If Donald Trump had won the popular vote but Hillary Clinton was declared the winner by virtue of the Electoral College numbers, would any Democrat be clamoring to eliminate the present system? Only because that scenario was reversed do we hear the manufactured outrage being leveled at superior wisdom. The Founders established a representative form of government that provided the basis for the Electoral College. They knew that a pure majority vote would give the most populated states a distinct advantage. Under the present day circumstances, New York and California (with the help of one or two other states) could dictate outcomes to the remainder of the country. The folks in Wyoming would see no purpose in voting because their total count would be only a drop in the bucket compared to Niagara Falls.
The complaint is that the popular vote is the only way to make the outcome fair because it represents the true will of the people. Let’s take that thought and run it through the gauntlet of reasoning. Should we then pursue major issues of concern and controversy the same way? For example: how about placing abortion on the ballot rather than allowing nine black robes for a decision? Would income tax or the insidious property tax stand the test? Would the majority of Americans vote for a wall or limited immigration? Why not remove these determinations from the body of representatives in Congress and pass judgment on to the entire public? Pure democracy by definition is the will of the greater part. Our forefathers thoughtfully anticipated the perils in relying upon the majority, knowing that many would never research the issue to be well informed and would thus be swayed by whoever presented the most persuasive emotional argument. They also knew that common sense has never been common, therefore a Republic was born.
Several years ago I was a guest lecturer for a university sociology class. I asked the students what form of government was the best; they decided without exception that democracy was the optimum choice. I explained the definition which they agreed with. I then suggested a hypothetical scenario where all persons in that classroom were on an airplane that crashed in the south Pacific. Fortunately, all survived and managed to struggle to an uninhabited island. Weeks passed with no sign of rescue, but the island provided basic needs for survival. Human nature being what it is, conflicts arose necessitating the need for some form of government. Based on past education (or lack of it), it was determined that a democracy would serve everyone well. Soon thereafter an infestation of lice arrived which was grievous to all. It was recommended that an ordinance should be voted on requiring everyone to shave their heads. The men all agreed, but the women rejected the idea. The ladies, however, were outnumbered. The motion was passed….democracy at work. The next question was ---what do you suppose was the outcome of majority rules? One student, possessing excellent insight into human behavior, said that the ladies unhappiness would produce negative results for everyone. Upon further consideration, it was concluded that some form of representative government would be necessary, but that would take some measurable study.
That’s exactly what our architects did for us. Nothing in our Constitution or other founding documents were generated spontaneously. They were rather the work of much deliberation, and, I might add….prayer, contrary to much of the present day nonsense which is flung like aimless arrows in hopes of hitting any target too dumb to duck.
In Numbers chapter 14 Moses sent twelve spies into the land of Canaan to assess the situation and return with a report. They came back astounded with the productivity of the land but were extremely fearful of the inhabitants. Two of the twelve believed God was capable of fulfilling His promise in giving them what He had declared, but ten allowed fear to overcome faith. The congregation sided with the ten which resulted in God’s judgment reducing that entire generation to forty years of wilderness wandering. The greater tragedy was that Joshua and Caleb and their families had to live four decades under the umbrella of a depressing decree. This is a grand example of why absolute democracy is really mobocracy.
America’s founders explicitly created a balanced Republic. Only one part of government was intended to be directly representative: the House of Representatives. Its two year term kept it more responsive to the people. The Senate, with its six year terms, was meant to be more protected from the fluctuating moods of the masses. In theory, Senators should vote on the basis of principle, not popularity. Finally, the Supreme Court, with its life terms, was intended to be immune to public opinion.
The Electoral College was designed to balance correct representation with the will of the people. That will, without proper balance, can trample the rights of many. When Colorado gives its electoral votes to the majority of national vote, Joshua and Caleb have been thrown under the bus. The University of Colorado should add “Wilderness Preparation 101” to their curriculum.