2017-03-24 / Letters

Be a better citizen, visit a library

To the editor:

Here’s a public thank you to Al Amoling for his letter in the March 17 Post. He urged me to go to the library to learn more about the history of the Electoral College.

I did precisely that – and I’m glad I did. I learned some fascinating stuff. I learned, for example, that in Federalist Paper No. 68, an American patriot calling himself Publius (we now know him to have been Alexander Hamilton), insisted that the selecting of a president should not be the prerogative of the general public. No, Hamilton thought the electing of the president should be placed in the hands of an elite. “A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens … will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite” to the selecting of the president.

Apparently Hamilton thought that la crème de la crème (i.e., an Electoral College) would prevent the terrible “tumult and disorder” of a public presidential election. I also learned that in its earliest days, the Electoral College (as in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution) created such a mess that the whole thing had to be reworked with the adoption of the 12th Amendment.

I learned that our current winner take all system didn’t get its start until the election of 1824, and that the entire system has been evolving over the years in response to all manner of political shoving and pushing.

More fundamentally, I learned that Mr. Amoling’s short answer was the wrong answer: Our founding fathers did not create the electoral college for the purpose of giving disproportionate electoral clout to voters in smaller states.

Apparently, Mr. Amoling is happy that it now has such an effect for him, but me thinks that if he were to follow his own advice he would learn that the inflated franchise he now enjoys is the product of a long history of political changes.

Most fundamentally of all: A trip to the library would make better citizens of us all. On that point, Mr. Amoling is absolutely right. Thanks, Al.

Henry Kingsbury

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