For the second time in sixteen years, we have had an election where the winner did not win the popular vote. Although Donald Trump lost the popular vote by a narrow margin, he won enough electoral college votes to win the presidency.
Now many of the media talking heads and political hacks (but I repeat myself) have taken up the cry that the Electoral College is an anachronism, a remnant of the 18th century being inflicted on modern times. Is this true? Is the Electoral College still needed? One map answers this question.
The Electoral College exists for the same reason the United States Senate exists. When the thirteen colonies decided to join together to form a nation, the Founding Fathers were very aware of the problem cities present to a democracy.
Cities had been a problem since ancient times. Rulers live in cities along with their extensive entourages and large numbers of poor unproductive people. So rulers have long taxed the productive (the farmers in olden times) to feed the cities. Think the bread and circuses of ancient Rome. It was said that the Pax Romana provided peace to the entire empire, except for the cesspool that was the city of Rome. (Not deliberately drawing parallels to modern day Washington, D.C., but if the shoe fits…)
A good example from modern times is the Russian Revolution of 1917. When Lenin and his fellow communists took over, they knew their base was the urban workers of Moscow and other cities. They didn’t care at all about the farmers in the countryside. They, like all other Russian rulers, viewed the farmers as slaves. (Technically serfs, since Russia had banned slavery by calling all the slaves serfs.) They knew they had to feed the workers in the cities to maintain their power base. Ultimately, Stalin collectivized the farms, resulting in the deaths of millions from starvation.
So back to the United States. The smaller, less populated colonies knew that New York (New York City), Massachusetts (Boston), and Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) would come to dominate the smaller colonies in a pure democracy. So they created two important institutions to insure the representation of the rest of the country, the United States Senate, with two senators for each state, regardless of population, and the Electoral College, with an extra elector for each state regardless of population.
Now look again at the map of the United States. Hillary Clinton won the large cities, where the massive political machines (think ACORN and its corrupt successors) could generate a large votes, and large parts of the population live on the government dole (think bread and circuses). Meanwhile, the vast majority of the rest of American counties voted for Donald Trump. The same thing happened in 2000 between George Bush and Al Gore.
And the Electoral College worked just as the Founding Fathers intended, protecting the bulk of America from the domination by Tammany Hall style political machines.