What is the Electoral College?
The “Electoral College System,” is the abstruse election method Americans use to indirectly select the President of the United States, arguably the most powerful person in the world.
Wait. Did you say indirectly?
That’s right! When we think about Democracy, we usually imagine electing the candidate who receives the most votes, but this isn’t done in the United States. In fact, Donald Trump lost the popular vote twice, yet he still got elected in 2016 and could still squeak out a “victory” in 2020, thanks to the Electoral College and a few hand-picked handmaid Supreme Court Justices.
Why is this happening?
In 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention set out to decide how to elect the American President. Pennsylvanian James Wilson proposed that the popular vote winner should become president, but James Madison rejected this idea and said the quiet part out loud. “There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to fewest objections.”
What does that even mean?
That’s a long and fancy way of saying that since slaves couldn’t vote, the North would wield more political power as they had a larger population of free men in a direct election system. In order to appease the southern slave-holders, the Electoral College was born.
I still have no idea what the Electoral College is.
It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a nation founded by slaveholders.
Now I have a headache.
That’s just going to get incrementally worse as this explanation goes on. After rejecting Wilson’s proposal, the founders designed a system as complicated as the installation manual for your Bluetooth Wi-Fi home-linked garage door opener, only much, much more racist. Instead of people directly electing the president, it was decided that electoral intermediaries would be appointed by each state to cast their ballots for president.
That doesn’t make sense.
Don’t worry — it gets worse! To further accommodate slave owners, the founders allowed for slaves to be valued at 60 percent of a free person’s value, an idea enshrined into our still venerated Constitution as the three-fifths clause. If you can get your head around the idea that slaves were valued for the sole purpose of giving their white slaveowners more political power, congratulations! You probably also understand how apartheid worked.
This is more convoluted than the plot of Mulholland Drive.
If you’re not sufficiently addled by these 18th-century mental gymnastics, consider this: The three-fifths clause also laid the groundwork for how congressional seats would be allocated, immediately swelling the power of southern states in the legislature as well.
So neither the President nor the Congress is truly representational. What about the Senate?
Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaghghrghxghrkhkkk. Sorry. I choked, threw up a little, and then swallowed.
I think that’s how a lot of people are feeling about this country.
This sounds a lot like minority rule.
Your words — not mine. But also, yes.
OK, but slavery ended. Why are we still using the electoral college today?