Liberals who claim Electoral College is ‘racist’ need a history lesson

The sore losers of the 2016 presidential election have now soured upon the Electoral College. Having gone through the first two of the five stages of grief — denial and anger — the left is now plotted firmly in the “bargaining” stage, wherein the Democrats seek to change the electoral results.  

Since the election of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE, Democrats have repeatedly blamed everyone and everything for the loss of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE except for Clinton herself.


First, it was the fault of the vote counting, and a recount was demanded only to result in more votes for Trump. Then, F.B.I. Director Jim Comey was to blame, just before the Russian government was at fault.


Now, the Electoral College, a “racist” vestige of our founding — or so the left would have you believe — is the new culprit.

According to the cerebral and ever so level-headed Michael Moore:

“(I)t is ironic that this racist idea, the Electoral College, 225 years later, ended up benefiting the candidate who spewed racism hate.”

As is usually the case, the truth is far more nuanced than the tweeted musings of Mr. Moore.

The Electoral College is provided for in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. More space in the Constitution is devoted to laying out the Electoral College than to any other concept in the document.

The U.S. Government describes the Electoral College “as a compromise between election of the president by a vote in Congress and election of the president by a popular vote of qualified citizens.”

Indeed, feverish debate ensued after James Wilson, one of the Framers of the Constitution, proposed determining the president solely by the popular vote. Harvard Law Professor Einer R. Elhauge notes that the Framers rejected direct election:

“Because they believed that the populace would be ill-informed about national figures and because the Framers wanted to avoid interfering with state authority and underweighing small states.”   

To remedy these concerns, it was decided that a “small number of persons … most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to (the presidency)” would select the president while taking into consideration “the sense of the people,” according to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 68.

Hamilton argued that this system:

“Affords a moral certainty, that the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

Rather than acknowledging the historical reasoning for the Electoral College and debating its merit, the left simply cries “racism.” They do so, not by referring to the reason why the Electoral College was adopted, but rather the way the Electoral College was initially counted.  

Article II states that “a number of electors” should be chosen in each state “equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives.” The number of congressional representatives was of course based on the population in each state, whereas each state would have an equal number of senators.  

The infamous “Three-Fifths Compromise” determined how the population would be counted, with each slave counting as just three-fifths of a person. This racist way of counting determined the number of congressional representatives in each state and thus the number of electors.

But the Three-Fifths Compromise was eliminated by way of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that “representatives shall be apportioned… counting the whole number of persons in each State… .”

And as Allen Guelzo and James Hulme write in the Washington Post: 

“The electoral college (itself) had nothing to do with slavery … the discussions of the electoral college and the method of electing a president never occur in the context of any of the convention’s two climactic debates over slavery.”  

In other words, the Electoral College was not a racist conception, and the inequitable way electors were counted was remedied in the abolition of the Three-Fifths Compromise.

If we were to eliminate the Electoral College based on its tangential link to an unjust compromise rooted in the condemnable atrocity of slavery, we would likewise have to abolish the House of Representatives, for which the Three-Fifths Compromise was devised, and our Constitution in its entirety, which did not explicitly outlaw slavery until 1865.

If the Democrats want to make an efficacy or merit-based argument with respect to the Electoral College, then by all means make it. It ought to be based in history and fact not fanciful revisionist history, and it should be made not just during an election year because of discontent with the electoral outcome.

Having gone through the first three stages of the mourning process, Democrats are left with two remaining steps. They will soon sink into depression and, perhaps unwillingly, they will arrive at acceptance, accepting the fact that as of Jan. 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump is their president of the United States.

Kayleigh McEnany is a political commentator who recently received her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. She graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and also studied politics at Oxford University.

The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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