EVERYTHING we need to know about the Electoral College can be found in our country’s name: The United STATES of America. It wasn’t pulled out of the tri-cornered hat Thos. Jefferson left behind in early 1785 when he left Monticello to serve as Minister to France. No, we were the United States from the git-go, giving ourselves that name on our birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence.
And we are united states for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the entire basis of our free country is freedom of choice. An American who dislikes New York’s laws can up and move to New Hampshire or New Jersey. Likewise, unhappy Nevadans may leave for Georgia, Michigan or another state, or another country, rights that are anything but common in this world today.
But the right to move and leave is not the point, even though one would wish that more leftists would exercise the latter freedom more liberally. Keeping firmly in mind that the states predate the Constitution, and hence the federal government, which was formed to be of service to the states, and not to be served by them, we can see clearly that the Founding Fathers intended that each state’s population would have a voice in electing the president, since the president presided over a federal union of, and was elected by, states. With virtually 20/20 foresight, they designed a national government that was answerable to the states but existed within a framework of commonality, something that had never been tried before. The Constitutional Republic the states established in 1789 was more like a committee of state governments than the federal busy-body nanny state we know today. The so-called “progressives” began dismantling that carefully designed, proven, tested government just before World War One and that effort has not abated since.
From 1789 until 1913, U.S. senators were appointed to their six-year terms by their state legislatures (Art.I, §3, cl.1), which placed the actions of the Senate firmly under the control of the state governments, which were, in turn, elected by their populations. The House of Representatives has always been directly elected by the people (Art.I, §2) in each district; note that they serve only for 2 years at a time, and that all bills for taxing and spending must originate there, at least…in theory. Direct election of the “lower house” by the people and direct control of the “upper house” by the state legislatures themselves were very powerful ways to keep the federal government answerable to the states, and, simultaneously, to the people. The bicameral design of our Congress, worked out by the Committee of Eleven in early July, 1787, comprised the “three-fifths compromise”, which permanently prevented slave states from overwhelming the House by reducing the number of congressmen they would have*, and the “Connecticut compromise” which established the Senate, thus providing some level of protection for the smaller, free states, like Delaware, Rhode Island or Connecticut, from complete legislative swamping by larger, slave states, like Virginia or Georgia. The creation of the Senate and inclusion of its 2 members of congress per state in the Electoral College total, prevents the voters in 42 out of 50 states’ from becoming meaningless in a modern presidential election. The longer terms and slower turnover in the Senate, plus Senators’ accountability to a few elected officials back home instead of large districts populated by thousands, ensured that biennial re-election campaigns would not divert their attention, so their decisions would tend to be more stabilizing and less swayed by the moment’s popular opinion.
Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, future President James Madison and the other Committee of Style and Arrangement men ultimately handed the newborn country the greatest governing document in human history. Carefully balanced, interdependent branches at different levels worked for, and with, each other to simultaneously restrain governmental power and protect the people’s rights. Authority was decentralized by design, deliberately preventing concentration of control in the federal government except when it was required by war, rebellion or invasion.
Part 2 coming soon…
*No matter what anybody tells you, nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it now, or did it ever say that a slave, or a black person, was, or was worth, 3/5 of a white person (Art.I, §2, cl.3). Get a copy of it and look it up. As I explained, this abolitionist measure prevented the slave states from having congressional delegations large enough to completely control the Congress; otherwise, emancipation may not have occurred until the 20th century.