Cities Cannot Run a Nation

Doruk Ozel, Drew Elliott

Imagine a hypothetical situation in which there are two critical paths for a multi-billion dollar company to take–A or B. A group of 100 people are chosen to decide the verdict–and path A wins with just 51 votes. Everyone who chose option A might not have fully researched the options, while advocates for option B could have researched for months. The more favored, yet worse option was chosen, showing the overwhelming power of the majority as a prevalent issue with direct voting. The vote for President represents the decision needed to be made. The Electoral College is necessary in maintaining an equal vote throughout America because it protects against a tyrannical majority while still promoting coalition building to unify states.

The Framers had no intention of establishing a purely majority-based democracy because they realized that a large minority could be silenced by a slight majority. Ever since Plato and the Republic, this wariness has been present as the demos, “the common people of an ancient Greek state,” could not be trusted (Merriam-Webster). They only sought personal gain and were not wise enough to make sound decisions. Similarly, the Electoral College encourages national campaigning to many states across the USA. Therefore, the winner of the election must have a national representation with support across the country. 

If winning was solely direct voting, candidates would focus on major cities with the highest population and disregard smaller states. Jesse Wegman states that, “Ignoring voters is the opposite of what the President is supposed to do, as… [he or she should] represent everyone equally, wherever they live.” The effective way to evenly represent everyone is by campaigning all across the country to a wide variety of audiences to gain nationwide support. If only the popular vote was counted, “… Just nine cities could determine the presidency” (Horgan). 

Candidates would refuse to visit states that they thought were “safe” for their party; Texas voted democrat for 104 years and California was “safely” Republican until 1988, yet they have both since flipped. George W. Bush won the 2000 election because he was able to flip West Virginia, an assumed “safe” democrat state. As stated by Elizabeth Warren, candidates would focus on “battleground states” because they are vital to success in the election.  

Large minorities can influence government decisions through the Electoral College, forcing candidates to campaign across the United States to appeal to diverse audiences. With an electoral college based system in the hypothetical situation, some of the votes for option B could be weighted more than other votes, shifting the scales. The Electoral College determines an equal representation across all states to ensure that all voices are heard in order to form a more perfect union.