Why Do We Need The Electoral College?

electoral-college

Why do we need an Electoral College to determine our president? Isn’t the popular vote a better way to elect a President? After all, the popular vote is the method to select Senators, Congressional representatives, Governors, etc.

The President is based on a national election. Our founders designed our government with checks and balances to limit control by a majority. The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial are designed to limit overreach by the other branches. The branches were designed as follows:

Congress – Each state is allocated representatives based on population.

Senate – Each state was allocated 2 Senators per state. The state legislators voted on the Senators. In 1913, (Woodrow Wilson’s term), the 17th amendment was ratified, which authorized Senators to be elected by popular vote.

Judicial – Appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. Legislatures need an amendment to overturn Judicial decisions.

President is decided by an electoral college instead of popular vote. The founders knew that the heavily populated states could dominate an election. How could they limit the impact? Through an electoral college. There are 538 electoral votes.  The same total as Congress, 438 representatives plus 100 Senators. The plurality wins the same number of electoral votes in a state regardless of the margin of victory.  In North Carolina we have 15 electoral college votes. If a candidate wins with 40% or 100%, then they both receive 15. This forces a candidate to campaign in all states. Otherwise they could target California, New York, and Illinois and avoid South Dakota. This encourages a national campaign to woo all voters. The electoral college is another example of the founder’s foresight and wisdom.

The Delegate Process

Constitution

Inquisitive, curious, and demanding journalists continue to question the election process. In addition candidates, surrogates, and voters have picked up the torch. People, the process is the process. There is no stealing, breaking of laws, or disenfranchisement. It’s called campaigning and organizing. The founding fathers were brilliant men who understood corruption and manipulation.

1- Why doesn’t the candidate with the plurality become the nominee? This means that the majority of the voters did not vote for the plurality candidate. If the delegates remained committed to the popular vote then we may never have a nominee chosen. Therefore, the delegates need the flexibility to arrive at a majority for one candidate by representing the people.

The US is a republic with a representative government. We vote for city councils to decide on city issues, which require a majority. We vote for state senators, representatives, and governors to decide on state issues, which require a majority. We vote for a president, congress, and senate to decide on federal issues, which require a majority.

Our president is selected by a majority of the Electoral College. If there is no majority after the first ballot then the US Congress decides from the top three vote-getters.

At the GOP convention, a similar process is followed. The nominee must earn a majority of the delegates. Majority rule, not a plurality, is a democratic principle.

2-Why do the delegates select the candidates? If the candidate has a majority of delegates then there is a clear mandate from the electorate for the nominee. The delegates vote as the people voted and the convention becomes a coronation for the nominee.

The delegate selection process is the second layer of the election. Winning 1237 delegates from winning elections is the primary goal but ensuring that campaign friendly delegates are selected is the secondary goal. This is only needed if 1237 is not attained on the first ballot when most of the delegates are pledged to vote according to the state’s results. However, there is a secondary campaign to win the votes of delegates who change from pledged to unpledged. Persuading enough of these free agent delegates to vote for your candidate is the key to winning a contested convention.

Serious candidates must accrue delegates by campaigning for votes and engage in the delegate selection process in case they do not reach 1237 on the first ballot. This is not cheating or stealing. It’s called democracy.

Abraham Lincoln trailed Seward 100-170 heading into the 1860 convention. On the third ballot, Lincoln had 230+ and Seward had 100. The process works. Seward was subsequently Lincoln’s secretary of state and negotiated Seward’s purchase, the acquisition of Alaska from Russia.

3- How do states conduct elections?  Some have primaries, caucuses, conventions, winner-take-all, proportional by state or district, etc. Every state has unique rules and processes. The candidates are expected to be organized and informed enough to compete. If all states are treated like primaries then the candidate will lose delegates. If all states are treated like caucuses then the candidate will lose delegates. You can’t win the decathlon if you bring a shot put for each event.

Our election process, as well as our legislative process, is meant to be cumbersome. This avoids a populist, disorganized candidate winning the White House. The constitution provides the framework for how our country operates. Don’t listen to candidates, surrogates, journalists, pundits, talking heads, or neighbors criticizing our constitution. Adherence to it is the glue that has kept American diversity thriving for 250 years.

 

Oversight with Blinders

checks and balances

“The Constitution was made to guard the people against the danger of good intentions.”  Daniel Webster

They have a private, highly trained army with no rules, no oversight, and no accountability. Stealth activities including killings, bombings, and tortures are commonplace. Am I describing a king, North Korea, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or a military dictator? These special operations teams are under the authority of the President of the US and our CIA.

Since 9-11, the special ops teams have doubled from 35,000 to 70,000 troops, distributed in 81 countries. This is an average of over 850 ops personnel in each country. Bolivia was 81st in population in 2013 with about 10,000,000.   This growth was funded by a five-fold increase in their budget from $2.1 billion to $10 billion.

These troops have no congressional or public oversight. Therefore, we do not know of their successes or failures because even the special ops personnel cannot tell their families about their missions.

Special Ops are an elite force with a specialized skill set of physical and mental abilities. They are honorable, loyal, and patriotic men and women with a love for our country. Unfortunately, they do not always know the political and economic reasons for their missions.

81 countries? I don’t know if I could list 81 countries.  If you poke a hornet’s nest, then don’t be shocked if you are stung.

Notice the absence of government checks and balances which the Constitution explicitly prescribes for our protection.


 

Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.” Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812), founder of the House of Rothschild.

The Federal Reserve is neither Federal nor Reserve. It’s a privately held organization authorized by Congress with no Congressional oversight. The owners are from multiple countries which determine fiscal policies in the U.S. Since the US money was decoupled from the Gold standard on August 15, 1971, by Richard Nixon, our fiat currency is backed by the good faith of the government. When Congress asks for a trillion dollars, the Federal Reserve types the number into a computer. Congress spends the money but owes the reserve a trillion dollars plus interest. The ramifications boggle my mind.

The Federal Reserve chairman is testifying before congress this week. She intimated to trust the Reserve because any Congressional oversight would be harmful to our economy.

Notice the absence of government checks and balances which the Constitution explicitly prescribes for our protection.


 

Paris was bombed this week resulting in 150 deaths and more injured. The public outpouring due to the tragic actions by terrorists is inspirational. The bombing was not a random act committed in an innocent country. The French are militarily committed to the fight in Syria by sending troops and weapons.  In a terrorist war, there are no boundaries for fighting. ISIS may not have highly trained special ops like the US but do have committed suicide bombers willing to wreak havoc in other nations. I’m not sure that it’s possible to win an ideological war against a loosely organized global terrorist movement. When individuals are willing to commit suicide to carry out their mission, anywhere in the world, then it’s a dangerously unpredictable force.

I’m not promoting succumbing to terrorism, but we are guilty of kicking the hornet’s nest and acting shocked when we are stung.


 

In the wake of 9-11, the extra-Constitutional Patriot Act was passed. This act traded our privacy rights for the promise of safety. Warrantless monitoring of unsuspected individuals on a massive scale, lying to the American people about the scope of data gathering, and spying on our allies were some of the egregious activities perpetrated by the NSA and CIA.

Eric Snowden stole over 200,000 pages of NSA documents and fled the country. His legacy as a traitor or a whistle blowing freedom fighter will be determined in the future. He exposed the deception of our government officials who have lied (the political euphemisms are “misspoke”, “can’t recall”, or “plead the fifth”) under oath concerning covert unthreatening activities. This has caused public embarrassment but no apparent national security breaches.

What do these incidents have common?  Violations of the constitution by all branches. Congress has ceded their Constitutional authority of oversight, the Executive Branch (Bush and Obama) have exceeded their Constitutional authority by executive orders or implementing programs without oversight, and the Judicial branch have violated their oaths of office. The following oath is taken by all federal employees except for the president.

“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.  So help me God.”

Our Constitution has been the foundation of our country for 225 years. When enough people choose not to “support and defend the Constitution”, then our checks and balances fail. This will result in the powerful and influential ruling our country. Pray for those in authority.

1 Timothy 2

I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

The Supreme Divide

Lady Justice

“I, ________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

All Supreme Court justices since the 1860’s have affirmed this oath, including our present sitting Justices. The foundation of the oath is to swear (or affirm) to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. A straightforward charge to these judicial pillars.

There were some landmark Supreme Court decisions this week.

  1. Obamacare was challenged because of the wording in the bill that government subsidies would only be provided for “the states that set up exchanges”. The Court saved the bill by interpreting the phrase “the states that set up exchanges” to mean that any exchanges set up by the states or the federal government, eliminating the checks and balance of the Legislative branch writing the laws, the Judicial branch interpreting the laws, and the Executive branch executing the laws. The Supreme Court, instead of interpreting the law as written, chose to rewrite the law. If congress writes a sloppy or unclear bill then it’s the Supreme Courts job to return the bill so that Congress can write it correctly. Instead, judicial activism was exercised. This was a 6-3 decision.
  2. Same-sex marriage is now a national right according to the due process in the fourteenth amendment.The dissenters did not vote that same-sex marriage is wrong because  it’s not a power granted to the federal government but is reserved for the states to decide. The majority believed that this is a federal right after a 5-4 decision.

How can nine smart, seasoned lawyers come to polar opposite conclusions when the goal is to “protect and defend” the Constitution? The answer is the two different philosophies for interpreting the Constitution: living constitution (loose constructionism) and original intent (strict constructionism).

Living Constitution

Living Constitution was introduced by the father of modern Progressivism, President Woodrow Wilson, in his book Constitutional Government in the United States where he wrote:

Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.

During his 1912 Presidential campaign, Wilson publicly asserted

Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop. All that progressives ask or desire is permission – in an era when “development,” “evolution,” is the scientific word – to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.

Wilson believed that just like organisms evolve per Darwin’s theory that so does the Constitution evolve over time.

Justice Ginsberg defends this approach by saying the Constitution must allow for broad interpretation.

“It’s intended to be looked at in the context of contemporary events, in the context of history, in the context of past precedent, and the intent of the framers. Put all those things together and hopefully what you get is the right answer to some perplexing issue that the court is confronting,”

During an Egyptian TV interview Justice Ginsberg responded,

“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”  The justice then added, “I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, have an independent judiciary. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done.”

Justice Ginsberg swore to protect and defend our constitution but believes that South Africa has a better constitution.

The liberal justices (Sotomayor, Ginsberg, Kagan, Breyer) were nominated by Democratic presidents and usually vote in lockstep due to their belief in a living constitution that changes according to the cultural and social climate of the present.

Original Intent

Original Intent is the belief that  Constitutional interpretation is according to the intent of authors of the Constitution. This approach interprets the Constitution literally, peruses the Federalist Papers, and any other early writings that could provide the author’s intent. This concludes that the Federal Government only has power explicitly granted in the Constitution and all other powers are implicitly granted to the States. The belief is that the Constitution is resilient enough for our country unless new amendments are ratified.

The conservative justices (Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts) were nominated by Republican presidents. Alito, Scalia, and Thomas usually vote together due to their original intent philosophy. Kennedy and Roberts are now swing voters who drift between living Constitution and original intent decisions.

Conclusion

The founding fathers were brilliant men that understood human nature, the corruption of man, and the lust for power. Our constitution is meant to provide constraints on the Federal government and to enforce checks and balances on the federal branches (Legislative, Executive, Judicial). Ratifying Constitutional amendments is meant to be difficult to provide constitutional stability. States’ rights are intended to flourish except where federal rights are explicitly granted.

The Constitutional foundation is crumbling as officials deem it an obstacle for what they want. A living constitution means that the constitution means whatever the interpreter wants it to mean. Therefore, the Constitution is deemed as a necessary evil until it can be modified by the court to be a better document. This thinking is dangerous and a threat to our country.