Has The Electoral College Outlived Its Usefulness?
Everybody I'm John Dan host and moderator of intelligence squared. Us debates for this episode. I got online with four debaters. Who argued over this resolution? The Electoral College has outlived. Its usefulness. This was a debate that we had originally planned to host with our partners at northwestern law school in Chicago. We were GONNA do it at the law school. Obviously that did not happen. What did happen was that we had instead of a great debate. Digitally has turned out to be incredibly timely topic. So let's get to it the Electoral College. It's this unique construct of indirect democracy that well. It's it's not a college as the term is commonly used but it sure is electoral in that its members who are currently maxed out at five hundred thirty eight have been the actual electors of every president we've ever had since we've had a constitution even those five times in our history when the popular vote went to someone else in recent memory that happened in the two thousand election happened in the two thousand sixteen election. So what were the founders thinking? That's a question that right now. The Supreme Court is considering in an electoral college case but why did the founders think? The Electoral College was needed. And what good has come of it and also what harm has come of it. Well in these questions we've been thinking. They're the makings of a debate. So we had it for really really good debaters said yes or no to this statement. The Electoral College has outlived. Its usefulness as always Our debate goes three rounds and our audience tuning it online voted to decide our winner. But you can still weigh in on this when yourself if you're just listening for the first time to this debate we are taking votes right now at Iq to us dot org that's q the number two US dot org. If you go there you can cast your first vote before you hear the arguments you can vote for or against or undecided on the resolution. You know what? I'll give you a test to do that right now. I'll wait for you. Remember you cast votes one now in one after you've heard the argument and it's the team that changes the most mind. Who will be our winner? So go do that. I'll wait for you. So let's meet our debaters. I up to speak for the resolution. The Electoral College has outlived. Its usefulness. Jim Bowie Jim. Thanks for joining us. Thank you for having me Djamil. You are in New York Times columnist and political analyst for CBS News. You are also an alumnus of our series. So it's great to have you back also arguing on your team for the resolution. I want to say hello to kate. Shaw Kate. Welcome to intelligence squared. He John Thanks so much for having me. And you're a professor at the Cardozo School of law and Co Director of the floor Shurmur Center for Constitutional Democracy. You're also a host of the very popular law. Podcast strict scrutiny. So that's the team arguing for the resolution. The Electoral College has outlived. Its usefulness. Now let's meet the team arguing against that very low resolution. I let's say hello to Tara Tara. Welcome to intelligence squared. It's great to have you with us on one folks to know that you are the author of a lot of books about the electoral college including why we need the Electoral College. You're also a former lawyer and editor of the Texas Review of law and politics and your partner. I WANNA welcome also to intelligence squared Bradley Smith. Bradley Hi Welcome to intelligence squared tie. Thanks John Pleasure to be here and you are a professor at Capital University Law School and you have served as Commissioner Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Federal Election Commission welcome. I want everybody to know that was always our debate will go in three rounds and then you those folks out in the world are online audience. Get to vote to decide who the winner is all right. I think we are ready to move. Onto round one opening statements from each debater and turn those statements will be formed. It's each our resolution is the electoral college has outlived its usefulness. And here I up to speak for that Resolution Jamal Buoy columnist for the New York Times. Djamil your time starts right now. I'm going to begin with a discussion of how we got to the Electoral College in the first place and the think he thing I want everyone to understand. Is that the electoral college that we have the one we will use. November's election is that not actually the one that was ratified in seventeen. Eighty eight gone. Electoral College fell out of use quickly. What we have is essentially an extra constitutional mechanism to deal with the exegesis of politics as they've developed from the beginning of the constitutional convention and specifically when they began thinking about the national executive the delegates for trying to balance four simply four competing things from came to Hal. Choose and national executive They wanted a voice for the People. They wanted a fair representation for slave states They wanted independence from the legislature in. May had to deal the very simple question of. How do you actually choose national executive? In a big large diverse country they cycled through a few things Several delegates including teams Madison Propose Popular Election Others propose choosing from Congress But by the time They came to a conclusion which was at the very last minute the convention. They decided they would do this. Elector based system that each state would choose. Electors would gather together as a kind of congress of it's filtered through candidates They would the majority whoever won the majority of electors would become president Sprout Vice President and if there was no winner at to the house would choose on the basis of the delegations. No one was really entirely satisfied with this when they came to the conclusion but everyone expected more or less at the president of the Convention George Washington would become the first chief executive and this was a a straightforward way to get George Washington took become President United States. No one was really too worried about it. There is debate over During the revocation debates. But it wasn't a big sticking point. No one was too worried about mob rule in these discussions. They weren't worried about excessive democracy. Usually when the founders talked about democracy they were talking but a Fenian style. Direct ASSEMBLY IS NOT REPRESENTATIVE ELECTIONS.