An Electoral College debate with the Sons of the American Revolution
Published 4:30 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017
“John, this is Bill Hay with the Sons of the American Revolution,” the caller said over my office phone. Would you be interested in coming to our meeting to have a discussion on the Electoral College?”
For the Sons of the American Revolution in Coweta Falls, the answer is “Of course.” After all, they do a great job in the community. Members did a great living history for my son and his class at the National Infantry Museum. They help veterans, honor scouts, and so many other local groups.
But I had a favor to ask. Would they allow my students to debate me on the issue? After all, you probably read my column critiquing the Electoral College, and agreed, or disagreed with me. Some of my students also defend the Electoral College, especially since it helped Donald Trump win the White House.
Did I take them out to the woodshed for having a Trump sticker on a laptop brought to class every day? Hardly. I would be rather contradictory in that respect, as I have a Trump button on my bag from a rally (along with Clinton, Sanders, Bush, Obama Cruz, Carson, Huckabee….you get the picture).
Instead, I invited a pair of students to debate me. And the Sons of the American Revolution graciously agreed to add them to the guest list, and to have them duel with me.
Both showed up, nicely dressed. “Are you nervous?” I asked. Neither were, as both were veterans of something called FFA (Future Farmers of America). I’ve got to give that group some credit, as both were very prepared for the event. They presented the segment on the Electoral College in the Constitution, showed a map that indicated Trump overwhelmingly won the counties in 2016, and defended the need for land to be well-represented. It’s probably another FFA thing.
I showed the evidence that the Electoral College is hardly a one person one vote kind of system. If you do the math, divide the Electoral College votes per state by the population numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. You’ll find North Dakotans get three times as many votes as Texans, and citizens from Delaware get twice as many Electoral College votes as Georgians.
Believe it or not, I was written up by some website as promoting “fake news” for this very column (labeled by name). Hey, it’s arithmetic folks, whether you like it or not.
I also showed maps where candidate visits and commercials spent almost entirely focus on ten states, ignoring the other 40. Also, swing states tend to have higher turnout rates than those that are ignored. But it was a good debate. I think the Sons of the American Revolution gave the nod to the students.
If you’re reading this, thinking that your school, civic group, or club would like to see me debate my students, or have them take on each other, over an issue you’re interested in (including, or in addition the Electoral College), email me and we’ll see if we can make your schedule.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College. He can be reached at email@example.com.