Sunday, March 4, 2018

QUORA: Why is it so hard to understand the concept of the electoral college?

Quora: Why is it so hard to understand the concept of the electoral college, yet can understand the rules of winning the world series?

I think the questioner is referring to the fact that the winner of the World Series is determined by how many individual games are won, not on how many total runs are scored—which, translated to the winner of the presidential election, means how many states are won, not how many total popular votes the candidates received.

Here is my answer:

I don’t think it’s a matter of understanding. I think it’s a matter of political philosophy.

America was Founded as a constitutional republic based on the primacy of liberty. The Founders worked on [from] the principle that individual rights are derived from man’s nature and precede government. They believed democracy has a role as a tool by which free people manage the government they create, but that the government itself is limited to protecting individual rights, which they considered inalienable. They considered the right to vote as subordinate to our inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Hence, the Electoral College was instituted as part of the checks and balances needed to prevent the concentration of political power, including the influence of powerful electoral factions.

By and large, the opponents of the Electoral College consider America to be a democracy based on the primacy of majoritarian rule. The democracy fundamentalists believe rights are essentially privileges bestowed by government, to be granted or withdrawn by officials beholden to electoral majorities or factions. They see the right to vote as the one primary right, to which we are all subordinated according to the will of the most powerful electoral factions. Consequently, they see simple majority rule as absolute regardless of whether it disenfranchises smaller states or thinner population centers in favor of electorally powerful regions.

These two concepts are antithetical. But I believe that this philosophical divide—liberty vs. statism—lies as the heart of the debate over the Electoral College.

Related Reading:

The Electoral College System Required Trump to Win the Popular Vote—30 Times

Wouldn't going by Popular Vote be an even worse system than the Electoral College?

Voting Rights are Not the ‘Most Fundamental Right’—or Even a Fundamental Right

Is the Electoral College Un-Democratic? You Bet. Unfair? Nope.


Mike Kevitt said...

Those jerks understand the electoral college very well. The just don't like it, because it's against their altruist-collectivist 'values'. So they work intensively and endlessly by substantial means to undermine it.

The winner of the World Series could, conceivably, do so by scoring only 4 runs, to the loser's, say, 60 runs. The difference is, the winner with 4 runs came thru in the clutch, the determination to win the World Series. The loser, with 60 runs, didn't.

In Presidential elections, the clutch consists of unalienable individual rights. The majority of the voters in 2016 shied away by their deliberate choice, not wanting individual rights. But the minority, as per the formal, written system, essentially expressed, here, by the electoral college, came thru in the clutch, the determination to keep a grip on individual rights, however tenuous. Tough for the majority which consists of split heads.

But, well, let's see what happens in the elections of 2018 and 2020. The tidal wave, or tsunami, of split heads might likely overwhelm any check or balance against dictatorship. If so, what then? More 'elections', or, what?

Michael A. LaFerrara said...


The Electoral College is one of many checks and balances. But no constitutional structure—no amount of checks on government power—will save a free country whose people have lost the knowledge of what liberty rights are and why it they are important to human life, or even the belief that such freedom is desirable. That's our educational battle.