Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-06-24
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

It's Time: Direct Election of Our President
Open To Thinking, A recurring column
by Nick Patricca
2017-01-04

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


A funny thing happened to me as I was preparing to write this op-ed. I went looking for this thing called 'the electoral college' which everyone wants to abolish or defend or reform but I could not find it.

The U.S. Constitution speaks of 'electors.' It does not in any way speak of an electoral college—the term 'college of electors' appears officially in federal codes for the first time in 1845. ( SEE: Wikipedia: Electoral College. )

What I did find was a mechanism established by our Constitution for electing the president and vice-president of the United States of America. This mechanism has been modified many times by amendments to make it seemingly more democratic and more fitting for our changing society.

The basic elements of this mechanism, as established by the Constitution, are still in place: The legislature of each state may choose presidential electors in accordance with its own criteria. The presidential electors are state based, state controlled, and meet briefly on a fixed day in that state. There is no assembly of members in communication with one another or across state lines—just this one brief meeting when they vote. There is no enforceable requirement that the electors must vote in accordance with the results of the popular vote in their respective states. ( See www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/electors.html . )

Even when the state stipulates that the electors must pledge to vote for the candidate of the party they represent, currently there is no sanction applied to the electors that disobey their party or do not honor the pledges they make to support a specific candidate. In our 2016 presidential election, seven electors broke their promises and successfully voted for candidates to whom they were not pledged.

Perversely, in most states political parties currently control who can be a candidate for the office of elector—something Madison and Hamilton, among notable others, adamantly opposed. They wanted electors to be free agents interested in the common good not subject to party politics or the pressures of private interests.

I have asked several intelligent, educated citizens, some of them political science majors in college, to explain to me our mechanism for 'electing' our president and vice-president. As they struggled to explain how it works, I kept getting the image of a Rube Goldberg contraption performing a simple task in as complicated a manner as possible.

These good citizens kept getting stuck on such issues as: How can we reconcile the democratic moral and legal principles of 'one man = one vote' and 'the winner of the popular vote should not lose the election' with our electoral system—questions of values not just mechanics.

In the beginning, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, James Wilson of Pennsylvania and James Madison of Virginia wanted the president to be elected directly by popular vote. Slave states and others objected because they feared political domination by more populous, more powerful New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. There might have been some good reasons for establishing this cumbersome presidential electors mechanism—one of which being that otherwise there would not have been a United States of America at all. ( Read: Madison, Federalist 10 and 39, and Hamilton, Federalist 68. ) Today, however, the very nature of our society has changed profoundly.

We no longer have slaves. Women can vote. Men of all colors can vote. You do not have to be a property owner to vote. Our citizens are highly mobile, born in one state, raised in another, educated in another. Many of us—our intense commitment to local community and neighborhood notwithstanding—live and work in two or three states at one time.

Our 'Electoral College' is no longer a useful mechanism for getting us a president and for protecting and nourishing our democratic republic. It itself has become the problem rather than the solution.

Madison and Hamilton would agree.

© nicholas.patricca@gmail.com

Nick Patricca is professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago, president of Chicago Network and playwright emeritus at Victory Gardens Theater.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

LETTER Standing up against racism 2020-06-27 - Dear community: June is Pride Month. Over 50 years ago, on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN Supporting LGBTQ families requires that Black Lives Matter 2020-06-24 - Black lives matter. Black LGBTQ lives matter. And we will never have a just world for LGBTQ families until we have racial justice. ...


Gay News

Remembering a leader: Larry Kramer 2020-06-02 - We lost a great leader this week with the death of Larry Kramer. Larry was an accomplished man and activist who earned ...


Gay News

Planning your legacy: VA benefits for LGBTQ veterans and servicemembers 2020-05-27 - Dear community: The Department of Veterans Affairs ( VA ) stands strong in supporting our LGBTQ servicemembers and veterans. As members of ...


Gay News

THE AMAZON TRAIL Is there a doctor... 2020-05-27 - It's that time again. I need to find a healthcare provider. I live in a rural community where there is a large turnover ...


Gay News

VIEWS LGBTQ discrimination is a disgrace 2020-05-18 - Re the New York Times article, "Aimee Stephens, 59, Plaintiff in Transgender Rights Case" ( obituary, May 14 ): Our world has long ...


Gay News

LETTER Handling the pandemic 2020-05-13 - Dear community: How is our community responding to the coronavirus pandemic? The key seems to be a social-distance approach that many of ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN: COVID-19 pauses family-building for many LGBTQ people 2020-04-29 - Nina Willbach and her wife, a Philadelphia couple, have been trying to get pregnant since last June via assisted insemination. In March, ...


Gay News

LETTER In praise of Pritzker 2020-04-29 - To the Editor: Illinois physicians and hospitals commend Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his steadfast leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day he ...


Gay News

OP-ED The media needs to stop reporting about Queen Latifah's sexuality 2020-04-28 - Does the media's cat and mouse game of chase with Queen Latifah lead many of us—especially in the LGBTQ+ community—to another "Gotcha!" moment ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.