the Electoral College
(Itís Not Federal Enough)
thought scrapping the Electoral College was a good idea prior to
Democratsí post-election abolitionism. But whereas Hillary Clinton,
Michael Dukakis, and others consider the Electoral College an impediment
to democratic nationalism, I consider it an insufficient institution
of federal republicanism.
number of individuals have recently pointed out how the Electoral
College recognizes the importance of states in American government,
acts as a bulwark against majoritarian tyranny, etc. Nevertheless,
it retains a significant nationalistic dimension insofar as electoral
votes are almost entirely allocated on a demographic basis. The
nationalism is federally moderated, but it still predominates.
than fully nationalize presidential election, Iíd like to fully
federalize it. Hereís my proposed 28th Amendment:
President of the United States shall be elected by the people of
the people of the United States, the winner obtaining a majority
of states; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons
having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those
voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose
immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President,
the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each
state having one vote."
proposal incorporates and extends the secondary method of election
delineated in the 12th Amendment. Every state would now
enjoy equality of influence. Imagine the headlines: "Presidential
hopeful campaigns in Pierre and Casper." (A Melvillean cartoonist
might see a conspiracy in this, but thatís an acceptable consequence.)
would no doubt deem this a regressive, anti-democratic move. This
reflects a unitary conception of American democracy that doesnít
jibe with American political premises. If anything, a state-based
presidential electoral structure harmonizes with the pluralistic
nature of this country.
sympathetic objection to my proposal might be that it would spark
a nationalistic backlash swallowing what federal institutions remain
(the amendment process, for instance). This may very well happen,
and Iíd prefer such radicalism sooner than later. As Electoral College
abolitionism shows, massive alterations to American constitutional
order are already incipient if not imminent.
are no times for quiescence. If New Yorkís newest senator and friends
are zealous in their desire to further nationalize American institutions,
defenders of decentralized government should be no less zealous
in their desire to reinforce federative freedom.
Kantor lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.