Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Republic vs. Democracy and the Electoral College

The real purpose of the electoral college, which is spelled out as clearly as it can be spelled out in Federalist 68, is to put a layer of independent representation between the voters and the choice for President. His idea was that you wouldn't vote for Trump or Hillary. Who you would vote for are people who might choose between Trump or Hillary, or maybe put someone else in if they thought there was something wrong with both of them. If you take the republic vs. democracy argument seriously, that is where it leads you. I would admit that there is an element of geographical balancing in that the College is modeled on congressional representation, and so states with two senators and one congressman actually get more representation per capita than their population would warrant. But we aren't more of a republic and less of a democracy if we have a rubber-stamp electoral college and we reduce the college to a revised counting system. For centuries now people vote for actual candidates, and once their votes are counted, the electors have never surprised anyone or exercised any independent judgment, except for a few "rogues," and some states have passed laws making it illegal to do what Hamilton originally intended for electors to do, that is, exercise independent judgment.

The electoral college was designed to, among other things, stop demagogues from becoming President. The idea was that if a demagogue were to get the support of the people, the electors would exercise their own judgment and vote someone else in, even if the people who put the electors in wanted him for President, the electors could be counted upon to say no. You may disagree, but I think Trump is a dangerous demagogue with inadequate respect for the rule of law. In any event he had held no political office prior to the Presidency. If we had enshrined the Hamiltonian concept of the Electoral College into our system, I believe that the seasoned judgment of the electors would have prevented him from becoming President. A genuinely "Republican" conception of the electoral college would not have put Trump in the White House. And irony of ironies, the Democratic Party, with its superdelegate system, was far more "Republican" in its selection process, while the Republican party as more "Democratic," providing no way to stop a marginal Republican with great mass appeal to get the party's nomination for President. 

Now, either we buy the Republic vs. Democracy argument or we don't. If we do, we keep the electoral college, outlaw pledged electors and encourage independent judgment on the part of the electors. If we don't buy the Republic vs. Democracy argument, then we abolish the Electoral College and go to popular vote. But I can't see a good reason for keeping the Electoral College around after its primary function, to put a layer of independent, seasoned judgment between the people and the selection of the President, has been effectively eliminated. What Hamilton was talking about in Federalist 68 never came to fruition, and it is an equivocation to say that Hamilton was defending the Electoral College as it now exists.


Starhopper said...

I agree. Anyone who is wrapped around the axle of "republic v. democracy" (of which, I am not) would have to admit that, by his own logic, Trump has no business being president.

David Duffy said...

Wrong. The Electoral College was invented to give more power to small states at a time when there was skepticism about the power of a central government over the autonomy of smaller states.

A person voting in Alaska has a slightly more influential vote than my vote in California. Since Federalism is vanishing, the Electoral College would likely vanish too except that the E.C. benefits small states and keeps the two major political parties in power. If you can convince those two groups to get rid of the E.C., you can go to the popular vote. Good Luck with that!

bmiller said...


Anyone who is wrapped around the axle of "republic v. democracy" (of which, I am not)

I'm interested in what you mean by being or not being wrapped arount the axle of these 2 forms of government? And why you're not.
Both are wrong? Neither is better than the other? Something else?

Kevin said...

I believe he means one of the people who is quick to point out that just because Hillary won the popular vote but lost the election (thank God) does not mean the system is flawed, because we are a republic, not a democracy. Popular vote isn't the metric.

Kevin said...

Thus one of the above people who was also a Trump supporter might not realize how their guy would likely have lost under the system VR described.

David Duffy said...


Am I the "Thus one above" Trump supporter who doesn't realize? I do misread the combox often.

Kevin said...

Sorry, by "one of the above people" I meant what I had written in the previous post, "one of the people who is quick to point out..."

I wish there was an edit function!

Starhopper said...

"Anyone who is wrapped around the axle of "republic v. democracy" (of which, I am not)"

I can see how my phraseology might be confusing. What I was referencing was the sort of person who declares "We are a republic, not a democracy!" as though he's said something profound (and is usually cited as some kind of proof that his own personal political views are somehow the only "right" ones). My attitude is "We're both" (with a dollop of "Who cares?").

toto said...

To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

Instead, state legislation, The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

It simply requires enacting states to award their electoral votes according to the nationwide, rather than the statewide, popular vote.

All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.
Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
No more distorting, crude, and divisive and red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes, that don’t represent any minority party voters within each state.
No more handful of 'battleground' states (where the two major political parties happen to have similar levels of support) where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 38+ predictable winner states that have just been 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.
We can limit the power and influence of a few battleground states in order to better serve our nation.

The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes among all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

The bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
Since 2006, the bill has passed 36 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 261 electoral votes.
The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country


toto said...

With the National Popular Vote bill, when every popular vote counts and matters to the candidates equally, successful candidates will find a middle ground of policies appealing to the wide mainstream of America. Instead of playing mostly to local concerns in Ohio and Florida, candidates finally would have to form broader platforms for broad national support. Elections wouldn't be about winning a handful of battleground states.

Fourteen of the 15 smallest states by population are ignored, like medium and big states where the statewide winner is predictable, because they’re not swing states. Small states are safe states. Only New Hampshire gets significant attention.

Support for a national popular vote has been strong in every smallest state surveyed in polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group

Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in 9 state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 4 jurisdictions.

Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 70-80% of states and voters are ignored by presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits. Their states’ votes were conceded months before by the minority parties in the states, taken for granted by the dominant party in the states, and ignored by all parties in presidential campaigns.

State winner-take-all laws negate any simplistic mathematical equations about the relative power of states based on their number of residents per electoral vote. Small state math means absolutely nothing to presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, or to presidents once in office.

In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

In 2012, 24 of the nation's 27 smallest states received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions. They were ignored despite their supposed numerical advantage in the Electoral College. In fact, the 8.6 million eligible voters in Ohio received more campaign ads and campaign visits from the major party campaigns than the 42 million eligible voters in those 27 smallest states combined.

The 12 smallest states are totally ignored in presidential elections. These states are not ignored because they are small, but because they are not closely divided “battleground” states.

Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections.

Similarly, the 25 smallest states have been almost equally noncompetitive. They voted Republican or Democratic 12-13 in 2008 and 2012.

Voters in states, of all sizes, that are reliably red or blue don't matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

I posted Victor'first Dutys essay on my blog,

President's first Duty

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

see "The Emperor has no Clothes, but He has a New Conspiracy Theory"

Metacrcock's Blog

W.LindsayWheeler said...

That President Trump is a demagogue is a hoot! If Prof Reppert thinks that, just shows how much looney Prof Reppert is. You have lost all sense of commonsense.

Prof. Reppert is just mad and now is taking out his anger against President Trump.

What is happening is that people like Prof. Reppert have brought in millions and millions of Hispanics that vote communist, i.e. the Sadinistas of Nicaragua, Cubans, the Shining Path of Peru and Venezuela. Hispanics vote leftist---hence a permanent voting bloc for the Democrat Party. But all those Hispanics are locked up in California where they didn't help Hillary win because of the Electoral College. The Democrat Party thru immigration is about disenfranchising the whites of this country and put in a permanent section of Hispanics that will guarantee to them victory every election. They hope to bring about their socialist paradise as in the USSR, Cuba, or Venezuela by ending the Electoral College and more Hispanic immigration. Like the USSR, Cuba or Venezuela are shining examples of Leftist proficiency in government and in economics.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

That President Trump is a demagogue is a hoot! If Prof Reppert thinks that, just shows how much looney Prof Reppert is. You have lost all sense of commonsense.

This guy thinks the civil rights movement was a communist plot,

"What is happening is that people like Prof. Reppert have brought in millions and millions of Hispanics that vote communist,"

Not even one vote has been proved, Not one single vote has been shown to have been cast by illegal aliens to give Hilary the popular vote.Why do that any way when it wouldn't over come the electrical college vote?

This is a lie. It has been disprove numerous times, There is no evidence to back it up. Repeating it dominates the absurdity of this Nazi's position.

It's a Trump lie, Trump lies thorough his teeth every time he speaks,

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

The Democrat Party thru immigration is about disenfranchising the whites of this country and put in a permanent section of Hispanics that will guarantee to them victory every election.

this guy lives on moon beams. If white are disenfranchised how is it they made up most of the vote they do too,lying Nazi,


"White working-class people were no more likely to vote in this presidential election than in the previous one. Trump’s victory was not due to a spike in turnout among his base supporters.

But there were significant changes in turnout among other demographics. Significant drops in black and Hispanic turnout may have cost Hillary Clinton some previously blue states.

These estimates of voter turnout in the 2016 election came Wednesday from the Census Bureau, which surveyed about a hundred thousand people across the nation, providing the most comprehensive examination of who voted and didn’t."

so the minorities disenfranchised whites by voting less, Taht's so sneaky,