Since I’ll be travelling next Sunday, I’ll get this out now.
The Electoral College is the often reviled much maligned certainly misunderstood part of our Constitution designed to keep elections like this one from pulling apart the Republic.
Our Founding Fathers understood that compromise was the shock-absorber of democracy. They also understood that compromise was not a natural part of man’s true nature. They further understood that without acceptance of compromise bad things happen–people riot in the streets, heads get severed from bodies, and civil society unravels. Thus the Electoral College.
Chapter and verse is not necessary. Google the US Constitution and read all about it. The fascinating thing about the Electoral College is that itself is a creature of compromise. It is a federally mandated part of the election process. It is what in part makes us not a democracy but a democratic republic. The voter is in fact not voting for the candidate of his or her own choice. The voter is in fact voting for electors who vote for the voters’ choice of candidates.
However, for those strong on states’ rights, the mechanisms for how electors actually vote is state mandated. Thus in some states electors must cast all the state’s electoral votes for the winning candidate. In some, electors are allowed to vote their conscience. Historically very few electors have decided to defy the people’s will and done that. The states also decide if electoral votes are to be cast as a block or proportionally distributed.
Thus while it is possible to win the popular vote and lose the election that rarely is the case. However, America has so bought into the Electoral College that even when that has occurred (so say the /Chicago/Kennedy Election, some say Florida the Bush election) voters have stood by the system. Why? When Al Gore lost Florida by 550 votes he lost Florida’s entire electoral block of votes. He didn’t lose by a little, he lost by a lot. It gives the system a validity that razor-edged voting results don’t.
It has also kept elections from erupting into civil disorder. It has prevented charismatic politicians and/or bitter ones from leading revolts or starting “movements” that become revolts. While the no longer “PC” term “banana republic” had even been thought about back in that day, the Electoral College was designed to keep us from ever becoming one.
As for rigging the College’s results, good luck with that. Have elections been stolen? Yes. But frankly that occurred before election reform when American cities still had bosses and bosses still had machines. There are just too many moving parts in a national election and this is a very large country, a huge land mass with hundreds of millions of people. It is as much fantasy as nightmare to think that so much tinkering could be done in so many places during the same few hours to the countless numbers of voting machines watched by thousands of polls workers interspersed in some places with members of both parties, lawyers, cops, and an occasional stray dog. You get the point.
So go exercise your right, do your duty. Go vote. While doing that, remember all the people who have risked their lives to get here, millions of them since the 1850’s) to be able to do just that–vote in a democracy. They include my grandparents and Jose Hernandez. And “man up,” don’t waste your vote. Clinton or Trump will win so have your say as to which one it will be.
And do it with the confidence that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison created a system designed to protect the integrity of what they felt was our most important duty as citizens–to vote.