The Electoral College vs. Mob Rule
by Jim Obenschain - firstname.lastname@example.org
November 1, 2004
Tuesday's presidential election is likely to be relatively close, at
in terms of popular vote totals. Should either candidate win the
but lose the overall popular vote, we will be bombarded with calls to
abolish the electoral college, just as we were after the contested 2000
presidential election. After all, the pundits will argue, it would be
'undemocratic' to deny the presidency to the man who received the most
This argument is hostile to the Constitution, however, which expressly
established the United States as a constitutionally limited republic and
a direct democracy. The Founding Fathers sought to protect certain
fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of speech, against the changing
of popular opinion. Similarly, they created the electoral college to
against majority tyranny in federal elections. The president was to be
elected by the (now 50) states rather than the American people directly, to
that less populated states had a voice in national elections.
they blended electoral college votes between U.S. House seats, which are
based on population, and U.S. Senate seats, which are accorded equally to
each state. The goal was to balance the inherent tension between
will and majority tyranny. Those who wish to abolish the electoral
because it's not purely democratic should also argue that less populated
states like Rhode Island or Wyoming don't deserve two senators.
A presidential campaign in a purely democratic system would look very
strange indeed, as any rational candidate would focus only on a few big
population centers. A candidate receiving a large percentage of the
vote in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, for example, could win
presidency with very little support in dozens of other states. Moreover,
popular vote system would only intensify political pandering, as national
candidates would face even greater pressure than today to take empty,
middle-of-the-road, poll-tested, mainstream positions. Direct democracy
national politics would further dilute regional differences of opinion on
issues, further narrow voter choices, and further emasculate political
Those who call for the abolition of the electoral college are hostile to
liberty. Not surprisingly, most advocates of abolition are statist
concentrated largely on the east and west coasts. These political,
economic, academic, media, and legal elites overwhelmingly favor a strong
centralized federal government, and express contempt for the federalist
concept of states' rights. They believe in omnipotent federal power,
states acting as mere glorified federal counties carrying out commands
The electoral college threatens the imperial aims of these elites because
allows the individual states to elect the president, and in many states
majority of voters still believe in limited government and the
Voters in southern, midwestern, and western states- derided as 'flyover'
country-- tend to value family, religion, individual liberty, property
rights, and gun rights. Washington elites abhor these values, and they
that middle and rural America hold any political power whatsoever. Their
efforts to discredit the electoral college system are an open attack on
voting power of the pro-liberty states.
Sadly, we have forgotten that states created the federal government, not
other way around.
The electoral college system represents an attempt,
however effective, to limit federal power and preserve states' rights.
is an essential part of our federalist balance. It also represents a
reminder that pure democracy, mob rule, is incompatible with liberty.
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