Why We Need the Electoral College

In the wake of the 2000 Presidential election, in which a candidate lost the popular vote, yet won the election on the basis of a majority of the electors, some politicians have been making noises about abolishing the Electoral College.

Jeff Jacoby explains the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in creating the Electoral College, precisely as a deterrent to strict majority rule.

The Electoral College (like the Senate) was designed to preserve the role of the states in governing a nation whose name – the United States of America – reflects its fundamental federal nature. We are a nation of states, not of autonomous citizens, and those states have distinct identities and interests, which the framers were at pains to protect. Too many Americans today forget – or never learned – that the states created the central government; it wasn’t the other way around. The federal principle is at least as important to American governance as the one-man-one-vote principle, and the Electoral College brilliantly marries them: Democratic elections take place within each state to determine that state’s vote for president in the Electoral College.

As Jacoby notes, Senators who argue for abolishing the Electoral College on the basis of “every vote must count” are inadvertantly arguing for abolishing the U.S. Senate, an institution in which every state, regardless of population, has equal representation.

After listening to windbags like Harry Reid for awhile, that may not be such a bad idea.

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One response to “Why We Need the Electoral College

  1. National Popular Vote has nothing to do with whether the country has a “republican” form of government or is a “democracy.”

    A “republican” form of government means that the voters do not make laws themselves but, instead, delegate the job to periodically elected officials (Congressmen, Senators, and the President). The United States has a “republican” form of government regardless of whether popular votes for presidential electors are tallied at the state-level (as is currently the case in 48 states) or at district-level (as is currently the case in Maine and Nebraska) or at 50-state-level (as under the National Popular Vote bill).

    If a “republican” form of government means that the presidential electors exercise independent judgment (like the College of Cardinals that elects the Pope), we have had a “democratic” method of electing presidential electors since 1796 (the first contested presidential election). Ever since 1796, presidential candidates have been nominated by a central authority (originally congressional caucuses, and now party conventions) and electors are reliable rubberstamps for the voters of the district or state that elected them.

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