9 Quotes About The Electoral College That Will Make You Look At This Election Differently
Now that we're closing in on the general election, you might think that we're just two weeks from choosing the next president of the United States of America. That has, after all, been the point of the seemingly endless primaries, summer of attack ads, continuing allegations, and now — I think it's now safe to say — truly troubling debates. The point was to affect the voters who choose the president, but in this country, it doesn't work that way. Instead, it's all up to the Electoral College. What's that? I'll explain with the help of these nine electoral college quotes, which weigh the pros and cons of this centuries-old system.
Essentially, as Joe Miller for FactCheck.org explains, the Electoral College was invented by the Founding Fathers to protect the country from direct democracy. They were worried about any one group of people — or "faction" as James Madison called them — gaining too much power. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton said that the point was "that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications." Sound applicable to this year's election? Well too bad, because the Electoral College has become all but a formality — although it's a formality that plays a big role in the campaigns' political strategies.
These nine quotes about the Electoral College will help you better understand it:
1. Almost No One Has Anything Good To Say
In general, it's not very popular. Here's Kevin Bleyer's take:
2. That's Probably Because We Have A Bad Recent Example
3. Or As Al Gore Put It...
Four years after losing the Electoral College to George W. Bush, Vice President Gore had this to say to the 2004 Democratic National Convention: "You win some, you lose some. And then there's that little-known third category."
4. Nicer Than What This Senator Had To Say
Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota had this sarcastic take on the matter in his book Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them:
5. But It Really Sucks When You're Gore Or Nixon
Al Gore, being the vice president, had to preside over the Electoral College role call, accepting the results that sealed his fate as the loser. The same thing happened to Nixon too, as Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy explain in their book The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity:
6. That's Among The Reasons People Hate It
Author John Ridley put it pretty succinctly: "Much as banks don't care where your money's coming from, the Electoral College is all 'don't ask, don't care' when it comes to votes."
7. It Was On Bloomberg's Mind
This year, Michael Bloomberg didn't run for president because he wasn't sure he could win (or beat Trump), but both times he thought about running, he weighed the the Electoral College. This is from 2007:
8. Maybe There's An Upside For States With Immigrants
Consider this point from Edward Greenberg's The Struggle for Democracy:
9. But The Cons Seem To Win...
George C. Edwards III wrote a whole book on why the Electoral College is so bad. He's been outspoken since, writing for the Washington Post about what's wrong with the system, but this quote says it best:
So with quotes like that, maybe it's time to take another look at it after this election is over an finished. But better not to play with the rules in the middle of the game.