When our nation faces difficult issues of a political nature, the usual conservative response is to pursue a solution which best adheres to the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
Though I view myself as a liberal, I believe our country now faces a grave crisis which requires a direct focus on the Electoral College, and most specifically, on the purpose the Founding Fathers intended for it.
As our nation came into being, there was considerable controversy as to how best select a president. Then a major concern was that each state might nominate a “favorite son ” and it could become difficult to achieve a majority of votes for one individual. Also, the Founding Fathers greatly mistrusted the development of political parties, believing that an individual should not “run” for office, but that government would seek out leaders with recognized abilities.
Specifically, James Madison was concerned that “factions” might develop, groups of citizens who joined together for a common cause. But Madison feared, what if this cause harmed the nation, or the rights of citizens?
Alexander Hamilton expressed in “The Federalist Papers” that the “office of President” must never “fall to the lot of any man who is not endowed in an eminent degree” with the skills and abilities to serve as “the chief executive of our nation.” Thus, argued Hamilton, the Electoral College should be comprised of those “most capable of analyzing the qualities” of an individual who would serve as our president. Would that individual be “favorable to deliberation”? “Would he (or she) be of a “judicious” mind?
In a true sense, the Founding Fathers saw the Electoral College as a screening committee which would stand guard against the selection of a president who was not qualified to hold the position. That is why the Founding Fathers’ intent was for the Electoral College members to have the ability, education, and experience to make such a determination.
Over time the Electoral College has become more directed on directed on reflecting the public vote. However, the structure of the Electoral College has caused several instances in which the winner of the public vote was not determined to have been elected president.
One key problem in its structure is that the Electoral College gives a more “weighted” vote to states with smaller populations than to more populous states. For example, Wyoming has three Electoral College votes, while California has 55. At face value, that may seem appropriate. However, based on Wyoming’s population, California should have 199 electoral votes.
In the 200o election Al Gore had an estimated million more votes that George Bush, but just missed getting enough Electoral votes due to a controversial Supreme Court decision. At the time Donald Trump described the College’s decision as “disastrous” for America. It appears now that the final popular vote of the 2016 presidential election will have Hillary Clinton with nearly two million votes than Donald Trump, who apparently appears to have the Electoral College majority.
But never in the history of our nation has it been more important for the Electoral College to be reminded of the intent of the Founding Fathers regarding its responsibility to protect the Presidency from those unfit to hold the position. The 2016 election is perhaps the most significant in our history. The failure of the Electoral College in 2000 to be guided by the popular vote, rather than an antiquated system which gave more influence to states with smaller populations, denied the actual will of a majority of American citizens. One can only wonder, considering the impact of the Bush-Cheney administration, how our lives and our entire world might be different, if the Electoral College followed the Will of the People.
Yet, serving as President of the United States requires defending our Constitution. However, the current Electoral College is now faced with a situation in which the apparent Electoral winner has advocated proposals which would violate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Trump’s deportation plan would ignore constitutional safeguards of unreasonable search and seizure and equal protection under the law. His Muslim ban violates due process. Trump wishes to weaken the First Amendment by limiting the ability of our Free Press to do its job.
President-elect Trump has promoted racial profiling, creation of a Muslim data base, mass surveillance, and an ideological test to become a citizen. He has also said he would order our troops to torture enemy combatants. These are just some of the assaults on the Constitution he is advocating.
These reason alone are significant to require that the members of the Electoral College do not select Donald Trump as our 45th President.
Yet, the situation is even more complicated.
Never before has a foreign nation so aggressively interfered in a presidential election. Our nation’s security agencies, and our allies, agree that Russia is behind the WikiLeaks attacks against Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presidential opponent, and the Democratic National Committee.
It is disturbing that throughout the campaign Trump consistently praised Russian President Putin, and has stated, ignoring US and international officials, that no one knows who is behind the WikiLeaks hacking. Amazingly, Trump even urged Russia, if they were behind the hacking, to further hack Clinton’s e-mails.
Related to this, Trump is the first presidential candidate in decades to refuse to release his taxes to the public. Considering Russia’s hacking of Trump’s political opponent, it is inconceivable how the Electoral College could just “trust” any candidate that there was no undue influence on the candidate by a foreign government. It is prudent to see Trump’s taxes before the Electoral College vote to verify there no inappropriate financial ties to a foreign nation.
Even more puzzling is Trump’s refusal to place his business interests in a “blind trust” after stressing his only concern would be “serving” the American people. Permitting his children to run his business concerns, which is not a true “blind trust”, only further implies a Trump reluctance to be transparent about any Russian financial ties, and his taxes in general.
It is also deeply disturbing that after Trump’s recent communication with Putin as President-Elect, that Russia immediately resumed the bombing of Aleppo, where rebels are fighting the Asaad regime.
Previously Trump referred to Aleppo as already lost, which Russia would certainly prefer.
Every major newspaper in the United States, both Democratic and Republican-influenced, has warned its readers that Trump is unfit to be president. Now he seeks to place his campaign chairman, who has endorsed white nationalism, to be a key advisor. Trump himself was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, and has made consistent statements which indicate prejudice against minorities and the mistreatment of women.
However, our Founding Fathers have prepared us for the challenge of Donald Trump. Just as they feared the election of a “favorite son” in our modern, internet-fed, mass media society, a noted television celebrity without any record of public service, now apparently has enough electoral votes to be president.
That is why the intent of the Founding Fathers for the Electoral College….that it should protect America from those unsuited to lead it, and from individuals who would attack our constitution, rather than defend it.
We must repeat the mistake of the 2000 election. The Will of the People must not be ignored once more. The Electoral College must honor its original intent as defined by our Founding Fathers.
The Founding Fathers direct the Electoral College that the Constitution be preserved, nor overturned provision by provision by a man who practiced the policies of hate and fear to achieve a political voice.
I hope this will be the last vote of the Electoral College. Other than to ensure a candidate is fit for office, today’s world of mass media and internet access does not require such an antiquated system. Let the Will of the People speak.
It is critical the Electoral College be prudent and wise. Justify the faith the Founding Fathers placed within them.
For theirs will be a significantly historic vote. I pray if this is the last vote of the Electoral College that it is based on the Founding Fathers’ guidance and the actual voice of our citizens.
Only in this manner will the Constitution best be defended and the Will of the People honored.