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Our Position on the Electoral College

REVISED ON FEBRUARY 23, 2006 AND AGAIN on DECEMBER 20, 2016:  The Electoral College is the means by which the people indirectly elect the President of the United States.  It is enshrined in the text of the Constitution, and has been amended one time in the 12th Amendment, ratified in 1804.  For the last 212 years and fifty-three presidential elections, the electoral system has worked.  Not flawlessly, but it has worked.  On more than one occasion, the winner of the popular vote has not ascended to the office of the President, solely because of the way the electoral system works.  So what.  For the reasons below, we support the electoral system.

In 2000, the last time a president won the necessary electors but not the popular vote, the losing party, the Democrats, grumbled loudly, and advocated the demolition of the electoral system in order to promote "democracy."  As an aside, we do not live in a Democracy; we live in a Republic.  The "one man one vote" system that the Democrats advocate at the moment would not have garnered them the 2004 election.  In 2016, the electoral college strikes again, ensuring Donald Trump a 304-vote win in the college. However, Hillary Clintonís total votes all 50 states and the District of Columbia exceeded Mr. Trumpís by about 2.8 million votes.

The problem for the left is twofold: (1) The Electoral college is in the Constitution, requiring an amendment to change it; and (2) The leftís vote is concentrated in the coastal urban centers. In 2016, Hillary Clintonís entire "popular vote" margin was concentrated in California - in fact more than her entire margin.  Remove California from the result (as the secessionists in CA would achieve), and Mrs. Clinton would have lost the "popular vote" by well over a million votes.  Moreover, the "compact" where states are attempting to force their electors to abide by the national "popular vote" - even if the state votes for the lower-vote candidate - is likely unconstitutional, and nowhere near likely to get states with electors totaling 270 to support it.

"The United States of America is a Republic.  It is designed to place the peopleís authority into elected representatives who make the laws, and a central elected President who enforces the laws that the peoplesí representatives enact."

The United States of America is a Republic.  It is designed to place the peopleís authority into elected representatives who make the laws, and a central elected President who enforces the laws that the peoplesí representatives enact.  These representatives are expected not to submit their every eye-blink to a referendum; they expected to use their judgment to best represent those that elected them.

Direct election of the President would seem at first blush to accomplish the need to have the people be heard.  However, there are two classes of members of the United States of America.  The People, and the States.  In these days of insane and unchecked Federal growth, the states tend to be forgotten.  However, the founders understood the paramount importance of the statesí role in creating and continuing a non-tyrannical government by and for the people.  The framers of the Constitution created the Senate as the body that represented the States in lawmaking.  The Electoral College preserves the important role of the States in the selection of the President.  The count of electors is the sum of the Statesí House and Senate representation combined.  Without the electors, low-populace states - as well as their citizens and their issues - would find their voices drowned out by the high-populace states.  Those who live in rural areas would be dominated by urban voters.  That inevitably would lead to tyranny of the majority, the principal fault of pure democracy. 

You hear the Left screaming "One Man, One Vote!"  Some on the Left want to eliminate the Senate altogether.  The Left is the enemy of statesí rights.  They are desperate to implement the tyranny of the majority, in the form of pure democracy, which is, in essence, mob rule.  Am I anti-American for saying this?  If I am, then so were Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Franklin.  The Senate is the small statesí check on the larger states.  The House is the larger statesí check on the smaller ones.  The Senate is the statesí check against the federal government.  The House is the federal governmentís check upon the states.  The electors are the statesí check on the executive branch.  The Senate is the statesí check upon the legislature.  I could get into the details of how the Constitution uses the judicial branch to protect the states and the people and the federal government, but that is outside the scope of this article.  You think that checks and balances were solely implemented as and between the three federal branches?  You would be wrong.  The present system of American government is a masterful and intricate system of checks and balances.  Destroying any component of this intricate set of checks and balances will destroy the Republic, and that is no exaggeration.

Here is an example of how interlocked these checks and balances are.  The 17th Amendment, which changed the election of Senators from appointment by the state legislatures to an election of the whole, while it seems like a good thing, gagged the voice of state governments in the federal government.  The end result is the wildly-ballooning size of the Federal government.  State governments now have no voice in the federal government, except in the Electoral College.  Senators were converted into a semi-duplicative statewide variant of the House.  Senators have been, since 1913, subjected to the same "bribe voters with pork" temptations that have corrupted House members since the beginning.  The Senate ceased, in part, to be the statesí check on the federal government.  Senatorsí desire for re-election has led to their pandering to voters with federal dollars and programs.  This shows how one apparently innocuous change to the Constitution can have far-reaching effects.  The checks and balances system is set up like dominoes; one must be careful when playing.  Conservativity supports the return of the Senate to appointment by state governments.

Is the Electoral system an effective promoter of statesí rights and the rights of people in smaller states?  Yes! Smaller states have a measurable impact upon the election.  In a direct election scenario, the candidates would utterly ignore all but the urban areas; they would be looking for the biggest "bang for the buck" in terms of votes.  Now, New Hampshire, Iowa and even Hawaii, all small states, are counted as important to the presidential contenders.  Small states are heard with a louder voice than the large states, and in the end, this "electoral affirmative action" ensures true equality for all.

Is the Electoral system perfect?  As implemented, no!  The founders did not envision that the elected class would reduce themselves to but two major parties.  As late as the 1920s, there there three major parties: Democratic, Republican and Socialist.  In the 1800s, there were the Whigs, who managed to place more than one man into the White House. As FDR took office and instituted anti-depression measures that were more socialist than the socialist party platform, the Democrats subsumed the socialists, or vice versa.  The two parties that remained managed to change state laws to make their electoral counts "winner take all" in all but Maine and Nebraska. The party that won the state popular vote won all electors for the state.

This does not in and of itself break the Republic, but, just like the direct election of Senators, it certainly strains the checks and balances set forth above.  How?  It allows both presidential candidates to take some of the states for granted.  It dilutes the power of third-party candidates by making it nearly impossible for them to win any electors.  Alternatively, in another scenario, it exaggerates the "spoiler effect" of a third-party candidate.  Ross Perot pulled in 18.9% of the vote in 1992; he had zero electors.  Bill Clinton lost the 1992 race by county and had less than a majority of the popular vote, yet he won the electoral college vote 370-168-0.

"If a Constitutional Amendment were proposed that would require the winner of the stateís popular vote to receive both ísenateí electors, and then to apportion the íhouseí electors based on the winner of each congressional district within the state, we would support it."

This is not good.  If a Constitutional Amendment were proposed that would require the winner of the stateís popular vote to receive both "senate" electors, and then to apportion the "house" electors based on the winner of each congressional district within the state, we would support it.  Why?  This preserves and to an extent enhances the statesí rights.  It also would force candidates to campaign for votes across the entire country, not just in "battleground states."  This also prevents the technical disenfranchisement of the minority voters in states, especially large states.  Under the present scheme, it is possible for a candidate to carry only 11 states and still win election.  If that candidate squeaks out wins in these 11 huge states, while the loser wins a landslide in the other 39 states, it is possible under the current scheme for a candidate to be soundly trounced in the popular vote, but, by slyly playing the game, still end up in the Oval Office.  Therefore, an amendment of this type would have the salutary effect of restoring the electoral system to something wholly in line with the intent of the founders.

Will this system let candidates take the smaller states for granted, since states with only one congressperson are still, by operation of numbers, winner-take-all?  No.  By virtue of splitting the "house" electors in proportion to the popular vote, every elector is just that much more valuable.  Will this system give larger states undue influence over the presidency?  Splitting the electors makes every elector more important, meaning that the Republicans cannot ignore California and the Democrats cannot ignore Texas.  It gives the people of the larger states a say, even if their horse isnít the eventual winner.  The GOP cannot afford to ignore New York and California, because Democratic landslides in those states could change the result of the election.  So the GOP will modify its policies to be more palatable to California and New York, while the Democrats will modify their policies to be more palatable to Texas and Florida.  And both parties will modify their policies to be more palatable to the smaller states.

Will this system then cause the candidates to move to the center and become indecisive poll-whores ala Bill Clinton?  I donít think so.  Candidates will still need to distinguish themselves.  The GOP will still appeal to those who recognize the evils of huge government.  The Democrats will still appeal to those who think that more government is the answer to most problems.  What allocating the "house" electors from each state to the corresponding congressional districtís winner will do is increase the statesí power, a good thing, and force the candidates to work with all Americans, a great thing.

But why not just go to a direct election?  Again, this disenfranchises the small states, choking out their voices.  The Senate exists (or existed before 1913) in order to protect those states in the legislative branch; the Electors exist to protect those states in the executive branch.  In sum, the electoral college is a brilliant invention.  Unchanged, it is acceptable.  We advocate allocation of the "house" electors by congressional district vote and "senate" electors as winner-take-all by state. 

Conservativity supports the retention of the electoral college, as explained above.