I am growing weary of having to explain to friends and family, that quite frankly should know better, that the Electoral College (abbreviated to “EC” for the rest of this post) is vital to free and fair presidential elections.
For those who do not know how the EC works and why it is vitally important to preserve it, I present the YouTube video below:
To summarize the content of the video, the number of electors is based upon the number of representatives in the House of Representatives (435) combined with the number of senators (100), plus three (acknowledging Washington D.C., despite the fact that Washington D.C. does not have representation in the House or Senate). This is why the number of EC votes needed to win the presidency is 270, the minimum number of EC votes a candidate can receive that ensures no ties.
We live in a constitutional (representative) republic, not a democracy. The EC ensures that states that are not heavily populated are not ignored and still have a voice in presidential elections. Without the EC, California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio would determine who wins the presidency based upon their large populations alone. If you lived outside of these states, your vote and your interests would have little to no impact on who becomes the leader of the nation.
Needless to say, this would not be a good thing…
To further illustrate how dangerous it would be to elect our president via direct popular vote, just look at presidential elections from the state level…
For example, in the state of Maryland, how Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County votes largely determines which presidential candidate wins Maryland in an election.
Think about that. Two counties out of Maryland’s 24 counties and its largest city are what keeps the state “Democratic blue”.
At the national level, a strict and straight popular vote election would lead to 5 or 6 states determining which party would consistently win the presidency.
Large metropolitan areas tend to lean liberal. This explains why many liberals and Democrats advocate abolishing the EC. Conversely, conservatives and Republicans fight vehemently to preserve the EC, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
In general, neither party works hard to convince voters not predisposed to vote for their party’s candidates to support them. To President Donald Trump’s credit in 2016, he put in the effort in states not traditionally supportive of Republican candidates in national elections and did just enough to win the presidency. We can argue the president’s tactics and “faux populist messaging” as factors, but the fact remains that he did what former President Barack Obama did 8 years earlier. He campaigned in states traditionally hostile to his party and won states his party traditionally does not.
It is not the EC that is flawed and needs to be abolished. It is the people and candidates alike that do not take the time to use the system to their collective advantage that is flawed.
According to Aristotle, democracy is the corrupt form of government, polity being the natural form of government.
Our country is a polity and the EC is one of the mechanisms that ensures it remains that way. The EC is not the problem. It is a sincerely ignorant and conscientiously stupid electorate that is the problem.
-The Rational Ram