• The Electoral College: A Civics Lesson

    December 14, 2016

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America, Trump

    We have and have had for 224 years an Electoral College system. The popular vote is not and has never been how we elect a president.

    This is the 6th time in U.S. history the candidate chosen has lost the popular vote, nothing new. The country has muddled on, with some of those presidents being better than others.

    In addition, because of the electoral college system, candidates campaign for electoral votes, not the popular vote. That is the basis for their strategizing how to allot their limited time and resources.

    So, for example, knowing he had little chance to win Democratic strongholds California and New York, Trump did not campaign extensively there even though they are big states. That’s how Clinton won the popular vote, because her campaign aimed at those (big) states where she thought she would win the electoral vote. The size of the popular vote garnered is more a reflection of the way the system works than it is a gauge of popularity.

    You just got woke to the electoral college system after napping through high school civics class? Good for you. You don’t like it? Also cool. Now read up on how the Constitution gets changed. It is a long, slow process, and intended to be that way just to avoid knee jerk reaction such as are underway today. So best to contact your legislators today and get them started doing something abut the Electoral College no one has otherwise done in over two centuries.

    There is no system or method for overturning an election, and people are very wrong to talk about trying to do so based on claimed Russian meddling. For that to have validity someone would have to show conclusively and without doubt (we’re talking about dismantling a 224 year old system here, folks, not simple WMDs):

    The hack took place –> The Russian government did it –> The Clinton campaign lied when they said the hacked emails were frauds and/or altered –> The hack itself was more important than the contents of the emails –> That any of this, if true, truly changed the results of the election in favor of Trump.

    That’s a pretty big bite. If you can’t prove that, you have no case to even think about negating the system, throw away the votes of some 62 million people, and plunging the nation into chaos that it may or may not ever recover from.

    And while there may be untried methods to make it possible for the Electoral College to vote for Clinton, can vote isn’t the same as should vote. An awful lot of people voted themselves in anticipation that their votes would be reflected by their electors. That was the system they entered the game under, not something along the lines of “let’s see how this voting thing plays out on November 8 and if don’t like it let’s try something else.” You think disenfranchising all those voters is just gonna happen without any problems?

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  • Recent Comments

    • Mitch said...



      I was NOT napping through that part of civics.

      You see,….. There was this girl named ‘Monica’ who sat next to me…………..


      12/14/16 12:32 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...


      I can’t remember that lesson also! Be careful if your 70 something and walking around at night with a cross. 7 is not a lucky number when it is the amount of police bullets. Sad. Have a nice day! Peace on Earth…

      12/14/16 1:04 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...



      12/14/16 1:09 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...


      Hope never to worry when I do that “delete” stuff. Too much information, and I delete from comment, but know there is a copy. I love Utah.

      12/14/16 1:12 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...


      Hey Pitchfork,

      Got to LOVE Texas.

      No one here takes crap from anyone. Especially when it really matters.

      Even 11 year olds.



      12/14/16 4:05 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      And, what does Fake Hamilton have to do with anything?

      12/14/16 4:23 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      The people trying to mess with the EC and elect Hillary are referring to themselves as “Hamilton Electors,” possibly because it is the only part of American history they are aware of, at least as far as the musical is concerned.

      12/14/16 7:21 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Breaking news . Muslim female now admits she lied about being attacked on the subway. But is this now meta phaque news?

      12/14/16 6:13 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      This one really pissed me off. I took so much crap online, and even from a few people close to me in real life, for victim shaming. I am not a misogynist, hater, or Islamophobe and it makes me mad to be called those things for being a white guy who asked questions that turned out to be right.

      12/14/16 7:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Jim said...


      I was actually expecting a civics lesson. I felt your posts were more resonant leading up the the Trump pivot. I gather your audience is curious citizens of the planet who want to cross
      Reference the media extremes (breitbart or WaPo) with more independent voices like your. I don’t comment often but I leave this as a means of encouragement. We need independent voices and I think you can potentially focus more on content vs reaction. I may not be your target but my interest has been waning with the last few weeks of posts. They feel almost lecturing and are not providing the progressive skeptc with any means forward.

      12/14/16 8:10 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Ah, the conundrum of the white guy. We don’t have the equivalent of, “Barry, you did it , my nigga ” as a means of wallowing in a shared entitled victimhood. “Peter, my crackah” doesn’t cut i. I was born in CA so I can’t relate to the travails of “crackerhood”.

      12/14/16 8:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The Electoral College is like Trump University – it’s a disaster. Donald Trump

      12/14/16 9:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      While the Electoral College gets a failing grade, Donald Trump gets high marks for destroying the Clinton and Bush crime families.

      12/15/16 5:48 AM | Comment Link

    • Andrei said...


      So like, the mighty CIA and NSA and DHS, with their surveillance, financial resources, tech savvy and an army of jack bauers basically admit that they were unable to do anything about a bunch of hackers from a country that up until now was constantly labeled as backwards? Did the US intel community bosses submit their resignation papers yet?

      12/15/16 6:10 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Andrei said…

      “Did the US intel community bosses submit their resignation papers yet?”

      One did. James Clapper, Director National Intelligence. It’s too bad he wasn’t indicted for lying to Congress before hand… among other crimes. Of course, Obama would have pardoned him.
      Meanwhile, Clapper’s classified blog called The Intercept, just got outed at…irony of ironies.. the Intercept News site…


      Where, one can witness an IC surveillance loving colleague slavishly kiss Clappers ass while wondering why America won’t give up a few freedoms for more security. Upon which, a couple of other colleagues tells him why while ripping him a new asshole.

      12/15/16 6:28 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      One thing is for sure; all this focus on the electoral college erases any concerns the people might have had about the questionable accuracy of the voting machines, gerry-rigging of districts, the lack of polling places in some states, the restrictive requirements for IDs in order to register to vote or to actually vote on election day, the overturning of the Voting Rights Act, the peculiar and unexplained number of voters whose names were mysteriously purged from voter registration rolls in various states, the entirely rigged Democratic primaries, the number of ballots that still sit in bags uncounted to this day, and the dozen or so other ways our elections stand out as illegitimate and unverifiable before the Electoral College ever even springs into action on Dec. 19. [I have to laugh. I got an email asking me to picket the electors at our State House on the 19th. All of Maryland’s electors are pledged to vote Clinton already. The people who want the electors to vote against their pledges want them to do this so as to “elect” Clinton. So why would they want to hassle the electors in a state where they are already in the bag for her? Is that stupid, or what? I mean, seriously, what would the demand be? “Vote for Clinton!” “We ARE voting for Clinton.” “Uh, well then, vote twice!”]

      Yeah, let’s pretend the problem here is the freaking RUSSIANS (or reptile aliens from Krypton), and that giving some intelligence [sic] briefings to the members of the EC will take care of all that other shit that has been going on since George Washington retired and just make it irrelevant.

      Besides, the EC is run by the states. A “faithless” EC elector, who fails to vote the way the popular vote went in his state, is disciplined by the state, not the Federal government. In most cases, that means his vote is simply nullified.

      If enough of the electors switch their votes, thus nullifying themselves from the final count, perhaps Trump wouldn’t hit the 270 mark. But Clinton sure wouldn’t either, since those votes ARE NOT COUNTED – they don’t automatically go in her tally just because they didn’t go to Trump. That would guarantee that the selection of pres. and vice pres. goes to the House and Senate. And guess what? They are both held by Republican majorities. Now these guys may not have liked Trump during the campaign season, but he is currently fulfilling every single slash-and-burn desire they have, and making cabinet choices that they absolutely adore. Not a chance in hell they won’t give the nod to Trump in this case.

      And then “the people” will maybe figure out what dumbasses they were to cotton onto the idea that focusing on the Electoral College issue instead of demanding investigations into all the other stuff I mentioned in the first paragraph was a good plan. ‘Cause we’re going to be stuck with all that other shit forever at this rate. Or, more likely, the people will never figure it out. And next election, should there even be another in this country, they will let themselves be corralled into endless discussions about how the real problem, for real this time, this is the issue, this here thing will solve all of it if only we could fix it, is Driverless Cars (or the Chinese Yuan, or The Internet, or Outer Mongolia, or Kim Kardashian’s First Gray Pubic Hair, or well, just make up something).

      12/15/16 6:37 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      “White House press secretary Josh Earnest has accused media outlets which reported on the contents of the hacked DNC emails as being ‘arms of Russian intelligence,’ once again accusing Moscow of being behind the cyberattack.


      So reporting the actual contents of the emails, which are not disputed as bona fide, makes one a Russian traitor.

      For awhile, I lived on a farm that raised hogs. I was told that in time I would get used to the stench of pig shit. I never did, though.

      12/15/16 7:45 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...


      Hey Andrei,
      Good to see you around.


      So, essentially, the EC thing is just starting crap. Trying to break the system???

      Kind of like 4 year olds who get in trouble???


      12/15/16 8:22 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      With all respect, I do not agree with you.

      I do see your point. Very well.

      However, the recurring theme, is pointing out how the system works and why it was built that way.

      I see it simply, as Peter is actually acting as a responsible journalist.

      Rather than trying to instigate civil unrest, violence, etc.

      Which I am sure we all agree is sorely needed.

      Attempting to educate, instruct, teach.

      Empowering through knowledge.

      With the second recurring theme, of Calm.

      And that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.


      12/15/16 8:31 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      The bean bag chair made in Dothan Alabama I ordered last week just came in. It had a slight rip in a seam so I was curious and pulled some stuff out. The “stuff” was shredded voting forms. Kidding of course.

      12/15/16 8:49 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...



      First…. Your just bad!!!

      Second…. I don’t know how old you are…. But I don’t dare get in a bean bag chair anymore….

      ‘help, help,…. I’ve sat down and can’t get up !!!’


      12/15/16 9:15 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The government has spent millions of your tax dollars trying to hide the DNC dirty laundry and they go and blow it. Thanks a lot hackers, NSA or whatever.

      12/15/16 9:37 AM | Comment Link

    • Why the Electoral College result should stand | Phil Ebersole's Blog said...


      […] The Electoral College: A Civics Lesson by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well. […]

      12/15/16 7:28 PM | Comment Link

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