The People's President: The Electoral College in American History and the Direct-Vote Alternative

The People's President: The Electoral College in American History and the Direct-Vote Alternative

The People's President: The Electoral College in American History and the Direct-Vote Alternative

The People's President: The Electoral College in American History and the Direct-Vote Alternative

Excerpt

Since the Presidency is the grand prize of American politics, it is not surprising to find that narrow partisanship has often played a role in the debates about the way our chief executive should be elected. Yet since the first decades of the Republic, there have been some Americans who have labored tirelessly for true reform of our Presidential election system, without regard to their personal or partisan advantage. One thinks of men like Senators Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and Oliver P. Morton of Indiana in the past century or Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts and Estes Kefauver of Tennessee in our own. All failed in their effort to reform the system, yet all laid a groundwork for others to build on. As this book is written, a historic opportunity for leadership lies before those men of Congress who will lay partisan considerations aside in a new effort to reform our antiquated and dangerous electoral system and thus assure that the American President will truly be the man of the people.

This book was written both as a history of the electoral college in American history and as a statement of the major concerns—constitutional, political, social—that Americans and their leaders must consider as they debate the best way to elect a President in the last decades of the 20th century. If the book can help throw some light on those concerns and problems, then it will have served its purpose.

For their advice and counsel in the preparation of this book, I owe a special debt of thanks to three men who themselves have taken a special interest in electoral college reform: James C. Kirby, Jr., former counsel of the Senate Judiciary Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee and a member of the American Bar Association's Commission on Electoral College Reform; John D. Feerick, who was special adviser . . .

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