Trump protestors have taken to the streets and turned to social media with their disappointment in the election.
And abolishing the electoral college is among some of their arguments, as they claim Trump’s election doesn’t reflect the will of the majority of Americans who want Clinton in office. Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters criticize electoral college opponents, asking whether or not they’ve had civics classes in school.
The argument against the electoral college isn’t anything new. It has come up time and time again. And defenders for the current election process have spoken up for it several times before. The argument continues once again.
Last week, Maryland (a Democrat state) approved a plan to give its electoral votes to the candidate with the popular vote.
I have some doubts about how well the state’s legislators, and Maryland Governor Martin O’ Malley (D), thought this out.
If a Republican gains the popular vote in the 2020 election, then Maryland will have its electors voting for them. And if that Republican ends up being Trump running for a second term, I’m sure Maryland Democrats would be livid watching their state vote for him.
Hillary Clinton led in the popular votes, though Donald Trump won the electoral votes. This hasn’t taken place since the infamous “hanging chad” election of 2000. Al Gore led with the popular votes but lost the electoral vote 266 to 271.
The only other time this occurred was in the 1888 election. Grover Cleveland lost the electoral vote but gained the popular vote over Benjamin Harrison who won the election.
Watching the protests on the news, I saw many protestors ask why not let the popular vote decide. “It’s easier,” many claimed.
I honestly wonder how many people calling for the electoral college to disappear really understand how it works and why the founding fathers included it in the U.S. Constitution — article 2, section 1.
First, many Americans think our nation is a pure democracy. It’s not.
The Greek philosopher Plato had some influence in the minds of our founding fathers. In his work “The Republic” he said the ideal form of government exists when power is shared properly between rulers, warriors and workers. Who can argue against that?
Just like Plato’s belief, our founding fathers made efforts to ensure justice and liberty are shared equally among all groups of people, and power is equal among our judges, lawmakers and rulers.
Therefore, our Constitution protects all people, ensuring they all have a voice.
If America were a pure democracy, we would be voting on laws directly.
But we elect our representatives to vote on laws, making the U.S. a Republic. And we pick those representatives by a majority vote — democracy. That makes this country a Democratic Republic. And so, we have an electoral college.
Sure, determining our president based on a populace vote looks good in theory. But ideas have consequences, and acting haphazardly without considering the “what-ifs” might lead to more unfairness than fairness.
When a voter puts a check mark next to the name of the candidate they want to see in the White House, they’re really voting for a set of electors affiliated with the same political party as the candidate they checked on the ballot.
For example, if a Kansas voter picked Republican candidate Donald Trump, they were really voting on the state’s six Republican electors. If they picked Hillary Clinton, then they picked the state’s six Democrat electors.
The fairness with this process exists with its giving a balanced power across the states so one part of the nation doesn’t take too much control over another.
In 2012, Barack Obama won close to five million more votes than his opponent, Mitt Romney. Out of all the votes he received, a majority came from Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
Obama obtained approximately 3.6 million votes from those cities. If the election were based on popular votes alone, why would Obama care what the 1.4 million registered voters in Nebraska thought of him. Or what the 1.6 million registered voters in Kansas were concerned with. Why would he need to appeal to them?
Without an electoral college, future presidential candidates would just need to win the hearts and votes of urban voters, and make appealing promises for potential policies that matter to where the largest number of voters are. Small towns and rural area concerns would be insignificant to them. The heavily urbanized and populated places where the media, big businesses, and large city governments (the money and the power) generally reside would be the majority whose agendas would tyrannize the minority found in rural America.
But with an electoral college, a candidate popular in one part of America still needs to focus their attention on the rural regions and gain those sub-election results. Candidates have to focus on building coalitions and gaining the support of different types of voters across the nation.
Allowing the popular vote to determine the next president looks good on paper, but an America where 51 percent of our voices matter while the remaining 49 percent don’t isn’t a fair system.
Aside from that, without an electoral college, the U.S. would have to create some kind of agency to make sure all popular votes are counted, and the number is completely accurate. No doubt, that would lead to all sorts of confusion and criticism among voters.
In close races, I wonder how many recounts would need to take place. Or what would happen in a runoff election?
Many have called for the dismantling of the electoral college. But have they really taken off their rose-colored glasses, and considered the consequences of doing so. It has come up many times before, and there’s good reason the electoral college is still here — to ensure fairness and allow all people to have a voice in the race.