December 18, 2018

Face It, the Electoral College is a Bad Idea

“The Electoral College is an abomination. It’s long past time we abolished it. The Electoral College was a dumb idea when it was first proposed. Today, it’s the Constitution’s most egregious affront to elementary fairness. In a just and properly functioning political system, it would be eliminated without delay or regret.

Why do we have the Electoral College in the first place? If we begin at the beginning and look for guidance to Alexander Hamilton — the presumed author of Federalist Paper No. 68, which discusses and defends the Electoral College — we discover what sounds like the musings of a dorm room full of mildly drunken undergraduates seeking to apply to the world the overly pious lessons of an “Intro to Political Theory” course.

Wouldn’t it be nice if voters didn’t cast ballots in favor of the president directly but instead voted for a group of people of “information and discernment” who would themselves make the final choice of who will stand at the head of the executive branch of government and serve as the commander in chief of the armed forces? The idea, apparently, was that there should be an extra layer of distance between the people and the choice of president — and that this layer should consist of a group of citizens (electors) who freely deliberate about the choice, like a temporary Congress filled with people who don’t serve in other elective offices, with the outcome of those deliberations treated as legitimate by the people even when it countermands the result of the popular vote.”

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