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Unintended Consequences

December 17, 2014

The Founders did not believe it was wise to permit the direct election of the President by popular vote, so they created the Electoral College to act as a buffer between the voters and any demagogue who might mislead them.  Unfortunately, the winner of the Electoral College vote has not always won the popular vote.  In 1876, 1888, and 2000 the candidate with the most votes at the ballot box did not become President.  If this does not seem unfair, it is at least unsatisfying for all concerned.  Perhaps the system should be changed.

But wait a minute!  If there had been no Electoral College, would Lincoln have been elected in 1860, or would he have lost to Stephen Douglas in a runoff election?  If that had happened, how much longer would slavery have continued?  Would the United States still exist, or for the sake of token populism would “government of the people, by the people, for the people” have perished from the earth?

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