You would think that each person votes, and so the majority should then elect the president. What if some demagogic populist, even worse than Trump, got the full popular vote - say, by insisting that we go to war with Russia? This is not impossible to imagine, if Russia had done something stupid, similar to exploding the World Trade Center. In that case, the majority votes against its own best interest - and may even vote to lock up Russians, or Blacks, or Jews.
"The tyranny of the majority." This is a real flaw of pure democracy. Those who think themselves wise by calculating polls and engaging in strategic voting, seem to miss this very real threat. And, there is something more...
We are not a single nation. We are a nation composed of states. In olden times, the word, "State," was used to denote, "Nations." Although the Confederacy has died, we continue as a Federated Nation nevertheless composed of 50 states. People who think that the popular vote should reign supreme completely ignore this. They, in fact, by supporting the popular vote, ironically support the strengthening of the monolithic Federal Government, with all its invasions of privacy, and wars, and so on.
It is a good thing to have a check to the growth of the Federal Government. And that growth is generally correlated to the rise of large urban centers.
It has generally been the big "power states" - Illinois, NY, California, etc., who have supported Democrats, who tend to support the popular vote, and so the preeminence of the Federal Government. These states are powerful because of their larger populations, which are largely concentrated in large urban centers. Democrats have also supported Obama, who has ironically further built up the power of the Executive, through the paradoxical and dysfunctional (partisan) way our system has been operating.
Republicans keep complaining about Big Government, and they generally do so in order to appease their corporate doners. They are wrong but they are also right: Democrats have indeed supported a federal state, a stronger executive (which works to Trump's advantage), more taxes, and social programs. If anyone has ever dealt with Federal agencies - it is often NUTSO.
(There are legitimate arguments against Obamacare, which was a boondoggle for big insurance companies. And the duplicitous way it was installed smacks of corruption).
This country does not need to be controlled by an amalgamation of monolithic corporations, working from a few CITY STATES like Chicago, NY, Los Angelas, Boston, etc. It is a GOOD thing to put a check on this! That way lies madness and DECLINE OF EMPIRE - no-matter that the voters in those cities tend to be Democrats! They vote on the social issues, and tend to miss the big issues.
THAT'S what lost them the election - missing the alienation of the working class and of rural America. Instead, they threw their chips on the LGBT bathroom issue, and the like, and assumed the support of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana - STUPID! They lost the BIG PICTURE - the real economy, which was in a shambles because of their own Neo-Liberal, Neo-Con, policies, shared by status quo Republicans, like John McCain. And even the BUSHES.
The electoral college preserves the integrity of the states. This means that Western states with smaller populations have a relatively stronger weight in elections. Smaller minds might shout that this is unfair. Here's why I think its really, really fair...
Imagine that our country becomes entirely urbanised, in big cities. These people vote on issues immediately relevant to their dirty, crammed, urban lives. Take away the guns, because guns are feared here. Support environmental policies which override the legitimate concerns of local populations. Vote to take away farmland, to ignore poor whites, to siphon money into big urban developments.
Whether liberal or not, most people who live in big cities do not have a close relationship to land, animals and nature. Cities are magnets for migrants who seek to make money, not to save nature.
Big cities are central hubs for bankers, industrialists, business people, investors, who are interested not in the waste their corporations spread across the land, but in making a profit, by any means. Suburban Republicans support these corporations outright, and Democrats often support them by default. How so? Liberals consume. Liberals like to be in hip fashion. Liberals create garbage.
There are progressive urban liberals who do try to save the planet, correct corporations, and care for issues which are far beyond the urban horizon. But, for the most part, people in cities simply do not understand or think about, "Fly-over Country." They don't have a feeling for where their food comes from. They classify out-landers as rednecks and racists.
And that's generally how they vote on out-landish issues: ignorantly.
There are some issues in large, low-population states which require guardianship by their own populations. Land use, resource use, cattle-raising, agriculture, land protection, etc. And, there are issues where the relatively poorer residents of these states need to make a living, in ways that urbanites would find objectionable. But, conditions in the wide-open spaces are completely different to those in the cities, and so are the people and their needs. E.g., It makes sense to carry guns in these places, and it might be debatable to carry guns in the cities.
I disagree with a lot of ways rural mainly-Republicans are presently handling some of their out-landish issues: often siding with big corporations to reap profits. But, there are many more poorer residents who are simply trying to scrape by, who do not have the opportunities, medical care, or security we (think we) have in the cities. They have a right to get by. People who are closer to the land are wiser than us in some ways.
There are ways that individual states might be able to handle their unique issues than can the Federal Government. States should continue to have some ability to contest the controls of the latter. Even when they make the wrong choices, the mere exercise of contest by these states should be appreciated as something potentially GOOD, in these days of Big Brother.
OK - what I am talking about here is the fact that humans are not naturally divorced from their environment. It was assumed that when a full person votes, that person is voting not merely upon mental abstractions from some alienated studio apartment, addicted to the talking heads, but that a full person votes in conversation with all the factors of nature which surrounds him or her. It is these multi-factoral conditions, or conditionals, which is a PART of the individual.
In early days, only landowners voted, because they represented the many, many factors that the environment pressed, needing attention. These ranged from resources, to weather, to fisheries, to family and employees - and slaves. We took great steps in allowing more people to vote, but we did more and more alienated from these conditionals, which were once a part of our hearts. Home is where the heart is. When you vote, you don't just vote for you - you vote for all you call "home."
This is a major reason why I am fine with the large, low-population states having greater weight in the Electoral College. Out there in the country, they vote for the country, and that is something important to us all.
Whereas the Federal Government often acts as a break against any tendency of states to, "race to the bottom," in a Tragedy-of-the-Commons competition to reap resources as profit, there are times when states must act as a counter-weight against moves made by a Federal Government more powerful and corporate - and urbanised and polluting and unfair - than any single state.
It helps to remember that the Federal Government is somewhat complicit in its own, "race to the bottom", in the arena of GLOBAL corporate politic$ and corruption. Middle and rural America's opposition to the TPP is an example of the action of this necessary counter-weight.
So, some states which have more weight in the Electoral College can be useful in checking Federal power, and daft mistakes by the urban elites. More significantly, to me, is that these states can speak for the needs of the land, the nature, the conditionals of the full Country. They protect these "minority" factors from the, "Tyranny of the Majority." They also protect their own unique qualities, which states, as "countries", have a right to do.
Not only do these states protect these diverse "conditionals" - they similarly protect actual MINORITY VOTERS, as the audio from Cokie Roberts will convey to you.
Cokie Roberts Answers Your Questions About The Electoral College
How does the Electoral College protect and empower minority voters, along with unique conditionals? Aside from all I've said above, it is a mathematical thing. If the population of a state votes 50.0001% 'pro' on an issue, it often happens that all the Electors of that state will vote 'pro' - 100%. A minority has a FAR better chance of achieving a 50.0001% vote tally, than a 100% vote tally, yes? Yet, their voice gets amplified by the Electors to 100%. And this, in turn, weighs in the national electorate tally - possibly with other states similarly influenced by their minority.
Thus, you can imagine blacks in the south getting up enough support, through some effective politicking, to bring several of its states to get amplified up to 100%. This, along with the urban/coastal Democratic vote, might be enough to bring a national electoral majority to the 'pro' vote.
Of course, it is said that states which swing all their electors one way or the other, (to 100%), in fact allow the majority vote to quash the minority vote. This is sometimes true. Possibly often. But, remember that minorities have a better chance of achieving a majority vote of 50.0001%. What can make this successful is if several minorities band together in a "Rainbow' type coalition. Another strategy is to appeal to the interests of the ongoing majority. Both of these can be complementary strategies.
Look at what hurt Hillary Clinton. She somewhat assumed the support of Dems in states where they were in the majority, and so did not appeal to their interests as much as she could have. Michigan, for example. But Trumpsters were appealing to minority Republicans. And this gained them the Electors.
It helps even more if a minority can build up enough support to achieve 50.0001% when that minority lives in a state which has relatively more weight in the Electoral college, such as Native Americans in a Western state. Now, just think if that minority in several Western states were to ally with blacks in the South, Bundy Republicans in Western states, and so on. Formerly overlooked minority concerns could create an electoral LANDSLIDE.
You see, this is why I keep harping on creating a coalition between progressive Dems and progressive Republicans, and independents. That is how Bernie could have won, sans the interference by the Clinton DNC. Instead, all we got was the ANGER side of the populist movement. And that anger only built up more and more through the negative politicking of both Clinton and Trump. This did NOT have to happen. But it did, largely through corporate-media establishment money.
I am actually for the ability of each Elector to vote as he or she feels best, most importantly with regard to the vote of the state's population. It is actually unconstitutional to prohibit any Elector from voting as he or she wills, as through the all-or-nothing policies of many states. Therefore, I believe it is permissible for people to protest and lobby for some Electors to switch their preference, as, "Faithless Electors."
However, I find offensive the, "not my president," attitude which accompanies the protesting. It is the same close-mindedness which Dems once complained about regarding the Republican's intransigence vis-a-vis Obama. And, it is the same close-mindedness which helped them lose the election in the first place.
And so, my feeling is not good regarding the lobbying for Electors to switch their votes. It harkens back to the same end-before-means DNC corruption, and Hillary's unfair gobbling up of DNC Super-delegates years before the primary.
Do I think that all states should quit their policies of all-for-nothing? Well, I would just like them to clarify that there are NO LAWS ENFORCING THESE POLICIES.
But, even if all states had completely representative Electors, by proportion, the Electoral College can still help protect minorities - (as well as majorities - let's be real). A state with three Electors may give a minority ONE Elector, even if that minority only managed to produce 20% in the popular vote.
The greatest way this system may protect minorities and natural conditionals, such as the integrity of the land, is that it allows each state it's own voice. This increases the chances for diversity. If the president were only elected by a completely popular vote, we would be in danger of what the Founding Fathers feared: A Tyranny of the Majority, at the expense of the poor, etc.
Populist uprisings can produce real progressives. But they can sometimes produce dictators. Donald Trump has yet to reveal just what he is. By being brash and insulting and angry, he managed to grab the primary and election, supported by rural and working class people, who had hitherto been treated as minorities, especially by the disoriented, or uprooted, Democratic party.
Trump did not have to happen. If it were not for the corruption of the Clinton DNC, etc., Bernie would have won the primary - and then the election. Greed is what gave us Trump. But, now that he's in, here is the problem: He is handing over his side - the angry side - of the 2016 populist uprising over to the status quo GOP, by choosing advisors who stand strong on traditional issues, most notably, pro-oil, anti-climate. He has also been choosing a few crazies of his own.
The problem is that when you try to mix GOP with populism, you lose any element of progressivism, and you end up with Tea-Party super-conservatism. Trump is not thinking beyond this.
However, I will say something good about him: He tries to choose people who are thoughtful. He wants them to think for him. He is not the type to accept their decisions. He will make his own decisions, which may or may not be as crazy as we fear they may be.
What was his visit with Gore all about? Just more nonsense showmanship prior to picking two pro-oil, anti-climate advisors? Or, maybe he was cunning enough to talk pleasantly with Gore, and then ask, "Say, Al... Whom do you think are the worst possible people I could choose for my cabinet?" - and so Trump goes and chooses these very people. Maybe a little cynical.
What I imagine is this: (And it has nothing to do with being pro-Trump, which I am not. It has to do with knowing how he operates)... He talk with Gore. He says, "Really, I'm not that strict on this issue of global warming. I'm kinda liberal on some things, you know. But if I don't choose advisors who are climate-deniers, I will alienate a whole hell of a lot of my supporters, most especially the GOP establishment. So, I just want you to know that this is just a temporary move. Now - you tell me whom I should put into the Supreme Court who understands global warming - because that's where the important stuff will happen!"
Just a hypothesis.
OK - well - with this amalgam of GOP and angry populists, Trump is forging a way that could become the reign of some kind of dictator, to some small degree. And he did it not so much through the Electoral system, he did it through the corruption of the regular old, status-quo GOP.
On the other hand, he did it through the corruption of the DNC, which disallowed Bernie. Both parties are responsible for the crap we're getting - and both parties remain in power through masses of people "strategically" voting for one (evil) candidate in order to keep the other (more evil) candidate from winning. Who would imagine that the 6-member corporate media wants it this way, and makes it this way?
Now, if that corruption had been cleared out of the way, as the populists wanted it to be, what do you think would have happened? Bernie would have beat Trump, and rose to presidency through the Electoral vote. And, had Bernie gotten wise, there could have been a coalition between both sides of the populist uprising. Clinton, Trump, Sanders, Stein, and virtually all others, are responsible for splitting the movement and keeping it split. Coincidentally, that is precisely how the corporate elite want it.
Trump has come to power through the Electoral system. As such, he is answerable to the status quo powers that be, in the political structure. He does not have a mandate from all of the American people. (But see how he was elected by a virtual minority, through the Electoral system?) If he becomes too dictatorial, there is far too much of a frozen backlash waiting to thaw out there, he would be tsunamied out of office by 2020.
If, however, Trump had been elected through a national popular majority, (with no Electoral system existing), he would have a mandate from the mob. He would use his popularity to undo structures that may actually work to benefit the country, like Social Security, or who knows. Whatever the masses demand, he could do with more success than he can do in our present situation.
It does seem that this is how Trump has been feeling: as if he has a popular majority. To that, I say fine, because it will only get him in trouble, and thrown out of office. The sooner the better cuz Bernie's getting old, lol.
With all of this said, it can be summarised that the Electoral System was created as a break against the Tyranny of the Masses, and as a protector of state independence, which includes some protection of natural conditionals and minority voters. I am not saying that it always succeeds in these things. In fact, it protects majorities more than it protects minorities.
But it is preferable to a national popular vote alone, where localities and minorities can be washed over and away by mass movements. In such elections, issues and goals would be framed in even more black-and-white terminology and behaviour than they are today. Issues would be turned into abstractions and phony ideals - and we all know how easilly these are brandished by dictators.
The Electoral system forces candidates to visit most, if not all states, and pander to all relevant groups in each state. The problem we have is not really the Electoral system: it is corporate money and corruption in politics; it is the corporate media; it is the agendas of global banks and criminal banksters and gangsters. It is politicians kissing ass and handing us words and crises which are nothing more than lies.
They tell themselves they are as noble as Lincoln for being so duplicitous, because they made some "sacrifices" in order to achieve other goals. Like caving to the banks or big oil, etc., so they can hand us marriage in the military, or whatever.
If ever there was some real crisis or popular movement, it remains up to the Electors to think things through, and make their own choices, trying to be responsible to the voters. It is a second-step of thought which is there in case of emergency. If we only had a national popular vote, in this age of viral memes and social media, we could be in more of an emergency than we are now.
More links RE: Electoral College - from NPR!
How Does The Electoral College Work, And Is It Fair?
MAILBAG: Could 'Faithless Electors' Keep Donald Trump Out Of The White House?
As Vote Looms, Controversy Over The Electoral College
Critics Move To Scrap The Electoral College, But It's Not Likely To Work
7 Reasons Donald Trump Won The Presidential Election
Trump Wins? Electoral College Under Intense Focus In Controversial Election Year