The Electoral College was created for two reasons. The first purpose was to create a buffer between population and the selection of a President. The second as part of the structure of the government that gave extra power to the smaller states.
The first reason that the founders created the Electoral College is hard to understand today. The founding fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. They feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power.
Hamilton and the other founders believed that the electors would be able to ensure that only a qualified person becomes President. They believed that with the Electoral College no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped. Hamilton and the other founders did not trust the population to make the right choice. The founders also believed that the Electoral College had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others.
The electoral college is also part of compromises made at the convention to satisfy the small states. Under the system of the Electoral College each state had the same number of electoral votes as they have representative in Congress, thus no state could have less than 3. The result of this system is that in this election the state of Wyoming cast about 210,000 votes, and thus each elector represented 70,000 votes, while in California approximately 9,700,000 votes were cast for 54 votes, thus representing 179,000 votes per electorate. Obviously, this creates an unfair advantage to voters in the small states whose votes actually count more than those people living in medium and large states.
One aspect of the electoral system that is not mandated in the constitution is the fact that the winner takes all the votes in the state. Therefore, it makes no difference if you win a state by 50.1% or by 80% of the vote you receive the same number of electoral votes. This can be a recipe for one individual to win some states by large pluralities and lose others by small number of votes, and thus this is an easy scenario for one candidate winning the popular vote while another winning the electoral vote. This winner take all methods used in picking electors has been decided by the states themselves. This trend took place over the course of the 19th century.
While there are clear problems with the Electoral College and there are some advantages to it, changing it is very unlikely. It would take a constitutional amendment ratified by 3/4 of states to change the system. It is hard to imagine the smaller states agreeing. One way of modifying the system s to eliminate the winner take all part of it. The method that the states vote for the electoral college is not mandated by the constitution but is decided by the states. Two states do not use the winner take all system, Maine and Nebraska. It would be difficult but not impossible to get other states to change their systems, unfortunately the party that has the advantage in the state is unlikely to agree to a unilateral change.
There is a plethora of reasons why people begin the journey of becoming social justice allies. There is a belief that it is the right and just thing to do and that our efforts can make a positive difference in the lives of so many. These beliefs sustain and strengthen our resolve on what can be a challenging journey.
Allies for social justice are often met with resistance by friend and foe alike. At times, allies often feel in limbo, feeling as though we do not belong in either camp of Dominate or Target identities. Neither group fully trusts us. Dominants who do not share our vision of social justice, are leery of people that challenge the status quo. They do not want to be around those who constantly challenge their language, beliefs or jokes. They want the “old you” back, the person who was more relaxed and fun. On the other side of the coin, target group members are cautious, as they may not trust our intention or motivation.
While external pressures to maintain the status quo can be daunting, our internal conversations can be equally debilitating to our success. We must be on alert for these internal messages that are fear based. To be more effective allies we must conquer our own F.E.A.R. in order to diminish the biggest obstacle on our path to being allies, ourselves.The framework F.E.A.R. outlined below, addresses many questions and concerns that allies often experience that may prevent us from speaking out and taking appropriate action.
Working through these questions with other allies as well as target group members can fortify and expedite the ally journey.
- If I am not a member of the oppressed group, do I have the right to speak up?
- What qualifies me to be an ally?
- If I do not respond 100% of the time to oppressive or offensive acts am I a truly an ally?
- Can I withstand being ostracized and/or criticized by family, friends and colleagues?
- How will I deal with the possible loss of networking and social benefits if I am no longer considered part of the group?
- Do I have the skills necessary to foster meaningful and effective exchanges?
- Do I have the knowledge base to defend my position and beliefs?
- Do I have the skills to foster conversation rather than create debate?
- Do I have what it takes to stay the course when the isolation and stress of being an ally becomes overwhelming?
- Do I have the patience and compassion to help other allies along their journey?
Jackson Katz states, “Your voice is your vehicle.” Becoming effective allies means knowing when to listen and learn; and knowing when to speak out and educate. Although we don’t always get things right, the more we practice the more skilled we become.
Allies are people. People are imperfect. Therefore, allies are imperfect. Being an ally can be a lonely experience. It can also prove to be a magical one. Finding the courage and confidence to confront our own F.E.A.R. not only transforms our lives, it generates currents of courage, trust and hope, to many more.
In my thirty years of conducting social justice and diversity training, never have I seen a convergence of events that have sparked an urgency of dialogue around issues of race and racism. Concerns about low rates of faculty of color, low graduation rates of students of color, issues of safety and support as well as the near constant barrage of microaggressions have always existed, so why now?
The #BlackLivesMatter movement changed the narrative nationwide and ignited a new breed of activism not seen in decades. Students are demanding to be heard and are no longer content with just having conversations; rather, they are demanding action plans.
As a result, many professionals in higher education are being called to action in changing the climate on campus to be more inclusive and just. When Presidents and faculty are losing their jobs due to the perceived lack of accountability and support, people take notice. There is little room for error, so being proactive is critical in maintaining dialogue with students moving forward.
But it’s not a matter of crossing our fingers in hopes that things like this won’t happen on our own campus. Chances are things like this ARE happening on YOUR campus; perhaps they just haven’t hit a tipping point.
Many students, staff and faculty of color along with other marginalized groups have echoed a common theme of feeling UNSAFE-UNHEARD-UNWELCOMED. Addressing these concerns is an ongoing process. Identifying pathways to resolutions is a matter of choice not chance.
Worried about students taking over the President’s office or other buildings on campus? What would you do?
Remember to ask yourself the question—what do students need in order to feel safe—heard—and welcomed. Prepare now.
Create a Rapid Response protocol. What other departments need to be involved in decision-making and input? What systems need to be put in place? On issues such as safety, comfort, connection, communication, who takes the lead? How and who will disseminate the information once a course of action is determined?
When you spend time being proactive and creating systems, your response to the current event can be more appropriate and effective. With a Rapid Response team in place, people set into motion actions across the university to ensure that as many foreseeable issues are addressed as possible. Your attention and reaction can be focused on what is happening in real time. What immediate action is needed with known perpetrators? What are the needs of the people who are targets of bias, directly or indirectly?
Answers to these questions can only be accomplished if there are systems in place beforehand.
Messaging is a key component for successful resolutions as events are unfolding. There is no shortage of case studies right now as colleagues across the nation grapple with such issues. Best practices are being tested continuously.
There are four factors to consider when crafting your messaging and rapid response.
1. Tone. When gauging successful messaging in recent examples on bias related events, the tone of the messaging often determined the narrative that followed. The more defensive and dismissive the response, the higher the likelihood of confrontation. Whereas, the more compassion and action orientated approach is far more successful. The most common complaint of students across the country is not feeling heard. Listen with your heart.
2. Timing. It is important to get pertinent information dispensed as effectively as possible with as much information as possible. A delay will inevitably be met with disdain and discourse. The balance here of course is to be able to collect enough information to make a determination of what course of action, if any, to take.
When an event or incident has the potential to blow up, it is best to acknowledge it and let the community know it is being investigated and further information will be forthcoming.
3. Transparency. Share what is going on as much as possible. The rumor mill is often the biggest adversary in situations that are time and trust sensitive.
4. Transmission. How information is transmitted to the many layers of a campus community needs to be determined long before a crisis occurs. Determine who does what and when in order for the message to be delivered in a unified and cohesive manner.
This is a recipe for disaster. People are never at their best when making critical decisions out of fear, anger or expediency. It is nearly impossible to overcome the damage once inflicted.
As stewards of the university, it is a daunting task to balance current events with the long-term mission of the university. Yet, history tells us refusal to change with the times can be detrimental to the reputation of the institution. Advanced planning sets you up for the best possible outcome.
Students from the University of Missouri, College of William & Mary and the University of Virginia want statues of Thomas Jefferson removed from campus because they believe he was a racist and a rapist.