In defense of the Electoral College

I don’t think anyone who knows me would think that I am happy about the election result, but just in case you wonder I will be explicit and say I am not happy about the result. For many, many, many reasons I was (and am) a supporter of Hillary. And I did a little to support the campaign. I gave some money, I bought some swag, I posted on social-media and wrote a couple of blog pieces. I spent an afternoon calling voters in Nevada. But that’s it, that was the extent of what I did and so I am not blaming the electoral college system for what happened, where once again more people voted for someone who will not be taking office, I am blaming myself for this travesty because there is no one else to blame.

I was listening to a podcast about the future of democracy and was reminded that ‘demos’ means ‘people.’ Democracy is a system of the people so if the people don’t participate the system doesn’t work. It is really that simple. Never mind that almost 50% of eligible voters didn’t bother to affirmatively vote – they voted with their non-participation. Saying nothing is often just as powerful as saying something.

The function of the Electoral College is balance. We don’t really teach the nuances of our governmental system anymore and so I don’t think people really understand how it works. Perhaps if they did we would have paid closer attention, we would have worked a little harder and been a little less confident. So much of what I believe truly makes America great is the foresight the founders had in creating systems that would not allow the majority to absolutely control the minority. I’m not sure they were counting on the degree of apathy we now see but you can’t anticipate everything.

So the Electoral College is a way of saying ‘look, we are one country, united, and anyone who is going to govern the country needs to be acceptable to those not just clustered in one geographic area but who can speak across regions and geographies to understand the disparate needs of those places.’ Without the Electoral College what we get is small, population dense centers controlling the policy for a much broader geographic region. This is exactly what just happened – look at the map. Most of the people living in cities voted blue, and more people live in cities than in the rural areas. But geographically more regions voted red. The rural and sub-urban regions said to the cities ‘hey don’t forget about us, we matter too.’ And here we are.

I don’t like the result, but I do think that balancing power is important. And I think that those of us living in the cities, those who voted blue were a little too apathetic and self-righteous in not paying attention to those other places. Here’s the thing: I could have got on a plane and flown to Pennsylvania or Florida and walked some of those precincts to talk about why I was with her and why that mattered. But I didn’t. I could have picked up a phone and called those places and said, “we are all in this together and this matters to me,” but I didn’t. And if one of those states went the other way, if we had paid a little more attention to the people not exactly like us and taken the time to have a conversation maybe we would be looking at a very different outcome today.

So it is not the fault of the Electoral College that we are where we are. No, the Electoral College did exactly what it is supposed to do. I failed. I didn’t do my job as an engaged citizen. This is on me. And if you didn’t vote I don’t want to hear anything about how you like or you don’t like or how it was a protest vote or blah blah blah because really, you don’t deserve a democracy and I don’t want you to drag me down with you!

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