Electoral College worked as the Founders intended
Published 9:23 am Thursday, December 29, 2016
By Jim Paxton
The Paducah Sun
The Electoral College system performed just as the Founders intended in the 2016 presidential election.
The institution has taken a lot of criticism in recent years. It has been referred to as archaic, particularly after elections in which the successful candidate won both the electoral and popular votes.
This year was different. Disappointed Hillary Clinton voters raised a hue and cry about the fact that she lost the presidency in the Electoral College despite receiving more of the popular vote than Donald Trump did.
But that is precisely the point. The Founders realized they could never form a nation from among the colonies if the presidency were determined by a popular vote. Less-populated colonies like Delaware and Georgia, which in 1770 had populations of 35,000 and 23,000 respectively, weren’t going to come along in a republic in which a state like Virginia, with 450,000 people, could call all the shots.
The Electoral College was designed to prevent a handful of the most populous states from making the rest of the nation irrelevant in choosing the president. To be president, one would have to win the support of a substantial number of individual states.
The nation today is vastly changed. But the Electoral College still serves its purpose, and the election just concluded illustrates this.
Hillary Clinton’s entire margin of victory in the popular vote came from California. Nationally she received about 2.5 million more votes than Trump, or roughly 2 percent. All of that margin and then some came from California, where she bested Trump by 4.3 million votes.
California is by far the nation’s most populous state, and probably its most liberal. But its politics are not the nation’s politics. That is reflected in the fact that Trump won 30 states to Clinton’s 20. Trump’s wins by state closely track the 33 governorships and 32 state legislatures controlled by Republicans.
So which is the wiser course in a diverse nation such as ours: to award the presidency to someone who wins three states for every two carried by his opponent? Or to award the presidency to someone who lost the collective popular vote in 49 states but came out ahead because of a landslide in California?
The Founders chose the former precisely because they did not want a single large colony (and now state) to hold such sway over the rest of the nation. We think it was and is the correct solution.
We also think it unseemly that many Democrats and a number of news organizations seriously suggested the Electoral College electors could and should disenfranchise 63 million voters by selecting someone other than Trump.
The Electoral College is not some sort of political star chamber populated by the super-wise. Electors are ordinary citizens.
The only constitutional requirement for being an elector is that one not have partaken in insurrection or rebellion. And that’s exactly what we would have seen had the electors not done their duty.
We understand the disappointment of liberals over Trump’s election.
But we are surprised and taken aback by the selfishness and indifference to the rule of law they have put on display. Politically, this only deepens their grave.