Do We the People really get the choose our president?
Americans chose Clinton but got Trump. A tough lesson to learn at the hands of the Electoral College.
As we slowly come out of our fog, does this election feel like deja vu again? A Democrat winning the popular vote but losing the presidency because of the Electoral College?
Something essential must be kept in mind, courtesy of Michael Moore:
“You must say this sentence to everyone you meet today: “HILLARY CLINTON WON THE POPULAR VOTE!” The MAJORITY of our fellow Americans preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Period. Fact. If you woke up this morning thinking you live in an effed-up country, you don’t. The majority of your fellow Americans wanted Hillary, not Trump. The only reason he’s president is because of an arcane, insane, 18th-century idea called the Electoral College. Until we change that, we’ll continue to have presidents we didn’t elect and didn’t want.”
What is this peculiar and archaic way America picks its presidents?
Even Donald Trump tweeted in Nov 6, 2012 “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”
Just what were the Founding Fathers thinking?
For a simple understanding of what the Electoral College is and why the people do not vote directly for the president, I offer this comic book version from the 1960 Classics Illustrated Comics The Illustrated Story of American Presidents.
In 1787 in Philadelphia the delegates at the Constitutional Convention argued about the best way to elect a president.
The Founders didn’t think ordinary people, even white male property owners who were the only ones allowed to vote- were informed or responsible enough to choose the president. Letting them do so, said Virginia’s George Mason, would be like referring “a trial of colors to a blind man.”
So they created a double buffer. State legislators would choose presidential electors who would be “most enlightened and respectable citizens” as John Jay put it. These elites would come together at an Electoral College and use their superior intellect to decide on a president.
But electors soon began to run on party slates, pledging loyalty to party’s nominee rather then use their own independent judgement. Soon all states let voters rather than lawmakers choose the electors.
Elections and the Electoral College
Because states don’t award their electoral votes proportionately to the popular vote it left us with what happened the candidate gets fewer votes still gets elected
The Electoral College has often fulfilled the Founders goal of acting as a check on the popular will- but not in the way they intended.
“If the life stream of America flows in the story of its presidents,” as the comic suggested, then the health of our nation might be close to being on life support now that we have elected Donald Trump as president.
We the people might want to rethink this Electoral College. I would say in this election it deserves a failing grade.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.