ON THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE; ON REELIGIBILITY
OF THE PRESIDENT
The electoral college has been the least successful of all the political devices created by the founding fathers. It has long been, and is today, a useless relic and may be abandoned without consequence to the election process. Designed as an institutional buffer by the authors of the Constitution, who thereby indicated their distrust of the masses, the electoral college in fact never functioned according to its design. It quickly became obsolete with the growth of a two party system.
Most Antifederalists disapproved of the electoral college as an unnecessary mechanism, and some frankly disapproved of its undemocratic nature. Written by the anonymous "REPUBLICUS," the following essay appeared in The Kentucky Gazette, March 1, 1788.
. . . . I go now to Art. 2, Sec. 1, which vest the supreme continental executive power in a president--in order to the choice of whom, the legislative body of each state is empowered to point out to their constituents some mode of choice, or (to save trouble) may choose themselves, a certain number of electors, who shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot, for two persons, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. Or in other words, they shall vote for two, one or both of whom they know nothing of. An extraordinary refinement this, on the plain simple business of election; and of which the grand convention have certainly the honor of being the first inventors; and that for an officer too, of so much importance as a president--invested with legislative and executive powers; who is to be commander in chief of the army, navy, militia, etc.; grant reprieves and pardons; have a temporary negative on all bills and resolves; convene and adjourn both houses of congress; be supreme conservator of laws; commission all officers; make treaties; and who is to continue four years, and is only removable on conviction of treason or bribery, and triable only by the senate, who are to be his own council, whose interest in every instance runs parallel with his own, and who are neither the officers of the people, nor accountable to them.
Is it then become necessary, that a free people should first resign their right of suffrage into other hands besides their own, and then, secondly, that they to whom they resign it should be compelled to choose men, whose persons, characters, manners, or principles they know nothing of? And, after all (excepting some such change as is not likely to happen twice in the same century) to intrust Congress with the final decision at last? Is it necessary, is it rational, that the sacred rights of mankind should thus dwindle down to Electors of electors, and those again electors of other electors? This seems to be degrading them even below the prophetical curse denounced by the good old patriarch, on the offspring of his degenerate son: "servant of servants". . . .
Again I would ask (considering how prone mankind are to engross power,
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Publication information: Book title: The Antifederalist Papers. Contributors: Morton Borden - Editor. Publisher: Michigan State University Press. Place of publication: East Lansing, MI. Publication year: 1965. Page number: 207.
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