The genius of our nation’s founders is evident in so many ways, from spelling out the protection of our civil liberties in the Bill of Rights to the separation of powers in the original unamended Constitution (at least in theory if not in practice).
However their most prescient innovation was the electoral college.
The manner by which presidents were selected after the Constitution took effect and George Washington was elevated to an office of great significance and consequence is very different to how the election of the national executive is handled today.
For example, South Carolina’s legislature chose their presidential electors until the Civil War.
Yet from the unanimous consent that twice anointed Washington president through the divisive political climate of today, the electoral college endured, with minor tweaking after the infamous 1800 Jefferson-Burr tie.
While the system denied Andrew Jackson in 1824, that same system allowed for a correction in the next cycle.
And though Samuel Tilden was robbed of the White House in 1876, it was more the fault of the governing authority in Washington that failed to properly referee the election controversy than the electoral college itself.
Unlike a direct presidential popular vote, the electoral college compels a broad national consensus, allows for contingency options in extreme cases, and can better isolate tainted election results.
A national popular vote is more likely to pave the way towards a potential disunion than the electoral college.
For example, let’s apply some scenarios from the most recent election.
The difference between Donald Trump winning and losing a plurality in the national popular vote was California.
Take away California and Trump receives 58,495,826 votes while Hillary Clinton runs second with 57,090,822. Now assume for a moment that results from almost all of the most populous states have checked in their votes with California outstanding.
Knowing its inclination to overwhelmingly vote Democrat, and fearing that the state might not produce enough of a margin to elect Clinton to the White House, a state judge in California makes a unilateral decision to simply keep the polls open for as long as it takes for Clinton to pack in as many votes as possible.
Furthermore, rather than isolating and being able to investigate vote fraud in one or two states whose electoral votes could have tipped the election to a candidate, all of a sudden vote fraud EVERYWHERE becomes relevant in the outcome of the election.
All of a sudden Jill Stein’s “recount” scam in a few states can become a national vote challenge, with the potential to indefinitely delaying the results of a presidential election. It would make the ensuing chaos from the 2000 Florida recount look like a blip.
All of a sudden elections become poker games pitting hard core red states with hard core blue states as they sit on their respective results, if not manufacture directly or indirectly.
And the one thing Stein’s fundraising/recount crusade did reveal was that more votes were cast in parts of Detroit than there were participating voters.
America doesn’t need to be reenacting Venezuela’s elections any time soon.
And speaking of the Chavez-Maduro petro-thugocracy, what many of the men and women who signed up for the usually mundane job of standing as Republican presidential electors experienced was unprecedented and not what is supposed to happen in a democracy.
Electors have received 90,000+ emails individually and hundreds of pieces of mail.
Some of the communiqués were of such a threatening nature that one electoral who has visited some pretty rough corners of the world felt the need to keep a fire arm on his person.
Did these petitioners truly believe that they could change the minds of party stalwarts?
Probably not, unless they had personally invested in the Jill Stein recount to nowhere scheme.
Most I suspect were satisfied harassing people of a contrary political persuasion while possessing some kind of moral license.
If the parties positions were reversed while the caustic messages were the same, the Justice Department would’ve surely intervened. But such is life under the waning days of an administration that doesn’t extend equal protection to their domestic adversaries.
The country, Constitution, and electoral college will survive, though what constitutes civil discourse continues to decay.