The Electoral College should be retained By Guest Commentary There is much discussion that we might be electing a president who has not won the popular vote. That perhaps the Electoral College system provided by our Constitution is not relevant any more or that it is undemocratic. In the passion of the moment we should not condemn our system that has served us so well for more than 200 years. The following should be considered.
Central to our system of government it is our Constitution that was adopted and ratified by a nation of states. Our country is a republic not a pure democracy. The Constitution carefully and delicately balances power in our country and provides for a system of checks and balances. Sometimes it even seems that it is difficult for government to get things done or even that government is unworkable. Our founding fathers designed it that way, so that no dictator could easily master us.
The Electoral College is an element of the balance of power intended by our Constitution. The Electoral College provides that both the collective will of each state will have a voice as well as a voice of individual citizens in selecting our president and vice president.
If the Electoral College were abolished and replaced with direct popular election of the president and vice president this is what I believe would happen. The campaign for president would be conducted almost primarily in urban centers and major media markets. Consider that almost one-third of the population in our country resides in the geographic area from Boston to Washington, DC. Throw in Texas and California and you are reaching a majority of the population of our country. To win a majority of the vote the campaign would be conducted in these areas. The most important issues would be issues like mass transit, urban renewal, and air pollution. Important issues like national defense, rural health care, or agriculture would not be of concern to the candidates.
This year's election has demonstrated how targeted and focused candidate time and financial resources has become. Because of demographic targeting, sophisticated polling and the advent of hundreds of cable television networks, the candidates focused their time and resources in about 13 states. South Dakota received no campaign stops by a major candidate this year.
Abolishing the Electoral College would be a mistake for people living in rural states. We would be giving up our influence on issues important to us.
Editor's note: Joel Rosenthal is chairman of the South Dakota Republican State Central Committee.