December 19th, 2016
The Electoral College meets today to elect a President. Historically, this has been a mostly ceremonial function that was completed in obscurity but this year it has been thrust into the spotlight. Those that are upset with the outcome of the election have been campaigning for the electors to not vote as they were directed by the results in their state. In the end, it will prove to be time and resources wasted, as some state laws require them to vote as the popular vote dictates and other states have required a pledge from the elector to vote in accordance with the state’s results and the elector can be removed and another elector appointed if they fail to do so. The outcome of today’s electoral college voting will be the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.
A more relevant issue is whether the Electoral College is relevant or outdated. It’s a fair question given that Hillary Clinton garnered 48.2% of the popular vote compared to Donald Trump’s 46.1% and yet she isn’t the next President. How did this happen?
The Founders were concerned that a populous state or region would control who was President and the smaller states would lose influence. While this protection of smaller states in the Electoral College was not as absolute as reflected in the two Senators from each state makeup of the Senate (the number of electoral votes per state does reflect their size), it does make possible exactly what happened this year and in two prior elections, the candidate receiving the highest number of popular votes didn’t win. If we look closer at what happened this year we can see that the Electoral College did exactly what it was created to do and is as relevant today as it was when it was created.
The disparity in the popular vote came from one state, California. If you removed California from the count, Trump would have won a majority of the popular vote by 1.4 million and would have a popular majority, 50.6% to 49.4%. To put it another way, California elected Hillary Clinton President and the rest of the country elected Donald Trump. In the final analysis, the electoral college did exactly what it was designed to do, it kept one state from having undue influence on who would be the next President.
An often-overlooked result of this win is the fact that the voice of mature Americans was heard. Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, all states with a large percentage of older Americans, were won by Donald Trump. If California had elected our President the older voices in these states would have been muted.
There is still much to do. There are many Democrats and Republicans in Washington who want to cut the benefits promised to older Americans, who want to limit access and come between you and your doctor. While a new President promises change, and he has certainly proven that he’s capable of doing just that, we must be vigilant that the voice of mature America continues to be heard.
Thair Phillips – President