By Dennis Dietrich

Do you have a point you’d like to make or an issue you feel strongly about? Submit a letter to the editor or a guest column.

Recent guest letters, guest columns and editorials have argued the merits of dissolving the Electoral College system for electing the president and replacing it with a simple popular vote. Erik Lukens’ column in the April 7 Bulletin (“Oregon flirts with National Popular Vote folly”) did an excellent job of explaining why the Electoral College principle was best for the United States, as did Paul deWitt in the April 26 Bulletin (“Democrats target the Electoral College process”).

However, the letter from Rick Neufeld in the April 11 issue of the Bulletin argued not just against the Electoral College, but also stated that having two senators from each state is somehow unfair and wrong. Then on April 26, Chris Gardner endorsed the “one man, one vote” principle. This often referenced but frequently misquoted principle applies to redistricting within individual states, not to presidential elections.

Let’s speak in Spanish for a moment. The Spanish language better describes our country than English does. In Spanish, the United States is “Los Estados Unidos.” Literally translated, that means “The States United.” Whoa, there is a new concept for many people! We are a country of States that are United! Have we said the phrase “United States” so many times that we have forgotten what the words mean?

For these “states” to be “united” way back when all this began, they had to agree on a whole lot of things on which they mostly disagreed. The Articles of Confederation were not thought adequate to manage this proposed unification of states, so the Constitution was drafted. During the Constitutional Convention, small states were concerned they would be bullied and run over by the large ones. There was a lot of arguing and discussion and compromise before they decided on the final arrangement.

The House of Representatives was to have the number of members proportional to each state’s population, and the Senate would have two members for each state. This was designed to prevent the tyranny that Mr. Neufeld and others are supporting under the guise of “fairness.”

They also had to agree on how the president was to be elected. As originally written, the Constitution describes in Article II the process for electing the President. Paragraph 3 specifically states: “But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States. …” Thus the Electors, later called the Electoral College, were created for the states to vote on the president.

If we dissolve the Electoral College, and maybe even the Senate, we would vastly diminish the rights of individual states, and we would no longer have a union of states that were on equal footing. In electing the president, why would it be “fair” to have the most populous states elect him or her? We could be like Russia if we worked hard enough at this.

The other current movement in certain states is to give their electoral votes to the candidate with the most votes nationwide. What these National Popular Vote advocates are choosing to ignore is that it is the states, voting with their calculated number of electoral votes, that are electing the person to be president of the “States United.”

It is sad that so many legislators and citizens develop their opinions from social media echo chambers and not from reading things like the Federalist Papers, penned by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay to convince voters in New York to support the new Constitution. Reading these would help people better understand the brilliance of the founders in designing our government the way they did.

The Constitution was thoroughly thought out when it was drafted. Each state can choose how it decides which presidential candidate it votes for, including ignoring the popular vote of its own inhabitants and giving its electoral votes to a candidate favored by other states. That would seem to be inexplicably dumb and self-defeating.

The Electoral College system does indeed work, even when you don’t like the results.

— Dennis Dietrich is a retired forester living outside of Bend.

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