The Electoral College

Our founding fathers were wise beyond their years.  They worked very hard to determine the best form of government for the newly formed United States, having reviewed all forms of government known to them throughout history.  Clearly, a monarchy was not in the cards, as they had just broken away from the tyrannical rule of King George of Great Britain, which was a lesson in the arrogance and corruption that absolute power begets, no matter the initial benevolence of any one individual.  Human nature is to become corrupt, when exposed to power and greed.  As Alexander Hamilton said "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."  The founders, therefore, worked hard to form a system of government that limited the power of government where it was concentrated.  They also realized that democracy was as dangerous as a monarchy because people have a tendency to act in a mob fashion, and are particularly vulnerable to making hasty emotional decisions as a group, rather than acting in a deliberate rational fashion that the slow legislative process allows.  The founders closely studied Athens and other democracies and realized that democracy was perhaps one of the most dangerous forms of governments they could create.  Many people, including even some on the right, believe that we have a democracy, and some will qualify that statement by claiming we have a "representative democracy" but the truth is that democracies are extremely dangerous and the founders warned against any form of a democracy.  Historically, democracies have been short-lived violent experiments where mob rule used the power of the state to attack, steal from, and even kill political enemies.  James Madison said that "democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”  Thomas Jefferson declared that "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."  Hamilton, in the last letter he ever wrote, warned that "our real disease is democracy."  John Adams, our second president, wrote: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.”  The Constitution itself, in Article IV, Section 4, declares: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”

Thus, as stated above, the founders settled on a Constitutional Republic, in which the majority of power was reserved to the states [which were also guaranteed a republican form of government], and the federal government only had a small, defined scope of power.  The power that remained at the federal level was separated among the three branches of federal government, where laws only occur after rigorous and thorough debate and approval in the House, the Senate, and with the approval of the President (or a veto override) and - even though the government was very limited in terms of scope, the antifederalists added the Bill of Rights on top of those limits which specifically laid out rights that all Americans reserve and do not fall under the scope of government.  This was an additional safeguard designed to protect individuals from the will of the majority and the power of government at all levels.  All office holders swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, which the federalists felt was sufficient, given the constraints of Article 1 Section 8, but the antifederalists felt that the Bill of Rights would be an additional protection, and as it turns out, since office holders do not honor their word and their oath, the Bill of Rights has been necessary after all.  Unfortunately, even the Bill of Rights is being ignored today by those in office, and by the public at large.  Legislation is to be thoroughly and thoughtfully debated and considered, by those who were focused on studying the specifics of the proposed legislation, and not the masses who would not have the time or inclination to do so.  The reason we have a bicameral legislature, i.e. a House and a Senate, which must agree in order to pass any legislation - is specifically to avoid the mob rule that would result from a directly representative body, as decided through the Connecticut Compromise.  The Senate was created specifically to represent the states, while the House represented the people.  Unfortunately, this has gone by the wayside as the 17th Amendment changed appointment of Senators from the state legislatures to the people, directly.  This change flies in the face of the warnings that the founders gave us about direct democratic elections.

The Electoral College was created in the Constitution to provide an equitable manner for presidential elections that would balance the powers of smaller less populated states with larger more populated states, as the Senate does with the House.  They wanted to attenuate the power of the more populated states precisely to avoid the problems associated with democracies and mob rule.  Thus, the Constitution states that "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."  In other words, each state has the same number of electoral votes that they have senators and representatives.  While it was left to each state to determine how they selected their electors, many states have failed to heed the advice of the founders, and throw all of their electors behind the candidate which wins the popular vote of their state, with no representative process to temper the whims of the "mob."  

This situation creates a grave danger to our nation.  Since the states can determine how they use their electoral votes, some states have banded together to agree to throw all of their electoral votes behind whichever candidate wins the national popular vote.  This is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), and as of this writing, has been adopted by eleven states representing 172 of the 270 electoral votes needed to take effect.  Once they reach the 270 vote number, the electoral college is effectively dead and the national popular vote will determine the winner of the presidential election.  This is extremely dangerous because states will no longer matter, at all, in presidential elections.  Votes will be all that matter.  Thus, the largest cities such as LA, Chicago, New York, etc. will be the only locations where the presidential candidates will focus their attention and their proposals and policies will be designed to attract those voters.  The rest of the country will be left out in the cold.  This will result in a nation not unlike the dystopian world of Hunger Games, where only the major cities are catered to and the rest of the country is essentially treated as slaves to the urban majority.  Furthermore, fixing elections and vote rigging will be far easier when all that matters are the total votes, and you don't have to worry about which states are in play.  If the NPVIC becomes reality, we will have just handed the presidency - an entire branch of government - to the mob rule of the majority that the founders warned us about.


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