ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Midwest Opinion: U.S. Electoral College is 'feature, not bug'

Why an Electoral College? Just look around. If you live in Minnesota or North Dakota, the reason is clear. For Minnesota and North Dakota are not just regions on the American map, like Appalachia or the Southwest. They command respect, because th...

Why an Electoral College?

Just look around. If you live in Minnesota or North Dakota, the reason is clear.

For Minnesota and North Dakota are not just regions on the American map, like Appalachia or the Southwest. They command respect, because they have power. They have power because they are states.

And our country is, of course, the United States.

The Electoral College is a vital component of our "united states" system. In fact, it's an element of which the Founders said they were especially proud.

ADVERTISEMENT

And that's why it should be retained. The Electoral College has helped build the America that we know, an America of 50 free and coequal states. Ours would be a very different country without it - and we think most Americans would not like the result.

Go back to the founding. The U.S. Constitution does not set up a democracy; indeed, that word never appears in the document.

Instead, the Constitution sets up a union of states. This shows up most obviously in the U.S. Senate, where every state gets two senators, regardless of population.

Less well-remembered is the last sentence of Article V, which forbids states' "equal Suffrage in the Senate" from ever being amended away. It is the only provision of the Constitution so protected.

Clearly, the Founders were determined to preserve small states' power and to prevent the more populated states or regions from utterly dominating the government.

The Electoral College is simply the Founders' way of doing the same thing with the president.

The effect is obvious in every presidential election, including the one that ended Nov. 8. All year long, the talk around America has not been about the popular vote. The talk has been about the states. It's the swing states, the Red States, the Blue States, the Rust Belt states and so on. That's because in the Electoral College, what matters are the states.

As others have observed, we do have a popular vote for president. We have 50 of them, in fact-one in each state. Then the results of those 50 state elections get tallied in the Electoral College.

ADVERTISEMENT

This dissipates the power of electing the president, thus keeping that power from being monopolized by the heavily populated states.

At times, does the Electoral College pronounce a winner who lost the popular vote? Yes - just like Congress - with its unique Senate - passes Farm Bills now and then that favor rural states, likely against the wishes of millions of city dwellers.

That's a feature of the American system, not a bug. It has helped keep America prosperous from sea to shining sea-and once New Yorkers and Californians start thinking about that, they see how all Americans benefit from this result.

In America, presidential candidates "cannot just pile up popular votes in the most populous states," as George Will has written.

"They must win many states, because legitimacy, and the capacity to govern this extensive republic, involves more than crude arithmetic." That's the wonder of the Electoral College, and it shows up every time a newscaster points to a presidential map, and we see that blessed union of beautiful, brightly colored states.

What To Read Next
The Minnesota State system request for $350 million in additional funding would freeze tuition and train more desperately needed workers.