If there is one phrase that describes the United States Constitution, it is checks and balances. So concerned were the founders that the power of government had to be restrained, checks were imposed at every level – even on the people.
It is why the President is not directly elected. The Electoral College is a safeguard, intended, as one of the founders, Alexander Hamilton, wrote in 1788, to ensure “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”
The Electoral College will elect the 45th President. Political reality dictates it will be Donald Trump. The Republican Party candidate was right when he said the “system” was rigged. It is. In his favour. He lost the popular vote by almost 2.8 million, more than four times the margin by which Democrat candidate Al Gore beat George W Bush in 2000.
There isn’t one vote one value in US Presidential elections. A Wyoming citizen’s vote is four times as powerful than that of a Michigan citizen. A vote in Vermont is three times as powerful as a vote in Missouri.
It will not be the first time the candidate who loses the popular vote becomes President. But it is the first time:
- A foreign power has been found to try and influence the result
- The FBI played a reprehensible and perhaps decisive role influencing the vote
- The President elect’s conflicts of interest that extend to 20 countries.
The Electoral College should support the will of the people and vote for Hillary Clinton, as Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig argues.
He is right. One of the hallmarks of conservatism is honouring institutions and processes. This is one of those times.