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The next Amendment gets ranked, and I talk about how popular I was in college. It ties together, trust me.
Happy Friday, everyone. I appreciate you spending some time with Okay History.
Speaking of spending time.
Did you enjoy college?
College was such an awesome time in my life. I was crazy popular. I wrote and performed plays no one cared about or understood, led religious retreats that only a handful of students attended, and never lost an election when I ran for office.
Is that because I was never a candidate?
In my sophomore year, I ran for the Student Government Senate. Every seat was open, and I forget how many, but let’s say there were twenty. I launched my candidacy while completing my first year as president of the theater club, where I ran unopposed because I was so popular. It was only natural to take this next step in my political career.
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Electing Student Senators was an interesting process. Every spring, the entire campus would cast ballots for students to serve the following year.
If I remember correctly, you could vote for only five people. The top twenty vote-getters would then be seated the following fall, allowing a few weeks of bragging and corruption to occur before the school year ended. For the right amount of beer and food, I could easily be bought to ensure your club had an increase in budget.
Being wildly popular, I received the most votes, making me the most preferred Senator by the voice of the people. I think like 40 people ran, but who knows? When you are looking at a list of who made it, you stop at your name, and I stopped immediately. It didn’t seem possible, but I instantly became more popular when that list was made public.
What’s strange about the voting system was that it allowed seniors, the people who would no longer be attending the institution by the middle of May, to vote. I’ve never heard of a voting system where the outcome didn’t affect you unless you voted in a district knowing you would move away.
This strange quirk played into my strengths, and my path to the top was easy. At the time, my older brother was a senior; I was dating a senior, another notch in my popularity. I had numerous friends in the junior class, and of course, my sophomore mates had been enthralled with my abilities to write and perform plays regarding obscure American political figures. Freshmen needed to attach themselves to popular people, so I had a following there.
I remember election day well. Walking around campus, numerous students approached me to tell me that I had received their vote. A few people wrote poems about my popularity. Others had flags and t-shirts made, and a band playing my theme music followed in my honor. It was a brilliant day, although I must say I’m a bit disappointed it’s not remembered as such in my college annals.
How we elect the president of the United States is not brilliant. It’s the opposite. It’s a convoluted, racist, harmful, and unnecessary dramatic process that rewards the minority while not assisting actual minorities.
The Framers did an okay job setting up the rules of how we function as a nation. Over 250 years of evidence prove that point, despite some major flaws.
But one we don’t really face is how we elect the chief executive.
Article II Section I of the Constitution created the Electoral College. It’s not an institution of higher learning but a formal body of guys from each state who elect the president and vice president of the United States. Whoever won the most votes from the states wins.
After discussing and debating numerous ways to accomplish this, including the crazy idea of simply electing the person with the most votes, the Framers settled on this process that’s as confusing as letting seniors vote in elections where they won’t bear any of the consequences.
And just like the Eleventh Amendment, after two elections, the Framers realized they done screwed up.
This brings us to the Twelfth Amendment. Why don’t we take a look, shall we?
You got time, right?
22: Amendment XII
Its purpose: Stipulates that each presidential elector must vote for president and vice president.
Year proposed: 1803
Year Ratified: 1804
The first two elections in our country’s history were a breeze. George Washington was the Christopher Dake of the United States, sweeping the election in back-to-back years by receiving the most electoral votes.
John Adams took the role of vice president because someone had to, by receiving the second most.
This is the way the Electoral College initially worked.
But in 1796, Adams was on the ballot again, and this time he won. Thomas Jefferson also ran and came up second. In theory, the Electoral College hoped different political viewpoints would work together, preventing the country from splitting into two colors.
If only people worked that way.
Adams and Jefferson hated each other, and it made governing difficult. Four years later and the presidential election of 1800 was a mess. Colors were officially identified, and the Democratic-Republican party put forth Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr as president and vice president, respectively. The Federalist Adams hoped to consolidate his electors but to no avail.
The D-Rs diligently voted for Jefferson and Burr, while the Feds divided theirs. Except in the Electoral College, each man carried the same amount, resulting in a tie.
Now Aaron was no fool; he would go for it by golly if he could become president.
The vote was then thrown to the House, which resulted in deadlocks after deadlocks. Our man Alexander Hamilton stepped in and brokered a deal that gave Jefferson the White House.
The good of this amendment is that it prevented this sort of thing from ever happening again.
You vote for a president and vice president separately. Good work.
This didn’t go far enough to rescind the entire Electoral College, which gave the state of South Carolina more representative and influence than the state of New Hampshire, simply because of how we counted enslaved people by the Three-Fifth Clause.
Which meant they were people, but they were also property. So they counted, but really they didn’t.
Whatever, let’s just keep electing people who kicked the issue down the road.
If voting is supposed to be about the most popular vote, why do we have a system that shoves states into the mix? Because we are a federal constitutional republic? Um, okay.
The Framers spent a lot of time reframing everything in the beginning.
About twenty years later, another election was thrown into the Electoral College tub of grain alcohol. I’ve written about it a few times. Still, the House voted John Quincy Adams president, even though Andrew Jackson secured the majority of the popular or electoral votes.
What’s the point of electing anyone when you have created a system that can simply throw out the majority’s wish and think everything will be okay?
Because it was not okay.
Who proposed it?
Federalist rep William Smith of South Carolina proposed the idea of one vote for each the president and the vice president.
Why did I rank it here?
The Twelfth Amendment is like its predecessor and should remind us that even as awesome as the country is, we immediately realized we messed some stuff up.
I still don’t understand why we let the concept of the Electoral College continue, let alone reconsider some oversight on the Supreme Court that doesn’t have a proper check in place outside of the removal of justices.
Also, what’s the deal with the office of the vice president? After serving my junior year as the most popular senator, I parlayed that into a cushy vice president of student government gig my senior year. It was paid. Plus, I think I ate in the cafeteria every day for free.
I ran the Senate meetings and scheduled buses to the off-campus basketball arena for students. I did all of this while consuming an insane amount of tater tots. Our student government had not one but TWO of these positions. It’s a position that exists just waiting for someone above them to die.
When I ran for student senate, I never had to run a negative campaign. I just threw out my name, “DAKE,” and the people replied, “YES!” I feel like it should be that easy all the time. I don’t have to tell you how campaigns have been run since 1820.
It’s interesting to see how Alaska and Maine vote for their representatives. In 2022, Alaska instituted a Ranked Choice Voting system, where people, when casting their votes, could rank them in order of preference.
In 1996, you couldn’t vote for me #1, #2, and #3, even though I’m sure you would have wanted to, but it allows candidates who don’t have broad appeal to sneak into office. Just watch this video on how it works (There’s talk about Moose burgers).
If you have one open seat and three people are running for that seat, why not let the person with the most preferred allotment win? Especially if that person isn’t your first pick, but most importantly, it isn’t Sarah Palin.
I think it’s an interesting concept.
Okay, let me know what you think of my ranking.
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Thanks for considering.
Apologies for not including footnotes this time. Work took me to South Carolina, so my time was a bit limited. I shall return on Monday with another rundown of events as we enter the month of May.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!