Electoral College was intended to avoid ‘tumult and disorder,’ but some are stoking it

The 538 members of the Electoral College — one for each senator and representative from each state, plus the District of Columbia — are to convene on Dec. 19 to cast their ballots for the presidency.

Meanwhile, there are reports from across the country that those voters are being harassed and threatened with physical harm or death if they cast their votes for Donald Trump.

This does seem to belie one of the primary reasons the Founders chose to have the president selected by the Electoral College instead of by state legislatures or popular vote.

Alexander Hamilton put it this way in Federalist Paper No. 68:

It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.

It is interesting to read how the would-be disrupters cite a different passage from this same document to argue that electors should disavow the voters of their states:

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.

In their judgment Trump’s talents lie in low intrigue and arts of popularity. They may the right, but that’s not how the system works. For electors to abandon their duty would be tantamount to coup.

A Vox writer says Trump “the first unquestioned demagogue to become a major-party nominee in our country’s history. On his quest to the general election, he stoked prejudices and passions to flout fundamental constitutional norms, such as our freedoms of the press, religion, and peaceful assembly.”

He then points out that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote now by over 2 million votes, which is irrelevant.

Now, who is stoking prejudices?

The online petition site Change.org has a petition that reads in part:

On December 19, the Electors of the Electoral College will cast their ballots. If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. However, in 14 of the states in Trump’s column, they can vote for Hillary Clinton without any legal penalty if they choose.

We are calling on the 149 Electors in those states to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton. Why?

Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.

Secretary Clinton WON THE POPULAR VOTE and should be President.

Hillary won the popular vote. The only reason Trump “won” is because of the Electoral College.

But the Electoral College can actually give the White House to either candidate. So why not use this most undemocratic of our institutions to ensure a democratic result?

Use an undemocratic institution to impose a democratic result? Talk about twisted logic. If the shoe were were on the other foot, they’d be screaming bloody murder. These people are all about getting their way and the means be damned.

Besides, the U.S. is a republic, not a mobocracy.


23 comments on “Electoral College was intended to avoid ‘tumult and disorder,’ but some are stoking it

  1. Steve says:

    A friend did some research; I have not double checked the numbers but……

    Trump won the popular vote in 31 states to her 19 and DC 62% to her 19%. Trump led in the total popular vote for all states except California. Hillary won California 5,860,714 to Trump’s 3,151,821. 61.6% to 33.1% exclusive of the other candidates. Thus California gave Hillary the popular vote for all states as claimed by the Democrats and their media stooges. But deduct her California vote from her national vote leaving her with 54,978,783, and deduct Trump’s California vote from his national total, leaving him with 57.113.976, he wins in a landslide in the other 49 states, 51.3% to her 48.7%. So, in effect, Hillary was elected president of California and Trump was elected president of the rest of the country by a substantial margin.

  2. Steve says:

    OK the numbers are wrong and the conclusion suspect. But when looked at objectively via this site;

    Removing California vote totals from both Trump and Clinton places Trump over Clinton by almost 2 million votes. In effect, California is the major decider for the whole country if we use the popular vote.
    I sent my friend this info, I don’t know where his numbers came from.

  3. Rincon says:

    Using your logic, Trump was elected by a tiny number of people from Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio. Is it any more fair to disregard the votes of 38 million Californians than it would be to disregard the votes of say, the 10 or 15 least populated states?

  4. Steve says:

    Liberals are calling for the elimination of the Electoral College based on the popular vote.

    All you do is show the same argument works both ways.

  5. Rincon says:

    When the same argument shows opposite sides of an issue to be valid, you just might want to be suspicious that maybe it just doesn’t hold water. So is going with the popular vote a bad thing?

  6. Steve says:

    Yes. Popular vote (today) would make everyone subject to the whims of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    Bernie Sanders nailed it when he was interviewed last Sunday.
    He said they have to campaign in all 50 states.
    Electoral college tries to achieve that very thing.
    Popular vote would mean the union lives under the rule of New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
    The rest of us be damned.

    The Electoral College.
    While not as good as would be wished, it is the best attempt to date.

  7. Rincon says:

    So you think a minority should rule over the majority. Perhaps we can make it simpler by giving city dwellers 3/5 of a vote.

  8. Barbara says:

    The uniqueness of the Republic is the separation of powers within the central federal government through the three branches, and also the separation of powers between the 50 sovereign states and the central government. Each state gets two electors regardless of size. The rest of the electors are based on population. This arrangement helps diffuse power between the large population states and the smaller population states. As Hamilton stated in Federalist 68, the system is not perfect but it is excellent. Separation of powers forces the states to compromise. This is what keeps any one faction from ruling over another, and it is what makes our system of government if not perfect – excellent.

  9. Steve says:

    Apparently, Rincon wants to defend a desire for campaigns that exist and occur only in the major population centers of the country.

    To hell with the rest of us.

  10. Rincon says:

    I say one person, one vote for the Presidency. Rural folks already get extra representation in the Senate. But the biggest problem isn’t rural vs urban; it’s that one candidate with a slim margin over a majority of states can win over a candidate that has overwhelming victories in a smaller number of states. According to the only source I checked, in a worst case scenario, a candidate with 79% of the vote could lose to one with only 21%. That’s ludicrous, and would be an absolute disaster for our country if it ever happens. Riots in the streets would be a given. https://medium.com/@heatherarthur/electoral-college-worst-case-scenario-cd6f93a76c35#.ezhvds190

  11. Steve says:

    Nothing in the constitution prevents electors from voting counter to what their states vote.
    In fact there is a little known idea in US history that explains more about the impetus for protecting the newly formed republic from outsiders trying to take over via subterfuge.
    The founders were very concerned England could get a candidate elected via popular vote and they wanted to have a stop gap to protect the country from any such attempt.
    In light of the distrust they had for pure democracy and the concerns over England’s well known penchant for underhandedness, they came up with a way to be sure smaller states would have a voice as well as a way to keep an interloper out.
    Talking with a Mexican immigrant the other day, from Chihuahua. Once he understood what the reason for the Electoral College is, he told me Mexico City makes all the decisions for the whole country of Mexico. His own state of Chihuahua is stuck with whatever whims that population center decides are the rules and there is no recourse. Mexico shows us what pure Democracy is and what it does.

    If you really think pure Democracy is such a deal, talk with a long time, legal, Mexican immigrant. Get to know him or her and ask them what they think of their own government….and why they decided to leave their Democratic paradise to move to the Republic in the north with all its mean billionaires.

  12. Rincon says:

    So you think the rural areas of Mexico should dictate, even though they have fewer people? One of the weaknesses of Democracy is the tyranny of the majority. Ask African Americans or gays about that. Creating a tyranny of a minority is a terrible answer to that problem.

  13. Steve says:

    “One of the weaknesses of Democracy is the tyranny of the majority.”
    Precisely what I have ben saying. And why the Electoral College, though not as good as would be wished, is the best thing to date.
    It limits the majority and the minority. While attempting to give proportional voice to the union.
    You guys just happen to dislike what it did this cycle.
    I say, next time run in all 50 states and nominate a better candidate!

  14. Rincon says:

    “It limits the majority and the minority. While attempting to give proportional voice to the union.” Sorry Steve. I’m not understanding this sentence.

  15. Steve says:

    How else does one describe the effects of a system designed to attempt to give each member STATE as equal a proportional voice as possible?
    A republic is not about the populace, its about its member states.

  16. Barbara says:

    One person, one vote for the Presidency…Would you then make it mandatory that each person of voting age be required to vote?

  17. Rincon says:

    If you look up the definition of Republic, you will find no mention of it being all about individual states. EUROPE is all about individual states. Perhaps you admire them.

    I don’t really want everyone to vote. Many people have no idea what they’re voting for. Why make them negate someone else’s educated vote?

  18. Steve says:

    Oh, sorry……Constitutional Republic.
    The effects are to make the member states the voice of the people within those states for those states. The union follows the states, not the other way around, as it is in a Democracy.

    Europe is not about individual states, The EU is an attempt to halt the feudalism so prevalent on that continent. Brexit shows how weak that attempt truly is.
    Europe is all about monarchies….

  19. Rincon says:

    The Eu is made of individual states with little unity among them. I was once taught that we citizens are Americans first and residents of our states second. No longer the case, I suppose. To summarize, you feel that each voter in states with smaller populations should count for more than those in larger states. I like equality. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  20. Steve says:

    “To summarize, you feel that each voter in states with smaller populations should count for more than those in larger states.”

    You want to change the USA to a Democracy.

    So which is worse, the system we have now or the one that ensures failure?

  21. Barbara says:

    So Rincon do you want to abolish the Senate as well? All states regardless of size have two Senators. Under you line of thinking, isn’t this just as undemocratic as the Electoral College?

  22. Rincon says:

    I say having an advantage for smaller state voters in one branch of government is enough. If we want minorities to have more power, why not just grant extra voting status to ethnic minorities and others as well? The reasoning would be the same as yours is now.

  23. […] one for each senator and representative from each state, plus the District of Columbia — are to convene on Dec. 19 to cast their ballots for the […]

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