The editorial in the November 18th issue of The Express (“Our voices are not heard”) is one I have profound disagreements with, and is based on an incredibly erroneous premise: that the Electoral College is the antithesis to democracy, and therefore, is an evil that threatens the integrity of our election system.
The conclusion of this notion is that the Electoral College must be abolished, and should be replaced simply with the popular vote. However, the abolition of the Electoral College is the most dangerous thing our country can do, and will result in insurmountable damage to our nation.
First, we must begin with why we have this system in the first place. The answer is quite simple: We are not a democracy. We are a republic. What this means is that the American people elect representatives to speak for them in government.
The nation does not unilaterally vote on bills, tax measures, statutes and so on, Senators and Congressmen do. The same principle is extended to the Electoral College.
When the Founders were developing our system of government, they wanted to ensure that every voice mattered. This was especially important to James Madison, who feared what was called “tyranny of the majority.” This is the idea that at least 51% percent of voters (the majority) can control and dictate how the others should live their lives (the minority,) and would without a doubt become a result of the popular vote. As I like to put it, pure democracies are three wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Maybe the sheep should elect a representative to protect his rights.
The Electoral College is not a product of elitism. It was a brilliant system designed to make sure that every vote mattered, no matter the size of the state. Further, consider this: if the next President was decided via popular vote, why would they campaign in less populous states? As Tara Ross explains in an excellent video by Prager University “If winning were only about getting the most votes, a candidate might concentrate all of his efforts in the biggest cities or the biggest states. Why would that candidate care about what people in West Virginia, Iowa or Montana think?”
Politicians would only seek to court voters in populous states such as California, Texas, New York, and Florida. And considering how expensive it is to campaign, it would make more financial sense to campaign only in large states under a popular vote.
However, the Electoral College encourages a truly national campaign. Winning only certain parts of the country cannot take one past 270 electoral college votes. Politicians must court voters from every part of the country, and more importantly, listen to their concerns and explain how they will be addressed.
I don’t know about you, but I would like to have my fellow Americans in states like Wyoming have their say in elections too, as under a popular vote, politicians may decide to hold an event in California instead. And by saying a popular vote must replace the Electoral College, while residing in one of the most populous states in the Union, it comes off as a little elitist, no?
Moreover, the popular vote would stoke the fires of partisan rhetoric. As David French of National Review explains, “Who cares if you can switch the votes of 50,000 Obama Democrats in Pennsylvania if you can get 150,000 more Tennessee conservatives to the polls? What’s the point in winning over New Hampshire moderates if you can swamp Brooklyn precincts with angry hipsters?” (The angry hipsters part is my favorite bit of that, by the way.)
The Electoral College is the most brilliant method of conducting elections in a country with a plethora of needs, wants and ideas. Without it, politicians would only grow more out of touch with millions of voters. It is imperative that our country protects and upholds the Electoral College. Now is time to tell the “wolves” of our Republic that dinner’s canceled. I hope that the Editorial Board of this paper shares that view as well.
Student at Las Positas College