I want to share with you an email exchange I engaged in with one of my Republican state representatives, who I will keep anonymous. I had forwarded a petition from National Popular Vote (nationalpopularvote.com) asking for this person’s support in urging Congress to pass a Constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College. The proposed amendment would mandate that the president and vice-president by elected by direct national popular vote—the concept of one person, one vote finally realized. I’ll start off with my rep’s reply, and my response. Notice how I start off with a bit of schmoozing before going in for the kill.
Rep’s response: ” Rick..please really investigate this further, as it is far more difficult and dangerous to our republic then you would might think.”
“First, I greatly appreciate how quickly you respond to petitions and emails from your constituents.
I’m very well read on the issues, and I strongly disagree with you on this. The Electoral College was created in a bygone era where the average voter was condescendingly looked upon with suspicion by what I think were an elitist and wealthy subgroup of the founding fathers, led by Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, being from the mercantile set, didn’t trust country bumpkins, including landowners and farmers, to make intelligent, informed votes for president, so he championed designating representatives to cast votes to elect a president for them. In fact, here’s a quote supporting the E.C. by Alexander Hamilton in 1788: “It was … desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the … A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”
Thomas Jefferson didn’t agree with him back then, and I and the majority of Americans don’t agree with him now. This is an archaic system which must be abolished. Along with it would go the whole concept of “swing states” in which a small group of states is more politically powerful than others, with other states having no real political power at all.
Yes, getting rid of the E.C. will be difficult, but I don’t understand your contention that getting rid it would be “dangerous”. Not to be offensive, but that philosophy is typically voiced by the more politically conservative who also have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Remember that a delegate to the Electoral College is not legally committed to vote for the candidate who won their state. Obama could win Pennsylvania but the electoral college delegates could still vote for Romney if they wished to, and vice versa. So why would I support a system where my vote may not count for anything and is subject to the whims of anonymous persons meeting in Washington, D.C. over a month after the presidential election has been decided? Didn’t the 2000 election demonstrate the folly of the whole electoral college system? I know you’re a Republican, but Al Gore won the popular national vote in that election–that’s fact, that’s history. It was through the machinations of the Supreme Court and the Electoral College that Bush was appointed President. You can argue that point too, but again, that’s fact, that’s history.
As Operation Wall Street as demonstrated, the majority of Americans say that the time for ‘business as usual’ is past; most Americans also support abolishing the Electoral College. You can oppose progress but you do so at the risk of being swept aside by it.”
The time may not have come for the end of the Electoral College, but by the responses from our elected representatives to this issue, we can see who’s time has gone and vote in the next election accordingly.