Thursday, December 15, 2016

States Rights and the Electoral College

If we were forming a new government today, would include the EC?  I believe so.  We are a nation composed of states.  States have always been important.  In the beginning there were only states; then there was an advantage to having a limited centralized government to deal with foreign governments, fight off pirates, Indians, Britain, France, Spain, etc.  But the rights of states were never to be infringed.  [see our Tenth Amendment: ]

The nature of our union at the beginning was a collection of states and that hasn't changed.  Implied in your argument is the idea that states are as anachronistic as the EC.  For if you invite us to form a new government to see if we would choose to have an Electoral college or not, you are putting us back to being individual, independent states, and if we went back to that we would very likely have several states saying that they don't trust the centralized government enough to form a union.  The big reason the states were willing to give up some of their powers in the formation of the United States is because of the threat of the invasion by England.  Some modern states might calculate and decide they can defend themselves against any foreseeable threat and prefer to remain independent.

It may not seem important to non-Americans, but States still have their separate identities and will not go willingly into oblivion.  Part of the deal was that despite not having as many people as the big states like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, they would get a minimum number of electoral votes, just as they would get two senators, and an additional number based upon a formula derived from population.   The small states became part of the Union with the understanding that their rights would not be infringed and they were especially interested in their role in the national government. 

In the beginning electors voted for two people and the one with the most votes became president.  The one with the second most votes became vice president.  As it happened however the vice president always got as many votes as the president so a Constitutional Change was required.  The 12th amendment was created to deal with this matter.

The smaller states exude some sour grapes over this amendment because it lessened their power.  It was a big deal when they got to gather around with the big states' electors and decide who was going to be president and who vice president.   In fact that is how Jefferson became president and Burr vice president.  It was a close call.  There could have been a President Burr instead of a President Jefferson.  But after the 12th amendment that couldn't happen.  The various parties would decide that in advance.  This lessened the power of the electors and gave those wanting to ban them a bit of ammunition:  "since they aren't as important as they used to be let's get rid of them altogether."

The states are still jealous of their individual powers, whittled away though they have been by the Supreme Court and various central government administrations.   But thanks to the Founding Fathers the powers and individual rights of the states cannot all be swept away.  A state cannot seize to exist any more than it can leave the union without significant difficulties.  And, it should be known that the small states still resent the larger states telling them what to do.  And as our nation has developed so many cities with such huge concentrations of people, the small rural-type town as well as states especially resent being told what to do by people who live in big cities and big states.

What you are proposing is in effect telling small states that since they don't have as many people as larger states their previous guarantee of a certain number of electors is hereby revoked.  Popular vote henceforth will trump the guarantees given states under the constitution.  They will not have as big a voice in the selection of the chief executive as hitherto.

Here is what it would take to get rid of the electoral college:  (1) it requires a constitutional amendment.  (2) Any constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate and (3) the ratification of three-fourths (38) of the 50 states.  In some future (Democratic administration; since they (traditionally) own the big cities)  one can imagine the house and senate voting to end the EC, but what could induce the small states to vote away this power?   Can you imagine them saying, "Come on big cities and big states, you take all the power and rule over us.  We are an anachronism and shouldn't have as much power in the central government as we used to."

Our Founding Fathers, when they created the Constitution and Bill of Rights, strove to balance the powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government such that not only could no branch rule over the other branches but that the states and individual citizens should not have their rights infringed.  They did not build into the constitution the ability of the centralized government to infringe the rights of the individual states.  See our tenth amendment:

Our constitution did not specifically deny the right of a state to secede.  During our Civil War 16th states seceded.  The Supreme Court declared that each state by joining the union made their part in the Union unalterable except by a change in the constitution.  The various secessionist movements in the U.S. seem to concede that:  

No comments: