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Burt Prelutsky / May 31, 2012

The Best College in America

If you’re a liberal, you would probably insist, depending on which one you attended, that Harvard, Yale, Stanford or UC Berkeley, was the finest college or university in the country. If you went to Harvard, you would probably say, in the world.

If you were a conservative, you would probably vote for Hillsdale.

But I contend that far and away, the best one doesn’t have a campus, an endowment fund or even a football team. In fact, it’s the one that people tend to ignore except once every four years. I’m referring to the Electoral College.

As a rule, the only time people even talk about it, they’re complaining that it should be abolished. But, as is nearly always the case, they happen to be wrong and the Founding Fathers were right.

Just as the geniuses who came up with the Constitution didn’t want the federal government to be able to lord it over the states, they also didn’t want a few larger states to lord it over the smaller ones. There is possibly nothing that makes a stronger case for those men having been divinely-inspired than Article Two of the Constitution, which declared that the presidency would not be determined by a popular vote.

Just as they sought balance by deciding that each state, whatever its population, would have two senators, they also wanted to avoid having a few large states controlling presidential elections. They had, after all, set out to create a republic, not a democracy.

So it is that Barack Obama could easily win the popular vote this November by taking such states as California, Illinois, New York and Massachusetts, by several million votes, but still wind up losing the election because his Republican opponent wins in places such as Ohio, Missouri, Virginia, Iowa, Wyoming, Nevada, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Kansas, Alaska, the Dakotas and the Carolinas, by anything from 10,000 to 50,000 votes.

If that happens, we can all be sure that the Democrats will whine about it and cry, “Foul!”

But how is it fair that a minority of 15 or 20 states should be able to impose their will on 30 or 35 others?

Although, the Electoral College generally reflects the popular vote, that’s not always the case. For instance, in 1876, Samuel J. Tilden received 250,000 more votes than Rutherford B. Hayes, but lost the election by one electoral vote. In 1880, James Garfield only garnered 16,000 more votes than Winfield Hancock, but clobbered him in the College 214-155.

In 1884, Grover Cleveland narrowly squeaked by with a 25,000 vote margin, but he defeated James Blaine by 37 votes where it counted. However, when Cleveland ran for re-election in 1888, he wound up with 90,000 more votes than Benjamin Harrison, but lost in the Electoral College 233-168.

In 1960, JFK, thanks to typical left-wing hanky-panky in Texas and Illinois, wound up with 114,000 more votes (out of roughly 69,000,000 cast), but easily defeated Nixon in the College 303-219.

In 1968, Nixon only received a trifling 500,000 more votes than Humphrey (out of 73,000,000 cast), but buried him in the College election 301-191.

In 2000, in an election reminiscent of the ones that took place in 1876 and 1888, Al Gore took the popular vote 50,992,335 to George W. Bush’s 50,455,156, but Bush turned the tables in the Electoral College, defeating Gore 271-266.

Although I honestly believe that the men who created the Constitution were divinely-inspired, I wouldn’t want to suggest that God takes an active role in our elections. Otherwise, how to explain Barack Obama’s winding up in the Oval Office?

But, even if it’s merely a coincidence, I think it’s worth noting that in all three instances that the candidate who received fewer popular votes wound up being elected president, he just happened to be a Republican.

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