Having covered the historical background of what we commonly refer to as the “electoral college,” the question now is “What advantages does it have over the approach of electing the president and vice-president by direct popular vote?”
As I explained in Parts I and II, the elector approach serves to protect the foundation principles of our system of government, namely republicanism and federalism.
Second, pure democracy will ultimately result in the oppression of minority interests by the majority. The electoral college is designed to protect the interests of those in the minority and in fact, to enhance their interests.
Third, it helps contribute to the political stability of the nation by encouraging the existence of multiple political parties – or at least to preserve a two-party system at a minimum.
Fourth, it helps maintain the unity of the nation because it requires a distribution of the popular support across the country. This means that a candidate for the office of president must compete for the votes of all of the citizenry across the nation.
Without these last two mechanisms in place the election of the president and vice-president would come to be dominated by the larger population centers or regions, thus ignoring huge swaths of the country. A direct corollary to this would be the eventual disappearance of political parties and a real choice of candidates from which the citizens could choose. In the scenario where the president would be elected by direct popular vote, one party would gain the pre-eminence in those heavily populated areas and thus become the victor in every election.
An analysis conducted by the Washington Post following the 2008 election demonstrated that were we to change to electing the president by direct popular vote, the Democrat party would be that dominate party since the densely populated cities and their surrounding areas are in the Democrat camp. Furthermore, most of the country and citizens in-between the two coasts, with the exception of a few major cities, would be ignored because they would not be a factor in the outcome of the election.
In the final analysis, to abolish the current system and replace it with a direct popular election would forever change our entire system of government. We would very quickly coalesce into a true “national” government, further reducing the existence of the states to a level of irrelevance. In a word, we would cease to be a federal republic (I know, in many respects we’ve already ceased to be one). This was a major fear of many of our founders when the Constitution was proposed and why they gave us this ingenious system we call “the electoral college.” I hope then that these four essays will help you understand why we must keep it intact and give you the information to better educate those you meet who think our system needs to be cast aside.
-March 4, 2016