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Electoral College

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Edwards wants to abolish the Electoral College because of the following reasons: 1) The Electoral College violates political equality; it favors citizens depending on which state they live in. 2) The Electoral College disenfranchises all voters who supported losing candidates (as their votes are automatically assigned to the winning candidate in the electoral vote). 3) The Electoral College fails to give president-elect legitimacy; winning by a higher margin does nothing to help a president govern more effectively. 4) The Electoral College fails to protect the states’ interests given that states seldom have unified interests (as diversity runs high inside states). 4) The Electoral College suppresses national interests over local interests given that the President is not chosen to act for the people, but for the states. 5) The Electoral College is not designed on a federal principle. In fact, it fails to represent minority group and often ignores the interests and needs of smaller, less competitive states. 6) The Electoral College is antidemocratic, as it fails to encourage all citizens to come out and vote for their preferred candidates (given that candidates only campaign in those states which are competitive and issue a high number of electoral votes).

Lowenstein wants to keep the Electoral College because of the following reasons: 1) The Electoral College enhances presidential majorities (by granting higher majority margins), thus helping new presidents earn legitimacy, and govern throughout their administrations. 2) The Electoral College orients to presidential elections around states; it reminds Americans the centrality of states in the federal system (as the nation’s building blocks). 3) The Electoral College has a track record of producing distinguished presidents, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. 4) The Electoral College has the advantage of confining electoral controversies (such as the one that sprung in Florida during the 2000 election) to one state or a handful of states. 5) The Electoral College provides a flexible solution in case of death, disability or manifest unsuitability of a presidential candidate or president-elect (allowing for his replacement before the electoral votes are cast).

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I think we should abolish the Electoral College because it fails to guarantee that the president will be elected by the majority of the votes at the national level (which is exactly what should be done during a Presidential election). The office of the Presidency of the United States is not concerned with handling state affairs (there are state governments conformed for that purpose). Furthermore, the president is not supposed to stand up for the interests of the minorities, as this is something that the founding fathers entrusted to the country’s legislative branch (the Congress of the United States). The president is virtually the only office in the country’s Federal government that is in charge of looking out for the interests of the majorities across the entire nation (not among a given set of states).

This being said, I believe that it would be best for the president to be elected through direct elections that forego the Electoral College. In fact, I believe that direct elections, apart from being equally viable, are a much better option for democracy. First of all, direct elections incentivize candidates to encourage all American citizens to vote in support of their preferred candidate (thus increasing the total number of votes in a presidential election). Second, I do believe that direct elections protect the country from any mischief that a third party might be thinking of doing. It is no secret that the Electoral College empowers third parties, giving them the power to take votes from a particular candidate, weaken him and ultimately benefit another candidate (as was the case in the 2000 election, when Ralph Nader took valuable votes away from Al Gore in key states, all of which ultimately went to the least popular candidate, George W. Bush). Had there been a direct election in 2000, Al Gore would have surely won the election, as he was the one who got the majority of the popular votes; this would have been a victory consistent with democratic principles.

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