Without fail, after Leftists lose a Presidential election, they start talking about abolishing the Electoral College. (Funny how this isn’t a topic of discussion after a Democrat wins the White House, but that’s neither here nor there.) And this time around, the Left is bringing up the Founding Fathers as a means to try to justify their position. But fear not. I have some information you can use to turn back the arguments they present.
As with my previous attempts in this vein, I will separate the Leftist arguments with bold italics like so. My responses will be in normal type face. Granted, this is about as normal as I get, so be warned. And with that out of the way, let’s get started!
We should get rid of the Electoral College because it doesn’t work anymore.
Why do you think it doesn’t work anymore?
We’re a totally different country now. The Electoral College is outdated.
Just because something is outdated by modern standards doesn’t mean it lacks use in today’s world. We still use trains to transport goods across the country even though we have other and faster means to do it. Rotary and push-button phones work as well at making phone calls as an iPhone does. Even basic farming techniques haven’t changed in spite of the advances in farm technology.
Yeah, well, we should still change the way we elect the President. We should adopt a national popular vote so everyone’s voice gets heard.
If you voted in the last Presidential election and your ballot wasn’t removed due to legal or illegal activities, your voice got heard. You just didn’t win.
But shouldn’t the people get to elect the President?
They already do, just not in the way they think. When you vote in a Presidential election, you are actually voting for a slate of electors chosen by the state political parties. That is a feature of our constitutional republic, not a flaw.
More to your point, though, if you want to have a direct election of Presidents going forward, propose a Constitutional Amendment and see if you can get a convention of the states to go along with it.
Why do we have to do that? We should always elect the President by the popular vote.
At one time during our nation’s history, people went ga-ga over pet rocks. Then a little later, people went ga-ga over electronic pets. Both were popular, but eventually lost favor and are now the source of a lot of “what were we thinking” comments. Choosing a President is a bit more important than the fad of the month and has greater consequences. The Electoral College helps us not make rash decisions based on popularity. It doesn’t always guarantee a good President, but it certainly helps weed out bad ones who are popular, but not suitable for the job.
But we have so much better technology now than we did back when the Electoral College was put in place. We need to change with the times.
Better technology doesn’t guarantee smarter people. Our system of government relies on an informed electorate, but these days we use technology to numb our brains and keep us isolated from all but those we choose to associate with. That’s not a good model for governing because leaders don’t always have the option to block or ban people we don’t like. Good governance comes through honest compromise, and you can’t get that on Twitter.
Okay, but shouldn’t we get rid of the Electoral College because of its ties to slavery?
Not once you look at the context. At the time the Founding Fathers were discussing how to choose a President, they toyed with the idea of the Electoral College being based on population like the House of Representatives. The slave states loved this idea because they would have more votes to elect the President. Eventually, this idea was scrapped with the end goal being to end slavery, not to maintain it.
But it was created by racist white males who kept slaves!
Again, you need to look at the context. Yes, they owned slaves, while at the same time trying to end the practice altogether. The Electoral College shouldn’t be abolished because of its ties to slave owners, especially considering the institution itself literally has no other job than to elect a President. Even if it had any opinions on slavery, the power vested within it makes it a moot point.
Okay. Let’s say you’re right about the past, but what about the present? Electors in Wyoming have more say in a Presidential election than California does, but California has more people.
You are correct about California having more people. Which is why they have more Electoral College votes in the first place. The number of Electors is based on the number of Representatives and Senators a state has. Since the House is based on population, California has vastly more votes towards the Presidency than Wyoming does. And since California is a winner-take-all state, all the Electors go to the Presidential candidate who wins the popular vote. If we’re using population to representation as a measuring stick, Wyoming’s Electoral votes have more weight. If we’re using sheer number of representatives as the measuring stick, though, California runs away with it easily.
But here’s the twist. An Electoral vote from Wyoming counts exactly the same as an Electoral vote from California: precisely…one. When viewed from this perspective, the concept of one vote holding more weight than another gets blown out the water.
Perhaps the fix to the Electoral College issue is to do away with winner-take-all states and apportion the Electors by the percentage of votes each candidate gets. That addresses your concerns and mine simultaneously, and no one gets left out.
We have to abolish the Electoral College! We don’t want another President to win the Electoral vote and lose the popular vote!
Although this very scenario has happened twice in 20 years, it’s still a pretty rare occurrence. Prior to 2000, it had only occurred 3 other times, and twice within 12 years, for a grand total of 8.6% of the time the Electoral College winner doesn’t coincide with the popular vote winner. That equates to 91.4% of the two votes going for the same candidate. And in 0% of the elections did the country fall apart when it didn’t happen. No system is going to be perfect, but I think a 91% success rating is still pretty good.
If we had a direct popular vote for President, it would be 100%.
But only because we would eliminate the need for an Electoral College, and it wouldn’t guarantee the winning candidate would step foot outside of population centers on the East and West Coasts where the majority of people live. Although you would achieve your “one person, one vote” goal, it would be at the expense of the entire country. Cities can be pretty isolated places when it comes to ideology and life experience. It would be like trying to compose a Tweet using only the most used letters. You might be able to get your point across, but it’s harder than it needs to be.
And let’s not forget the possibility of voter fraud.
Those instances are rare and wouldn’t impact a national election.
We know about the people who get caught, but that may be only a fraction of the times voter fraud has been committed successfully. And, yes, it’s being done by both sides. However, the problem is even when the number of fraudulent votes is small, it only takes 1 over 50% for a candidate to win. The 2000 Presidential election was won by a few hundred votes. If even 1 vote out of 1000 was fraudulent, that can be enough to swing the results. Not every election is going to be a blowout, so we need to be able to account for each and every vote tallied and why it was accepted or rejected.
With the current dismal state of our election security, a national popular vote would open up the possibility of greater and more diverse forms of voter fraud, ranging from fraudulent registrations to multiple votes for a candidate from the same person to even counting votes from people who shouldn’t be voting in the first place, such as illegal immigrants and the deceased. A national popular vote would overwhelm the current process to the point of breaking. Then, one person, one vote might turn out to be one person, many votes.
We wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for Republicans gerrymandering states for votes.
Gerrymandering doesn’t affect the Electoral College vote, only the number of votes a state has. And even if one party or the other reconfigures Congressional districts to its advantage, the vote for the slate of Electors is still based on the popular vote.
I agree gerrymandering is a problem and should be abolished, but it’s no reason to get rid of the Electoral College. It’s like saying we should get rid of the designated hitter rule because hockey’s too violent.
By this time, the Leftist might be getting upset and willing to punch you, so I’d better stop here. If you have any suggestions to add to this list or ideas for future Crafty Conservative Comebacks for Loony Leftist Lines topics, let me know!