ELECTION ESSAY CONTEST
The College Fix is pleased to announce the winner of the 2012 Election Essay Contest!
Danielle Charette of Swarthmore College will be awarded a $500 prize for her essay, “In Defense of the Electoral College,” originally published in The Phoenix.
Honorable mentions go to two other finalists:
- Ian Tuttle, of St. John’s College “Bursting the Johnnie Bubble”
- Nick Mignanelli, University of New Hampshire, “And Then We Blinked…”
Read a portion of Danielle’s essay below:
IN DEFENSE OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE by Danielle Charette
Our perennial disgust with the Electoral College is underway. In every presidential election but three, the popular vote and state electors have named the same winner. Yet that hasn’t stopped Americans from grousing that the Electoral College is complicated, unfair, and responsible for George W. Bush’s presidency.
Right now, there’s a very plausible chance that Mitt Romney, with huge majorities in the South, will win the popular vote while not necessarily making it over the 270 electoral vote finish-line for a national win. Should that happen, I’ll be disappointed, yet I’ll defend the Electoral College just the same.
Residing in the Swarthmore dorms offers many of us the distinction of living in a “swing state,” with Obama’s lead over Romney in the Keystone State now nail-bitingly narrow. I’m still voting in Connecticut, partly because of our close Senate race between Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy, but mostly out of an inexplicable loyalty to New England. Am I throwing away my vote in one of the nation’s bluest states? Probably. Do I still defend the Electoral College? Absolutely.
The Federal Register records 700 futile attempts at doing-away with the Electoral College over the course of our nation’s history. A change in how we determine our president would require a Constitutional amendment — a purposely tricky undertaking. Formally editing the Constitution calls for three-fourths of the states to ratify. Smaller states, though, wield a disproportionate sway through the Electoral College and are unwilling to alter the procedure.
Some Republicans, who have suddenly awoken to the inequities of the Electoral College, are proposing the “National Popular Vote” Bill to salvage what they interpret as a conservative popularity edge. Unfortunately, initiatives like these betray our underlying Constitutional principles in favor of a particular election. Genuine conservatives ought to pay heed to James Madison, who warned of majoritarian tyranny and outlined his vision for a combination of popular and state-based government in Federalist No. 39.
In an environment in which citizens increasingly project their political discontents onto the Feds, the Electoral College reminds us that states and localities matter, because it’s the states, and sometimes specific counties, who cast the final die. All too often, we look to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to solve our problems because we don’t trust the people down the street…
Read the full article at The Phoenix.