. The largest states would always have their candidate win the office who advocated for the needs and wants of those big states. The small states would always be underrepresented.
A second choice to elect the President was the vote of a representative ‘government body’ like Congress. The public would not vote, just government officials would vote. This government body would be sufficiently informed to protect the country from tyrants and small states would be well represented. All the states would each have an equal voice in the direction of the new country. This solution, though, was not fair to the big states with large population centers because they wouldn’t have enough representation.
The solution was the Electoral College. Instead of one election, there would be thirteen separate elections. There are fifty-one elections today (50 states plus the District of Columbia).
Every one of these separate elections produces an electoral win for each state. The individual states then give all their electoral votes to that state’s electoral winner. (Today there’s two states, Maine and Nebraska, which split their electoral votes.)
To have fair representation, each state is allocated a different number of electoral votes based on the number of representatives each state has in Congress. So large states like New York have a lot of electoral votes and smaller states have less, but still a minimum of three.
Whatever candidate wins the most electoral votes, wins the presidency. A plurality is needed and not a majority. If small states believe their needs are not being addressed, then they can ban together to vote the same way to have greater influence and their issues addressed.
Every state has since decided to give their citizens the ability to choose the candidate that their electoral votes should go to. So, we vote within each state in separate elections, which is pure democracy, but it only results in electoral votes for a particular candidate.
In the Presidential election of 2016, Donald Trump lost the popular vote in many big states, but won the popular vote in an even greater number of smaller states. These smaller states had issues that they believed that a President Trump could address. That is why Donald Trump won in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
The Rust Belt had different concerning issues than people who live on the East and West Coasts. These northern states voted alike to address those concerns and since their pro-growth candidate won, there may be solutions on the way. That is why we have the Electoral College.