Saturday, November 5, 2011

Learn Something New Every Day

I learned something interesting last night. I was reading the copy of the constitution at the end of my Federalist Papers book. It has footnotes which tie back into specific sections of the federalist papers that were meant to argue in favor of the various constitution sections.

I never knew it until late last night but fear of voter fraud isn't the only, or most signifigant, reason that the electoral college exists. According to James Madison, the intent was to make the election of the president a reflection both of the federal and national characteristics of our constitution. That, while the electoral college reflects the choice of the individuals who are voting for the president, it also reflects the choice of the states as individuals, who's citizens are voting for the president.

The immediate election of the President is to be made by the States in their political characters. The votes allotted to them are in a compound ratio, which considers them partly as distinct and coequal societies, partly as unequal members of the same society... From this aspect of the government it appears to be of a mixed character, presenting at least as many federal as national features.

The difference between a federal and national government, as it relates to the operation of the government, is supposed to consist in this, that in the former the powers operate on the political bodies composing the Confederacy, in their political capacities; in the latter, on the individual citizens composing the nation, in their individual capacities. On trying the Constitution by this criterion, it falls under the national, not the federal character; though perhaps not so completely as has been understood. In several cases, and particularly in the trial of controversies to which States may be parties, they must be viewed and proceeded against in their collective and political capacities only. So far the national countenance of the government on this side seems to be disfigured by a few federal features. But this blemish is perhaps unavoidable in any plan; and the operation of the government on the people, in their individual capacities, in its ordinary and most essential proceedings, may, on the whole, designate it, in this relation, a national government. - Plurbious (James Madison), The Federalist No. 39,, Nov. 5th 2011

I've listened to, I don't know how many, people rail against the electoral college and I don't think I've ever heard anyone mention this as a reason for its existence. I'm fairly certain that I now have a new litmus test for determining if someone has the slightest clue what they are talking about when it comes to this subject.

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