Friday, April 19, 2024
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Defending the Electoral College



A homeschool teen reached out to me the other day to ask me to help her put together a defense of the Electoral College, so I thought it might be a good time to write an article on the topic in case anyone else needs a refresher. I might as well kill two birds with one stone. Truth be told, not many adults understand it, and there is a national movement to do away with it.

You cannot understand America without understanding the American system and the reasoning behind the Founding Fathers’ decisions to set up the governing structure as they did. The Founders were well studied on the rise and fall of historical government structures and why they ultimately failed. They also were discerning enough to know that there were some positive nuggets throughout other historical government systems that were legitimately worth preserving and incorporating in the design of what would become the Great Experiment – A Constitutional Republic.

Even though the Founders understood the historical futility of a pure, majority rule democracy, they saw the value in some aspects of democracy. In other words, take the good; dump the bad. They never intended America to be a pure democracy because historically, pure democracies made it easy to tyrannize. Pure democracies implode.

This Easter season, the Electoral College topic is befitting because the first democracy, or “mobocracy” as it has been coined by some, is found in the New Testament. In Matthew 21:9, we see Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and the crowds were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest heaven!” They loved him. One week later, in Matthew 27, Pontius Pilate asked an angry crowd what they thought he should do with Jesus, and they yelled, “Crucify him!” They hated him. What a difference one week, opinions, and emotions can have on not only one life, but many. We are far too easily swayed.

With this timely example, we see how men and women can become impassioned and emotionally charged, easily manipulated with group think and mob mentality. The Founders knew that the Old Testament scripture also laid the foundational pillar for the Biblical form of governance with incredible safeguards and multi-layered accountability. Had this Biblical form of government, a Constitutional Republic, ever been implemented in any other formed government system throughout history? Definitively, no. America would be the first.

 In the beginning stages of the structure outline, there were fiery disagreements within the closed-door meetings the Founders had on how representation should look in Congress and how it would function. James Madison wanted representation by population. This became known as the Virginia Plan. Citizens, however, who lived in smaller, less populated states felt they had a right to have their voices heard. They feared, however, the Virginia Plan would snuff their voices. William Patterson proposed the New Jersey Plan which really held tightly to the Articles of Confederation and the theme of representation by the states.

The obvious problem was twofold. First, state representation might deem votes in more populated states less valuable than less populated states. This seemed to undermine democracy altogether. Secondly, a fundamental reason we were even founded was to be a union of states, so representation by population seemed to violate the ideology of this union. The Founders were not going to fully do away with state and population representation, so a compromise was made taking the best of both trains of thought and then placing them under a model of accountability where the people’s voice would be both protected and amplified, but there would be a wide range of those voices represented across the plains.

This system would remind you of the world series. The team with the most runs does not always win the world series. The team who wins the most games does. Why? The team who has the best overall production with all positions and duties within wins. Defense and offense are equally important. There must be consistent skill execution displayed over a range of skills required and demanded of the sport. One team can win by twenty runs the first game and the other team may win the next 6 games by a score of 2-1, and they would win the world series.

Also, there was to be no full-blown popularity contest within the election system. For example, you cannot have, nor do you want, densely populated regions where cultural hubs and group think are generally most pervasive influencing and determining the Presidential outcome. The less densely populated regions would never stand a chance. The President needs to earn the votes of many types of voters from all over the nation. The Founders knew that the national government would need to be fully accountable and not become too powerful. To make positive compromise, there was not a particular principle that won out over another, but aspects of both arguments were acknowledged as legitimate. This, in turn, produced the brilliant bi-cameral, two-house structure.

Keeping representation by population and states in mind, you will see how the Senate and the House of Representatives keeps both ideals alive while maintaining a balanced accountability model. The House of Representatives would be the representation by population, while the Senate would only be granted two senators per state no matter what the population is for each state.

Even so, the Senate is distinctively different from the House, and for legislation to be passed, it would have to go through both chambers with their very different areas of influence. The bills, if passed through that process would still have to go to the Executive branch, yet the President has veto power. The House is closer to the citizens, their voices, and the issues that most closely affect their daily lives. The House Representatives are voted on every two years. The Senate has an aristocratic air by design and is more shielded from the people. They are elected every 6 years and handle more of the international affairs, as opposed to the circumstances surrounding everyday life for American citizens.

Why does all this matter? If we were not a Constitutional Republic with a representative form of government, we would have already imploded. Tragically, we are on the brink. Governments, on average, usually collapse every 250 years. America is almost 250 years old. But why, when we have a far superior system to any historically structured government system, are we are the verge of collapse? The answer lies with the people, our sacred duty, and accountability.

There is no difference between a Roman empire, a pure democracy, a communist nation, or a Constitutional Republic where men rule with no morality, no principle, or no virtue. They will all collapse. What sets our form of government apart from any other is that it gave us each the opportunity to keep the flame of freedom burning for as long as we want. We decide how long we want that torch to burn brightly, and the foundation that holds the pillars of freedom in place are that of a virtuous people. A virtuous people, who see to it that the layers of accountability are upheld to the Biblical and Constitutional standard, is paramount. We are failing.

For that strict accountability and layered protection, we were set up with:

1) Three branches of government each having distinctive roles: Legislative (most authority since closest to the people), Executive (second most authority by Constitutional provision), and the Judiciary (least authority by Constitutional provision). Yes, we have three separate branches of government. No, they are not equal.

2) The Bi-cameral structure is made up two senators from each state no matter the population, and various house representatives based entirely on population.

3) Article V of the United States Constitution has two provisions for proposing amendments and explains what it would take to ratify the Constitution. Section 1: The first way is for Congress to propose them whenever two-thirds of both Houses decide it is necessary. The second way is for two-thirds of the States to request it, and then if that happens, Congress can call for a Convention to propose amendments. However, in Section 2 of the Constitution, there are different ways for these proposed amendments to receive final approval and Congress will propose one. The first way final approval can happen is that three-fourths of the State legislatures have to approve them. The second way is that Conventions in three-fourths of the states have to approve them. So 34 states must apply for the amendment proposal, but if that happens, Congress has to call for a Convention of States. To be ratified, it must still have support from 38 of the states. So an additional four states must be convinced!

Now, we will add, as I deem it, the 4th protective layer. The Electoral College is set up in two phases with 538 electors where 270 electors must be secured to win the Presidency. The establishment and role of the Electoral College can be found in Article II, Section I, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. It is modified by the 12th Amendment and the 23rd Amendment. The selection process varies by state, however. State parties file slates of names for their chosen electors. Usually, these people are connected to political parties officially, are lawmakers, or are advocates for parties. Committees or conventions can select them, and then each presidential candidate will get their very own slate.

There are two phases set up for Electoral College voting. Phase 1 is in November and is purely democratic. There are 51 popular vote elections. You have the fifty states plus Washington, D.C., and you are technically voting for a slate of Presidential electors. Phase 2 happens in December and officially determines the Presidency, because 270 electors must be secured to win the United States Presidency.

The multilayered system encourages coalition building since you must have a wide range of support across the nation. You cannot win with one part of the nation and win the Presidency. If winning was merely about the most votes, the most populated states would always win. All voices would not be heard, valued, or counted. Therefore, hitting the pavement and campaigning all over the country is imperative.

Without the Electoral College, elections would be easier to steal. Ponder the blatant disregard for the multilayered protective system that exists to have so much fraud presently taking place across the nation with a multitude of elections. Without the electoral college, technically any precinct could determine or flip a national outcome if stolen. With the Electoral College, if you were trying to steal an election, it would (should) be much harder because it would be much harder to predict the right states needed to change the outcome because you would have to know the states to steal from, and there are so many swing states that it should be hard to predict. There are many elections all over the nation where a variety of circumstances mean that an election can go either way. Campaign strategy, budgets, volunteers, cultural ideals, etc., can all swing an election.

All of this is powerful. It is poignantly beautiful. The Founders’ example to us should be taken to heart. They showed us what it means to team build, listen to one another despite disagreements, take the best of all ideas and merge them, yet hold each principled ideal and thought accountable to a higher standard, a life-giving standard where the union and the individual are valued and treasured. We do not see this today.

The checks and balances in place should protect and safeguard the Constitutional Republic, but we must be willing to hold elected representatives accountable, and we must be willing to hold the system accountable. At the end of the day, we each are accountable to God and our future generations for how we steward our governing form. The multi-layered accountability model of the Constitutional Republic with a democratic process should be defended and preserved. Our American form of government is the best system in the history of governments, and we are absolute fools to lose it on our watch. Let OUR generation be considered the greatest. We have been handed the torch fire. What will we do with it?

Rebecca Chaney is the Director for Restore Liberty Mississippi and a former board member for the Mississippi Freedom Caucus. She is a lifetime Patriot Academy Constitution Coach and has hosted Biblical Citizenship and Constitutional classes since 2020. She has helped to start these classes all across the state of Mississippi. She is a homeschool Mom of seven years to her son and daughter. You can read more of her work at https://substack.com/@rebeccachaney.