Tyranny of the Majority and the Importance of the Electoral College

Written by NG Davis

NG Davis Democracy

In a democracy, the majority rules. And while that may seem fair for the majority, it also means that the minority is left out in the dust. According to “Preventing ‘The Tyranny of the Majority,’” Edwin J. Feulner mentions “a democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.” In other words, the sheep – the weaker of the two wolves – is outnumbered and the perfect dinner meal. Even Tocqueville had very much to say on tyranny of the majority in his book, Democracy in America:

“Hence the majority in the United States enjoys immense actual power together with a power of opinion that is almost as great. And once it has made up its mind about a          question, there is nothing that can stop it or even slow it long enough to hear the cries of            those whom it crushes in passing (285).”

The Founding Fathers foresaw the consequences of a tyranny of the majority breeding in a pure democracy so they took careful steps to create something much more efficient: a republic. Edwin J. Feulner states that a republic is “a system of government carefully balanced to safeguard the rights of both the majority and the minority.” And, as a republic, we don’t choose out president through a direct, majority-wins-all vote. We have an electoral college. But lots of people, overwhelmingly liberals (as I have observed), don’t like that. They don’t like that at all.

In fact, after the defeat of Hilary Clinton in 2016, liberals pointed blame at the Electoral College. After all, Clinton had more of the popular vote than Donald Trump so why not abolish the Electoral College – a crucial institution of a republic because it was an obstacle to their presidential candidate? I believe it is unfair to do so and many Americans are unaware of the importance of the Electoral College, which according to Edwin J. Feulner, “is a very carefully considered structure the Framers of the Constitution set up to balance the competing interests of large and small states . . . it prevents candidates from winning an election by focusing only on high population urban center (the big cities), ignoring smaller states and more rural areas of the country – the places that progressives and media elites consider flyover country.” In other words, without the Electoral College, small states would be neglected and large states would rule with an iron fist. Who would care what people in Iowa or Wyoming would think? Tocqueville also states a similar statement in the following quote: “Since the majority is the only power that is important to please, its projects enlist ardent support, but the moment its attention turns elsewhere, all efforts cease . . . (287).” In Democracy in America, Tocqueville spoke of a similar occurrence when the majority had rallied for support for new, much more humane prisons that focused on reforming criminals than punishing them. However, as the new prisons were built “ . . . the majority, preoccupied with the idea of founding new prisons, had forgotten the ones that already existed (287).” This resulted in overpopulated, old prisons continuing to exist and becoming more corrupt as the new prisons improved. If such a thing can happen to prisons, than one can only assume, under the majority and the abolishment of the Electoral College, that the same thing could happen with smaller states when facing up against bigger states. The smaller states would end up like the old prisons, withering away unnoticed by the larger population and bigger states seeing greater reform and improvement.

NG Davis Map

The Electoral College is crucial to preserving a republic. It doesn’t care about your feelings. It doesn’t care if you are a member of the majority opinion. The Electoral College cares about balance and justice.

 

Works Cited

https://www.heritage.org/conservatism/commentary/preventing-the-tyranny-the-majority

https://myasucourses.asu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-19388623-dt-content-rid-140641399_1/courses/2018Fall-T-POS442-JHR598-75036-87712/Tocqueville%20283-311%20Rotated.pdf

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