The Electoral College

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The founders of our country were concerned that democratic voting by the populace may not work because the “common man” would not be well enough informed to vote in his own best interest. Of course, the term “common man” is used advisedly. At the time, only men could vote. In fact, only white men could vote. The founders, who were all educated, privileged white men, were concerned that lower class, uneducated white men, especially those living in remote rural areas, would not understand the issues well enough to make an informed decision. Isn’t that interesting? The group that turned out in larger than expected numbers to elect Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton were young, lower class, uneducated white men, especially those living in remote rural areas.

The solution the founders came up with in order to solve this problem inherent in any democracy was the Electoral College. Actually, as far as I know, it never really worked. The idea was that we (not really¬†we in those days) would elect people to represent us in selecting a president. Each state would have representation proportionate to the population of that state. These representatives had no obligation to vote for any particular person. They were supposed to be wise men who would make good decisions. Well, but is that really democracy? People began to be dissatisfied with this, so the practice came to be that the electoral college representatives would cast all of their state’s votes for the winner of the popular vote in that state. OK, so now we have another undemocratic situation, in which the winner of the popular vote can still lose the election.

It is my understanding that this hasn’t happened very often, but it has happened disastrously twice in my recent memory; in 2000, when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush, and this year, when Hillary lost to Donald Trump. If Gore had been elected, global warming may not have progressed at its present alarming rate. Now, we are faced with the uncertainty of an unstable personality in charge of a possible nuclear strike, potential upsets in any number of international relations, an accelerated destruction of the environment, the conditions for another economic depression, the loss of hard gained human rights, and maybe even a bloody, senseless, useless civil war.

Will the majority of the people who voted for Trump find that his presidency is in their best interest? No, of course not. One of the things they want is jobs. I actually think that Trump may be able to deliver on this to some extent. The problem is, the new jobs will be at minimum wage, and minimum wage may well be cut back to a lower level. Why? Trump wants to bring manufacturing back to this country. Corporations would not make the profits they now make, paying American wages. Wages would have to be rolled way back for corporations to move their plants back into the country. He says he’ll rebuild the infrastructure. I got pretty excited about that until I realized he’d accomplish that the same way, contracting the jobs out to corporations. They, Trump supporters, want to go back to a simpler time, the way it used to be. Before globalization. Deep down, they want to do something about their fear.

It seems to me that the more divided our nation becomes, the more often the popular vote and the electoral vote will differ. If the popular vote is very close, there is more chance the electoral vote will be something different. The whole populace used to shift back and forth in a healthy way between the more progressive and the more conservative political parties. Now, we seem to be stuck in our positions. People are mistrustful of their elected representatives and fearful of one another. This fear, of course, is being manipulated and we must not let our democracy be taken away from us! The Electoral College has been a topic on the internet quite a lot lately. There have been petitions circulated. I have signed them. It doesn’t guard us against stupidity, it only makes the campaigns more difficult and more of a crap shoot. I will say more about the Electoral College when I write about the constitution.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Electoral College

  1. Didn’t know the history of the Electoral College and got a rueful chuckle from learning that this vehicle for elitism has delivered us such a crass rube for a president. I’ve signed petitions too, but I’m not counting on any of the Electoral representatives having the guts to break with tradition. Got to agree that the common man appears over and over to fail to vote in “his” best interest. We’ve got easy access to info these days via the media and a whole list of Trump offenses against legality and decency are widely known. But voter after voter has declared the same thing—“don’t care!” Hard for me to accept that so many aren’t concerned about a prospective leader with a history of engaging in con jobs, stiffing honest contractors, declaring multiple bankruptcies, inciting violence, etc. etc. etc. etc (the list is so long). I never had much faith in the decision making of the uneducated, but now I’m terrified of sharing space in the electorate with those who haven’t learned to think and discriminate. Or those whose abilities on those scores are subsumed to raw emotion when the chips are down. Can’t someone come up with something better than Democracy?

  2. I don’t think there really is any way to improve on democracy. We need to improve on education and perhaps on the media. It worries me that people watch Fox News or MSNBC and hear only one point of view. Especially Fox which many people don’t realize is biased.

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