As Tuesday’s election ticks ever nearer, my fervent wish is a solid electoral college win for Mitt Romney. Not to get greedy, but I’d like it in the bag before the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
I hope this is not asking too much. October’s poll swing and a broadening visceral sense tell me this election may not feature the nail-biting closeness we have been told to expect for months.
But if we are to be ensnared by a down-to-the-wire finish, get ready for the attendant micro-focus on the Electoral College, and the resulting debate over whether it should be scrapped.
I spent more than a little of my early adulthood weighing the merits of deciding the presidency on purely popular vote. It took me too long to cast off the myopia and historical illiteracy that led to my ambivalence.
So on the eve of this election, I hope to unburden anyone troubled by this dilemma. To those actively seeking to ditch the Electoral College, I hope to dash your efforts on the rocks of shame.
Simply put, the Electoral College is one of the most brilliant things conceived by our founders-- and not just because it kept Al Gore out of the White House.
It is a cornerstone of American exceptionalism, one of the unique things that makes our system one to be cherished against a tapestry of other enlightened nations following a more ordinary model.
We are not Finland or Jordan or Brazil. All nations have some substrata of political divides-- regions, provinces, some even called “states.” But no nation has ever risen from birth as a collection of states afforded so much stature that they are allowed, even expected, to routinely trump the national government in various collisions of governing interests.
Residents of my state of Texas share U.S. citizen status with residents of Oregon, Maine and Illinois. But our lives, cultures and passions may differ. The founders wanted a nation that exalted and protected those close-to-home interests. This is the precious gift of federalism, which has allowed our nation to flourish both literally and conceptually as a beacon for how to afford citizens the greatest liberty.
The framers of the Constitution could have easily fashioned an election system in which we funnel our votes into one giant hopper, count them all on election night (hoping on each occasion that we don’t get Florida 2000 on a national level), and the winner is the candidate with the most votes.
But they didn’t. And there was a reason.