Here's a little civics lesson.
I'm hearing a lot of suggestions that The United States drop the Electoral College and move to a direct democracy. So I started reading up.
(I'll put the "moral of the story" right up front: CHILL OUT. This is a design feature, not a glitch.)
The Founding Fathers feared the tyranny of the majority and set up a Three-Branch Republic. They designed a delicate system of Checks and Balances to insure that the government they set up would not allow this.
We know about "checks and balances" (if we paid attention in Civics Class)- we have three branches of government (Administrative, Legislative, and Judicial.) The three branches are supposed to put a check on each other*. If one branch goes off the rails, the other branches are supposed to step in and stop them. The three branches are also supposed to provide balance - roughly equal amounts of power to govern should not allow either party (in a two-party system) to control the country
I didn't realize (or it just didn't click) that all three branches of government are selected through different processes.
- the Legislative Branch is selected by direct ballot (although originally, the State Legislatures voted on Senators)
- the Executive Branch is chosen by the Electoral College
- The Judicial Branch is chosen by the President and confirmed by the Senate
The Legislative Branch is selected through direct ballot
- each person in a state has one vote (in an ideal world, not accounting for fraud) to elect Representatives and Senators to represent their state. Even within this branch, the two houses are different.
The Senate has two Senators from each state, allowing the *states* to have equal standing - the most populous states would have no more power than the least populous states. Vermont knew that New York would have New Yorkers' interest in mind when voting. In the Senate, those from the less populous states are protected from the tyranny of the more populated states.
In the House of Representatives, the number of Representatives from each state is based on the population of that state. New York had way more Representatives than Vermont, so those from the more populated states are protected from the tyranny of the less populated states.
This is also "checks and balances" - it is also brilliant. Each state is represented in two chamber - in one, the less populous states are "over-represented" and in the other, the more populous states are "over-represented."
The Judicial Branch is chosen by the President...
And confirmed by the Senate. Supreme Court appointments (as well as some others) are for life (although justices can and do retire.) A president cannot just appoint any old person - the appointment must get past the Senate. Unfortunately, this process has been hijacked a couple of times, and as things get more fractured, will continue to be.
In my lifetime, there has been only one time that one party has held the White House for more than two terms. This means that each party will be able to appoint justices during their hold on the White House, so that an *overwhelming* left/right split is less likely.
Granted, in the *impartial* standard was *impartial* adherence to the Constitution, none of this would be an issue - but it isn't the standard, and it is an issue.
The fact that both other Branches are involved in the appointment of Justices is another example of "checks and balances."
The Administrative Branch is chosen by Electoral College
The voters don't elect the president (like they elect Senators and Representatives.) Each state has Electors, based on the population of the state and the voters elect Electors. Many states have laws that insist that all Electors throw their ballots to the Presidential Candidate who won the majority of the ballots in the state, and two (Maine and Nebraska) split their Electors - 2 Electoral Votes go to the majority winner, and the remainder are split according to Congressional districts. So Electoral Ballots can be split between Candidates.
Without this system of Checks and Balances, the most populous states would *CONSISTENTLY* be able to control the least populous states.
With a smaller country, a direct election might work. But the United States is so vast and diverse, the Electoral College serves as checks and balances between the States.
*check - definition #2 - stop or slow down the progress of (something undesirable.).