…but were thwarted by the Electoral College system…
for which we should thank our Founding Fathers!
Last time I checked, I lived in one of the United States of America, I’m not one of the “United Citizens of America.” If the Founding Fathers had intended for the President to be directly elected, they would have written it into the Constitution. But of course they didn’t do that, seeing as they intended to create a government limited in scope and powers.
Power at the national level was split among the three branches, each reflecting a different constituency. Representatives were directly elected by the people (they still are), Senators were chosen by their respective state legislatures (they aren’t anymore, but in my opinion they should be again), and the President was elected by Electors who were appointed by each state (for the time being they still are).
Power was also divided between the national government and the states (though we’ve certainly been seeing less and less of that in the last 75-100 years or so). There’s a lot to be said for federalism… look at all the regional conflicts that trouble large and diverse nations like India, China and Russia. The Electoral College system at least forces presidential candidates to seek support nationwide, thereby making sure no state is left behind.
Direct election of the president would only reflect the will of a majority. In contrast, the Electoral College provides representation for both the population at large and the states. It thereby tempers and limits the power of majority rule.
The main arguments for and against the Electoral College system can probably be summarized as follows:
*]The Electoral System is a unifying force that requires candidates to gather support from different regions of the nation in order to win the presidency.
*]The Electoral System is democratic, since it gives states with larger populations more voting power.
*]The Electoral System works to prevent victories by smaller, lesser-known political parties, and works to prevent elections from being thrown into the House of Representatives.
*]The “Winner Take All” system means that a candidate can win the election by gathering the majority of electoral votes while losing the popular vote.
*]There is nothing that mandates that the Electors have to be faithful to their party’s candidate, so Electors are not bound to the candidate for which the majority of citizens in their state voted.
*]The Electoral System gives the largest states more political power.
By the way, 2000 was not the first time that a U.S. President was elected who received fewer popular votes than his opponent. The “unthinkable” happened twice before, in 1876 (Rutherford Hayes) and 1888 (Benjamin Harrison). In 1976, a shift of a few thousand votes in several key states would have given Gerald Ford an electoral-vote victory, but left Jimmy Carter with a popular vote plurality.
I wonder if the activists who are seeking to eliminate the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote to elect the president (presumably because the EC violates “one person, one vote,” as opined by Sen. Diane Feinstein on Larry King Live) are also willing to abolish the Senate for the same reason. Wyoming, with a population of 533,000, gets the same number of Senators as California with its population of almost 37 million. No “one person, one vote” there… where’s the consistency?