Brian, the framers were concerned our nation would tear itself apart as previous one-man-one-vote…
John Beech
11

So in my view, you are being irresponsible. Why? it’s because you argue against the EC but don’t offer a solution. One that won’ result in our losing our shining city on the hill within a generation. Do you really posit you’re smarter than Madison, Jefferson, et al?

This, right here, tells me everything I need to know about your knowledge of American history. Specifically, it says you think that Thomas Jefferson had a hand in the creation of the Electoral College, which means that you think Thomas Jefferson was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Jefferson was not at all a fan of the idea of the federal government. He also believed in a more universal enfranchisement than most other people of his time. Jefferson believed that institutions were in far more danger of becoming corrupt than people and that societal involvement in and infringement upon individual liberties was anathema even if defended to save individuals from the tyranny of the majority. This means that Thomas Jefferson would not have been in favor of the Electoral College and also would be horrified to see a majority of the people vote for a candidate who lost because of a small number of people.

It also tells me that you have read very little of what I have written on this site. Because the very first generation of Americans — including those who we’re supposed to hold as inviolate, holy men — set the mechanisms in place to destroy our “shining city on a hill” within two generations. In 1799 and 1800 John Adams saw no greater danger to America than President Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison responded by writing the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. Less than 30 years later John C Calhoun, then the sitting Vice President of the United States, used the arguments in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions to argue that the state of South Carolina should be able to override the federal government and if the federal government didn’t go along the state could secede. A bit over thirty years after that the state of South Carolina argued, once again, that the arguments of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, as filtered through John C Calhoun, were all the justification they needed to remove themselves from the United States of America if they weren’t on board with the overall national opinion on the legality of slavery.

Thomas Jefferson also believed that every generation should rewrite the Constitution according to the needs of a future he could not predict. His contemporaries believed that to a certain extent, as they wrote the ability to change the Constitution into the document itself. We have already changed many things based on our evolving understanding of the world and the people who occupy it. A hundred years ago we gave women the right to vote. Fifty years before that we gave freed slaves the right to vote. In 1913 we gave people the right to elect their Senators directly instead of having state legislatures vote. These are all places where we have decided the men who wrote the Constitution didn’t get it right.

Every time we have changed something there has been someone claiming that we couldn’t do it because bad things would happen. During the Suffragette movement an organization called the National Association OPPOSED to Woman Suffrage published a pamphlet on the idea. These were two of their points:

BECAUSE in some States more voting women than voting men will place the Government under petticoat rule.
BECAUSE it is unwise to risk the good we already have for the evil which may occur.

These are the exact same arguments you make against getting rid of the Electoral College. You say that I am making a bad argument because I am not offering anything of value to replace the Electoral College. I say that you simply do not like the thing that I am arguing in favor of but you don’t actually have any arguments on your side apart from the same arguments made by those who didn’t want women to get the franchise.

The fact that you chose to invoke the name of Thomas Jefferson in all of this and claim that I am, somehow, in opposition to him and claim myself wiser and more competent also indicates that you do no understand the arguments I am making. My arguments for removing the Electoral College are firmly rooted in the core of Jeffersonian Democracy. I am fully confident in staying right where I am.

Further, you seem to think I should be terrified of a country where all of our elections are decided in California, Texas, and New York. Why should I be scared of that? For two decades now our elections have been decided in Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida. I will take a quarter of the country deciding where we should go over a tenth given the choice. At least it’s more democratic.

Finally, you said this:

Fortunately, we’ve elected a President instead of a King. And it’s not an Imperial Presidency and thus, 90% of what he wants to do will require Congress. My point? It’s not the end of the world. And if nothing else, your anguish mirrors Republican anguish in 2008 when they too sensed an existential moment. Didn’t happen.

This tells me that you truly do not understand what the goal of the framers of the Constitution was when they wrote the document. They initially conceived of the Executive as a figurehead and placed all of the power in the hands of the Congress. Yes, the Executive took more and more of that power over the years, starting with Andrew Jackson. But the Congress still controls the purse strings and the Congress still makes the laws.

We in this country have forgotten how powerful the Congress is. We are about to be forcefully reminded. Paul Ryan wants to gut Medicare. Mitch McConnell wants to destroy the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans as a whole have been gunning for Social Security since pretty much the day FDR signed the Social Security Act into law. Under George W Bush the Democrats in Congress were able to stall. For most of the last eight years Obama has kept the Republicans from really being able to do what they want. Now that Donald Trump is going to be in the White House and he’s already signaled that he’s bringing in the worst of the alt-right and the retreads of the bad old days of Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America we’re going to find out what it’s like when Congress gets to do what it wants.

And I can predict this: none of us will like what happens next.

I am not particularly worried about Donald Trump. I am extremely worried about Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

Oh, P.S.: You know nothing of Illinois. If you really want to try to argue about what’s going on here with me you’re welcome to try but your invocation of bread-and-circuses indicates you will go down. Hard.

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