Opinion

REP. ROONEY: The Electoral College Is The Bedrock Of Federalism

Rep. Francis Rooney Florida Congressman
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There is one thing both Democrats and Republicans share in common – the oath we swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and to protect and defend our Republic. To abolish or alter the Electoral College would fundamentally transform and undermine the federalism upon which our Republic was founded. Fear of monarchical, highly centralized and all-encompassing European governments drove the framers of the Constitution to put serious checks and balances on the power of the federal government. Duties specifically left to the states and the electoral college are two of these.

The Electoral College moderates ideological differences from state to state and promotes national consensus in our choice of a Chief Executive. This ensures the validity of our elections and assures that all Americans, from all states, have a voice.

Critics of the current system argue that it is undemocratic because it is possible to lose the popular vote and still win the Presidency. While it is true that smaller states receive more electoral votes relative to their population than large states, this is not an accidental feature of the Electoral College system. The Electoral College was specifically organized to strengthen the federal structure of our government and ensure that rural areas and small states are important participants in the national political process. Despite what is often said, our founding fathers did not establish a democracy. Our Constitution provides for a representative republic which has been designed as a safeguard against purely democratic rule.

Abolishing the Electoral College will disenfranchise many rural Americans to the great advantage of the heavily urban areas. The division and partisanship which is uprooting our country right now would become much worse as states and communities across America are pitted against each other. The President of the United States should be accountable to all Americans from all parts of our nation, not just specific areas or groups. Unlike many aspects of the federal government right now, Electoral College is working as intended.

The Framers of our Constitution believed in a system of Federalism by which each state would govern themselves to the greatest extent possible. Central government functions, on the other hand, were focused on the national defense, conduct of relationships with other nations and development of interstate infrastructure and commerce. The 10th amendment outlined the importance of State’s rights and the importance of Federalism in our Constitution. This amendment specifically states that the federal government possesses only those powers specifically delegated to it, with the remaining powers reserved for the states.

Each state has electors, equal to the number of seats they have in the Senate and the House of Representatives, which comprise the Electoral College. These electors cast votes to determine who will become the next President of the United States. These electors are selected at the direction of each individual state legislature. This is one of those powers reserved to the states.

Almost all states have opted to designate their electors by popular vote within the state, with the presidential candidate receiving the most votes receiving all of that state’s electoral votes.

Our national elections should be guided by the same principles as is the operation of the government pursuant to the Constitution – independent tripartite elements of government (the executive, legislative and judicial) based on the concept of “separation of powers”, and a deliberately rejected concentration of different functions in one expansive, central government. If elections were changed to a national popular vote, politicians would focus on states, or even just cities, with the most influence. This would then leave smaller states overridden and unaccounted for in our national elections and would excessively empower the most populous states such as California and New York. In an oppressive derogation of our Federal system, California, New York City, and Chicago would control who is elected President of the United States.

The Framers understood the potential for a majority to act as in tyrannical ways. They had witnessed that in Europe. In order to prevent this result, the Electoral College was put into the Constitution to protect and preserve the rights of the minority. For two hundred and thirty-three years we have seen the genius of the Electoral College work to preserve the rights of all citizens, not the majority at the time. The Electoral College is a critical means of preserving and protecting our Constitutional system, our founding principles and our nation.

Rep. Francis Rooney represents Florida’s 19th congressional district and previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.