Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Electoral College Is Completely Useless (Part Deux)

Psst....wanna know a secret about the Electoral College?

As I noted in the previous post, one of the reasons the Founders, especially Alexander Hamilton, designed the Electoral College was as a supposed fail-safe to prevent a dangerous and unqualified demagogue (especially one with foreign entanglements) from becoming President of the United States. (The 2016 election most ironically proved otherwise) Hamilton basically laid out the Federalist case for the Electoral College thusly, albeit combined with the sort of sneering elitism that even the most rabid Trump supporters would ironically claim to dislike today.

But there was also a much darker reason behind the creation of the Electoral College.  To put it bluntly, it was explicitly designed to protect--wait for it--SLAVERY.  In fact, that was the only way to get the Anti-Federalists in the southern slave states to sign on to the Constitution at all.  That is why less-populous states get a disproportionately large amount of electoral votes (since slave states often had as many slaves as free citizens and each slave only counted as 3/5 of a person in the census and was not allowed to vote).  And to this day, the Electoral College remains a bastion of white (sorry, "rural") privilege for the same reason.

Thus, the Electoral College is obsolete and currently serves no useful purpose anymore.  In fact, the winner-take-all aspect, over and above the small state bias, was the primary reason Trump won the election despite getting nearly 3 million fewer votes than Hillary, so it actually does more harm than good to this country.  Allocating electoral votes proportionally in each state instead of winner-take-all would go a long way to fixing it, and indeed Hillary would have won the electoral vote by changing just this aspect of the system.  It would also make it harder to effectively cheat as well.  But it would not solve all problems, and would in fact create a new problem--third-party candidates throwing the election into the House of Representatives when no one gets 270 majority--unless candidates with a de minimis amount of the popular vote (say, 5%) are then denied any electoral votes and/or only the top two or three candidates actually counting.  Therefore, all things considered, the very best and simplest solution is to abolish the Electoral College altogether, and elect the president by straight national popular vote going forward.

Of course, abolishing it entirely would require a constitutional amendment, and would thus be quite a long shot indeed, but there is a way to make it irrelevant by 2020.  The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is the way to do it, making it so that that only the winner of the national popular vote would win 270 electoral votes and become President, while still technically keeping the Electoral College in place.  Sign and share!

1 comment:

  1. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a great idea. The Electoral College has been tried to been repealed since the 1960s so for this effort to work, then it needs to be a concerted effort.