The Electoral College was Terrible from the StartRoundup
tags: Electoral College, Constitutional Law, Colonial History
Garrett Epps, Professor of constitutional law at the University of Baltimore
Before we get to the Electoral College, can we talk about Alexander Hamilton?
As a political figure, Hamilton was volatile, mercurial, choleric, vindictive, conniving, disloyal, and incontinent; those personal flaws eventually led to his death in a duel with Aaron Burr. We remember him because he was also smart, creative, dashing, and decisive. And if you’d had a case in front of a New York court, he’d have been the lawyer to hire. Brilliant doesn’t do justice to his advocacy skills.
But an advocate is what he was. If he were a car salesman today, he could convince you that you really don’t want the backup camera in your family minivan, because this baby here knows not to back into walls.
It’s in that context that we should read his panegyric, from “Federalist No. 68,” to the “mode of appointment of the chief magistrate of the United States” by the electors, a “small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, [who] will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” The electors, he assured us, will be “men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”
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