As several states continue to count ballots, we Americans do what we do every four years and ask, “What in hell is the electoral college?” The fact is that virtually nobody knows what the college is all about, other than it is not a college your kids can get into.
Our Founding Fathers created this entity as a compromise between congress picking the president and a popular vote. On five occasions in our history, a president has been elected without garnering the popular vote, and the past two Republican presidents won without the popular vote.
Among other problems with this system is that roughly 40 states are not in contention every four years. What this means is that the two presidential candidates do not campaign in 80 percent of the United States. When was the last time you saw Joe Biden or Donald Trump campaigning on the West Coast? It also means that, for all practical purposes, Republicans in blue states and Democrats in red states are disenfranchised.
So, what are we going to do about this antiquated system? The answer is, unfortunately, “absolutely nothing.” Our Founding Fathers made it nearly impossible to change the U.S. Constitution. Since our government was formed over 230 years ago, we have only amended the Constitution 27 times, and the first 10 amendments (the Bill of Rights) were adopted and ratified simultaneously with the Constitution. Two of the amendments had to do with the sale of alcohol, and you may not be familiar with the 27th amendment, which was passed almost 30 years ago. (It prohibits Congress from giving itself a pay raise to take effect before the next election.)
In other words, we are stuck with a system that might have made sense in the 18th century but is cumbersome and undemocratic today.