Thursday, November 17, 2016

More on the Electoral College

For a different view than I gave in “Why we have our electoral mess”, see J. Craig Scherf,  "Electoral College maintains one of Constitution’s checks and balances" Duluth News Tribune, 2106-11-15.

Times have changed since the Constitution was written.  Then the voters were male property owners.  Their interests were in protecting their property, whether it was real estate or slaves.  They felt that they could best protect their property by state laws, not federal laws.

But the interests of the states as property protectors has diminished in several ways.

Many of us are not fixed or even interested in our states as defenders of all of our interests.

Those of us who are property owners might change property for a variety of reasons.  We might want a bigger or smaller residence.  We might want to move from a rural area to a city or vice versa.  Or we might move out of state, something that seems to happening more frequently as people change jobs within a company or get a job in a different company.

I have lived in three states and three foreign countries.

I grew up in Cleveland OH and in surrounding areas.  I have not lived in Ohio for 53 years.  When the Cleveland Indians were in the World Series, I could care less!

I have lived in Minnesota for 42 years.  Do I know what the state song is?  What the state flag looks like?  I probably know more U.S. and world history than I do Minnesota history.

Our state lives get even more complicated.  How many people live in one state but work in another?  Duluth-Superior?  New York City with commuters from three states: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut?  Philadelphia with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.  I myself commuted from an exurb west of Philadelphia, through Philadelphia, and on to Cherry Hill NJ.  Chicago also has commuters from three states: Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

And don’t forget that there are many reverse commuters who go from the central city to jobs outside the city, especially as more and more companies build facilities outside the central city.

Many of these commuters have no real property, they rent their living spaces.  So, where do their local loyalties lie: where they live or where they work.  They only get input into the laws that affect where they work is through federal law, not state laws.  The only way they have input into the affairs of the state in which they work is through personal contact with acquaintances who are residents of their work state or letters to the editor of the regional newspaper.

The electoral college could give our co-workers more or less clout in an election than we have.  The Delaware resident who works in Philadelphia had a greater weighted Electoral College vote than his or her colleagues who live in Pennsylvania!  It’s almost like saying that short people have more votes than tall people!

"Would we truly want large regional majorities from the two coasts to alone choose our president? The system of checks and balances left to us by the Founders is the surest guarantee of protecting minority rights that we have.” - J. Craig Scherf

But do we want small regional electoral majorities to take away the rights of the majority of the whole nation?