The perpetual lies attacking the Electoral College seem endless. The most noxious and ignorant might be those that believe it’s racist because of a wildly mistaken view that it’s somehow related to the unrelated 3/5 Compromise. Many attack it because of a failure to teach civics. They just don’t understand it. Like the Constitution itself, the Electoral College is a hindrance to ideologues.
The main reason we have an Electoral College is that the states matter under our system of government and the Constitution. Last year I published a piece in the Fayetteville Observer titled, “Electoral College gives North Carolina a commanding influence.” Here’s an essential point on the primacy of states in our national election from the piece:
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a direct popular vote election was the least popular consideration and was immediately scrapped. After all, our nation is a republic and not a pure democracy. Initially, delegates seemed to be settling on the idea of the U.S. House of Representatives selecting our president, given they were considered to be most in tune with the electorate. But smaller states realized this would put them at a disadvantage and a compromise was reached to have states vote as a single bloc through their electors.
There was deep concern at our founding about the tyranny of the majority. That’s why there are layers and layers of checks and balances within the Constitution, including the states checking the power of the federal government, and a simple majority rule of the people. The American founders had many of the same debates we are having today. Farming communities were especially worried about huge population centers, like big cities, having the right to dictate how everybody lived through a one size fits all national policy.
I encourage readers to study the framers. They themselves studied world history and past governments and worked diligently to design a system that would attempt to thwart tyranny. Overall, it’s worked out fairly well. They saw what happened in past governments and tried to prevent those very same mistakes from happening again. “If it be not perfect, it is at least excellent,” declared Alexander Hamilton on the Electoral College.
A better solution to our political conflict is to move more power out of Washington and follow our Tenth Amendment. There is little need to have so much power concentrated in our nation’s capital, particularly given all of the dysfunction within our broken federal government. However, I suspect this won’t be desirable for the type of ideologue who desperately wants to impose their will on others no matter how far away they live and how different those communities are in distant states.