Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Electoral College Conundrum

       No conundrum actually exists with the Electoral College. I just needed a similar word beginning with "c” in order for the title to sound right. This post is not a violation of my pledge for no further commentary on the election. This post is a comment on the post-election. Admittedly obtuse, but it is the lawyer in me shining through. Everybody hates lawyers for good reason, right?
       A grass roots movement of Hillary Clinton supports has began an effort to lobby members of the Electoral College pledge to vote for Donald Trump to switch to Clinton. The movement is asking the Electoral College to do something it has not done in its existence—deny the presidency to the election's winner. There is virtually no chance such a reversal will happen. The best evidence is the possibility has not motivated Clinton to form a transition team to select a potential staff just in case, nor has it slowed Trump's transition effort. Clinton supporters, many of whom are probably Bernie sanders supporters instead, know this, as quite a few have resorted to making death threats against electors. Because progressives are tolerant a non-violent.
       The rationale to reverse the election results mostly boils down to Clinton winning the popular vote while losing the Electoral College. The argument is moot on the surface because popular vote is not the deciding factor in electing the president. The same people who urge reversing the election results because of the popular vote would not be doing so if Clinton and Trump's roles were reversed. But it has been a popular thing with the losing side since the messy results of the 20000 presidential election. The left is still bitter about Al gore losing sixteen years later.
       Nevertheless, it is reasonable to ask if the Electoral College should be abolished as the means of electing the president versus to popular vote. The Founding fathers did not think so. They set of the system to keep large states from exclusively electing the president. Considering how Clinton’s large numbers are coming from densely populated, mostly coastal cities, you can see the founding Fathers' rationale is validated. A candidate would only need to campaign in a select few highly populated areas in order to win. The president would then pursue the interests of those populated areas and ignore the interests of other, less densely populated areas in order to assure re-election.
       While it is true the Electoral College system does often compel candidates to focus on a few swing states every election, they are swing states because they could realistically be won by either candidate. Thanks to shifting cultural and demographic winds, the number and location of swing stats changes every election cycle. Densely populated areas generally do not change as rapidly. The electoral college is the fairest way for the entire electorate to have its say. The fact that both conservatives and progressives have won the presidency, it is evident the system works.
       The bottom line is yes, the Electoral College could conceivably hand the election to Clinton. There might even be an elector or two who reneges on his vote for Trump as a matter of conscience. But 99% of electors have honored their pledge since the beginning of the Electoral College. The Electoral College has never revered election results and is not likely to do so when it meets December 19th. You probably do not want them to do so, anyway.

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