Diary

Let's Not Relive 1789 Again

The 2016 presidential election has given an opportunity for massive discontent.  The current conventional wisdom lays the blame on a divided nation.

There is no denying that America exists with divisions but then she always has.  If there is a threat to America however, it is not from the existence of what America’s founders called “factions” in and of themselves.  The most powerful, if not most insidious, internal threat is from a severe ignorance within the citizenry.  It is an ignorance of the structure, operation and purpose of the government which they are supposed to be supervising, nurturing and preserving.

The evidence is constantly reinforcing itself in the millions of dollars being sent into the coffers of Jill Stein’s recount campaign.  Her justification to all those donors?  Something might be wrong with the popular vote counts in states Hillary Clinton lost; no show of massive fraud, no evidence of rigged machines or tallies, just a maybe.  It is a deception that could cost states millions of tax dollars if she, Hillary and their organizations have their way.

But is the system really that vulnerable or unfair?  It is not difficult to find an answer if anyone cares to think.  In the 50 states, there are 3,136 counties which determine their own voting rules.  Within those counties, there are 8,000 citizen-governed precincts.  Within those thousands of precincts, there are approximately 100,000 polling stations manned by private citizens, most of whom are volunteers.  In addition to the massive purposely-fragmented infrastructure, lists of registered voters are public record and every single polling station is open to monitoring by election offices, party officials, private citizens and the Federal Department of Justice.

Still not done.  Tallies from every machine are stored on memory cards and reports printed.  All of that goes to county processing centers where another tally, inspection and certification takes place.  Again, party representatives and local election board members must be present for the whole process.

So, which of the 111,186 levels of accountability has so much influence over the other 111,185 that it can throw an entire presidential election?

And then there is the Electoral College.  After each state certifies and recertifies the vote count, the electors, selected according to the laws of each state, meet independently in each state on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.  They vote to accept or challenge the actions of the people.  Finally, on January 6th Congress meets in joint session and certifies the electoral counts again.

And then there is the Electoral College.  To disgruntled and ill-informed voters, there seems to be no conceivable justification for such an outdated and incomprehensible system.  But, just as with the process of polling the popular vote, a little knowledge goes a long way.  After all, the challenges of human nature and demographics really are not any different than 230 years ago.  There are minorities, majorities, the powerful, the weak, political outsiders and political insiders.  Everyone wants to be heard and everyone wants “fairness”.

The genius of 1789 was the formation of a federation of states formed as a republic.   On the one hand, individual citizens selected representatives to be their voices (House of Representatives).  On the other hand, states, no matter their size or population had equal power (Senate).  That same design of citizen voice with state equality was designed into the Electoral College and the need for it has never changed.

Right now, in the popular vote, 52 counties on the east coast and west coast, control 47.7% of the outcome.  The other 3,084 counties control 47.2% of the outcome.  Viewed another way, half of the U.S. population lives in the 146 counties.  In a direct popular vote, 14.4% of the country’s political entities control – always – the remaining 85.6%.  That is fine if you are in the liberal 14.4%, if not, not so much.

Both of the presidential elections of 2000 and 2016 preserved exactly what the Electoral College was designed for.  The voices of every citizen in the 3,084 counties were heard along with the 52.  In 2000 and in 2016 the “fly-overs” made a difference and the electoral count helped solidify the results in a 2.6% vote dispute.

Unfair?  Federalist papers 39 and 68 demonstrate exactly the opposite.  Our Constitution then enshrined that wisdom in Article II, Amendment 12 and Amendment 23.

Our founders knew that human nature could not handle direct democracy without descending into factions and chaos.  They also knew the abusive power of monarchies.  The Electoral College was an ingenious design that mirrored the new federal republic.

Unfair? Outmoded?  Hardly.  In all of the history of human government, it is the only one that reaches out to every citizen so as to guard them against either a tyranny of a majority or of a minority