As Ronald Reagan used to say, when repeatedly correcting misstatements, “There we go again.” And yes, I repeatedly hear the United States of America referred to as a democracy by both parroting ignorants as well as those who know or should know better. Just recently a letter to the editor in my local paper argued that the Electoral College is not a good system because, “in a true democracy every vote should count and the candidate who gets the most votes should win.” Attempting logic with an Aristotelian syllogism, the writer continued, “Two of the last three men elected president were runners-up in popular votes in their initial elections. This indicates either the system is flawed or that the apportionment of electors is inequitable.”
The letter writer is dead wrong: First, the Founding Fathers created for us a constitutional republic, not a democracy, and they, almost to a man, abhorred the idea of framing a “true (or mass) democracy” for the emerging United States. A democracy for them was the capricious and irresponsible rule of the mob. Second, it was the letter writer’s attempted syllogism that erred not the Electoral College. The Electoral College system is neither “flawed,” nor “inequitable,” as he claimed, but as we shall see it worked as it was intended by the Founders and the legislators who subsequently updated this portion of the U.S. Constitution.
The letter writer concluded with “It is time to re-examine the Electoral College and move on into the 21st century and beyond” — a Democrat’s cliché indeed, which brings us to another sophistry, and that is the claim that the Electoral College is outmoded. The fact remains the Electoral College remains timeless because it allows all areas of the country to be fairly represented in presidential elections, preventing several heavily populated clusters of urban areas from dominating presidential elections. And while it is true that the states where the race is close may decide the election, that is not necessarily a bad thing when the country is polarized as it is, and those swing states, less committed to party or ideology, deliberate for the best candidate of either party and preserve a political balance. And despite the empty claim to the contrary, there is no evidence that citizens vote less in states where a particular candidate is heavily favored to win.
Consider the situation in California, ironically described by a foreign news agency, Arutz Sheva, in a brief report entitled, “Popular Vote: One State Does Not Speak for the Nation”:
Never miss a local story.
“Indeed, Clinton did win more votes across the United States by the large margin of 2.8 million. Trump garnered close to 63 million votes, while Clinton won nearly 65.8 million. However, here’s the rub: The numbers show that this entire lead, and then some, came from only one state: California. In fact, most remarkably, the city of Los Angeles alone gave Clinton 1.69 million votes more than it gave Trump. The Golden State, long noted for its more progressive and liberal tendencies than the rest of the Union, voted overwhelmingly for Hilary Clinton. She received 61.73 percent of the vote there, compared to just a smidgeon over half that for Trump — 31.62 percent. In real numbers, slightly more than 4.48 million Californians voted for Trump, while a whopping 8.75 million-plus people voted there for Clinton. In the other 49 states, Trump actually won the popular vote by a significant 1.4 million margin. In fact, some bemusedly say that California is practically a country unto itself.”
Indeed, California has become a country unto itself, way off the mainstream and out in the left political field. Why would left-wing Californians have the right to dictate what the rest of the country can and can’t do, under what logic, under what political philosophy?
And we may be judging Californians in general too harshly. In fact, as Arutz Sheva reports, most of California actually preserved its political acumen; it was only four cities and counties in California that provided that avalanche of votes for Clinton that made all the difference in the popular vote:
Specifically, Alameda County gave Clinton 418,000 more votes, Santa Clara gave her 367,000 more, and the city of San Francisco provided a margin of 308,000. Together with the 1.69 million of Los Angeles, these four alone gave Clinton nearly 2.8 million more votes — almost precisely the margin by which she won the national vote.
Yes, the Electoral College preserved the sanity and probity of the entire nation and acted with deliberation and wisdom as it was intended by the Founders to preserve the Republic.
Miguel A. Faria, M.D. is an Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). He is President of Haciendapublishing, a retired neurosurgeon, and the author of Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002).