‘rhc’ wanted the president chosen siniplv by the popular vote.rnThe enemy of my enemy is my friend, say the Arabs, and wernought to panse before dismanthng the Electoral College.rnThe choices the Electoral College now offers ns are limitedrnto a particular party candidate, but in the last election, thatrnchoice was betveen one person who was at least publicK’ smpadiehcrnto federalism and one who eleady was not. The federalistrndid not have a majorits- of die popular vote, but he did haerna majorih’ of die fdcctoral College once he secured Elorida.rnI Ic also w as clearlv the choice of people living in approximate-rnK’ 80 percent of die tcrritorv of the United States, and he onlyrnfailed to carr’ counties in heaily populated coastal and urbanrnareas. One can win the popular vote, dieii, and not be the candidaternfinorcd bv most people li’ing in the American heartland,rnthe South, the mountains, and most of die odier locales ofrnAmerican folklore, song, and literature. In short, if there is a lessonrnfrom the last eleehon, it may be diat real diersih —not diernpoliticalh’ correct kind, but the kind diat reflects die virtues ofrnthe Old Republic ” i s sHll presered by the I’dcctoral College.rnFor all of its faults, die modern Electoral College, because itrnassigns numbers of electors based in part on equality of diernstates, shll has the potential to presere die interests of a majorih’rnof riiose .states and to counteract the will of a geographicallyrnconcentrated pluralih’ of die American people. The ElectoralrnCollege was designed to secure what is best about die UnitedrnStates—geographical tradition, true virtue, and nahonal characterrn—and I think it .still does. It might be made to do it better,rnbut because of the concentration of die popular vote in thisrneountr-, die chances of getting a constitutional amendmentrndirough Congress and hvo diirds of die state legislatures to aeeoni])rnlisli the pur|:)ose arc negligible. The Senate and thernHouse are ahead}’ too dominated b’ the eanesccnt and thernpopular, and an amendments to die Constitution regardingrnthe Electoral College which come out of Congress are morernlikelv to please Mrs. Clinton and her friends than ours. It is notrnbroken, and I sav, “Don’t fix it.” crn(vGSScKsrnConsider the Alternativernby Philip JenkinsrnWessex and Aciuitaine, Arizona and Peiinsvlvania. Allrnwere, once upon a dine, regions that had a distinct politicalrnidentih’, genuine states in which one could be a eiti/en orrna subject. The first hvo simive oulv in die would-be romantiernkitsch peddled bv tourist boards; Hie odiers still survive as realrnstates, but not for lack of attempts to reduce diciii to mere geographicalrnexpressions. E’er since the New Deal, Americanrnelites lune often shared die attitudes diat prompt iiaie Europeanrn isitors to ask so often, “Why does America allow die statesrnso much power?” It gets incrcasinglv difficult to explain —eidierrnto Americans or luiropeans—die fundamental fact diat thernstates created die nation, under a constitutional document diatrnlas down precise limits be’ond which die federal goxernmentrnshould not ‘euture.rnAfter so maii nagging attacks on federalism, die latest hasrnerupted over the institution of the Electoral College — irouical-rnK’, as a direct conset]ueiice of die 2000 presidential election,rnwhich represented probablv die best acKertiscment die collegerniiicdiod could liae had. Precisely because of die college .ssteni,rnit was eas- to limit to only four or so states the damagerncaused b dagrant electoral corrupfion, fraudulent voting, andrndie mass destruction of andientie ballots. Een if a cit or regionrngoes totalK’ out of control, permitting die mass creation ofrnbogus oters, die gains that can be made b’ such dcxious meansrnarc confined to oiih’ a few states where corruption can be identifiedrnand electoral votes can be disputed. In a national sstciii,rnb’ coiitra.st, there would be an obvious temptation to “run uprnthe score” in favored areas, and some have long expertise in diis.rnf.ndiiig die Electoral College would place a premium on electoralrnuianipulation unparalleled since die notorious machinesrnPhilip Jenkins teaches at Pennsylvania State Universit\ Hisrnmost recent hook is Mvstics and Messiahs: Cults and NewrnReligions in American Historv (Oxford Universit^’ Press).rndiat operated in Texas and Kansas Cit’ in the 1940’s. The onlvrndifference is diat, diis time around, bogus votes could not easilvrnbe challenged unless one was prepared to face cripplingrncharges of racist bias, of seeking to disfranchise the poor. Andrnlast vear’s experiences in Elorida showed diat state and localrnelectoral officials have no shame whatsoever in permitting (andrnpromoting) tiie most outrageous electoral fraud.rnriie svstein, in short, worked awfulK well in 2000. So well,rnin fact, diat we should not be surprised that it provoked immediaterncalls for its abolition from tiiose who stand to benefit mostrnfrom die uncontrolled manufacture of urban votes. There wasrna delightful moment when the i W York Times reported onernparticular attack under die headline “Ililarv Clinton CJalls forrnAbolition of I’dectoral Svstcin.” I initiallv took this to be arnstartlinglv frank a|)peal for die elimination of representativerngovernment as such, exce]3t insofar as one was indireetlv representedrnbv means of corporate interest blocs based on race, edinicitv,rnsex, or sexual preference —but of course, that epochmakingrn.social innovation will probablv not be implemented forrnanother decade or two.rnThe case against die I’dectoral Cjollege is padieticallv weak.rnBefore die 2000 debacle, onlv hvo [iresideutial elections (1824rnand 1876) probablv’ resulted in the college defeating “die will ofrndie people” as expressed in popular ballots. That is a strikingrnrecord of convergence, cspeciallv since the American svsteinrnwas never intended to be based on popular demoeraev. If readersrnwill excuse a statement of die obvious, the U.S. presidentrnwas to be elected bv’ the states, not by die people. Ibis emphasisrnwas, and remains, a highly desirable mechanism for ensuringrndiat die interests of smaller states are not traiii|:iled bv their morernpopulous neighbors. That eonceni has proved all die more significantrnsince die booming “large states” of one generafiou oftenrnprove to be die defenseless midgets of die next. Defendingrndie interests of die weak today might well mean securing one’srnFEBRUARY 2001/19rnrnrn