Monday, December 15, 2008

Obligatory post about the Electoral College

Because they met today to certify Obama's victory. The idea of an electoral college goes back to feudalistic days in Europe, actually a little later but let's not get off the track, when the Holy Roman Empire still existed. It wasn't an absolute monarchy but was instead a federal system made up of different principalities and kingdoms. A prince could inherit the right to vote in the Holy Roman Empire, to elect an Emperor as well as sometimes to conduct empire wide business. The electors, exemplified by the Prince or Princeps, the Latin root that gives us Principle in the sense of primary, were people who were recognized as being able to exercise primary authority as full people, full personalities, and therefore able to make decisions that would impact the highest reaches of government. The name and possibly the system was adopted by the founding fathers, with the idea of Electors in good standing in their communities meeting to certify the results of an election no matter if the election was direct or indirect. In the past, in the first years of the Constitutional order and probably after, in some states there wasn't even voting on the part of white property owning males. Instead, the Electors talked with the other people in the State government and determined who'd be the winner. But times have changed, and our imperial heritage is now largely symbolic.

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