The Democrats are once again crowing about abolishing the electoral college. After all, they cry, Hillary won the popular vote.
Critics have long derided the Electoral College as an antiquated relic of a bygone era; they contend the fair way to elect the President of the United States is by way of the popular vote.
Such critics couldn’t be more flat-out wrong.
The wording of our law is clear: the winner in the Electoral College takes office as president. James Madison’s famous Federalist No. 10 paper makes it clear that the Founders fashioned a unique republic, not a pure democracy.
Pure democracy is akin to mob rule. If we elected the president based on the popular vote, our commander in chief would mostly be selected by the immediate west coast, most of the northeastern states, and northern Illinois. The Electoral College places a check on such gross imbalance and power.
Recall the ways our constitution puts limits on any unchecked power. Power at the national level is divided among the three branches—executive, legislative, and judicial—each reflecting a different constituency. Power is divided yet again between the federal government and the states. Madison noted that these twofold divisions — the separation of powers and federalism — provided a “double security” for the rights of the people.
What about the democratic principle of one person, one vote? Hold on—the Founders say otherwise. Neither the Senate, nor the Supreme Court, nor the president is elected on the basis of one person, one vote. That’s why a state like North Dakota, with about 800,000 residents, gets the same number of Senators as California, with 39-million people. Consistency would require that if we abolish the Electoral College, we rid ourselves of the senatorial system as well. Are we ready to go there?
If the Founders had wished to create a pure democracy, they would have done so. Those who now wish to do away with the Electoral College are welcome to amend the Constitution, but if they succeed, they will be taking America down a dangerous course.