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Doing away with the Electoral College is a bad idea

Ned Jilton II • Jun 19, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Our country is not a democracy. A true democracy is mob rule, and the founders of our nation saw how bad that could be firsthand.

Especially those who lived in Massachusetts, where the practice of tarring and feathering was employed against British officials and loyalists.

The action was quite brutal. Hot tar was applied to the skin, sometimes with a brush or just poured over, and then feathers were thrown onto the tar. The victim was then marched or carried through the streets.

The act of applying hot tar to skin could result in everything from painful blisters to third-degree burns if poured on especially hot. The removal of the tar later would make the condition worse and the feathers would contribute to infection. This could lead to a very painful and slow death.

Things got so bad that leaders of the revolution in Boston attempted to halt the practice.

So again I say, our country is not a democracy. The founders saw to that.

Instead we are a republic, or more accurately a democratic republic, as the founders sought to maintain balance in the government.

For example, in the beginning, the highest office in the federal government that people could vote for directly was the House of Representatives, hence the name, while originally the Senate was elected by state legislatures.

The idea being that the House represented the people, the Senate represented the states and the president would represent the federal government.

After many state legislatures failed for various reasons to elect senators in a timely fashion, leaving seats vacant in Washington for extended periods, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1913 turning the vote over to popular election.

When it came to the president, there was some debate. Should Congress elect the president, or should it be the people? And if you do allow the people to elect the president, how do you keep the states with a larger population from overwhelming the smaller states and taking over the government?

The answer the founders came up with was the Electoral College.

The people would vote in the presidential election, but not directly for the president. They would instead vote for a body of electors, who would in turn vote for the president.

Many of our nation’s founders wanted each state to have the same number of electors. This resulted in protests from the larger states. In the end, they compromised by having the number of electors for each state to be equal to the number of its representatives and senators.

This system of electing the president has worked well for more than 200 years. True, there have been a few times when the person who was elected to office was not the person who won the popular vote.

But that is the Electoral College doing its job, preventing the majority from overwhelming the minority.

Now there is a push by some to do away with the Electoral College. Many because their candidate lost in the last election because of it. Others because they feel people should vote directly for the president.

I think this would be a disaster.

Without the Electoral College, the presidential election would be dominated by California, Texas, New York and Florida, while states like Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska and Delaware would vanish from the political landscape.

Even Tennessee and Virginia would only be on the fringe of the presidential campaign radar. We would be lucky to see a candidate, much less have any influence on his or her election.

I think we should keep the Electoral College, but change it to where each state has the same number of votes. Just as many of the founders wished.

I believe by giving the states an equal number of electoral votes, say 10, then all states would have an equal say in the election. No more “flyover” states and no more “battleground” states. Montana and Rhode Island would be equal to Texas and California. Plus, it would have the additional effect of making all voters equal, as each person would be deciding on how 10 electoral votes would be distributed regardless of what state they were voting in.

This would mean that presidential candidates would have to pay attention to the desires of people from Tennessee and Virginia just the same as they would people from New York and Florida. Hence a balance of political power.

Think about it.

Ned Jilton II is a page designer and photographer for the Times News as well as the writer of the “Marching with the 19th” Civil War series. You can contact him at njilton@ timesnews.net .