America the Fixable: The Electoral College
Is the Electoral College a law? It’s probably more of an institution, isn’t it, but it must have been ordained by some sort of law. And it’s what I would get rid of. We are all taught in school that America was the first real democracy since the Ancient Greeks, but that isn’t really true. The Greeks had a direct democracy (despite their restrictive understanding of citizenship), where every person had one vote on each issue. What we have is a representative democracy where we elect a small group of representatives to make decisions for us. Except that we don’t even directly choose our representatives. My understanding is that my vote instead goes to a middleman who has pledged a vote to a certain party or person. But only if enough of the rest of the population votes with me does our middleman get to vote for our representative. What?
The reason I, and many others, dislike the electoral college is simple. It distorts what the populace wants into what those already in power want. It was put into place at the inception of the United States simply because the Founding Fathers did not truly believe in their own decision to create a democracy. They worried that the uninformed citizenry would be too stupid to make the right choices so they created impediments. But those impediments are no longer necessary. The level of literacy in America has been very high for a long time now, and with the advent of the internet there can be even less of an argument for an uninformed populace.
I am not saying that people won’t make stupid decisions in the polling booth. I do not expect that if the electoral college were to be removed today that all of a sudden everyone would agree with me politically. The change I expect to see would simply be a more true reflection of what the population wants in its representatives. I think everyone remembers that Bush would not have been reelected if the popular vote was the only vote. And if this change could take place, I think it would have ramifications for all parts of the government because we would be fixing the root of the problem: our flawed voting system. Unfortunately, everyone in power was elected through this process and I cannot imagine that they would be happy to get rid of it since it might endanger their position. Which is really all the more reason to get rid of it. Catch-22.
Interesting points. Do you think that the electoral college is obsolete? (Or, is there another bygone law worth eliminating?) Submit a post and let us know.
Read more from America the Fixable at The Atlantic