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Is the Electoral College Democratic? Essay

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The Constitution of the United States (U.S) was ratified and signed on September 17th 1787. The aim of the Constitution was to establish a central government with sufficient power to act on a national level, whilst not having too much power that fundamental rights would be at risk. The U.S Constitution was at its time, very reflective of the citizens and their political needs at the time. However, it is not my belief that the U.S Constitution creates a democratic political system, and fails to express the “Will of the People” as we see it today. Indeed, the three main aspects of the U.S Government, the Executive, Legislature and Judicial, seemingly appear democratic, however, over time these attributes have since transformed into a system of government the Founding Fathers would not recognise themselves.

Article II Section 1 of the Constitution sets out the Electoral College, which is the formal method of electing a President and Vice President. Whilst this has been the method used since the Constitution’s inception, the method is flawed, and in some cases has failed to uphold its democratic principles. The Electoral College allows for the President elect to be chosen even if they have lost the popular vote of the nation, this winner takes it all approach undermines the democratic elements of one man one vote, causing significant political splits, seen 5 times in history, and twice this century with Al Gore vs. Bush (2000) and Clinton vs. Trump (2016). The Every Vote Counts amendment of 2005, if successful, would have started the process of abolishing the Electoral College, however, the process was strenuous and difficult, hence it failed and left a system that a winner in the popular vote, could still lose the office of President.

According to the Constitution, “The Congress shall have Power To… provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”US Const. Article 1, Sec 8, Clause 1. In theory, this is an extremely democratic process as it ensures the majority of the government is in favour of declaring war. However, Congress itself has not declared war on a nation once since 1941, whilst the U.S has been called into military action multiple times since then by the President, who doesn’t hold power to declare war, leading the US into decades of foreign military unrest.

Another element of the Constitution that has undemocratic elements is Congress. Congress is composed by the Senate and the House of Representatives and acts as the US Legislature. Congressional elections don’t always result in functional governments, though, as the Presidency, Senate and House are usually split between Republican and Democratic control. As a result, a divided government usually results in there being no legislative body, as laws need a united control of the House and a super-majority in the Senate (60100 votes - or ⅔) to get past the filibuster, which has only happened trice since the Second World War. The failures to uphold democracy within Congress are, over time, becoming more difficult - bipartisan compromises used to be common, however, over time these compromises are occurring less often due to extreme polarization, making it excessively hard for both parties to work together for the good of the American people. The proportionality of the Senate also creates controversy, with every state earning 2 Senators, regardless of its sizepopulation - creating a situation where smaller states may have more exposure and power than they would otherwise have. Furthermore, in the Constitution, Senators were appointed by States rather than direct elections. Quite progressively, however, this has since been overturned through the 17th Amendment.

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The Judicial branch of the government additionally holds undemocratic principles. The Constitution is quite vague on the power of the Judicial branch. Therefore the Supreme Court has gained too much power over time, essentially becoming an imperial judiciary with judicial review founded in Marbury vs. Madison (1803). More prominent issues with the Supreme Court are the life tenure that Judges experience. Life terms and high barriers to remove a Judge make them inherently undemocratic. If term limits existed, nominations to the Supreme Court wouldn’t be so politically driven and contentious, such as Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination by Trump on October 27th 2020. The Supreme Court has also caused American citizens to have some declining trust in the government, as the Supreme Court ruled that political donations are protected by the First amendment of free speech, causing politicians to potentially be more loyal to companies rather than their constituents.

The constitution struggles to sufficiently express the “Will of the People” in today’s social terms. Founded over 230 years ago, the Constitution was ratified for a simple society of just over 4 million citizens, including 700,000 slaves. Of the free population, 95% were farmers (REFERENCE) Although the Constitution can be amended, it definitely struggles to remain democratic for its citizens, now at 328.2 Million citizens as of 2019 (REFERENCE), the African American community has reached over 44 Million, and the original Constitution would have tolerated these citizens being enslaved. The ⅗’s Compromise tolerated slavery based on population size of the individual State. It wasn’t until after the American Civil War had ended that this was overturned - How can a Constitution originating with slavery represent the Will of over 44 Million of its citizens?

The voting rights of women and other ethnic and social minorities were left out of the Constitution, and it took until the 19th Amendment of August 26th 1920 for these issues to be addressed and fixed. The Constitution does not include inalienable rights for nature, healthcare, food, housing and income. Should the Constitution have these rights enshrined, Climate change would be a much more bipartisan topic and would not be so politicised, and the cost of the COVID-19 Pandemic wouldn’t be so apparent if these were standard rights to all American’s, like they are in many other MEDC’s such as UK, Germany, France and many others. (REFERENCE?) Many social problems in today’s landscape are heavily politicised from both parties, such as the fight against racial inequality and immigration. The Black Lives Matter campaign, predominantly in 2020, aims to dismantle White supremacy - however, on the political landscape is viewed very differently from both parties, Former President Trump had condemned the protests, tweeting “LAW AND ORDER!” whilst then Democratic President Nominee Biden had said 'I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain,' With these subjects being so political tense, it undermines the Will of the People as it ultimately prevents from these issues from being sufficiently addressed, and destroys all hope at a positive outcome.

“We the People” (REFERENCE) from the U.S Constitution does not reflect well in today’s terms as it fails to include various social groups that have historically been excluded from the social forefront. Immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, People of colour and women have been subjected to neglect through border control and ICE, the Church, police brutality and racism, and sexism, respectfully. “We the People '' indicates the government, who run the country, However, the majority of Congress do not represent America as a whole: only 23.6% of Congress are women, compared to the 50.8% in the country. Additionally, 22% of the eligible voting members of Congress, are people of colour.

Another major failure of the U.S system is the duopoly of its two party state. As Founding Father John Adams puts it: “There is nothing I dread So much, as a Division of the Republic into two great Parties” With only two parties, voters are limited to the amount of political viewpoints that they can vote for and will have to compromise on their major political views. For example, if an individual supported higher taxes to support universal based income and healthcare, whilst also disagreeing with abortion, that voter is completely alienated from any single party and will have to compromise with a candidate who most likely, does not share the same views. The two party state also creates and promotes a vicious and competitive atmosphere, which aids in the breaking down of bipartisanship and the ever-growing problem of polarization. Whilst a two party state does allow for true governmental majorities, and makes the voting process easier, it tends to create more problems than it solves.

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Is the Electoral College Democratic? Essay. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
“Is the Electoral College Democratic? Essay.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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Is the Electoral College Democratic? Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Dec 11]. Available from:
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