Part IV: Literature Review of Perspectives That Align With Your Own
Imagine how different our country would be right now if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was president right now. Imagine how different our country’s policies and politics would currently be, let alone the fact that it will endure at least another four years. No matter if you cringe or are delighted when you see Donald Trump in the Oval Office, nobody can question the impact the electoral college has on American government. But the question that millions of people have protested in the past month has been left unanswered. Is the electoral college the best way to elect the President of the United States of America?
To best understand why the electoral college was first implemented, one must first look into what the Founding Fathers desired with the writing of the Constitution. A major misconception that most people believe is that the Constitution was created to ensure democracy and equality throughout citizens of the country. In reality, the authors of the Constitution wanted to create a republican form of government, which could be defined as “a representative government that secures natural rights” (Balkin 1431). Benjamin Franklin, a key contributor to America’s independence from Great Britain, says, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote” (Pease par. 2). These notions can conclude that the goal of constitutional law is not necessarily to ensure that everyone is equal, but rather that people have the right to give their opinion through elections and have the right to protest or speak out whatever they please if they do not like the outcome.
Another argument that was discussed and debated at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was the issue of whether states should have proportional or equal representation in Congress. The Connecticut Compromise, better known as the “Great Compromise,” solved this issue by creating a bicameral legislature in which one chamber would be based on population, the House of Representatives, and the other would be equal throughout, the Senate. Having just resolved this problem by compromising between large-states and small-states, the Founding Fathers searched for an easy solution to elect the president. Furthermore, this is why the electoral college is based on the amount of congresspeople each state possesses (McCollester 182-183).
The electoral college also enhances the idea of federalism and the separation of powers. The Constitution gives the power to conduct elections at the state and local level of government. Looking back at the 2016 General Election, following election day on November 8, Green Party candidate Jill Stein raised millions of dollars for a recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Even though Pennsylvania and Michigan courts denied Stein’s recount request because judges deemed it “irrational” and with “lack of evidence,” she and anyone had the ability to request a recount if enough money was raised (Ax par. 1, 6-8). If a direct popular vote was in place, a much more substantial amount of money and effort would have to be put in to look into a voter fraud problem nationwide.
Throughout our countries history and more today than ever, there has been numerous divides that separate groups of people. Some examples of these splits are small state-large state, rural-urban, and agricultural-commercial, just to name a few. A major strength of the electoral college is that no matter what demographic you fit in, where you work, or where you live, your voice will be taken into consideration. Because of the electoral college, presidential candidates must have a nationwide campaign that appeals to multiple demographics in order to garner enough support to win enough electoral votes (Glenn 6). A presidential candidate must appeal to a farmer in Iowa just as much as a technology developer in California or a banker in New York.
James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, and Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political philosopher, feared of a “tyranny of the majority” taking over minorities. (“Alexis” par. 3; “Federalist” par. 4). Hypothetically, if the popular vote was legislated into law, a candidate could win the nine most populous states in order to receive a majority of votes, according to the 2016 General Election turnout rates (par. 6). Realistically, a candidate from a more-populous state could build a coalition only with urban areas to tyrannize less-populous rural areas. Urban areas would slowly start to take away freedoms of rural minorities because they simply do not need to take into account their interest to be elected. This is a scenario that de Tocqueville and the Constitution tries to prevent, and the electoral college righteously fights against.
In conclusion, although the argument for the direct national popular vote seems simple enough to understand, it is not what is best to balance the conflicting interests of an extremely diverse society. The U.S. Constitution created the electoral college because the Founding Fathers believed it would be the most stable form of electing the most powerful office in the country. And here we are, in 2017, still in tact with the same basic set of laws since the Constitution was created in 1787, as the longest-lasting government in modern history (Berry par. 17). Most would agree that it at least has worked thus far.
“2016 November General Election Turnout Rates.” United States Elections Project. N.p. 1 Nov. 2016. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.
“Alexis de Tocqueville on the Tyranny of the Majority.” Edsitement. National Endowment for the Humanities. 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 8 Mar. 2017.
Ax, Joseph. “Green Party U.S. election recount bid comes to a close.” Reuters Politics. Reuters. 13 Dec. 2016. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.
Balkin, Jack M. “Republicanism and the Constitution of Opportunity.” Texas Law Review, vol. 94, no. 7, June 2016, pp. 1427-1446. EBSCOhost. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.
Berry, Jake. “Huntsman says the U.S. Constitution is the Oldest.” Politifact. Tampa Bay Times. 8 Aug. 2011. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.
“Federalist No. 51 (1788).” Federalist Papers No. 51. Bill of Rights Institute. N.d. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.
Glenn, Gary. “The Electoral College and the Development of American Democracy.” Perspectives on Political Science, vol. 32, no. 1, Winter2003, p. 4. EBSCOhost. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.
McCollester, Maria. “Counterpoint: Preserving the Electoral College.” International Social Science Review, vol. 82, no. 3/4, June 2007, p. 182. EBSCOhost. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.
Pease, Harold. “The Founding Fathers Rejected Democracy.” Liberty Under Fire. N.p. 25 Jun. 2010. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.