President Obama criticizes Electoral College

During his end of year press conference on Friday, President Obama said the Electoral College is a “vestige” of an “earlier vision” of how the U.S. government was supposed to work.

“The Electoral College is a vestige, it’s a carryover from an earlier vision of how our federal government was going to work that put a lot of premium on states.

“It used to be that the Senate was not elected directly, it was through state legislators. It’s the same type of thinking that gives Wyoming two senators with about 500,000 people and California with 33 million gets the same two.

“There’s some structures in our political system as envisioned by the Founders that sometimes are going to disadvantage Democrats, but the truth of the matter is that if we have a strong message, if we’re speaking to what the American people care about, typically the popular vote and the electoral college vote will align.

“With respect to the electors, I’m not going to weigh in on that issue. Again, it’s the American people’s job, and now the electors’ job to decide my successor. It is not my job to decide my successor," President Obama said.

Has President Obama ever actually read the Consitution? The founders placed a great deal of importance on the Electoral College, and it took up more words in the Constitution than any other subject.

Arguments that we should move to a popular election from the electoral college is just disgruntled "Hail Mary" nonsense. This is the sixth time the winner didn't take the popular vote. And so what?

The electoral college was devised for very good reasons, well documented elsewhere.

Nixon won by the greatest percentage of the popular vote ever in 1972. I think you can say that the popular vote isn't necessarily a good barometer of anything.

The complaints against the electoral college remind me of old-time Cubs losing streaks when Harry Caray, desperate to find a positive, would say, "Well, folks, there is good news! Sales of hot dogs and beer at Wrigley Field are at a record high!" as if that was a substitute for winning the game on the field.

The electoral college eliminates the mischief that minor, single-issue parties cause. If the election had been by popular vote, the Republican Establishment, which favored Hillary Clinton,  might have done an end-run around Donald Trump by  nominating its own candidate. We would have had:

Donald Trump - Republican 33%
John Kasich  - True Blue Republican 12%
Hillary Clinton 33%
Bernie Sanders (write-in Progressive) 8%
Libertarian Johnson 6%
Green Party (whoever) 4%
Other parties 4%

We'd probably end up with a run-off election with coalition building between the major and minor parties. That is what makes European governments so unstable. We don't need it.

The real reason we have an Electoral College is largely the same reason we have a U.S. Senate organized as it is: to protect the relevancy of our smaller states in our governance. Otherwise, the weight of our larger states would render them meaningless as crucibles of diverse American culture. Without both institutions we never would have kept a nation when our representatives gathered to surprise state sponsors and write a new constitution; or at least no nation that even vaguely resembles the one we built over 228 years under the constitution that resulted.

Eliminating the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment or a constitutional convention (new constitution). For either to happen, those smaller states would need to effectively commit suicide. This is never going to happen, our political organization is a settled matter, and Democratic sore losers can go fish – and focus instead on how to save their party.

Do you understand what the Electoral College is? Or how it works? Or why America uses it to elect its presidents instead of just using a straight popular vote? Author, lawyer and Electoral College expert Tara Ross does, and she explains that to understand the Electoral College is to understand American democracy.

1 comment:

  1. In Gallup polls since they started asking in 1944 until this election, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states) (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

    Support for a national popular vote for President has been strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range - in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

    Most Americans don't ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that no matter where they live, even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    We have 2nd place presidential candidates elected by 537 votes in 1 state, or less than 80,000 votes in 3 states. If any other country elected their chief executive like this, Americans would not regard the result as fair.

    The National Popular Vote bill was approved this year by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
    Since 2006, the bill has passed 34 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Colorado (9).


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