My last blog post I covered a number of topics, and one was the electoral college. I had mentioned somethings about why it should be one voice one count, but hadn’t actually learned about the history of why it was created in the first place. So I would like to go back, and address areas of where I was wrong because after taking a step back and looking at the context of the times, I need to address some severely important reasons of why it was created in the first place.
I am doing this because as trumpers are throwing fits left and right about their president’s term coming to an end, this conversation came up. I’ve tried to educate them on the electoral college, although it’s almost irrelevant because Biden has been leading in that too, however they wont listen or refuse to accept that maybe white supremacy is at the heart of our constitution, our functionality and our country.
Someone, in fact, called me uneducated, and that my words were the dumbest things he had read all day, and then continued on Fox News information about voter fraud and dead people voting as reasoning of why trump is losing [this is severely under-researched and untrue since voter fraud is .003 percent in the United States] After working the polls I finally understand why fraud is so hard to commit. There are so many things in place to prevent voter fraud, I can make an entire blog post just on that. But to be fair, I called him a moron and I shouldn’t have, so Mr I apologize for that. People should never attack people, it should be ideas, and for a heated passionate moment I did attack in that way because my brother was being attacked for his stance with democracy – against the President – who is undermining our democracy by telling states to halt counting the votes because he doesn’t like the direction the election is headed.
I would like to say the following facts are from my own thoughts and research, but they aren’t. I follow Throughline NPR who is a fantastic historically based, fact checked, podcast and my mind was completely bashed open when I heard their findings about the Electoral College and its creation. I will link the podcast here – if you are someone who likes to listen and not read, please listen to their three part series, but I am going to summarize the parts that really hit my core.
Context is everything.
We look at our constitution and our systems in the current 2020 lens that we live in at the moment. However, due to this we have skewed reasoning of why we do what we do.
During the establishing of the United States and well into the late 1800s Slavery was alive and well. This is why our constitution didn’t recognize Black people as people, and is why we have had to put in place so many amendments to confront issues with inequality, justice, black people and women, as well simple things like alcohol tax and alcohol itself. As new technologies arise, we have had to shift and adapt to what that means. And to quote Thomas Jefferson “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
Well during the decision making process of how to vote people into office, slavery existed. People from the south like James Madison, owned slaves, and was well aware that if the process included one voice, one vote, that those who lived within the south wouldn’t win since their population consisted more of slaves than it did white people [and slaves couldn’t vote]. Due to this, he stated they would lose, but was okay with it, however the rest of the people from the south were not. As the discussion moved forward they established essentially an electoral college 1.0 – Eventually this was updated to electoral college 2.0 after the election of the 1800s because there was a tie, and the system wasn’t prepared for that: more on that election here. But anyways, we have the same exact set up to choose our president from 200 years ago.
The electoral college was set up with representation based on population. The south argued they must do this otherwise they would leave the union [which they tried any ways .. and the civil war happened so really in my opinion they should have just done what the north wanted]. The south stated that they wanted all population, even the slaves, to be counted for their population to get representation [electorates] although slaves could not vote. The north, obviously, wasn’t okay with this. This is how the 3/5ths rule came into play [which is gross]. The south stated that they would be okay with a slave equalling 3/5ths of a person [so not a whole one] and based off of that ratio they could get some of the representation of their population but not all. This would mean that the north, which had many less slaves, would get the representation of some of the slaves and all of the white people, but the south, which contained over 3 million slaves at this point, would get representation of those slaves and the white people living there, even though a majority of their population could not vote.
This lasted until the civil war, and unfortunately the civil war ended up helping the south even more. After the civil war was over, the 3/5ths rule was ridden because technically there wasn’t ‘slavery’ any more [there was]. So the representation based off of their population actually increased for the south, while the norths didn’t budge a whole bunch. Now that number may change in representation as the years of the United States continue, but the idea of the electoral college has long lived its purpose. We don’t have slavery any more, we don’t have to compromise with the south on population representation due to the fact they wont ‘lose every time.’ In this way, this is how we have adapted our verbiage to keep the electoral college relevant. “We dont want California, New York or Texas to decide our elections.” This is now what is said, and always Is being thrown around of why we have it, but it’s simply not why it was established. In the 1700s and 1800s the United States simply did not hold large populations in those times, at least not to the capacity it has today. Also, being in California, I have to say that state in itself should be two different states alone [completely different demographics and beliefs and its just massive].
So although that line maybe is stated now, its not why the electoral college was created. It has outlived its purpose, it’s time to rid it all together.