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Monday, Nov. 21, 2016

So, what’s going on?

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Does the Electoral College truly represent voters?

Since the day after the presidential election, the number of e-mails I’ve received has steadily grown. Nearly 5,000 e-mails now, and the number of messages on my Facebook page has risen into the hundreds. All of these communications have escalated into phone calls, and they are even writing letters – nearly a dozen received in the mail just today.

The messages all start out about the same. Here’s an example:

Dear Elector, My name is Jeremy Levine, from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The founders created the Electoral College in order to safeguard the Republic from giving power to someone unfit for the responsibilities of office. Today, in this election, we have such a case. Not only is Donald Trump inexperienced, he is a threat to the safety and stability of our great nation. Trump has already made clear his positions that both disregard the Constitution and threaten huge segments of our citizenry. Furthermore, the people voted for Hillary Clinton by over a million votes.

We ask that you, as an elector, honor the majority of Americans and uphold your duties to protect the Republic by preventing Donald Trump from assuming the presidency.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.

Sincerely, Jeremy Levine So, what’s going on here? After all, for many folks, they think the presidential election is over, and that Donald Trump won. Hillary Clinton has already conceded the election, saying, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead,” and even President Obama referred to Trump as “president-elect” when Trump visited the White House. Furthermore, Trump has already started assembling the leaders of his new administration, for both his cabinet and other key advisors.

So, what gives? Well, it’s about the Electoral College, and the fact that on Dec. 19, a slate of electors in each state will cast their state’s electoral votes and elect the next president of the United States, all according to Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution. You see, there are 538 electors in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, and 306 of those electors are expected to vote for Trump on Dec. 19. But if only 37 of those electors, who are expected to vote for Trump, actually vote for someone else – anyone else – or even abstain, then Trump won’t have a majority of the electoral votes available, and Congress will decide who the next president will be. Yes, Congress.

And this is the faint hope that liberals and progressives are clinging onto – to stop Trump from becoming the 45th president of the United States. So they are harassing electors with a constant barrage of e-mails, phone calls, letters and social media posts, sometimes even visiting their homes.

There are “peaceful gatherings” being called for, in cities across the country, to reject the Electoral College, and there are online petitions, as well. There is a Change.org petition, now signed by almost five million people, and a MoveOn.org petition, signed by almost one million people – both of which are growing. The petitions encourage members of the Electoral College to cast their votes for Hillary when the college meets on Dec. 19 because Trump is “unfit to serve” and that Hillary “won the popular vote and should be president.”

Sure, at first glance, the Electoral College seems unnecessary, at best, and illogical, at worst. After all, why would anyone support any system that doesn’t weigh each person’s vote equally, regardless of what state they live in? For example, currently Wyoming gets one electoral vote for each 178,000 citizens, but California only gets one electoral vote for each 690,000 citizens.

What’s up with that? Why do votes in Wyoming count more than three times than those in California? After all, that’s not what our democracy is all about, right? Well, first, we’re not a democracy, we’re a republic, and we elect representatives who vote for our laws, instead of us voting directly on those laws – which would be a pure democracy, instead. But you see, the founding fathers were actually terrified of a pure democracy (or “mob rule”), and if any of us want to protect the rights of any minorities in our country, we would be terrified, too, because in a pure democracy, the rights of minorities can simply be voted away. As John Adams once wrote, “Remember, democracy never lasts long.”

So, what does any of this have to do with the Electoral College electing the next president? Everything. It’s an example of the genius of our republic form of government insofar as it places the country’s best interest above any individual state’s interest, or balancing the influence of the farmer in Iowa, or the sugar cane farmer in Louisiana, with the powerful and wealthy industrialists and media elites of the big cities. The Electoral College is merely an extension of our republic form of government, no different than the very reason why each state is represented by two (2) senators, regardless of population.

It is an honor and privilege for me to participate in the constitutional process of electing the president of the United States next month – a vote cast by the son of an Italian immigrant, whose rights our founding fathers sought to protect with a republic, and long before most any Americans would fully understood why.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com.

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