This seems to be the most misunderstood piece of our government that the creators of the constitution could have ever put in place. The story we hear is that the creators of the constitution did not think the American people were smart enough to decide how government should operate but if this was true why would they establish any kind of democratic process to begin with? It seems at odds with the trend in American history up until that point because every state, town, and government used the democratic process to decide what laws are to be passed. Even the mayflower compact was a democratic agreement between the people so it seems that unusual that the creators of the constitution would defy the ongoing political trend by installing that into the United States constitution.
The Electoral College was not seen as a way to inhibit the people’s constitutional right to participate in the government but to prevent the democratic process from consuming the natural rights and freedom of the people. This was seen as an essential institution that acted as a safeguard for the people that does not exist today.
Examine one the word written by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #1 “the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants”.
In today’s direct election of statesmen we see that the elected officials manipulate the masses in order to make the government operate the way they want to. They move one group of people this way and another group of people another until they have enough votes to do what they want to do. This is possible because of our natural herd instinct that is a part of all animals. Yes—we are animals because a few thousand years of intelligence did not undo the several billion years Mother Nature had to weave this instinct inside of us. This allows government to direct the people in the same way a circus trainer directs the different animals in their show. They put them together and herd them one way and then herd them another in order to move the show the way they want to. No one can say the animals are in control and we can not say we are in control when the people in power use our primitive side against us.
The Electoral College made this impossible because the statesmen (or stateswoman) knew they got their office from the electors and not directly from the people. The electors were (and still are) free to choose whoever they want and because of this there was no point in attempting to manipulate the people’s natural herd instinct against them.
If I was you ‘the reader’ I would feel quite insulted by this description but just look at how many people support a position because they are democrats or republicans. We choose a political position by whether or not we are an R (republican) or a D (democrat) and we go along with whatever Rs and Ds are suppose to believe even though it may not be what we would believe individually. The creators of the constitution knew that our herd mentality could not be undone but they could make something to inhibit this. This something was the Electoral College.
It killed the motive for office holders to use dirty political tricks to manipulate our herd instinct to effectively make government move the way the politicians want instead of what the people want. They move government the way they want to and if you think that is preposterous then look at how the health care bill was passed. The office holders (the democratic party) performed a great trick by comparing health care reform to the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. They even got a nearly identical photo that is comparable to a photo of Martin Luther King walking arm and arm with other quote-unquote reformers. It was Nancy Pelosi walking arm and arm with the Black Caucus to take the final vote which made it appear as some historically epic event. It pushed up the opinion polls up to the point where they could pass it but right afterward it went back down. The idea we have to ask ourselves is whether or not we were the circus master or the circus animals.
Republicans are not above this either. Its no secret that many people within the federal government in both the Clinton and Bush administrations wanted to go to war with Iraq. The tragic events of 911 provided an opportunity to get what they want by ‘herding’ our justifiable and righteous anger at the events of that day to a cause that they wanted which was a war with Iraq.
The Electoral College could have prevented both of these because the politicians would have knew that they got their positions of power from the electors so they would have felt no need to herd the masses since they did not get their positions of power directly from them. This eliminates the motive to manipulate our primitive herd instinct simply because the electors have the power to vote for anyone they want including a choice that goes against the people that chose them to be their electors. The next logical question would be to think that the electors would appoint someone that they know the people would not knowingly approve of but how would the electors get their position if they deliberately chose someone against what the people want? The Electoral College never ever altered the democratic outcome of any election. It may appear that this institution is pointless since it doesn’t alter the democratic outcome of any election but its real objective is to provide an emotional disconnect between the people and power of government.
It creates an important barrier that acts as a safeguard against the people’s own primitive instincts by creating as much distance between the people and the people in power themselves. It does not separate the people from the government since the people still decide who is going to hold office through their chosen electors. It does separate them from the people who hold power within government by creating an indirect relationship between them.
Critics correctly point out that this makes people feel that they have no direct connection to the people in power but this is precisely what we want because it helps to eliminate the natural tendencies for democracy to eliminate the rights of other people. In a democracy each person feels connected to the levers of power and as a result they wake up everyday, make a personal list of what they think people shouldn’t be doing, and then work really hard to create a law to implement their master plan for humanity. They think this way because they feel they have personal access to power since it is ‘will of the people’ and they are one of the people so naturally they feel they have the right to implement their will just like any king does.
We must begin to wonder; what is the difference between the tyranny of a single dictator and the tyranny of the single voter. The only difference is that the power to control the lives of everyone exists with one person while the power with the other lies within every person. It makes no difference to the removed freedom of an individual if that law was created by a dictatorship or their neighbor through the democratic process because the end result was the same which was the loss of individual liberty. We see this in anti-smoking laws and the new mandatory healthy living lifestyle act otherwise known as Obamacare because they were all started by do-gooders who woke up and decided everyone else is to fat. They felt that they could eliminate the freedom of their neighbor because they were directly attached to the power through their directly elected official.
Having an elector that can vote for anyone they want even when it is against the wishes of the people who chose them to be electors eliminates the collectivist impulse inherent in democracy. They know that democracy gives them the same power any dictator has which is why they wake up everyday and think of new ways to control the lives of the people. The Electoral College destroys the do-gooders (who like to destroy freedom one smile at a time) desire to do this because it separates the people from the government by eliminating the feeling of connection to its power thus removing the impetus to make everyone conform to their idea of the master race (I’m exaggerating…a little).
This is why the Electoral College shouldn’t be shunned as some antiquated elitist tool but maintained and expanded if we are to improve individual liberty. The Electors should not be allowed to tell who they are going to put into office until they are chosen as official electors. This would serve to create more of an emotional disconnect between the people and the levers of power which further erodes the collectivist mentality in our society.
In order to empower the electors even more they should have recall power during their term so that the statesmen would know that the electors (and not the people directly) have all the power over their careers. They would know that they are walking a tightrope because they know they can be replaced very easily by a handful of electors at any moment.
The Electoral College will also help to preserve the constitution because we won’t see them as our leaders but simply as holders of a government position in the same way we see firemen or police officers has holders of a government position. We question them all the time because we are not directly connected to them so we demand they do what they, by law, are suppose to do. This is the effect that we want when looking at our elected officials because they, like the police and firefighters, are limited by the supreme law (aka constitution) to doing certain things. When we have no personal connection to them we are more likely to call them out on illegal or unconstitutional behavior because we don’t see them as ‘our guy’. We are more likely to demand that office holders obey the law (or constitution) when we don’t give them cult status.
In modern politics the R and Ds defend ‘their guy’ with any rationale or logic simply because it is ‘their guy’. This happens because we are emotionally attached to the people in power and a strong Electoral College system detaches us from them in a healthy way.
In the same way we see that police officers and firefighters get their power from the law (aka constitution) we will see our statesmen. No one fears firefighters because whatever authority they have they get from the law but we do seem to fear our democratically elected officials because they get their power from the ‘will of the people’. Perhaps there is a reason why we trust firefighters but despise and fear our elected officials.