LETTER THE EDITOR: The Electoral College is not fine with me

I would like to respond to Mr. Roof’s column of Nov. 29 [“The Electoral College is just fine, thank you], which was itself largely a response to my column on November 21 [“Electoral College prevents US from being true democracy”].

First, I never claimed that America was or is a democracy; anyone who knows anything about American history knows that. Perhaps the headline of my column, which I did not write, led him to make this accusation (my suggested title was “The Electoral College Trap,” but alas, the editor had his own ideas).

We have always been, as anyone who knows the words to the Pledge of Allegiance can tell you, a republic; but I believe that we are a much better country today than when we started, largely because we are a more democratic republic now. In the 1790s, a time that Mr. Roof appears to be nostalgic for, only white men who owned a significant amount of property could vote; we were a republic, since those voters could vote for their congressional representatives, but we weren’t very democratic.

By the 1830s, we had taken the radical step toward universal manhood suffrage, which meant that poor men could have a say in choosing their leaders! I think that was a good step forward, but it did not make the United States a democracy! Since then, we have extended the vote to black men by the 15th Amendment in 1870; given the voters the right to choose their United States senators by the 17th Amendment in 1913; extended the right of suffrage to women by the 19th Amendment in 1920; eliminated poll taxes from being required in order to vote by the 24th Amendment in 1964; finally began to enforce the 15th Amendment by passing the Voting Rights Act in 1965; and lowered the voting age to 18 by the 26th Amendment in 1971.

I consider all of these to have been good steps forward to make our country more just, more equitable, and more democratic, and the main point of my column was to argue that eliminating the Electoral College would be another positive step forward.

I will repeat my point that, since the presidency is the only office that is voted on by all Americans, as opposed to Texans or Delawareans or Pennsylvanians voting for officials that represent their states or districts, it should be a national election in which each vote is counted equally, no matter which state you live in.

Mr. Roof may not have noticed, but since he presumably voted for Donald Trump, his vote was not really counted, since he lived in Delaware, which was won by Hillary Clinton. That is not fair. His vote should be counted the same as mine or anyone else’s, and we should choose our president the same way we choose our other leaders: by counting the votes of everyone fairly and honestly and declaring the winner to be the candidate who received the most votes from the people.

The present system defies both common sense and elemental fairness, and it should be changed, just as other aspects of our political system have been changed over the past two centuries.

Mr. Roof’s letter concludes with another one of his rants about the danger of America becoming a socialist state, and he apparently thinks that I am a socialist, which equates in his mind to being a carrier of the bubonic plague. In this, I admit he is correct; I am a socialist.

I am in favor of the public school system and the establishment and funding of public libraries; I believe that the National Park system, and state parks, are our greatest treasures as a people; I believe that Social Security, Medicare, and the Veterans Health Administration are three of the greatest advances in our history; I think that the construction of the Interstate Highway System and the establishment of NASA were great steps forward for our country; and I believe that the air we breathe and the water we drink should be protected by government action and not left to the whims of the market or private greed. Since Mr. Roof is so worried about socialism, I guess he really would like to go back to the 1790s. I do not.

Daniel Pritchett

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