I must take issue with Jeff Jacoby’s defense of the Electoral College (“Scrapping the Electoral College would be a big mistake,” March 13). His is a stunted version of American history that flatly ignores its arc toward fairness and equality over time.
It is true that the Founding Fathers explicitly set out to create a republic, not a democracy, and to that end established a system that limited the selection of the new nation’s two highest officers to a small group of elite white men. During its first decades there were no political parties, potential candidates did not campaign, and Congress, acting as the Electoral College with virtually no constituent input, designated (separately) the men who would be president and vice president.
But by the 1830s — 180 years ago — parties were beginning to form, active campaigning was accepted, and president-vice president slates were increasingly common. By 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected, four parties contended, each with its own two-man slate. Since then — with the Founders presumably rolling over in their graves — passage of the 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments has guaranteed the right to vote to all citizens of all races and genders.
So, simply put, the Electoral College is an anachronism. The Supreme Court, Senate, and checks and balances notwithstanding, the United States today is not a “republic” (a word most Americans would struggle to define), but indisputably a full-fledged democracy. All local, all state, and all federal elective offices but two are chosen by popular vote. It’s high time that becomes all, period.
Michael S. Hass