Tara Ross on the Dangers of Abolishing the Electoral College

Tara Ross is an expert on the electoral college and the author of several books on the subject such as The Indispensable Electoral College: How The Founders' Plan Saves Our Country from Mob RuleWe Elect Our President: The Story of Our Electoral College, and Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College. She sent out a tweet storm today in response to many Democrat presidential candidates calling for abolishing of the electoral college. The following is her tweet storm. I've made some minor edits to the syntax of the 18 tweets but the substance of it is remains intact.


I’m not big on Tweetstorms, but I suppose if I am ever going to do one, now is the time. For those who don’t know me: I am the author of several books about #ElectoralCollege. Been studying it since 2001. Yesterday, E. Warren came out against the E.C., as you’ve prob. heard.

She said: “My view is that every vote matters and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the electoral college -- and every vote counts.” The audience broke out in applause. 

Well, no wonder. Most have spent a lifetime hearing that the #ElectoralCollege is evil (slavery) & outdated (we have airplanes/Internet now!). None of it's true, but people have heard it so often that they simply don't know. Here is the truth: The Founders created the #ElectoralCollege because they knew several things we have forgotten:

     (1) Simple democracies are dangerous. Bare or emotional majorities       can tyrannize even large minority groups. Two wolves & a sheep            voting on what’s for dinner is not a good system.

     (2) They understood: Humans fallible. Power corrupts. Ambition,             selfishness, greed are dangers. Some claim Founders were elitists         who didn’t trust the people. NO. They didn’t trust ANYONE. Not the         people, not elected officials, not states or feds. Checks & balances         on EVERYONE

Carol Berkin states this wonderfully, noting that delegates to Const’l Convention were the most likely men to be elected to 1st Senate or as 1st President….. Yet they still sat and debated how to put checks and balances on those offices bc THEY DIDN’T TRUST THEMSELVES either.

#ElectoralCollege serves us well: It has several benefits that go unrecognized: 1st: It makes it harder to steal elections. Can’t steal election unless you steal votes in right state @ right time AND national election fairly close.

With a National Popular Vote system, obviously, any vote stolen anywhere affects national outcome. This is true even if the vote is easily stolen in a very safe blue or red state. This is a dangerous situation that the #ElectoralCollege protects us from today. 

2nd, the #ElectoralCollege rewards coalition-building. Perhaps that sounds weird, after 2016? But NO ONE focused on coalition building that yr, not really. The result? A close election: One party lost. The other mostly avoided losing. But, yes, there was a coalition. & it won.

Coalition that won in 2016 = group of voters who are tired of being ruled by DC elites. They don’t feel heard. They see DC insiders living by one set of rules while we live by another. They are tired of being told what to think. Tired of being called names simply bc disagree.

Some of this coalition voted for Trump enthusiastically. Some held noses & voted. But the coalition all agreed he was most likely to upset status quo in D.C. So they voted for him. Right now, Dems are very focused on eliminating #ElectoralCollege that caused them to lose.

Better off focusing on why they lost in first place. How can Dems reach out to those who have been feeling ignored? How can they find middle ground? How can they focus on things that bring us together instead of things that drive us apart? How can they regain voters’ trust?

How can they run campaign more like FDR? If Dems find that nominee, they will win in a landslide. Similarly, Rs don’t have to be stuck in world where barely win. They, too, should find middle ground. How can they build coalitions? Earn trust? Reward = Reagan-like landslide.

I wish that everyone would quit going off into their partisan corners. Quit pointing fingers at the other side. Quit blaming #ElectoralCollege for your party’s own failures. What did your own party do wrong or right in 2016? 

1st party to take hard look inward & fix its own flaws will start winning again. In landslides. We’ve been here before. Aftr Civil War, country was sharply divided bw North & South. Because of #ElectoralCollege, both political parties were forced to move past that division.

Pretty much whether they wanted to or not! Dems in South simply couldn’t win w/o reaching a hand across the aisle. Rs could win in reliance on their safe areas, but just barely. Both sides had incentives to look at own mistakes, figure out how to build better coalitions.

By the 1930s, of course, Dems were winning in repeated landslides. The lesson? Remember that we live in a big, diverse country! Don’t force people into one-size-fits-all thinking. THAT is the lesson the #ElectoralCollege has taught over and over again, throughout our history. 

Getting rid of the system now, when we are so angry and divided…. Well, it’s the worst possible solution. We’ll be stuck in this angry place forever. We are better off trying to remember why we have the #ElectoralCollege in first place. End of tweetstorm. 

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