We have heard the mantra of fundamental transformation time and time again. It is a mantra of dissatisfaction and disdain for the founding principles and processes that have made our great country what it is today.
The recent column calling for the abolition of the Electoral College delivers several inaccuracies. First, the term “college” has nothing to do with education, but refers to a group of individuals endowed with certain specific duties; in this case, to represent their constituencies in the election of the president. This representation is a fundamental feature of a republic.
It is important to remember that we live in a republic, and that we are represented in Washington, D.C., through the elected members of our congressional delegation (senators and congressmen). All federal legislation is conducted by our representatives. It is often the case that these representatives vote in such a way that is contrary to the will of the majority of the constituents that elected them.
The Electoral College is organized in a parallel manner to our national congressional system. In fact, each state is designated one electoral vote for each member of Congress. States with greater populations have a greater number of congressional districts and a greater number of electoral votes. Individual states, not the federal government, determine how their respective electoral votes are awarded. Both Nebraska and Maine award their electoral votes based on the proportional allocation of votes within their congressional districts, all electoral votes DO NOT automatically go to the statewide majority winner. The New York State Legislature could follow the lead of Maine and Nebraska and vote to proportion our state’s electoral votes in a similar manner. With a sympathetic governor and state Legislature, petitioning Albany might be a more fruitful endeavor than attempting to change the United State Constitution, as was suggested.
For those who believe that the popular vote was indicative of the “will of the American people” in this past election, please consider these factors: First, the two candidates were selective about the states in which they ardently campaigned. Donald Trump did less campaigning in California, knowing he would be unable to win the state’s electoral votes. Similarly, Hillary Clinton spent little time in Idaho and North Dakota. Had these states’ electoral votes been in play, the popular vote outcome in these states would have been different as the candidates would have rallied their respective bases. Similarly, potentially millions of Trump voters didn’t vote in overwhelmingly liberal states like Vermont, Maine or California, knowing they could not affect the outcome of the election. Looking at the popular results in an electoral election is like trying to determining the winner in a game of chess based on the number of pieces taken; it is completely irrelevant to the outcome. If the rules had been different, the candidates would have played the game differently. Chess and checkers are played on the same board but are played very differently.
In a past op-ed, “The crisis in America,” which appeared on Aug. 24, it was proposed that the president’s executive authority be ceded to a group of unelected cabinet officials. What place does such a suggestion have within our current constitutional republic? No citizen voted for any of the appointed cabinet officials who would be charged with controlling our nation. Essentially proffering that an oligarchy should be implemented as a substitute for our current republic, simply because one dislikes the duly elected president, is what I would deem fundamental transformation! You may notice that that there is no concern for voter disenfranchisement when it involves removing a political opponent.
President Trump was duly elected as a reaction to the very mindset put forth in these recent columns, the mindset that believes the ends justifies the means. Disdain for one man does not justify the dismantling of the greatest system of governance this world has ever known. Let’s not re-write the Constitution and its protections just because Trump won the election. The Electoral College was created and included in the Constitution as a means to protect state sovereignty and to ensure that each individual state is afforded proportionate representation in our republic. A call to eliminate the Electoral College might as well be a call to eliminate our congressional delegation system.
Karen Aronian is the chair of the North Salem Republican Town Committee.