Safeguard: An Electoral College Story (2020) - full transcript

"What if something you changed caused unintended consequences you never imagined?" Safeguard: An Electoral College Story asks that question about presidential elections. How does the system...

America in and of itself was a perfect
dream implemented by imperfect men.

But the foresight
of the founding fathers

was to understand
their innate imperfection

and to create a system
that was empowered

with the mechanics for change.

I have a dream

that one day on the
red hills of Georgia

sons of former slaves and the
sons of former slave owners,

will they be able to sit down
together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream.

The Electoral College
is one of the things

that it gives the framework for you
to have the power

to stand up for your rights
and your liberties.

You’ve had it for so long people
don’t know what it truly means.

The actual structure that we have
that has allowed us to get here

is not the thing that
we should want to take down.

A lots happened
over the years.

And while this nation
has been tested by war

and it’s been tested
by recession

and all matter of challenges
I stand before you again tonight

after almost two terms
as your president to tell you

I am more optimistic
about the future of America

than eve before.

America was designed to
protect individual rights

and getting rid
of the Electoral College

is the simplest way to make sure
that we fall short of our potential.

People have gotten stuck on the word
democracy but we are a democratic republic

designed to cool
the passions of society.

That is what the constitution was
designed to do and by extension,

that is what the Electoral College
is designed to safeguard.

That’s also why this experiment we call
America has been so effective for so long.

I remember when I first studied
American politics

and constitutionalism the idea
of Electoral College

is always kind of an outlier

if for no other reason
it’s not a college.

I mean you don’t actually
go there to study.

It doesn’t actually exist
in the same way.

Well what is this thing?

It’s an odd bird in the sense
of it’s not an obvious thing.

Having said that it’s
a quite brilliant creation

on the part of the founders.

After the American Revolution

and before the constitution
you have this period of time

where we had a different constitution
called the Articles of Confederation

and this was a really,
really simple government.

It’s basically just a congress
with nothing else.

And that meant that the states
really just did their own thing.

The revolution was fought on behalf of
self-government in colonial capitals.

So if you were from Connecticut
you were fighting the revolution

in order to be taxed not from
Westminster but from Hartford.

And why was Hartford preferable?

Well because that’s the people
that you were electing.

And does that mean
that you wanted a government

that had input from people
who lived in Georgia?

No. It did not mean that.

In fact you probably had no conception
of people who lived in Georgia.

You almost certainly
had no contact with people

from outside your own region,
probably your own state.

You likely never met anybody
who had been there.

You’d never talked
to anyone from there.

You didn’t even know
what they sounded like.

We often think that
the United States

started as a powerful nation.
It didn’t.

It started as 13 feeble states barely
knit together by a continental agreement.

And all around these states
was the British Empire.

And then to the west across the
Mississippi River the Spanish Empire.

The European states
had not gone away.

They were fully as threatening
and present

as they had been
at any other time.

And here were these 13 states

making themselves weaker
and weaker day by day

with the way
they argued with each other.

And then people realized
there’s essentially no way

that those states can vindicate
the rights of people

who live there
unless their leagued together.

So this doesn’t mean
that you think

that if you’re in New Jersey
that you want New Yorkers

to be involved in anything to do
with the government you have.

But you need to league with them
in fighting this war.

But that poses a problem

because a lot of the rhetoric
of the revolution

is about home rule and not
having excessive government,

not having government
that’s not accountable to you

and your neighbors.

Why would you be fighting
a revolution

against distant
unaccountable authority

and then trying to create a new
distant unaccountable authority.

The founders saw that the
democracy that was going on

within the states
was not doing a good job

in some cases
of protecting individual rights.

So when they got together
to create the constitution

this was one of the things
they knew they had to do

although at the beginning
they didn’t know quite

how they were going to do it.

But they knew they had
to create a government

that the power
comes from the people

but also a government they
couldn’t oppress the people.

And that was what set them
down this road

of writing
the American constitution.

In order to create a government
that would work, the founders

of the constitutional
convention realized

that you had to create
a federal government

that was going to be able
to exercise

in an effective way,
three basic functions of government.

One is legislating.

One is putting
that legislation into effect.

And the other is judging the laws that
are passed by the legislative branch

and carried out by the executive
branch and that’s the judiciary.

The concerns of the founders were premised
upon a certain view of human nature.

They thought that people were
ultimately corrupt or corruptible

and therefore the incentives
that operated

within a given system
would shape their behavior.

And so we have this
Rube Goldberg device essentially

that is set up to make it difficult
for laws to be enacted willy nilly.

The founders knew based on
human history

that the same government that
has the power to imprison you

or even take your life
or take someone else’s life

should not be able
to make decisions quickly.

Because through history
often minorities

were disadvantaged
at the hands of government.

At the time the founding fathers
were drafting the constitution

they had one principle thought in mind.
And that is

preserving the liberties
of the American people.

They were living at a time
when there was a lot of tyranny

and to their observation
it came from the fact

that the same person or group

could both make a law
and enforce the law.

So the ability to make and enforce
the law allows for self-dealing.

There’s a concern
with one’s own interests.

This goes back to human nature
as the founder’s understood it.

If people have the opportunity
to exercise power in their favor

it will be a temptation
to do so,

one that may be
too difficult to resist.

So you create an institution
that will prevent this

or at least reduce
the ability to self deal.

So in order to make sure
in the new constitution

that no person or group
could do both of those things,

make the law
and enforce the law,

they decided to place
the lawmaking in one category

and the enforcement of the law
in another category.

Separation of powers had
not been the norm in history.

So it was a doctrine that
was made popular by Montesquieu

and others about the time
of the revolution, a bit before.

And it was the recognition that
if you wanted to control power

you couldn’t let one person
sit in every capacity

and as they always say absolute
power corrupts absolutely.

So we divide the power up.

But there is a misperception
out there

that the founders were elitists
who didn’t trust the people

and the reality is
they didn’t trust anybody.

They knew that left to his own
devices the president

sometimes will abuse his power.
Left to their own devices

the congress sometimes
will abuse its power.

Same with the judiciary.

The national government
versus the state government,

the elected officials versus the
people who are voting for them,

everybody is subject
to this problem of human nature.

And the founders set up a system
of absolutely nobody is trusted.

Everybody is given a little bit
of power

to check the others
to create accountability.

And the founders hoped
that in this way

they would protect liberty

from the imperfections
of human nature.

Liberty when you examine what
the founders thought about it

meant fundamentally that
the citizens of a republic

could conduct their business,

go their way
and live their lives

for the most part unmolested
by the power

and the intervention
of the federal government.

So what do you do?

You take liberty and you
protect it from its chief enemy.

Because the chief threat
to liberty is power.

Well, what do you do then?
You take power and you divide it.

You make the different parts
and aspects of political power

in effect quarrel
with each other

and expend their energy
balancing each other.

Because when they do that

then they’re not going to be a threat
to the liberties of the people.

So this was the central problem
of the constitutional convention.

How do we empower government and
yet curb its excesses of power?

What was finally arrived
at after long months of debate

was the idea
of the single president

who would have all
the responsibility

of the executive authority
in his hands

but would also be limited
in certain important ways

by powers that were distributed
to the legislative branch

and to the judicial branch.

Yesterday, December 7, 1941

a date which will live
in infamy

United States of America

was suddenly
and deliberately attacked

by naval and air
forces of the empire of Japan.

What does the president do?

The president is there
to act now.

He doesn’t make the law.

In the congress a slow process
is very good.

With an executive a slow process
can often be very bad.

In a crisis
you may not have time.

We need executives
who can execute

and execute effectively
and quickly.

The president is not supposed
to have very much power

over how government works.

The president's supposed
to make government work.

The president is supposed to be
in charge

The president is supposed to be
in charge
of actually getting things done
but not deciding what gets done

of actually getting things done
but not deciding what gets done

or what policies are going
to be carried out.

That’s supposed to be congress.
As congress has done less

and less the executive
has had to do more and more.

And it’s shifted our political
attention to the White House

and it’s why we have these big
fights over presidential elections.

One of the big problems of
the constitutional convention

was deciding how will
we select an executive.

And they talked about
all kinds of things.

Should it be
a multi person executive?

You serve three people
like a triumvirate

or something like that?
Should it be one person?

And how is that person
going to be chosen?

Some folks thought that it
should be the people should vote

and the executive should be
relying on the popular vote.

But representatives primarily from
smaller states were concerned.

They said well, the bigger
states have more population

and they’ll just
rule everything.

They went back and forth
small states

versus large the whole summer.

And finally at the end of the
summer behind closed doors

in a subcommittee
that had been dispatched

to wrap up some remaining items
that’s where the idea

for the Electoral College
was generated.

And all that we really know
about it

is that one of the delegates
later wrote Mr. Madison

took out the pen and paper
and he sketched out an idea.

And that’s what we know.
They came back

and they presented
this Electoral College idea

to the full convention.
And they tweaked a few things

but they largely accepted
the idea

that Madison and the other
subcommittee meetings had presented.

And that’s how we got
our Electoral College.

To create a separate
independent executive

who was independent
of the congress,

had his own or her own authority
under the constitution,

it was necessary to develop
a system of election.

What would be the best way
to do that?

They thought prominent people
would be elected

by the population in general
and those prominent people

would then elect the president.

The prominent people
became known as electors.

A presidential elector
is actually a real person.

They’re elected
at the state level.

The electors never meet
all together nationally.

They just meet
in their own states.

And in December all they do

is vote for president
and vice president.

Then they go home,
never to be heard from again.

And in January we legally know
who really is elected president

and vice president

and a few weeks later
they’re sworn in.

The states began to realize

that if the state
allocated all its electors

to one person the state
would have much more to say

about who became president.

And so almost all the states
then began to require

the person who gets the majority
of the popular vote in the state

would be chosen
by the electors casting

all of the votes of that state.

The whole Electoral College
process is a democratic process.

It’s one person, one vote.

All the democratic principles
apply just at the state level.

So in a presidential election
year the state republicans,

the state democrats,
maybe the state libertarians,

maybe the state green party,
they will have a convention

and they will nominate people to
be their presidential electors.

If their party wins that
state’s presidential election

then their nominees
for presidential elector

become that state’s
presidential electors

and get to cast those electoral
votes for their party’s nominee.

Mr. President the certificate
of the electoral vote

of the state of California

seems to be regular in form
and authentic.

And it appears therefrom
that Hilary Clinton

of the state of New York
received 55 votes for president

and Tim Cain
of the Commonwealth of Virginia

received 55 votes
for vice president.

We don’t expect our electors
to use their own discretion.

In fact we call
those faithless electors

and they’re pretty rare.

So we do expect our electors –
and they pledge indeed to vote

for the person
who won overall in the state.

So the idea that your vote
doesn’t count

in the Electoral College
is strange.

Your vote does count.

It contributes
to whoever wins your state.

But really you wouldn’t
want it any other way.

If you’re a California voter,
you want the candidate

who is most popular in California
to get the maximum advantage.

Similarly if you live
in Wyoming,

similarly if you live
in North Dakota.

So we have democracy today

but we have 51 democratic
elections, not just one.

And so they decentralized
those votes to recognize

that states are different.

You can think of the World
Series the same way.

It’s not who gets the most runs
in seven games.

It’s who wins the most games.
And the Electoral College

it’s who wins in effect
the most states,

not just who gets the most votes
in total across the nation.

And those are
very different systems.

But no one says the World Series
is undemocratic

because my team got 24 runs
in the series

and your team got 12
but they won more games.

It's just each game becomes
its individualized contest.

The Electoral College idea
reflected the compromises

that had already been made

in the composition
of the legislature.

So of course in our congress
we have a senate

with one state
one vote representation

which makes
the small states happy.

That is what they were used to
before we had a constitution at all.

It also has a house with one
person one vote representation

which of course satisfied
the big states

because their larger populations
would be reflected.

The Electoral College reflects
the same compromise

and the reason it reflects
that compromise is

because you have
the same number of electors

as you have members of congress.

So there is an element
of one state one vote

in the Electoral College

but there’s also an element
of one person one vote.

California still has many
more electors than a state

like Wyoming or Rhode Island.

This system solved a lot of
their philosophical problems

of a democracy
within a republic.

It also played the role of kind
of breaking up regional factions

which is something they were
extremely concerned about

especially at the time of the founding.

And it made the presidency

of all of the popular aspects
within the federal government.

Such that the presidency today
is the one office,

in this case the office
is an individual

that actually represents
all of the American people

as opposed to a particular state
or a congressional district.

So after all this
it’s quite ironic

that the Electoral College

is being attacked as
being anti-democratic

when indeed the creation
of Electoral College

made executive leadership

possible within
a democratic republic.

And without that I think
the system

really wouldn’t have worked

and actually many
of the regional divides

we all know about
in American history

would have probably
broken down a long time ago.

We have to understand that
the Electoral College

is about federalism

which means it’s about the basics
of our constitutional system

because the constitution
creates a federal union.

Federalism fundamentally
means that states

which have their own sovereignty
as states agree

to act for common purposes

in creating an overarching
umbrella federal government

that will help them do
as a collective

what is difficult or impossible
for them to do as individuals.

For instance states
are perfectly competent

to design their own
educational systems,

build their bridges and
designate their state capitals.

They are much,
much less competent

to conduct foreign policy,
create armies and build navies.

Far better for
a federal government

to be responsible for.
That is exactly the balance

that the federal constitution

State governments are
independent sovereigns.

The federal government
cannot tell them what to do.

That’s an important way
of keeping a check

on the power the federal or in
this case central government.

The federal system
we have I think

runs exactly the way the funders
designed and envisioned it to.

It’s often been said
that the states laboratories

of democracy again
is very much the case.

Wyoming in 1892 they let women
vote long

before anyone else
wanted women to vote.

Other states soon followed

and this has happened
in other ways as well.

Whether it’s abolishing slavery

or enacting certain
civil rights measures.

And if the federal government
were left to be in charge

we would basically be waiting
for 50 sets of representatives

and senators
to all simultaneously come

to the same
revolutionary way of thinking

and to enact
some of these measures.

Whereas when you can rely on
a smaller subset one state

or one region
or a group of states

to have these new ideas

it’s easier
to get the ball rolling.

Our states preexist
the constitution.

They were colonies and then
they were sovereign states

and they remain
sovereign states.

And the Electoral College
is what pulls them together

in order to elect
a chief executive

that is over all of them

and making sure that the smaller
members of the federation,

of the federal union are not
simply overwhelmed and ignored

by the popular vote nationwide.

It’s that federalism which
the Electoral College

is the premier example of
in our constitutional system.

If we begin to tamper with
the Electoral College what we’re

really starting to do is
to dismantle the federal system.

And when that happens
then we’re kissing goodbye

to all the possibilities
that federalism has represented.

Greater democracy,

greater participation
and greater liberty.

One other historical benefit
we can see of federalism

lies in the fact that eventually

the constitutional convention

one by one northern states
take action

in their own legislatures
to abolish slavery.

If there hadn’t been federalism,

if the states hadn’t had
the option and the authority

to make that kind of decision
for themselves

you would never have had
the development of a free north.

And a free north
which in time to come

would be able to stand up
against the aggressions

of what became known
as the slave power.

We would not have had
the leverage necessary

towards the final abolition
of slavery

without those individual
federalized distinctions

and decisions made
by individual state legislators.

We also as we sort of grow up
in this country

and we vote in all sorts
of lesser elections

the principle of majority rule

seems to prevail in virtually
every other election.

I don’t understand why
at this point in time

we continue to adhere

to a system that
again undermines in my view

the principle
of political equality

and simply doesn’t follow
the straightforward logic

of majority rule.

The trouble with the word
democracy is it means

lots of different things
to lots of different people.

When the founders
talked about democracy

they thought of a bunch of people
getting together and voting on stuff.

When people talk about it today
they often use it

for what the founders would have
talked about as a republic.

So when the founders were
creating our country

they had several examples
to look back to in the past,

places where the public ruled.

And those places were primarily
in antiquated Greece.

And there the public
ruled directly

by making
decisions collectively.

And of course
that was impossible

in an extended republic
like ours

to bring all of the American
citizens together

even at that early stage.

So they understood
that we needed

a republican form of government.

And what they meant by that was
a representative form

of governing
where the will of the people

is translated
through elected officers.

They wanted the public
will to be refined

and enlarged through
our representatives.

But they not only thought
a democracy would be impossible

in this extended republic
but also wise.

I mean ultimately you have to
decide do you value democracy

or do you value
individual rights?

And so it’s always majority
rule, minority right.

If everything is simply
51 percent

then that gives me an interest
to just get my 51 percent,

make it as less diverse
as possible

so that I can actually govern

and ignore you 49 percent
of everybody else.

The notion that the country
is ruled by the majority

is a fiction.

The biggest problem that
the framers had to deal with

was the difficulty that
basically we don’t all get along

in the sense that
we have different interests.

Once people have liberty
they will tend to fragment

and that’s the problem.

The question is
what do you do about it?

And there are two ways
to deal with it.

One, you try to get rid of them
which they do

in tyrannical countries,
despotic countries.

Or you adopt the solution
that our framers adopted

and that was you
divide and conquer.

What you make sure
if that you have many factions,

not just a majority faction
and a minority faction.

When you say 50 percent plus 1
you’re referring

to one big faction
versus everybody else.

But in this country
we have many, many factions.

We try to multiply the factions.

And the more we get
the less powerful any one is.

These are all very carefully
crafted checks and balances

that establish the idea
that the majority generally

should get its way
in a number of areas

but we are going to have
mechanisms that from time

to time are going
to frustrate the majority.

And we see that in Supreme Court
rulings from time to time.

We see that when the senate
is able to block legislation.

Occasionally we see it in
the election of the president.

The majority generally gets
its way in our federal republic

but not always.

The constitution does not
establish a democracy.

The constitution is about
establishing self-government

in a way that protects
individual rights

which oftentimes is directly
at odds with democracy.

If what the majority of the people
want in some particular moment

is to interfere
with the rights of a minority.

Well, the constitution was
set up to have varying degrees

of the democratic process show
up in different places

most obviously
the election of the house.

But also you see this
in the delegation of power

to state legislatures
all through the constitution

where the state legislatures
can decide

how to elect the electors,

how to run an election,
how to manage their own affairs.

So the founders
have a lot of democracy

if you will in the election
of the house.

And they have little bits
of democracy elsewhere

that is also balanced
with minority rights

and that’s what makes
the constitution

such a brilliant document.

Abraham Lincoln had to deal
in 1858

with an opponent in the form
of Stephen A Douglas.

Stephen A Douglas was a firm
believer in democracy.

He was so firm of believer
that he believed

that every citizen
in every territory

in every state
to cast a majority vote

for whether they wanted
to have slavery or not slavery.

He didn’t inquire into
the morality of slavery.

He simply said that
if a majority of the people

in a given territory

or a given state wanted to have
slavery then they could have it

if that majority voted
in favor of it,

no further questions asked.

For him democracy
was an end in itself.

That’s all you needed to ask.
What did the majority want?

In modern democracies
we sometimes talk

a little carelessly in the tones
of Stephen A Douglas

that what matters is
whether a 51 percent majority

has endorsed something.

And that is true up to a point
but there is a circle

that is drawn
around a set of rights,

rights that Jefferson
talks about,

rights that are articulated
in the first ten amendments

to the constitution,
the bill of rights.

So we recognize that even
in a democratic system

there are certain

that majorities cannot pass on.

But we’ve been told that well,

as long as it’s democratic
its’ fine.

That’s a terrible idea.

The most undemocratic part
of the constitution

is the bill of rights.

The bill of rights
is flatly antidemocracy

because the bill of rights says

we don’t care
how big your majority is.

You can’t establish
a national church.

We don’t care how big
your majority is.

You can’t outlaw the press.

We don’t care how big
your majority is.

You can’t turn to
a private group

that wants to influence politics

and say we’re going to
outlaw you meeting together.

And these things
will always be in conflict.

Every American has to decide do
we value democracy more

or do we value
individual rights more.

Historically the answer
in our constitution

is we value individual
rights more than democracy.

Democracy is a great process
but it’s a process.

It’s not a purpose.

Talk is again turning
to the final deciders,

the members
of the Electoral College.

After Hilary Clinton
won the popular vote

but lost the Electoral College
vote to Donald Trump

there were new calls to abolish

the constitutionally
mandated system.

Before the founding most people
believed that democracies

could only be executed
at a very small scale

as to say a city state.

But our founders
had a different notion.

They thought not only could
you have a republic,

a representative form of
government in this large nation

but in fact that republic
would be better.

And the reason
it would be better was

because if you enlarge
the scope of the people

within a government

those people have to form
coalitions in order to govern.

And there’s rarely going to be
an instance

where 50 percent
or 51 percent of the public

feel the same way
across every issue.

That is to say
they have the same religion,

the same vocation,
the same fashion.

You’re rarely to have a group
that’s that monolithic

across the entirety
of this extended republic.

So what do you have to do?

Well, you have
to make coalitions with people

about which you agree
on a certain issue

but not perhaps on all issues.

And in that way
everyone governs a bit.

Everyone has a chance
to be heard on issues

that are most important,
most salient to them.

Thank you.
Well, it’s no secret.

I’m here today to announce

that I’m running for president
of the United States.

One of the things that probably
they didn’t even

fully anticipate
was that the Electoral College

would force you as
a presidential candidate

to have to put together
a national coalition.

You couldn’t do it winning one
popular state

or a sectional candidate
or a special interest candidate.

You had to bring together
diverse groups.

You may be unified
by a certain principle.

But on other issues you may
not be so much together on

and culturally you
may not like each other.

But it was a system that allowed
for political competition

but doing so in a way in which
you try to bring people together

rather than trying to find ways
of dividing

and inflaming passions.

So what the Electoral College

it forces everyone to make sure
that they make the rounds,

not just in
the middle of America,

not just to the financiers
of the world in New York.

Not just tinsel town
in California.

To make sure that they make
the rounds

going to all of the states,

all of America
to bring the unified message.

The presidential vote
is not one big thing.

It’s broken into pieces.

And how you put those pieces
together like a puzzle

is how the president
creates a governing consensus.

The democrats are
a going concern

in the most republican states,
in Oklahoma, in Wyoming.

The republicans
have campaign offices

in political organization
in California, in Vermont.

This is part of the Electoral
College driving the parties

to constantly be probing
can we pull this state

or that state
into our coalition.

We hear this talk every four
years about expanding the map.

That’s Electoral College lingo.

Expanding the map
means reaching out,

winning people over,
building a bigger coalition.

Expanding the map
is an inherently good thing

that comes directly
from the Electoral College.

Without the Electoral College
the presidency

would be decided
in Boston, New York, Chicago,

Seattle, San Francisco
and Los Angeles.

That’s where the game would be
without the Electoral College.

Instead of that you have
candidates for president

going all over the country and
not just going to urban cores.

Politics are local
so the Electoral College

brings a national campaign
to the local community.

Candidates have to be careful

about how they allocate
their time and resources

because it is unproductive
to spend too much time

in one part of the country
or in one big city.

So over and over again
throughout history

presidential candidates
who have tried to overly focus

on one type of voter
have failed.

The Electoral College
does not reward that.

On the flip side if we had
a national popular vote system

we would suddenly find that that
strategy became very productive

because it’s easier to go spend
a bunch of time racking up votes

among voters that
already want to vote for you.

You can imagine a democrat
running out to Los Angeles

or San Francisco

and promising the environmental
lobby anything they want.

Because if you can get
100 percent of California voters

behind you that’s way better
than getting

50.01 percent
of voters behind you.

Likewise you can see republicans

running out
to Houston and Dallas

and promising the oil
interest anything they want.

You’re now just chasing
a few ideas and policies

in the most populated areas.

Obviously in a system
without the Electoral College,

you’re now going to start
promising positions of power

in the bureaucracy in D.C.

to whatever locations
get that president

the national popular
vote majority that he needs.

So can you imagine having
a system where the EPA director

is always going to go
to Los Angeles County

because Los Angeles County

is always going to deliver
10 million votes.

Whoever wins that national
popular vote

is going to be incentivized
to distribute the winnings

if you will
and the strings of power

to those few localities that
have resulted in them winning.

Help make history and volunteer

because this race is going
to be won on the ground

and it’s going to be won
in Colorado and in lowa

and in North Carolina

and Virginia and Florida
and Pennsylvania

and then we’re going
to the White House.

Howard Dean took over the DNC
and his big push

was a 50 state model

where he was going
to focus on party

building in each of
the 50 states.

Now granted democrats
didn’t start competing closely

in Texas or Georgia right away
but they are now.

And I think that’s attributable
to Howard Dean

really recognizing in a way
that other people

didn’t that
a 50 state model works.

And that a party that competes
across all of the 50 states

and puts more states
in play wins more.

My name is Stacy Abrams and I

intend to be
the next governor of Georgia.

You look at Georgia and Texas

and how close those races
are becoming.

I think you can trace
that back to the party

building that was done
at that time.

And I think the republicans
should play catch up now

and focus on building up the
party apparatus in blue states.

Honestly Trump
was the first candidate

that took the upper
Midwest seriously.

It’s because he had better data.

The better data becomes
the more clear it will be

that more states
are in play

because you have a sense that
"oh these people are not as won over

by the party that’s been winning
that state as you might suspect."

So I think more states
are going to come out like that

and I think 2016
was evidence of that.

Without the Electoral College
the democratic party

would be really tempted
to ignore a lot of Americans.

That would be terrible
for democrats

who live in places
frankly like Vermont. Right?

I mean I think this is why
Howard Dean

talked about a 50 state strategy
because Howard Dean did not want

his democrats to be left behind
by the New York democrats,

the LA democrats,
the Chicago democrats.

The Electoral College in a way
is more important

to the democratic party
than to anybody else

because it forces them
not to become so insular,

so urban centric that they
ignore the rest of the country.

We’re still an extraordinarily
diverse country

so it’s important for our system
of selecting the president

to represent that diversity

and in fact to enforce
candidates for office

to experience
that diversity firsthand.

That’s exactly what our
Electoral College does by

in a way forcing presidents
to go out to every

and each region of the country

to fight out the election
in these swing states

which we’re been fortunate
in every election

to have many of them
spread across the country.

It’s good for America
if the democrats

have a 50 state strategy
and it’s good for America

if the republicans
have a 50 state strategy.

If we start ignoring people
and writing off huge swaths

of the country
we are destroying our country.

is not a one size fits all.

Right? We have different values,
different thoughts, different beliefs.

That’s why we have a system
of government

where one political party
can win in one year

and four years later it could be
a different political party.

You can’t win the presidency
without urban voters.

You can’t win the presidency
without rural voters.

You can’t win the presidency without
minorities of every stripe.

You can’t win the Electoral
College without that.

If you throw that off and you
just had one national vote,

all you need to do is win one
more vote than the next person.

One of the keys to the
Electoral College’s success

is we get competitive elections.

So Barak Obama can win
the Electoral College

and Donald Trump can win
the Electoral College

and George Bush could win
the Electoral College

and Bill Clinton
could win the Electoral College.

That’s something
pretty cool about that.

Right now 8:00 PM
on the east coast

Connecticut seven electoral
votes for president.

Delaware the president
will take three electoral votes.

The District of Columbia,
Washington D.C.

and it’s three electoral votes,

his home state of Illinois
a big prize, 20 electoral votes.

The president
also will take Maryland

and it’s ten electoral votes,

in Massachusetts
the home state of Mitt Romney,

all 11 electoral votes.

In Maine three of
the four electoral votes.

Rhode Island
all four electoral votes.

So you have to be more
than a narrow candidate.

That’s fine in a congressional
election or a state election.

But nationally
in a country like this

which is a continental nation
the Electoral College

ensures as much as possible

that you put together
a national coalition.

Another way that
the Electoral College

works in the direction
of conferring legitimacy

is the way that it sustains
the two party system.

We’ve had a two party system
since the 1790s.

People in the
constitutional convention

hadn’t envisioned a party system

but the party system
did come into existence.

One major reason
that it comes into existence

is the Electoral College.

Now sometimes we have had
third party candidates.

There have been occasions
which we have even

had a fourth party candidate,
maybe even a fifth.

They tend to be very narrow
single issue kind of events

and they’re often
quite ephemeral

because they’re built
around personalities.

The assumption I think is once
you eliminate

the Electoral College

that we will continue
to have two parties

and so that will mean
that everyone who is a nominee

of one of the major parties

will come very close
to getting a majority

if not a majority at least
very close to a majority

but that’s not true.
Because once you eliminate

the usefulness
of the Electoral College

you go to a system where it’s
just the popular vote,

you could have 12, 15,
20 parties.

To get the majority
in the Electoral College

you need to concentrate
people’s votes

behind a limited number
of candidates.

You can’t really elect
a candidate president

who only brings in about
15 or 20 percent

of the popular vote
in the states.

If you have a direct popular

in which the person who just
gets the most votes wins

and doesn’t have to have
a majority,

just more than anybody else,

this will encourage candidates
to stay in the race

as long as they think
there’s any chance

they can be the one
with the most votes.

If you’re in a multi candidate,
a direct popular vote

and you’re running third
with say 24 percent

and the person in second has 28

and the person in first
has 30 maybe you can catch him.

Everybody stays in the race

and you end up actually not
getting a clear, popular winner.

Because once you eliminate
the usefulness

of the Electoral College
what happens

is that everyone
will get into the game.

We will have a lot of people

for the pro-immigration party
and the anti-immigration party

and the prochoice
and the prolife parties.

In fact it would be
entirely possible

that no one would even come
close when the outcome comes.

And let’s assume
that in the end the person

who is the prolife party
gets 23 percent of the vote

and that happens to be
the highest percentage

of anyone running.

Well, then the voters
in New York and California

and Illinois and Wisconsin
who voted for someone else

entirely would find that they’ve
elected a president

who is prolife.

We would elect a president
on the basis of someone

who comes in
with 25 percent of the vote

over the candidates who came in
with 24 percent and 23 percent.

Don’t you think the people
that got the 24

and the 23 would make
a great deal of grief

about a margin that narrow?

Don’t you think that would cut
into the legitimacy

of the candidate
with 25 percent?

Of course it would.

It would destabilize
the entire process of governing.

The two party systems

actually helps
to bind the nation together

because if you have
democrats in Maine

and democrats in Minnesota
and democrats in Oregon

they’re still all democrats and
they communicate with each other

and they support a common
set of candidates.

Republicans in Florida,
republicans in Oklahoma,

republicans in Michigan may all
be in those different states

but they’re all lined up
behind a common platform

and common candidates.

And what this does, it tamps
down divisions within a nation

and makes us realize that
although we may be from Michigan

or Oklahoma
or Oregon fundamentally

when we act politically
we’re acting as Americans.

And that’s an important glue
for our national unity.

With the Electoral
College system

if you want to get elected,

you want to attract a broad
spectrum of the American people.

So that keeps people
who have very extreme views

out of the presidential race.

If you can win
the presidential race

with just 25 percent of the vote

then the kind of
extremist candidates

that we don’t want to have
running the country

might be able to win
the presidential election.

Without the Electoral College

there’s no longer
any motivation to compromise.

The attitude becomes my 18
percent beat your 17 percent

so I really don’t care
what you think.

And what you see in those
situations is extremists

tend to be rewarded because they
no longer have to tone down.

They no longer
have to work with others.

And so extreme positions

can have a lot more influence
on the process.

We have a bifurcated system.

There is a left
and a right in the country.

But within the left
and within the right

we also have a variety
of different positions.

This big tent approach
to American politics

is extremely important
because it’s not just diversity.

It’s also a concern
with avoiding extreme politics.

And so some scholars
have called it

the dangerous factions
that could develop

if appeals to extremism
were allowed to be made

in terms of making a successful
run for the presidency.

And so one of the virtues
is not only the reduction

in the number of candidates.

But what that does is it forces
the candidates

to make broad brush appeals
to satisfy a variety

of sometimes conflicting
interests in constituencies.

Even when you have one party

which scores a complete sweep
in an election,

wins the White House,
wins the senate,

wins the house
of representatives,

what you have afterwards

is not a single monochrome
point of view.

What you have is the victory
of a national coalition.

What you have to have is a party

then which starts talking within
itself and saying all right.

If we’re going to govern at all

we’ve got to arrive
at some averages here.

The two party system mandates

that they start
shaving off the extremes

and come down to the averages.
They come down to the averages

because they’re
a two party system

and they’re a two party system
in very large measure

because the Electoral College
pushes us,

nudges us in that direction
and a main stream appears.

And what you get then
is a stable democracy.

Here’s what people seem not
to understand.

The world that will exist in a
post Electoral College America

are five billionaires
and a bunch

of multi-millionaires running
for president

trying to be as extreme
as necessary

without alienating enough people

so that they can get a small
sliver of the tranche of voters

necessary to get elected
president of the United States.

That’s where one candidate

who can significantly outspend
the other candidates

could really make a difference
in being able to win an election

particularly because these days
a very large percentage

of the American people

living in a very small number
of media markets.

And that is where having
a lot of money,

being able to buy media
in the big,

dense urban cities
could really make the difference

in changing the results
of a presidential election.

I don’t think that big money
ought to be able

to buy our elections.

And that’s’ true whether we’re
talking about billionaires

or corporate executive

that fund pacts
or big lobbyists.

Tonight we say
to Michael Bloomberg

and other billionaires sorry,

you ain’t going to buy
this election.

And what the Electoral College
does is the last fortress

if you will to hold
back individuals

that think that they can come in

and buy our republic,
buy our vote.

So the billionaires of the world

certainly have the resources
individually to run

that can make it
much easier for a candidate

to cerate the staff
and the advertising revenue

that would allow them
to have greater success

on the national popular
vote scale

than they go on the
national scale we have now

where you have to appeal to
different state constituencies.

Michael Bloomberg says
he is ready to run.

But he plans to skip the first
four 2020 democratic contests.

That’s a risky strategy.

If you really analyzed somebody
like Mike Bloomberg

who is a billionaires,
$55 billions,

he can spend $5 billion
and not blink.

But he can’t buy the election

because he has to be able
to win the primary

because that’s the only way he’s
going to have a viable chance.

And the reason that’s
the only way

he’s going to have
a viable chance

is because…wait for it,
the Electoral College. Right?

So when you have a scenario

where you have removed
the Electoral College

now he no longer has to even
engage in the primary process.

He can simply go directly
to the general election

and talk about how do I get
the most amount of votes

that get me to the place
where I need to be.

It’s not about a majority.

It’s about finding a way
to game the system

in a way that allows his voice

and his money
to speak the loudest.

He spent over $500 million.

That was just on TV
and radio ads alone.

You add in the digital adds.
You add in the staff,

the offices,
the million dollar couches.

The total is likely well over
$600 million making it far

and away the most expensive self-financed
campaign ever in US politics.

He spent more than twice
the combined totals of Trump,

Sanders, Buttigieg,
Warren and Biden.

His spending worked out
to $7 million a day

since he announced
that run in November

or just under
$300,000.00 per hour.

If your concern is money
in politics

then getting rid
of the Electoral College

doesn’t diminish the impact
of money in politics.

It amplifies it in ways you
cannot even begin to comprehend.

The certified result in
the presidential race in Florida

is as follows.

Governor George
W Bush 2,912,790.

Vice President Al
Gore 2,912,253.

Accordingly on behalf
of the state elections

canvasing commission

and in accordance with the laws
of the state of Florida

I hereby declare
Governor George W Bush

the winner of Florida’s
25 electoral votes

for the president
of the United States.

I think we all remember seeing
those pictures

of the vote recount,
of the hanging, dimpled,

pregnant swinging ______

and seeing all the different
cases in the counties.

But the interesting thing
is as bad as that was,

as much as the entire nation
was holding its breath

and waiting to see
what happened,

as many law suits as there were,

that was really just about
one important state.

If we had had a national popular
vote system in place

rather than having a chaotic
contentious recount in Florida

we would have had
a contentious chaotic recount

in every state in the country.

So once you have more potential
for recounts

you also have the potential
for greater fraud.

And so efforts on the national
popular vote to encourage fraud

would certainly be incentivized

because it would
potentially be more difficult

to reveal the fraud
on the national scale.

And the easiest place for fraud
to be committed

is in jurisdictions
are controlled by one party

because the other party isn’t
there to have poll watchers,

to have poll workers,

to basically have a system
where the two parties

are keeping
an eagle eye on each other.

And unfortunately with
a national popular vote system

it would be an incentive
to commit fraud

and try to change
the outcome of elections.

You would need tens of thousands
of agents at each polling place.

You could say well,
I live in Philadelphia.

And you could go
to Wilmington, Delaware

and say I live
in Wilmington, Delaware.

You couldn’t have polls
close at different times.

You’d have to have them uniform
as they do in Canada and Europe

because they don’t want
early voting in one part

or section of the country

influencing another part
of the section.

The 50 states have
very different rules.

Half of them require a drivers
license to vote, half don’t.

Some have mail in ballots
and some don’t.

Some allow for early voting
and others don’t.

Some go from 6:00 AM
to 6:00 PM.

Others go from 6:00 AM
to 10:00 PM, etcetera.

We would have all kinds
of equal protection problems

because we’d have
different rules.

You would have to figure out

how are we going
to run that election

and I think that means
you would have to have

a single national standard
by which everybody voted.

Now that may sound
fairly attractive.

Why not?

Until again you consider
that this is a very large,

enormous country with great
geographic differences

between different states,
difference demographics

and so on.
What makes sense for one state

doesn’t make sense
for every other.

And then you would have
to have much more control

by the federal government.

Control by
the federal government,

eliminating the involvement
of the states.

Now you would have accomplished

exactly what the framers
tried to avoid.

You would put control
in one place

and how are you going
to stop the corruption there,

whichever party it is.

Without the Electoral College
the federal government

would have to take more
control over elections

which means that
presidential appointees

would wind up running
presidential elections. Right?

Barack Obama’s people
would have been in charge

of Barack Obama’s reelection.

Donald Trump’s people
would be in charge

of Donald Trump’s reelection.

The Electoral College
pushes that power

out of Washington D.C.
down into the states.

States run elections,
states are in charge.

It’s distributed. No one state
controls the outcome.

Instead it’s up to 51
different jurisdictions

to run that election.

There’s a mechanism
for what happens

if it’s too close to call
in a particular state,

not if it’s too close
to call across the country.

This would create
quite simply chaos.

And it would throw
any election like that

and I think that it would be
far more common

that you would have these sorts
of elections to the courts.

The stakes are enormously high.

And so we would have litigation
after such disputed elections

which could go on
for months or even years.

Meanwhile the country
would not have a president.

The president is essentially
the foreign policy

representative of the nation.

And so if you have
an ongoing problem

and other countries
rely upon our decisions

in terms of making
their own decisions,

so delays on who will
be making policy,

the uncertainty of it would be
potentially disastrous in terms

of how other nations respond to
America’s presence in the world.

It would have ripple effects
throughout the globe.

This would be catastrophic
if we go months,

potentially years
with court battles.

Who imagines today
with the divisions

that we have
in the United States

that either side is going
to capitulate and just say ok.

You win.
We’ll lay down our swords.

We’ll stop fighting?

Imagine what happens
in the stock market.

Imagine what happens
in the economy.

What kind of a situation
are we asking for?

Well, direct popular election.

While it sounds great,
while it sounds very democratic

also carries within it
the seeds of many problems

that the founders
rescued us from.

You know sometimes you hear
people say well,

whoever wins the popular vote
should win.

And if there’s more people
in the cities

if they win the popular vote

then that’s just the way it is
and who cares about the farmers.

There is no other segment
of society

that we would just look at them

and say your needs
are unimportant.

We can outvote you.

We don’t strive
for simple bare majorities

and then just tell
everybody else tough.

It doesn’t matter.
What we are striving for

and what
the constitution sets up

and what our founders wanted
is justice and fairness

and protection of liberty.

Sometimes we hear
a serious objection

to the Electoral College
lodged on the grounds

that the Electoral College

was designed by
the constitutional convention

to protect slavery.

And the reasoning
runs like this.

The Electoral College
is composed of representatives

from every state based
on your number of members

in the house of representatives
and your number of senators.

Well, isn’t that a revelation?

Because in that case that means

for the purpose of
representation southern states

could count their slaves,

slaves who otherwise
were not permitted any voice

on the political process
towards their representatives

and those representatives
would therefore pile up

in the Electoral College

and there would be
an artificial bonus

given to slaveholding states
to cast votes

in favor of proslavery policies.

And thus the Electoral College
is designed to operate

by the constitutional convention
for the interests of slavery

and a great a-ha moment
erupts at that point.

The difficulty is that it is
an a-ha moment

with no air in the balloon.

In 1787 all of the states,
not just the southern states,

excepting alone
Massachusetts legalized slavery.

There was no bonus paid
by the Electoral College

to slave owning states
versus free states.

All the states enjoyed
that bonus.

The largest slave holding state
in the union in 1787

was Virginia.

The largest northern slave
holding state New York.

The three fifths compromise
is not created

for the Electoral College.

It is created for the house
of representatives.

And the founders needs
to figure out

how do you represent
the people and the states.

Well, already built
into the system

is the representation
for the house,

the representation
for the senate.

All they do is say that math
has already been vetted.

It has already been
through the compromise.

The north is agreeing with it.
The south agrees with it.

The west and the east agree
with it.

We agree with that.
That is the great compromise.

We will build that
into the presidency.

When the Electoral College
is finally determined upon

as a mechanism
for electing the president

the question of slavery never
entered into the consideration

because it wouldn’t have had
any application.

There was no
Electoral College advantage

for slaveholding states

because in 1787 they were
all slaveholding states.

25 years later that’s going to
change as northern states one

by one move into
the non-slaveholding column.

But the members of
the constitutional convention

weren’t writing the constitution
with a view towards saying a-ha.

25 years from now we know
that there will be a bonus

for slaveholding states
in the Electoral College.

Well, yes there was
but it was a temporary

one already ebbing away

by the time Abraham Lincoln
is elected.

Proponents of that argument
have decided that

if they tarnish the institution
of the Electoral College

with racism

then that automatically means
it is suspect

and needs to be replaced.
But it’s just ahistorical.

It’s not really accurate and
it’s not really honest frankly.

Charging the Electoral College
as an institution

for slavery
really delegitimizes the plight

of African Americans
for generations.

But it also completely
ignores history.

If you look at the kinds
of people

that were advancing the causes

what did people
like Fredrick Douglas say?

They said that ultimately these
systems actually were helping

about the freedom of slaves,

that there were resulting
in the ability

for slaves to overcome
their oppressors in the south.

Yes, nobody can argue that
some of the founders had slaves.

Some of them didn’t. Slavery was
very common in our world.

It was wrong but it was
the United States of America

that actually created a system
that ultimately

resulted in it being eradicated.

And now guess what?
People that look like me

aren’t considered
three fifths of a human being.

People that look like me
have the ability to vote.

Black people are now fully
vested members of society

in spite of the inequalities
that we still face today.

When we’re talking about do you
have the right to vote

the Electoral College
has no bearing on that.

So for example if you think
about it,

there’s about 130 million people

that voted in the last
presidential election.

Of that 130 million the number
is about 30 –

35 million minorities.

If you move to a system
where you eliminate

the Electoral College literally
the United States of America

could be won at one time
by just white people.

That’s hardly a system
that promotes the diversity

that exists
not just among races,

not just among preferences

about what partners people
want to have but also in careers

and how people want
to make their living.

The Electoral College
forces people to sort of

make the compromise as necessary

to not just appeal
to a couple of big blocks

but to take into account
these smaller blocks of voters.

I mean that’s very similar
to a point

that Vernon Jordan
was making in the late 1970s.

The Electoral College ensures
that racial minorities

have representation by being
sort of the tipping point

in a number of states
and are able to influence

which direction
that state’s electoral votes go.

What purpose would there be
for a candidate to appeal

to the interests
of African American voters

in a national popular vote
African American voters amount

to only seven percent
of those casting votes.

Not really all that significant

so you pay no attention
to African American voters.

In the Electoral College system

you do have to pay attention
to African American voters

because in a number of key swing
states African American voters

are an important component
of the voting public

and you had better have
something important to say,

for African American voters
to hear or you lose their votes.

And you lose their votes
you lose that state.

You lose that swing state,
you lose the Electoral College.

If you’re a candidate
for president it is impossible

to get elected president without
black people voting for you.

Now you can say the republicans
have won elections

but they have found ways to get
black people to vote for them.

Not a lot but enough.

You cannot get elected president
of the United States

without support
in the Latino community.

You can say well,

republicans haven’t gotten
a lot of Latino support.

But guess what?
They have gotten enough.

And so when you take away
the Electoral College.

When you create a scenario

where people can get elected
president of the United States

without a single vote cast in
their name by a single minority

that is the reality
that we need to be facing.

So if you’re sitting here
saying that it is right

for someone to get elected

who hates minorities
abjectly and concretely well,

then you should be terrified
of an America

that does not have
an Electoral College.

The legacy of black people
in America is well documented.

We’ve had times in America
where we have no rights.

We have even modern day society
when many of the rights

that we should enjoy freely
still seem

as if they come
with strings attached.

So that is a very serious thing

that we should number
one, acknowledge

and, number two, still confront
in our regular lives

when it comes to again
building a more perfect America.

But when you talk about

how do we get
to that more perfect union.

How do we make sure that we
are living Doctor King’s dream

that all people are judged by
the content of their character.

You don’t do it by again
getting rid of the one thing

that has empowered black people

to be able to
leverage political power.

We can have arguments about
are there presidents

who are hostile to the interests
of certain communities.

What we’re not talking about
is a scenario

where somebody who got
18 percent of the vote

ends up becoming president
of the United States.

But we have never had
a president in the modern era

who has campaigned to take away
rights of Americans,

actually rights enshrined
in the constitution.

That is a scenario that we could
end up confronting in a world

where we have gotten rid
of the Electoral College.

In the election of 1860
we had three separate parties,

four if you count
the splinter party.

And the candidate who won
that election

did not win a majority
of the popular vote,

the candidate
of the republican party

in that case actually won

only 39.9 percent
of the popular vote.

Yet that candidate won
a significant majority

in the Electoral College
and so that candidate

was dually elected president
of the United States.

Now you might say yes,

but it wasn’t
a popular election.

Yes, that candidate wasn’t
elected by all the people.

That’s right.
That candidate wasn’t.

But his name
was Abraham Lincoln.

There is no emancipation

without the Electoral College

because without
the Electoral College

there is no Abraham Lincoln
as president

of the United States of America.

And while his total percentage

was the lowest
of any elected president

he was actually the most popular
sort of national candidate

to the extent
we had one in that election

in which the country
was very divided.

Lincoln was the candidate
who won in New England.

He won in the mid-Atlantic

He won in the Midwest.
He won in the prairie.

He won in the new states
on the west coast.

He was the most national
candidate of the group

and we were very fortunate
at that point

that the Electoral College
had given us Lincoln

rather than Stephen Douglas or
the candidate of the deep south,

the slaveholders,
John Breckenridge.

The question
for black Americans,

the questions for
minority communities

should be how do
we get more boxes checked.

How do we get to a point
where both parties

are not accountable
and responsive?

Because that is how you
ultimately get to a place

where the solutions
for black and brown people

all across this great land
start to accelerate.

And that should happen
irrespective of who is in power.

The founding ethos of the black
congressional caucus

whether you’re a democrat or not

was that black people
have no permanent friends

and they have no permanent

only permanent interests.

And black people of America
have made permanent friends

of the democratic party,

permanent enemies
of the republican party

and our permanent interests
have been cast aside.

And so if you’re really,

truly focused
on empowering black communities

lets not sit here

and talk about eliminating
the Electoral College.

Let’s really focus on how do we
as people leverage the power

that we have in mass,
in numbers and by law

and part of that is
through the Electoral College.

I hear Americans saying
this nowadays

and there’s a lot of it
going around.

They talk about
a dysfunctional government

because there’s disagreement
and they –

and the framers
would have said yes,

that’s exactly the way
we set it up.

We wanted this to be power,
contradicting power.

Unless Americans can appreciate
that and learn

to love the separate of powers

which means
learning to love the gridlock

which the framers believed
would be the main protection

of minorities,
the main protection.

If a bill is about to pass
that really comes down hard

on some minority,
they think it’s terribly unfair,

it doesn’t take much
to throw a monkey wrench

into this complex system.

So Americans
should appreciate that

and they should learn
to love the gridlock.

The constitution
if properly understood

is just one big balancing act.

We’ve got states balanced
against the national government.

We’ve got the states balanced
against each other.

We’ve got each branch
of government, judiciary,

executive, legislative
balancing each other.

We’ve got presidential vetoes
and supermajority requirements

to amend the constitution and
we have the Electoral College.

And all of these different
aspects of our constitution

are just a big careful balance
to protect our liberty.

We’re constantly trying
to make things better.

So the fact that they may
not have got it right

by your likes 200 years ago

is precisely why you want
to keep this system

because it allows you
to make those kind of changes

that you think are needed.

So if you want control
over your life,

more opportunity in your life
you’ve got to go with this one

and try to perfect this one.

And not go to the demigods
who have their own agenda

which is not your wellbeing.

So we have to be very careful
when we try to fiddle around

with a system
that has worked so well

for this country
over so many years

and has in each case with a very
small number of exceptions

has produced a president
who got the most popular votes.

It is very likely that unless
Electoral College defenders

rise up and defend the system
that’s in our constitution

and make the argument about
why the Electoral College

is so important we can easily
lose the Electoral College.

This is close to happening

and could easily happen
within the next few years.

If you change how presidential
elections work,

you essentially nullify
the constitutional process,

rip state lines up
from presidential elections

and create this environment
where huge swaths of America

could just be left behind.

The founders’ solution,
the solution that over

the course of American history

we can say is imperfect but has
been remarkably successful

and the model of the whole world

is precisely this balancing
very carefully

by using checks and balances
and institutional systems

and structures
like the Electoral College

to have majority rule

and the rights
of the individuals secured.

And that thing is what
gives rise to this idea

we call liberty which is
so unusual in world history

in anywhere else in the world.

And we have it precisely
because of those institutions

which you oftentimes
take for granted.

We can’t do that
because if you lose that balance

it becomes very difficult
if not impossible to recover it.

The founders knew that which is
why they spent

so much time on this question

and why they saw
what they were doing

as the equivalent of founding.

They were trying to solve
a deeply human eternal problem

of how we govern ourselves and
they created a beautiful system,

which should be preserved.