What I'm Thinking

End the Electoral College

Today I posted the following message on Twitter:

Reflecting on that tweet, I felt it was a bit too Pollyanna-ish. Frankly, I did not speak the truth about the realities of our presidential election procedures.

I followed up with a short post on Facebook:

All “teachable moments” aside, it is time to get rid of the Electoral College. We now have two presidents (Bush, Trump) in this century who did not win the popular vote but nonetheless were elected due to the Electoral College. This is not “the will of the people”, but function following form. With today’s technologies, there is little reason not to go with a popular vote for president (like we do with every other elected position). The Electoral College is an antiquated construct, even resisted by some of our founding fathers such as James Madison, that needs to be retired.

I am not a history major, but my undersanding for the rationale for the Electoral College was created within the context of the 18th century. There were concerns that, due to the fact that not all U.S. citizens could vote, a true election for President was not possible without an Electoral College. Makes sense…200 years ago. Don’t get me started with the fact that women couldn’t vote until 1920. #embarrassing

Consider this: I am not asking for the United States to move from the standard system to the metric system for universal measurement. I am simply suggesting that the Electoral College has far outlasted its purpose. Imagine if there was no such thing as a “swing state” anymore. How could CNN survive? More importantly, I believe that many people feel disaffected about our presidential election. In a state that historical votes Red or Blue, the will of the majority is what matters. A person’s vote may not. They would not be wrong. If I supported a Democratic candidate in Mississippi or a Republican candidate in New York, my vote would not have counted. Why is this not more alarming for people in the U.S.?

We are smarter than this: We need to end this outdated process for determining our country’s leadership.

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4 thoughts on “End the Electoral College”

  1. Respectfully, I couldn’t disagree more Matt. It’s funny though, I remember writing a paper for a American History class back when I was 19-20 making the very same argument you’re making.

    I have a very different understanding of things now though.

    The Electoral College is one of the critical fail-safes written into the Constitution to prevent the “tyranny of the majority,” majority rule, mob rule, pure democracy, or whatever you want to call it.

    I don’t want to patronize you bc I can see that you know this stuff already because you’re a teacher and a principal. But I’m a wordy guy and sometimes I have to weave my way into my point. Anyway the Founding Fathers took the lessons learned by Aristotle and the Greeks with respect to Democracy. A pure Democracy is a complete failure because a mob is very fickle. We may vote to ban pit bulls on a Monday and then bring them back on Tuesday, but instead of pit bulls, we ban Boxers.

    Also, more importantly in my opinion, the Founding Fathers didn’t want so much power to be held by such a small geographic area. Have you looked at the electoral map recently? It’s is a massive sea of red, from sea to shining sea. Then there is a blue dot in New York and another in California. They wanted to make sure that those population centers held such a political advantage over the other forty-eight states.

    In my opinion, what you’re doing is a bit like asking to abolish the Senate. Why should each state have two Senators when New York has 20 million people and Alaska only has 2 million (I made those numbers up but you see what I mean)? Well for the same reasons I stated above. There’s just something fundamentally wrong about the people in some far away city 2500 miles away calling all the shots when they wouldn’t come visit your state for all the money in the world and don’t know a thing about it. It’s too much like a far-off country (like England) imposing their will on us from across the ocean.

    1. Thank you Regie. There was a good article this week in The NY Times that explains the history behind the electoral college, which supports the removal of it.

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