Britain greatly benefited from the colonies management of their trade industry. For the colonies, it was practice in self – government. There was an elected official that enacted laws and managed taxation. For the British, it was inexpensive, and they were able to ship goods to other parts of the world, but there was a seed of independence planted and watered by Britain’s desire to control and govern the colonies from afar. After facing a series of obstacles from the British, including taxation of goods and fear of invasion, the Declaration of Independence was written, delivering freedom to the thirteen colonies. After the Revolutionary war, it was clear that governing was a skill that the thirteen colonies did not possess in excess. There were competing interests and later memories of a flawed governmental system under the Constitution. At the Great Compromise, the delegates from the colonies went back and forth over the Virginia and New Jersey Plan and the Articles of Confederation were born. With these new guidelines, the Electoral College lay as well. Because of their fear of another corrupt leader taking power, the Electoral College is a mixture of congressional, state and popular votes, with the hopes of yielding a president that is liked by the people and approved by Congress.
Each state has as many representatives in the Electoral College as they do in the House of Representatives and the states citizens chooses who those people are (Kernell, et.al, 2018). The candidate must then win 270 out of the 538 votes in the Electoral College or the decision is turned over to the House of Representatives. Easy enough right? Not necessarily. The very condensed background given above is for the understanding of what is about to be discussed. The Electoral College is a topic that is not the favorite topic of some American people and I will dive into the articles and the opposing opinions to give my take on whether the Electoral College should be abolished or not. Here we go.
Mr. Beckwith’s article, “Here How Campaigns Would Work If We Abolished the Electoral College,” speaks of a system of electing the president based upon the candidate winning the popular vote. As he cites in the article, this topic has seemed to gained relevance after the recent Trump/Clinton campaign of 2016 in which the president elect Donald J. Trump won in the Electoral College but lost the popular vote.
Beckwith paints a picture of future campaigns changing in terms of direction each candidate would need to take if the desire was to run for president. New demographics would need to be reached and “potential candidates would essentially have to make a name for themselves”, says Sarah Isgur Flores, who advised Republican Carley Fiorina in 2016. Without the Electoral College, the process of running for president would be arduous, but easier for celebrity types (Beckwith, 2016). Flores continues to comment that it would be easier for a celebrity because they are a household name and will already be popular with the people. This is disconcerting for me. I can imagine celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z running for president, but never understanding the office or what the needs of the people truly are. They would be well liked by many but would not consider that the presidency is a job of accountability to the people you are serving.
Another point brought is that campaigning would also be more expensive, using more money on advertising and in person interviews instead of going to select battleground states. The expense of travelling more would change up the strategy of the candidates, Beckwith mentioning that the strategists commented on focusing more on television appearances.
Needing the popular vote would possibly require candidates to move away from battleground states in order to appeal to smaller states not usually visited. A quote by Dave Hamick sends the point home when he says that large amounts of minorities are disenfranchised with the process and could possibly have renewed investment if their votes were more sought after (Beckwith, 2016).
Loomis and Shafer in their article, “Resolved, The President Should Be Elected Directly by the People”, begins with an interesting experience living in Kansas. As a Kansan, he lived in a small Democratic town in a mostly red state. His argument for his essay was that he may have as well voted for the tooth fairy, his vote having little weight. Loomis brings a good point in saying that in the Electoral College, each state vote counts, therefore not taking into consideration the individual vote of the citizen (Loomis, et.al, 2016).
Shafer, returns with a zinger, saying that the opposition of the Electoral College without an alternative system to put in place is, “irresponsible at best and pernicious at worst”, (Loomis, et. al, 2016). To validate this jab, he gives a powerful statement that says that the system of the Electoral College isn’t perfect, but there are pieces of it that have been effective, and Americans have enjoyed presidents who were not saints, but also not at the level of Hitler.
The third article from the Times, “These 3 Common Arguments for Preserving the Electoral College Are Wrong,” attempts to debunk three myths of the Electoral College addresses some of the same issues discussed in the previous articles. Myth number 2 again discusses the campaigning in battleground states versus the rural states. He draws from the 2016 campaign of Clinton/Trump and the fact that they did not visit rural states but stayed in the proximity of the battleground states to gain popularity in the election to come. In Myth number one, he debunks the myth that the Electoral College is a system that creates a system of checks