Article II, Section 1 by
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The Democratic Party has won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, but lost the office of the President due to the Electoral College. The Electoral College has GOT to go!

The framers of the Constitution had a population made up heavily of farmers, many of whom were illiterate and lived in remote places. News traveled slowly. Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison thought it would be wise if educated people represented those who cast their votes and ultimately decided who should be installed in office. This was before there were even political tickets. Whoever came in second became Vice President. There have been amendments to the Constitution, allowing for political tickets and giving the District of Columbia three votes, but the notion of a “winner takes all” vote in nearly all the states, when a candidate wins by a hair’s breath, in this era of Internet and easy access to communication, makes no sense. Time to go!

 

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.


Tags: Electoral College, antiquated voting
Characterizations: been there

Comments

  1. John Zussman says:

    Great choice! In fact, as I will shortly post, my mind has been running the same way. Thanks for giving us some of the history, too.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      This has been on my mind (and lots of others) since this past election. Thanks for adding your informative thoughts to the discussion. A constitutional amendment is challenging (we all remember the ERA), but what you wrote makes a lot of sense…as I will comment on in a moment!

  2. Suzy says:

    Betsy, you and John both have the right idea – how is the Electoral College still a thing?! Of course the answer is that it is in the Constitution. Still we must get rid of it or change it, one way or another! Thanks for explaining the history behind it.

  3. Good choice, Betsy! Hadn’t kept count of electoral college upsets, but 6 out of 7 popular vs electoral-college choices about tears it. In addition to the constitutional framers pragmatism, I’d like to add:

    The framers — let’s say Madison, Jefferson, Monroe — wrote the Articles of Confederacy and the Constitution in the context of the shift from monarchy to republic. Our democracy’s necessary system of checks and balances in government come from the work of these men and often work well, but as regards the electoral college, our patrician ‘founding fathers’ also felt that an electoral college consisting of educated white men with philosophical roots in the flight from monarchy would serve as an elite buffer between the will of the people and the needs of a nationalized colonial power.

    In short, the founders didn’t want the rabble and its newly established vote power to directly elect the leadership of the republic. So yes, farms and distances for sure, but also insurance against a popular takeover.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thanks for even more context and history, Chaz. You’ve got it absolutely correct. The Electoral College kept the rabble from exerting their will. Let the elites have their way. We are WAY past that point in our history now. Now it seems the rabble is only getting its way (thanks to gerrymandering…another good topic for “why is this still a thing”), the divided nature of the popular and polarizing media (which all too frequently delivers commentary as if it were news) and the ever-present social media, which can whip of sentiment, on both sides of an issue, in an instant, without benefit of actual fact-checking and real debate, as opposed to trolls and name-calling across platforms. Increasingly, poor education systems play a role too. An educated electorate is important, but the will of the people should be paramount. Thank you for adding your valuable insights.

  4. John Shutkin says:

    Betsy — An absolutely great choice of issues (far better than some cultural fad well beyond its due date). And read the article in today’s NY Times Magazine about gerrymandering the State House in Wisconsin; it is, as you suggest, like the electoral college problem on steroids. Thank you for putting this important issues front and center. As you also note, it is indeed ironic (and not in a good way) that the purpose of the electoral college was to protect us from the “rabble” and yet now we are being victimized by it as never before.

    But here’s the Catch-22: reform would require the support of the people who are in power solely by virtue of what’s wrong with it. That said, so good of you to put this issue front and center!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Yes, John…amending the Constitution is no small task (as I referenced in John Z’s essay and it seems the ERA might even be back on the table), but in his essay, John offers a different way to apportion the electoral votes that makes more sense, without needing to provoke the Constitutional crisis. Thanks for alerting me to the NY Times piece. I will read it later today.

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