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Post In Defense of the Electoral College
Created by John Eipper on 12/11/22 6:56 AM

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In Defense of the Electoral College (Cameron Sawyer, USA, 12/11/22 6:56 am)

JE commented on my post of December 6th: "Another scolding accepted. Trump in 2016 was legally elected of course, but was it democratic? The raison d'etre of the Electoral College is to make the presidential contest something less than fully democratic. It's an interesting challenge to attempt to explain to a non-American how the winner in a presidential election can receive fewer votes than the loser. This has happened twice in recent times.

"And Cameron, Hunter Biden may be crooked, but he hasn't been elected to anything. Presidential relatives are notorious for shady business deals--think Donald Nixon or Billy Carter."

It wasn't a scolding, and my apologies if it sounded like one!

As to the Biden family corruption racket--you just need to read the Hunter B. laptop materials again. No one cares about the pathetic Hunter; it's the "Big Guy" who is shown as the mastermind and chief beneficiary of these schemes; the drug-addled Hunter is merely the bag man. For me as an American, a citizen of that country which pontificates to the whole world about corruption and democracy, this is deeply shameful.

As to the Electoral College--those are the rules. That is what is written in our Constitution. We are not a democracy; we are a republic. There is nothing strange about the Electoral College.  It was explicitly designed as a way to balance power between the different states, who were more or less sovereign at the time the Constitution was written. That's how the small states were persuaded to give up their sovereignty and join the Union.  The large states thought also that it was a good idea to preserve some regional identity. Read the Federalist Papers--it's all there. I've never had the slightest trouble explaining it to foreigners, nor is this a unique case.  There are many countries, especially Germany, Switzerland, and Canada, where there are strong systems of federalism which do not indeed allow policy to be determined by a tyrannical majority of the whole country.

If anyone wants to change the rules, there is a procedure for that laid out in the Constitution.  Have at it. Meanwhile, throwing mud on the Constitution as "not democratic" is absolutely the worst possible thing to do in this age of January 6ths, where sore loserism and disrespect for the rules, those rules which separate civilization from chaos, are leading us to hell. January 6, of course, was the most egregious attack on the Constitution of our time, but it was not by any means the start of this disrespect for the rules which may lead us ultimately to authoritarianism. Trump was far from the first sore loser in a presidential race; that was Hillary Clinton, who even called Trump an "illegitimate president" because the Electoral College results deviated so much from the raw popular vote, although those were the rules, and because Trump in her judgement "stole" the election. See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-trump-is-an-illegitimate-president/2019/09/26/29195d5a-e099-11e9-b199-f638bf2c340f_story.html .

Clinton supporters loudly called for the results of the 2016 election to be overturned, in a striking foreshadowing of January 6th.  See: https://www.msnbc.com/tamron-hall/watch/clinton-voters-call-to-overturn-results-808417859940 . And in a striking foreshadowing to Trump's endless complaints, Clinton went on and on, after the 2016 election, about how Trump "stole" the election: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77i_pC3lp04

Our problem is not, in fact, Trump, nor the Republicans per se, nor the Democrats per se. The problem is the evaporation of general respect in the broader society for the rules, for our Constitution, the evaporation in fact of any kind of principle--more and more, everyone starts to believe that achieving his or her own political preferences is more important than any rules or any principles, whatever means are required to achieve them, including smashing up our institutions, is worth it. This, people, is the road to hell. The rules are all that stand between us and the abyss, that abyss of political violence and instability, and ultimately authoritarianism, that most countries go through at one stage or another. The Electoral College is a core part of the rules. Deal with it.

JE comments: The theme of today's WAIS is asserted causality.  First, Alice Whealey suggests that NATO's intervention in Kosovo was an inspiration for Putin in Ukraine, and now Cameron Sawyer traces January 6th-ism back to Hillary Clinton's objections to the legitimacy of 2016.  Neither claim can be "proven," of course, but they do make you think.

Cameron, you must be better at explaining US politics to non-Americans than I am.  My listeners always understand the Electoral College in theory, but in practice they see it as bizarre, with a bit of denialism mixed in.  American Exceptionalism again...

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