After their candidate lost, all of a sudden we started hearing liberals talking about getting rid of the Electoral College. I’m pretty sure most of them hadn’t given it a single thought until after November 8th, 2016. How come they didn’t have a problem with it in 2008, and again in 2012? Oh right, that’s when their candidate won. But since they brought it up, lets look at their argument on its merits. Should we abandon the Electoral College and have a pure democracy that directly elects the president? Many pieces have already been written making the case for why this would be a really bad idea, but allow me to give my own analysis, if I may.
The Founders knew the American people would be easily influenced and misled. They knew we need a buffer between them and the president. Instead of getting rid of the Electoral College, we should give it even more power by passing a law in each state that allows electors in that state to vote their conscience for president. After all, I heard my conservative friends making the argument throughout the primaries that we needed delegates to prevent GOP voters from being too influenced by right wing media and nominating a demagogue, which they ended up doing. We wanted delegates to vote their conscience because they knew the candidates and the issues better than the average GOP voter did, and were thus better prepared to vote for the best candidate to be our nominee. We assumed they were responsible adults, and thus wouldn’t give into peer pressure or be prisoners of the moment and let emotions influence them, the way many conservatives who voted for Trump did.
We should want our electors to do the same thing- vote their conscience. They did the work necessary to become electors, which means they’re more likely to have the knowledge and good judgment required to choose the best candidate for president, regardless of whether or not they belong to that candidate’s party.
We need more elites in this country, as David French so eloquently explained, just responsible, honest, and wise elites, not arrogant, condescending, corrupt, and incompetent ones. The Founders were rightly concerned about giving too much power to the people, because they simply weren’t as informed or intelligent as the elites were. This is just a reality that they were honest about, a reality our politicians don’t have the guts to be honest about nowadays.
I’m not saying elites should have more power over our lives, in fact they should have less power when it comes to creating more laws and regulations for our already bloated and incompetent federal government to enforce. But I am saying they should potentially have more power to make sure we get the right candidate into the White House, even if they end up disagreeing with a majority of the American people.
There’s nothing wrong with saying some people have more experience in politics and government, are more knowledgeable in a variety of areas, and are better at discerning who might make the best president than the average American. One argument for getting rid of the Electoral College is that many votes aren’t counted in states like New York and California because we know the Democrat nominee will win those states every time, so many people there don’t bother voting, or they do, but their vote doesn’t count because neither candidate campaigns there.
But if there was no Electoral College, this problem would simply be transferred to a variety of areas across the country, namely, the areas with lower population densities, like the Mountain West and the Heartland. Without the Electoral College, the candidates would no longer fight for those areas since the Republican nominee would be guaranteed to win them, but it wouldn’t matter because they would have no representation, and thus would be completely overshadowed by the states and cities with huge populations. So big states like Florida, Texas, California, New York, and Illinois would get all the attention, and many of the small and medium size states would largely be ignored, since they could no longer be “won” with no electors to represent them. Millions of votes would no longer count, which would be likely to drastically depress turnout, and if you do that in rural areas, that’s basically guaranteeing a Democrat victory every four years.
It’s crucially important for our Constitutional Republic to have as many checks and balances as possible to prevent one party from having a monopoly of power over the people. One of those checks is the Electoral College. So far I think it’s done a great job. Since FDR was president in the 1930s, neither party has controlled the White House for more than 12 years at a time. This is a good thing for the American people, because the numbers bear out that the lowest levels of spending have occurred when we have divided government, regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican was president.
Democrats admit up front that they won’t be fiscally responsible and intend to spend us into bigger and bigger deficits, and Republicans promise they won’t be big spenders, but usually break that promise, as George W. Bush did. That’s why it’s best if we have alternating parties control the White House, and maybe hope that one day we’ll get a conservative as president who will keep his or her promise and finally limit the size of government. The Electoral College will ensure that this vital balance remains in effect until then. It would be a mistake to get rid of it.