Terry McAteer: Californians hate the Electoral College; Wyomingites love it
As a parent, when your child would say to you, “that’s not fair” one usual response was “Sorry, life’s not fair.”
The same principle exists relative to the Electoral College. As an example, Wyoming voters get one electoral vote for every 195,000 residents in the state; for California, it takes 712,000 residents to get one electoral vote. Fair it is not … but our Founding Fathers intended it to be that way.
A move is underway to get rid of the Electoral College led by large, primarily “blue” states, who believe the Electoral College is not a fair system and that the popular vote should be used to determine the President.
Our Founding Fathers were not interested in fairness but in solidifying a compromise to insure that the Constitution would be ratified by all of the states. The development of the Electoral College was one of the many compromises between large and small states. Large states, like today, wanted a popular vote while small states wanted a voice so that their votes mattered. The Electoral College was quickly agreed to in the latter stages of the Constitutional Convention because other large state/small state contentious issues had been dealt with in a similar fashion which were usually not “fair.”
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Remember that to compromise with the Southern slave-holding states during the Constitutional Convention, our Founding Fathers provided for slaves to be counted as three-fifths of a person so that the South would gain greater representation in the House of Representatives. This compromise was highly unfair and our Founding Fathers not only knew it, they agreed to it!
Good luck in changing the Constitution to amend the Electoral College so that it will be more fair. A two-thirds vote in the House and Senate is needed to institute such a change. Since all of the small states benefit by the Electoral College and each have two U.S. Senators, there is no chance to get a two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate because the small states don’t care about fairness.
The real problem with the Electoral College, though, is not the imbalance of electoral votes between states but the development of parties which have abrogated the intent of our Founding Fathers. When the Constitution was developed in 1789, political parties did not exist. The electors were to be chosen by state legislatures to be well-educated citizens who were free to vote for the best Presidential candidate. They could vote for a different presidential candidate from how their state voted because our Founding Fathers wanted a “check and balance” on direct democracy. Fearing the tyranny of the masses, they agreed to a neutral and educated Electoral College to decide the selection of president.
What we now have are Democratic and Republican zombies who vote the party line, which is in total disregard to our Founding Fathers’ intentions.
Throughout the Constitutional Convention and into George Washington’s two terms in office, our Founding Fathers repeatedly warned of political parties of which they called “factions.” Factions have developed and now those factions determine who are our electors. In California, for example, the Democratic and Republican parties each submit their state of electors which are rubber stamped by the legislature. What was intended to be a nonpartisan group of people is now completely partisan. What was intended to be electors chosen to be well-educated citizens are just political friends and wealthy donors selected as electors.
Take, for example, the slate of California electors chosen to vote for Hilary Clinton in the last election. They included familiar Democratic families such as: Faith Garamendi (John’s relative), Ana Huerta (Dolores’ relative), Janine Bera (Ami’s relative), Karen Waters (Maxine’s relative), Eileen Feinstein Mariano (Dianne’s relative) and Christine Pelosi (Nancy’s relative).
The Republican slate for Donald Trump was full of Republican political hacks and relatives, too!
History does repeat itself. Since the youth in this country are repulsed by political parties and are registering in droves as nonpartisan, our Founding Fathers’ dream of an Electoral College free of partisanship may be with us in a generation or two.
Even with his wooden teeth, this would make George Washington smile.
Terry McAteer is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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