Eleven score and eight years ago in the dusty Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Founding Father Alexander Hamilton declared, “Let one executive be appointed for life who dares execute his powers.”
His proposal of a timeless term for the Executive Body shocked the Constitutional Convention, whose mandate to concoct a more powerful form of American governance was delivered not by the quibbling ink of legislators, but by the smoky muskets and screaming bullets of Daniel Shay.
So, the question arises: Why does Hamilton so virulently, so openly and unequivocally, demolish this republican ideal?
The answer lies in Hamilton’s fear of a “mobocracy” – a government controlled by the uneducated commoners. In other words, Hamilton feared democracy itself: He sought to create a moneyed aristocracy that would render judgment from its mighty thrones.
Two hundred and twenty-eight years later, we stand as a nation that has abolished many of the archaic restrictions that have hampered our democratic process. The property, racial and gender requirements for voting have gradually withered into the dusty pages of history textbooks, while a free and open democracy has emerged with broader enfranchisement, despite Hamiltonian pleas for restraint.
Yet, the Electoral College is a remnant of an antediluvian time, motivated by undemocratic values and shrouding republicanism in its dark, looming clouds.
To begin with, the Electoral College unnecessarily increases the bureaucracy of democracy with antiquated reasoning. Augmenting the distance between the president and his votes (i.e., using electors as an intermediary) concurrently increases the distance between the president and his constituents; and, unfortunately, a dismissive and uninterested populous is not only passive, but also potentially dangerous.
In addition, the Electoral College stamps out minority political factions within states, as electors will nearly always side with the majority. For instance, though the Golden State has a population that is roughly 28 percent Republican and 43.2 percent Democratic (according to the Public Policy Institute of California), California’s electoral votes will continuously flow to the liberal majority.
Next, the Electoral College emphasizes some states over others, creating legitimate battlegrounds in certain states that contrast with the peaceful meadows of others. For instance, campaigning is minimized in states such as California and Texas, which are certain to lean a particular way, while swing states like Ohio are inundated with aggressive campaign ads. This embodies an injustice against people – after all, the citizens of all states cast the votes.
Finally, while not only reducing voter output, the Electoral College can, at times, sincerely reject popular sovereignty at the benefit of the electors. In one infamous case, the 2000 election, Democrat Al Gore actually won the popular vote 48.6 percent to George W. Bush’s 47.9 percent, but lost the electoral vote by 5.
In short, considering that the Electoral College was founded on the premise that the common man should not receive power, and considering the evolution of the republican experiment – from Jeffersonian romanticism of the “common man” to Jacksonian Democracy to the Voting Act of 1964 – the Electoral College seems incredibly outdated and obsolete.
As the 2016 presidential race heats up, perhaps we should remind ourselves that, in a Hamiltonian fashion, the electors, not the Americans, will be deciding who the leader of this nation is.
Ryan Chandra is a senior at St. Francis High School.