My thoughtful liberal friend Al has favored me with a reading list of several websites and blogs advocating that the Electoral College go rogue on December 19th and either elect Hillary Clinton or some as yet unidentified compromise candidate. Anybody but Donald Trump.
The anti Trump sentiment common to those writings is pervasive. He is called all kinds of hateful names and accused of all kinds of wrongdoing.
No matter that over 60 million Americans voted for the Donald. No matter that he won more than 300 electoral votes. The hue and cry against his victory has included tearful college students who are too distraught to go to class, and politically naïve teen agers who have marched out of school to parade down the avenue in protest of the national election.
All of which is by way of a contrast with the famous exchange during the last Presidential debate in which Chris Wallace asked both candidates if they would accept the results of the election and concede if they lose.
Trump dodged that question, saying that he felt the election was being “rigged” and insisting that he would not agree in advance to concede, but would wait to see what happens. Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, was adamant that a losing candidate ought to concede graciously, which has been the tradition in America. She agreed with Wallace that concession begins the national healing process.
So what has actually happened? The losers are mad. They cling to every far fetched hope or strategy which might reverse the election results.
We are favored with scholarly essays about the creation of the electoral college and the intention of the Founders. We are told that legally the electors can vote for anyone, even though several states have laws requiring their electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.
The fact, of course, is that presidential electors are chosen by the political parties, and their loyalty is sufficient to assure that the vote will go as it always has; to the candidate who wins in each state. The effort to get the Electoral college to ‘go rogue’ has been compared to a desperate, last minute, “Hail Mary” pass in a football game.
There are valid arguments which favor improvement of the electoral college system. A number of responsible citizens have argued in favor of simply electing the President by the popular vote.
That idea has merit, but certainly it cannot by superimposed on an election which was conducted under the existing electoral college rules. Donald Trump conducted his campaign in a manner designed to win a majority of the electoral college. No doubt Hillary Clinton did, too. They both vied for the ‘swing’ states.
If the election was to be based on the overall popular vote, surely the candidates’ strategies would have been different. Under the present system, no sensible Republican will spend time, money and effort trying to win votes in California and New York. Ditto Illinois and Massachusetts.
The fact that Hillary won the popular vote is irrelevant. The election wasn’t about the popular vote. It was about the electoral votes in each of the several states.
The electoral college consists of 535 electors; each state getting a number of electors equal to their total representation in Congress. Because there are 435 Representatives in the House and 100 Senators, the Electoral College is 81% representative of the people and 19% representative of the States.
This ratio has been static for over one hundred years because the House of Representatives is frozen at 435 members. The Founders of our nation intended that the House of Representatives would expand as the population increased. It hasn’t, for the simple reason that incumbent members of Congress do not wish to dilute the power of their offices.
The British House of Commons has 650 members representing 64.1 million people. If the U.S. House were equally as representative we would have 3,200 Congress members. In that case the number of Electoral College votes allotted to the States rather than people would amount to only 3% of the electoral votes.
Bottom line, the Electoral College is no more archaic than the House of Representatives. What America needs is constitutional reform.