In Defense of the Electoral College and America during this Celebration of Independence
By: Jim Byrd
It’s that time again, time for the perennial assault on the Electoral College and its compulsory dismantling.
Just like their insect cousins the cicadas, every couple of years some intellectual infirmed with delusions of grandeur, armed with self-anointed enlightenment measurably superior to the profoundly educated Founding Fathers, will emerge from his or her burrow to denigrate, then call, for the sake of humanity, for a simple majority democratic vote, then for the systematic dismantling of the Electoral College.
The chimera of said insectum will proclaim, in defense of majority democratic vote, superior general literacy, knowledge of history, economics, government, and a better aptitude of the Constitution than its authors; but to levy such claims, said chimera must possess a most intimate analysis of Polybius, Macedonia, Rome, Montesquieu, and Locke, then summarily reject, in the name of their ideological egesta, the indubitable value of the subsidizing influence on the erudite architects of this country. The current league of malcontents and heretics of the Constitution and the Electoral College are huddled at the National Popular Vote.
The proponents of a living rather than a static Constitution believe that a governing document written over 200 years ago could not possibly possess relevance for contemporary society that is rapidly succumbing to the debauchery of the Democratic Party’s licentious character. The electoral voting system was not a provisional clause of the Constitution lying in wait until some virtuously challenged, banal intellectual could cry “eureka,” then implement a system that has succumbed to its own cannibalistic philosophy for millenniums. Their argument is pregnant with irrelevance, ignorance, and deceit. The Constitution’s fundamentals and influences can be traced back 2500 years, hardly relegating the 200-year-old governing document’s structure obsolete and outdated.
The tutelarian luminaries who constructed this country’s jurisdictional blueprint during the Constitutional Convention debated electing the president by direct popular vote, and also by congressional selection. The idea of popular vote was summarily rejected because the more populous states and their political, economic, and ideological persuasions could elect a president with little to no influence of the less populous states, and a congressional appointment of a president was antithetical to the separation of powers. The compromise between the two was the Electoral College. An electoral voting system and representative form of government was not a genuine political system circa the Constitutional Convention; it was modeled after the Centuriate Assembly of the Roman Republic, thus the language of Article II Section I of the Constitution regarding the electoral system.
Four presidents on the losing end of the popular vote have been elected since the ratification of the Constitution: John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson in 1824 (without a clear winner, the House of Representatives decided the outcome), Rutherford B. Hayes defeated Samuel Tilden in 1876, Benjamin Harrison defeated Grover Cleveland in 1888, and George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000.
These four electoral anomalies demonstrate the meticulous craftsmanship of the equitable structure of the Constitution and the Electoral College.
To the naysayers of the Electoral College and the proponents who believe that a popular vote for president is the only fair and equitable method, a guileless example should manifest the necessity of avoiding a popular election at the peril of fairness and equity: California, as of 2009, has a population of 36,961,664 citizens. The population of the twelve most contiguous states to California — Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Washington — have a combined population of 30,512,485. This demographic doppelganger is representative of the original thirteen colonies and the similar difficulties the architects of the Constitution faced. California has the capability of electing the president, thus rendering the other twelve states irrelevant if the election were a popular majority vote. Considering that the politics, ideologies, and morals of California are in the aggregate, with my special ability to discount the argument of moral relativism, licentiously profound, and the politics, ideologies, and morals of the more rural states of Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, etc. are, in the aggregate, much more conservative and morally enduring. This inequitable amalgamation does not a “these united states” make.
Let us revisit the constitutional saboteurs at National Popular Vote. The website is plush with information and opinions, adroitly structured with images of the Declaration of Independence, the Presidential Seal, and a rendering of men who were responsible for founding this country. It is replete with political endorsements of politicians whose voting records and ideologies would cause them unease sharing a Happy Meal with Thomas Jefferson, thus rendering Karl Marx a more suitable dining companion; and of course, prominently displayed, the obligatory “donate here” button. After performing a perfunctory autopsy on their lifeless exposÃ© that proudly displayed a New York Times editorial denouncing the Electoral College, and as with all baseless endeavors, once the veneer is pierced, National Popular Vote is exposed as an illiterate exposition of the Constitution and American history, burdened with rudimentary contradictions and deceit.
“The Electoral College was established by the nation’s founders in part to appease slave-owning states. It is based indirectly on population, and slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person. Each state now gets as many electoral votes as it has representatives in Congress.”
This duplicitous analysis of the reason for the Electoral College and the purpose for the counting of only three-fifths of certain peoples for representation in Congress is as pathetic as it is comical. The reason for the structure of the Electoral College system was expounded upon in a preceding paragraph, and needs no further annotating, but the audacity of the antipodal definition for counting slaves as three-fifths of a person as a favor to the slave owning states is intellectually and morally felonious.
What this subordinated publication is referring to is the Three-Fifths Compromise, which can be found in Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution: …their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
The contradiction and prevarication of the statement is apparent even to the dilettante historian, as common sense and a cursory perusal of a primary school history book would establish the peremptory conclusion that slave states would have, and did want, all inhabitants, including slaves, to be counted as whole persons to increase their number of representatives in Congress, thus increasing their political and ideological leverage. The anti-slave states would have, and did want, only free inhabitants counted, and did not want slaves counted for congressional representation, thus increasing their political and ideological leverage. The resulting conciliation was the Three-Fifths Comprise.
The artifice of the National Popular Vote’s end-run around the Constitution consists simply of causing enough states to change their election laws to a system of waiting until the popular vote is calculated, then ceremoniously bestowing the entirety of their electoral votes for the popular vote winner. There exists three major flaws with their scam: 1) It defeats the sprit of Article II Section 1 of the Constitution regarding the use of electorates to cast votes for the presidency, 2) their scam is to circumvent a necessary constitutional amendment, which would be impossible to pass, to elect the president by popular vote, and 3) the states that actually buy into their contrivance would be removing themselves from any influence regarding the presidential election as their votes would support a president already elected by the other states, thus rendering the will of their own citizens irrelevant. Their preposterous assumption is that the Constitution only mentions using electorates, and does not specifically mention the Electoral College, so it is well within a state’s rights to cast all their electoral votes for the popular winner, and this would lay firmly within the confines of the intention of the Constitution; but it does not, it violates the spirit and intentions of the Constitution.
The implication of the National Popular Vote and their ilk is that this country was founded as a democracy. That is categorically counterfactual. This country was not founded as a democracy, but as a republic, and the only form of government guaranteed in the Constitution in Article VI, Section 4, is a republican form of government.
Socrates describes in The Republic the perfect city ruled by a philosopher-king under a political system of aristocracy. The aristocracy will degenerate into four inferior forms of government: timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny. Each government will pass through each stage. Democracy adjoins tyranny with a border as accessible as the U.S. and Mexico border; Plato realized, as does the Democratic Party of America, that the walk is as short and unencumbered to emigrate from Mexico as it is to emigrate from democracy to tyranny. Socrates also expounded the insignificant differences between democracy and anarchy. Our current Democratic led Congress and the Obama administration seem to be conflicted and confused as to whether they are a Socrates-style democracy or tyranny. The method used to pass the health care reform bill was unadulterated tyranny, and Obama’s signature was an absolute endorsement of tyranny. Barack Obama, with his unrestrained arrogance and unsophisticated pompousness, seems to possess a pathological hankering to be regarded as a philosopher-king, but Socrates defined philosophers as those who knew they were ignorant, but would become wise — which leaves a momentous chasm between Barack Obama’s severe limitations as a leader and his leaving his introspection to his demagogues. These Electoral College apostates, the Democratic led Congress, and Barack Obama share one absolute, indistinguishable bond: a uniform political DNA.
Does the Electoral College cast the American voter, on the whole, as a myopic Pollyanna? Absolutely, especially when coupled with the fact that the Founding Fathers feared what would happen if there was direct election for the Presidency. They feared, and rightly so, that a silver tongued mountebank would cause the plebeians, the intellectual defects, the morally challenged, and the ignorant to swoon and faint on command, then march, in a catatonic stupor, to the voting booth to make good on their spellbound allegiance. To minimize the chances of this apocalyptic event occurring, the founders devised the Electoral College. Because of the prophetic design of the Founding Fathers, this event was averted until November of 1932, then again in November of 2008. In retrospect, it was a hard lesson learned in 1932, and an even harder lesson currently being taught, and hopefully will not be repeated in the foreseeable future, as is evidenced with the unquestionable movement back in the direction of the intent of the Founders of this country.
Jim Byrd's website is A Skewed View.