The Electoral College: Why It’s Needed

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the Electoral College and some who have argued for its abolishment.  However, the Electoral College is critical to our freedom and our form of Government.

The Founding Fathers understood that the Nation they created covered an immense territory.  Many feared that it would be too large to support a republican form of government.  (By republican, I do not refer to a political party, but rather to that form of government where free people elect representatives to represent them in the legislature.)  One large weakness recognized by the founding fathers was the different interests citizens would have in different parts of the country.  For example, in the North, the economy was based largely on manufacturing and shipbuilding in New England.  In the South, the economy was based more on agriculture.  What may be good policy for the North, could be detrimental for the South and vice-versa.

The Same is true today.  Citizens in Alaska have vastly different concerns than those living in New York.  At the time of the founding, what was considered a large city, would be considered a small one today.  Philadelphia in 1776 was the largest city in the colonies with a population of only 40,000 inhabitants.  The city dwellers still had many of the same interests as those living outside the cities.  Such is not the case today.

As of the 2010 census, Philadelphia had a population of over 1.5 million.  New York’s population was tallied at over 8.1 million.  Today, those living in the cities need to find “green space,” living space is severely limited and expensive, so they often are concerned about rent control, parks, public transportation (if all 8.1 million inhabitants of New York drove their own cars to work everyday, no one would be able to get anywhere!).  But outside of the big cities, there is still plenty of open land.  The rural citizens don’t need green space.  They already have it.  Public transportation of the type used in the big cities, would be completely unfeasible in the rural areas.  They need more roads, their own vehicles, and in places like Alaska where every year at least one person is still killed in a bear attack, and other rural areas throughout the country where police response times can be 20 minutes or much, much longer, they still need guns for protection.

If one looks at the Presidential election maps broken down by county throughout the US over the last 40 years, one will see that the country (territorily speaking) is mostly red, or conservative, in its values.  However, wherever a city is located, say Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, etc.) those counties are generally blue, or liberal areas.  Again, this shows the difference in interests and needs between those who live in large cities and those who live in rural areas.

Knowing that those who lived in different areas of the country would have different interests, the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College to ensure factions in one part of the country would have a more difficult time overcoming the interests of the citizens in another part of the country.  If it had not been for the Electoral College, I believe our country would have fallen apart long before the Civil War.  The Electoral College was there to provide a balance between the interest of different geographic areas of the country.

So it is today.  The Electoral College is still needed to balance the interests of different areas of the country.  Today it isn’t so much North vs South, but Urban vs Rural (which is really what the North vs South was back then).  The strength of our society depends on us realizing that we are not just one large homogeneous group of people.  We are different people with different needs depending on where we live.  Those needs are best addressed by the States, not the National government.  But that is a topic for another post.


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