The day the robos die
October 25, 2012
In a sense, your vote for county commissioner is a lot more important than your vote for president. When it comes to the president and vice-president, the popular vote doesn’t count like you might think. For instance, four times in American history, candidates who won the popular vote were denied the presidency.
Back in the election of 1824, Andrew Jackson beat John Quincy Adams by more than 38,000 votes. He beat him as well in Electoral College votes, 99 to 84. Two other presidential candidates, William Crawford and Henry Clay siphoned off 41 and 37 electoral votes respectively in a four-way contest. The required majority was 131. Amendment 12 to the Constitution decreed that the popular vote was to be ignored, the plurality of electoral votes was to be ignored, and Adams was elected by a vote of the House of Representatives.
In the 2000 election, Al Gore beat George Bush by more than half a million votes, votes that were totally ignored in the final selection of the president. So your presidential vote might not count as much as you think. Why not? Free elections are the heart of a democracy, why did our Founding Fathers not trust the process?
Remember foremost, that those Founding Fathers were the 1-percenters of their day. They did not trust, and never intended to allow, the masses to elect the Commander-in-Chief. It was foreordained that George Washington would be the first chief executive but there was lots of discussion whether he should be president or king.
The main concepts of the Constitution are to preserve liberty, protect the rights of individuals, and limit the powers of government. However, those drafting the document felt the new government should be insulated to prevent public policy from being dominated by public demands. They sought a balance between liberty and a democracy that would only respond to the will of the people through the electoral process.
A seldom-mentioned yet significant reason for the creation of the Electoral College over the popular vote, was that northern states realized that if slaves were counted, the South could claim a larger share of the distribution of federal taxes as well as increased legislative control through more representatives in the House. The problem was partly resolved in the Three-Fifths Compromise of the 1787 Philadelphia Convention where only 60 percent of the slaves were counted but even so, the Electoral College remained and was reinforced by Amendment 12. Ratified in 1804, this amendment further insulated the top two elected positions by reaffirming that it required experts, selected from party stalwarts, to determine who was best fit to become president and vice-president. Today Colorado has nine electoral votes out of the 538 total nationwide. Colorado’s electors, chosen at the party conventions, are bound by the state’s winner-takes-all law. The nine votes are packaged together and voted as a bloc for the highest national vote-getter. Not all states do it this way.
There are 24 states where the selected electoral voters are not constitutionally bound to vote according to the popular vote. If their conscience dictates otherwise, they are free to switch allegiance and vote for the opponent. This has happened several times throughout history although, so far, the defections have not altered the election’s outcome.
The big winner in the election is television advertising, expecting to close on this billion-dollar windfall in just a few more days, with nothing but blue skies and the Superbowl to look forward to.
The American people will be the real winners on November 7th, after the robos all die and quit calling.