Over the course of the last couple of weeks I have read some excellent historical essays and op-eds on the electoral college. It is great to see historians stepping up to the plate.
Americans in 2016 share few values in common with the Framers of the Constitution we claim to revere. Generally, the Framers held to a world view that scholars term “republican” (no relation to the Republican Party): they held a skeptical view of human nature and maintained that the proper function of government office holders was to rule virtuously on behalf of the people’s welfare but not necessarily constrained by the people’s preferences in every matter. For nearly two centuries, Americans have ascribed to a democratic worldview that rests on a positive view of humans as morally good and insists that the role of elected officials is to serve as a mouthpiece for majority preferences.
Not all of us will celebrate this repudiation of the values of the Framers. I certainly don’t. But this doesn’t change the fundamental reality: the electoral college doesn’t belong in our world. It originated from a set of assumptions that the majority of Americans no longer affirm, and many would now roundly denounce. It survives because of the difficulty of convincing both major parties, simultaneously, that neither stands to gain from its anachronistic presence.
Read the entire piece here.