The electoral college is an antiquated political contraption held-over from the slave era. Historians recount frequent debates between the founders and wealthy plantation owners who insisted their non-voting slaves be tallied as three-fifths of a person-thus allotting the South more influence than it otherwise would have in national elections. Conversely, the founders were equally concerned with foreign adversaries and the election of despots. They believed the electoral college would prevent overseas powers from meddling in its elections and avert a demagogue with “talents for low intrigue and the little arts of popularity” from occupying the White House. Consequently, the founders established the electoral college, at least in part, to prevent the election of a democratic catastrophe like Donald Trump from ever becoming president. Nonetheless, Donald Trump was right about one thing, the election was rigged; one candidate received more votes than the other and that candidate lost. In the last eighteen years, George W. Bush and Donald Trump both lost the popular vote and won the electoral college without broad support of the American people. It has now become obvious that when the electoral college fails, it fails spectacularly. Despite their best intentions, this obsolete election process has done little to promote the broad support the founders envisioned. On the contrary, it disadvantages pragmatic candidates who appeal to moderate voters and tilts elections in favor of zealots, who appeal to a narrow, radicalized segment of voters with limited worldviews. This is hardly a recipe for stability. As such, enacting reforms that designate national election day as a holiday, eliminating the electoral college and banning the practice of gerrymandering should be the norm that serves a twenty-first century democracy.
Photo by Elliott Stallion