Electoral College as obsolete as the Three-Fifths clause
FROM THE LEFT
Russ Sloan in his column on March 31 wrote: “The foremost change suggested by Democrats is doing away with the Electoral College. The Democrats claim it is archaic, but the Electoral College was a brilliant addition to our Constitution. Our Founding Fathers wanted to ensure that every state regardless of size would play a role in the election of the president … The framers did not want a few densely populated areas to choose a national leader.”
The only statement I agree with Sloan on is that it was a brilliant addition to the Constitution — but for only the slave-holding states. James Wilson, a Northerner from Pennsylvania, made a motion to elect the president by a direct popular vote.
James Madison, from the South, objected and said it would be unfair because the North had a larger population and would dominate the election of the president.
Madison went to work with his brilliant mind and concocted a way the South could use their huge slave population to impact the election of the president and level the playing field. The South had already gained a huge concession from the North in the constitution when the Three-Fifths Clause was created, which allowed the South to count every slave as three-fifths of a person in determining the number of U.S. House representatives would have. In the first census in 1790, it gave the South 59 more Representatives.
The Electoral College that James Madison created was for the sole purpose of allowing the South a way to have their slaves and impact the presidential election.
The question is why would the North agree to this scheme and dilute their power to elect the president?
The answer is very obvious: they had to in order to get enough states to ratify the constitution. Just like they had to agree to support the Three-Fifths Clause, which also reduced their power in the House of Representatives.
Many compromises were made to gain support for the constitution.The Great Compromise was a compromise between the Virginia Plan which called for a two-house congress, each determined by population, and the New Jersey plan, which proposed a one House legislature based on population. The compromise of a House of Representatives based on population and Senate with two senators passed a constitutional convention committee by only a 5-4 vote.
The South won many of the compromises that were made, partly because they came to the convention with plans, and partly because of the impact their leader James Madison had.
Mr. Sloan also wrote: “The framers of our constitution did not want a few densely populated areas to choose a national leader.” This comment is pure fiction and the most repeated myth in the justifying of the Electoral College. In 1787, 90 percent of the population lived in rural areas. The size of the states and whether people lived in cities or in rural areas had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of the Electoral College.
“We are a republic, not a pure democracy” begs the question what does that have to do with the creation of the Electoral College? The U.S. has elected 40 of 45 presidents by a popular vote. We elect our governors by popular vote, and nearly every other nation in the world elects their leader by popular vote. Even Russia has a popular vote for their leader.
He also wrote: “Moving to elect our president solely by popular vote would mean that a handful of liberal states could override the votes from the majority of the country.” What is he talking about? What does he consider the majority of the country? It appears he means the more acres of land a candidate wins.
Does he not consider the nearly 10 million people that voted for a candidate other than Trump, the winner chosen by Electoral College in 2016, as maybe a majority of the country? Ironically, the 10 million is the about the same number of Democratic candidates for the U.S. House received in 2018, over their Republican opponents.
When slavery was abolished and all exslaves were counted in determining the number of Representatives each state had, the Electoral College became as obsolete as the Three-Fifths Clause.
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