Here we go again.

Again with the Electoral College. Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said this week at a town hall in Mississippi that it’s time to abolish the Electoral College and elect presidents by popular vote. Other Democrats have taken up the cry.

With the predictability of mosquitoes at a cookout, this subject comes up during every election cycle. It’s almost always raised by Democrats.

Each time the subject of abolishing the Electoral College comes up, it reveals anew just how profoundly public schools have failed in their duty to teach basic civics. We are reminded again that vast numbers of American citizens are civically illiterate.

To a distressing degree, many nominally well-educated Americans don’t fully grasp the significance of the fact that our nation is a union of sovereign states. Thus, they can’t appreciate the fact that the citizens don’t elect the president, the states do.

When drafting our constitution the founders feared two things. First, they feared an overly powerful federal government. Almost every argument at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 was about how to balance the task of giving the federal government the power it needed in order to be effective without giving it so much power as to supersede the power of the states.

The other thing the founders feared was factionalism. They feared any system that would have the effect of pitting the states against each other.

Thus, they decided that for a candidate to be elected president, he would have to have more than simply majority popular support. He would have to have the support of a majority of the states. In order to bring this about, once every four years, each state is represented by a slate of electors in the Electoral College. The number of electors from each state is exactly equal to that state’s representation in Congress.

Today in all 50 states, electors are chosen by popular vote. But it wasn’t always so. Until as late as 1860, the electors from some states were chosen by their respective state legislatures. Though it would be politically impossible today, there is no legal reason that any state could not revert to that method.

The founders were exceptionally farsighted in establishing the Electoral College. The Electoral College requires the winning candidate to gain a majority of the votes in a majority of the states. You can’t just win votes. You have to win the country.

Donald Trump is president and Hillary Clinton isn’t because Donald Trump won a majority of the votes in a majority of the counties in a majority of the states. The result looks like the map above.

But for the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in California alone would have decided the election. If you’re worried that the country is divided and polarized, look at the map and ask yourself this. How much worse would things be if, every election, those tens of millions of folks in the heartland knew that their votes counted for exactly nothing?

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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12 Responses

  1. John Lester says:

    Very Good argument for the Electoral College.

  2. Richard Anderson says:

    Excellent column.

    If Democrats have their way, they are bent on absolutely destroying The United States of America, our blessed Constitutional Republic, as Founded in Freedom under God. As Senator Graham [R] of South Carolina said during the Judge Kavanaugh hearing speaking to the Democrats on the committee, “Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham.”
    I couldn’t agree more with the Senator! The Democrats want absolute power and they want absolute control — and that compounded with their embrace of socialism would be an unmitigated nightmare for EVERY American and their family.

    DENY the socialist Democrats! Vote pro America which is to say vote Republican all the way and vote for our conservative Republican President Donald J. Trump in 2020. We need him now more than ever and for another term. Let Freedom Ring!

  3. We could also revert to state legislatures selecting U.S. Senators.

  4. Buddy Saunders says:

    As you point out, the Electoral College is essential to maintaining our Republic and the vital role of the states. Everything the Democrats are doing and calling for aims toward establishing their absolute control of government. Should they succeed, our nation will become a one party state like Mexico, with all Mexico’s failing replicated here. Only fools want this, but unfortunately, our schools are producing a crop of just such every year.

  5. Jim Lee says:

    Excellent Paul.

  6. Roy G. Biv says:

    If winning the presidency requires a majority of the votes in a majority of the states, how did Carter win in 1976? Didn’t Ford win 27 of the 51 states?

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      The exception that proves the rule. Gerald Ford’s victory in 27 states stands as the largest number of states carried by a losing presidential candidate in the country’s history. Jimmy Carter’s margin of victory in the popular vote was so thin (1.7 million votes out of 80 million votes cast) that a handful of votes in any of the “close” states would have changed the outcome. Carter’s margin of victory was razor thin in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and Florida. Any two of those states going the other way would have re-elected Gerald Ford. Carter only narrowly won Texas and Texas was the westernmost state that he carried. It can be argued that he did not have a clear mandate that spanned the country. That fact, according to some historians, was one of several factors that contributed to Carter’s extremely weak presidency.

      • Roy G. Biv says:

        “The exception that proves the rule” … is that something taught in liberal arts programs? Your rule certainly has an exception (which you didn’t bother to mention), but in no way does that exception confirm the veracity of the rule as stated.

  7. The logic of exceptions-proving-rules aside…

    Fellow Texan James Baker — Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff and trusted counsel to both Presidents Bush — calls Jimmy Carter “one of the most intriguing, and oftentimes misunderstood, presidents in U.S. history.”

    In a State of the Union address, President Carter told us “Government cannot solve our problems. It can’t set our goals. If cannot define our vision. Government cannot eliminate poverty or provide a bountiful economy or reduce inflation or save our cities or cure illiteracy or provide energy.”

    While his frugality daunted Swamp Democrats, his deregulatory agenda laid the foundation for today’s shale revolution (fracking) that made America more energy-independent in the twenty-first century. And he ended the thirty-year impasse over natural gas pricing, creating one uniform, efficient national market.

    If you cheer smaller government, acknowledge the Regulatory Flexibility Act Carter championed, requiring federal agencies to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens on small businesses. Estimated to have saved more than two hundred billion dollars.

    He ELIMINATED the Civil Aeronautics Board, deregulating airlines, as in Southwest.

    And Carter’s FCC swept-away protectionist rules that favored the networks, enabling the modern cable landscape. And it ended Ma Bell’s monopoly.

    Rather than “extremely weak,” those of us old-enough to have understood Carter’s policy efforts in real-time remember him as ambitious-to-a-fault, trying to accomplish too-much-all-at-once, at times mired in detail of which our present president is incapable. And perhaps naive reckoning that moving-the-ball was more important than political optics.

    And he personified a faith-based dignity no longer en vogue.

  8. Brendan says:

    Sorry Paul, we teachers can no longer distill pure civic virtue. We broke the mold after you, bud.
    They grow up, they develop their own viewpoint. Perhaps you should advance to the sound of the guns and become a teacher. We obviously need your help…

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