Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Dr. Horsefeathers Discusses the Electoral College

In 2000 I had my class research and debate the pros and cons of the electoral college. Interestingly, they came to the same conclusion, though not as concisely:

[...]Among those who should know better—our lawmakers and the press—the complexities of the 2000 election are understood, but ignored, and some irresponsible leaders of the Democratic Party have, for the past four years encouraged the myth of the stolen election among their constituents, and have themselves fought presidential prerogatives tooth and nail on the grounds that they are justified in depriving the President of his rightful powers because of this myth of illegitimacy.


The 2000 election was not the first mess which left bitterness and grievance in its wake, and it won’t be the last. Anomalous elections have occurred from time to time in the course of our history because the growth and development of the country has “resulted in profound political divisions within the country which the designers of the Electoral College system seem to have anticipated as needing resolution at a higher level,” according to William C. Kimberling, deputy director of the Federal Election Commission’s Office of Election Administration.


The Electoral College system requires two benchmarks that the founding fathers wisely built into the process as a safeguard against chaotic popular partisanship. The winner of the presidential election must win a sufficient number of popular votes to enable him (or her) to govern (though this may not be an absolute majority) AND that such a popular vote be distributed across the country to enable him to govern. Such an arrangement ensures that states with large populations and urban centers do not dominate every election. In this way the nation’s diversity is protected.

The most powerful argument that is leveled against the Electoral College system is that it may fail to accurately reflect the popular will because it tends to overrepresent people in rural states, and that it tends to discourage third-party or independent candidates. There is some truth to both complaints. But the criticism that it favors rural states can be leveled against the U.S. Senate as well and no one has suggested disestablishing that institution. As far as the criticism that it discourages third parties, Horsefeathers sees this as a virtue.

The most powerful arguments for the continuation of the EC system are that it contributes to the cohesiveness of the country by requiring a distribution of popular support to be elected president; it helps to maintain a federal system of government and representation; and finally it contributes to the political stability of the nation.

[...]Go read the whole thing...

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