-

The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

-

viewpoint

Stop blaming the Electoral College

| Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Going into the election, many people derided Donald Trump for asserting that the election was “rigged.” The news media put Mr. Trump on blast. Late night comedians had a field day. Your Facebook friends, who are certainly experts on American politics, wrote full-length posts detailing why Donald Trump was wrong. People across the country mocked Donald Trump and affirmed the integrity and sanctity of the American electoral system.

This all changed Nov. 9. Suddenly, a day after Donald Trump was elected president, the system was rigged. The same people who had scoffed at Donald Trump’s assertion of a rigged election, now circulated petitions online, marched in the streets, and, once again, took their ever-desired and expert opinions to the News Feed of Facebook. The common mantra of all these people could be summed up in a single phrase: “Down with the Electoral College!”

Opposition to the Electoral College is not a new phenomenon, nor is it all that surprising. At surface level, the Electoral College does seem like a bizarre and rather unfair way of electing a leader. And in elections such as this one, where the popular vote is at odds with Electoral College votes, the unfairness seems ever more apparent. However, a deeper study into the Electoral College reveals that it is not, as many argue, an arbitrary or outdated method of election. Rather, the Electoral College is a visionary institution implemented into our Constitution in order to foster the ideals of republicanism and representative government.

The Electoral College is a completely original construction, not observed in any other nation. The system is certainly very strange. However, such a system is necessitated because the United States is inherently strange. The United States expands over a large area and possesses vastly different demographics, cultures and concerns in different regions. The degree to which the interests and concerns of different states within the nation vary differentiates America from nearly every other country on earth. Realizing this uniqueness of the United States and in order to protect such varying interests, the Founders created the Electoral College.

The Electoral College preserves the sovereignty and importance of individual states. If not for the Electoral College, the president could easily be elected from a select few regions in the country, representing the interests of one particular demographic or faction in the nation. In today’s age, this would mean the president would likely be selected largely from California and the Northeast, representing the interests of very large cities. The Electoral College, however, prevents this and forces presidential candidates to form broad coalitions and transcend regionalism.

Many people argue that the Electoral College destroys the concept of “one person, one vote.” In a sense, such people are correct. If we resorted to a strictly popular vote, the notion of “one person, one vote” would be more closely adhered to. However, our government is fundamentally constituted on the notion of respecting the sovereignty of states and representing the interests of all citizens of the nation, whether that be the interests of those in Los Angeles, California or Helena, Montana. This notion of balanced representation is the reason why we have the Senate. While the House of Representatives determines the number of a state’s seats in the House based on population size, the Senate allots two seats in Congress regardless of the number of citizens in the state.

If one were to be opposed to the Electoral College, I would expect them to also be opposed to the institution of the Senate. After all, the Senate gives low-populated states the same amount of power as high-populated states.

It is obvious that our Constitution was written with the aim to protect the interests of the individual states within our nation. Such an objective is aspired for in the formulation of our legislative branch, the 10th Amendment and the Electoral College. A protection of state interests is absolutely fundamental to the United States. In essence, to be opposed to the Electoral College is to be opposed to the Founders’ construction of our government and vision for America as a federation of sovereign states.

I understand that this election cycle was emotionally tolling, filled with vitriolic rhetoric and personal attacks. Many people are unhappy with the results of the election, and I acknowledge that. However, to suddenly, after the results of the election, come to the conclusion that the Electoral College is an abomination seems a bit too convenient and very irresponsible. Simply put, if your candidate did not win, please do not blame the Electoral College.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Tags: , ,

About Eddie Damstra

Eddie is a senior from Orland Park, Illinois. He is majoring in Economics and Political Science with a minor in Constitutional Studies and plans on pursuing law school after his time as an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame.

Contact Eddie