Electoral College helps hold America together By Robert Grossman On Oct. 27, my good friend Plain Talk editor David Lias provided us a well-argued editorial calling for the end of the "Electoral College," the means by which the United States president is elected. I have asked him if he would allow me to provide an opinion article defending this honored American institution, and he has agreed. So, thank you very much, Mr. Lias.
The United States needs the Electoral College to keep holding the nation together. All nations, including the U.S., have concentrations of population in certain areas, and it would be a shame for the whole nation to be subject only to the needs and interests of those areas. If the president were elected by simple majority of the popular vote, we would soon have a leader beholden only to big cities. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles would elect the president, which would mean disaster for less populated areas. The Electoral College requires a leader who will run well in Idaho as well as in New York, in Texas as well as in North Dakota, because the Electoral College provides a state-by-state election process. Only if he or she runs well all over the country, may a person become president.
When the U.S. Constitution was written, 92 percent of the population of the 13 colonies were farmers. The cities along the eastern seaboard recognized that they too needed input into the election of our leader. That is one reason they established the Electoral College, along with several other provisions, such as a two-house legislature.
Today, more that 92 percent of our people are not farmers, a complete reversal, and yet the system works better at balancing popular interests against regional interests better than any system ever devised by mankind.
The concentrations of population in the U.S. are represented in the House of Representatives, where the various states are completely unequally represented because of population differences. In the Senate, however, each state has equal representation by two senators, thus balancing in the legislative process the regional interests of geography, economic differences, and even ethnic and religious interests with those of mere population concentration.
The Electoral College is a combination of population and regional interests by giving each state the same number of presidential electors as it has senators plus representatives. The Founding Fathers realized that this was the only way to keep the nation unified and yet governed by free elections by the people.
Replacing the Electoral College with a simple majority of the popular vote would fragment the United States by making vast areas unimportant to the election of the President. It would be bad for America, and even worse for lightly populated areas like South Dakota.
Robert Grossman is pastor at Providence Reformed Church in Vermillion.