Least Likely to Win an Election…
If you want to know why America still needs the Electoral College, just think back to your high school days.
As I sit on my barstool, staring at a CNN update on Al Gore’s beard and trying to sip my whisky in peace, some drunken lout at the end of the bar keeps shouting: ‘Why the hell is the archaic Electoral College still used to select the leader of the free world?’
As a psuedo-historian and author of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to the American Presidents, I think I can explain.
To understand why we need the Electoral College, you only need to drudge up some horrific memories from your high school days. There are presidential experts who throw out theories about how America’s Founding Fathers didn’t think the vox populi was sophisticated enough to select the president, or how they wanted the John Mellencamp crowd to know that their ‘small town’ votes counted as much as ‘big city’ votes – but they’re wrong.
The reason we Americans have put our trust in the Electoral College is because nerds like Benjamin Franklin had their wigs shoved in a well by those hip kids from Boston – and loose cannons like Aaron Burr, who never quite fit in with the ‘popular’ Whig crowd, went off-shift and tried to start their own clique to declare war on the rest of the ‘Union’.
The Electoral College keeps America safe from that guy (and you know who I mean) who ran for student president in your high school.
Pick any high school across the USA…well, except religious-based schools; and those inner-city/trailer park/reservation schools where the textbooks are still calling the Vietnam War too close to call; and those wealthy schools that have six mute Asian geniuses and one black kid who has bagged all the majorettes and is told once a week by someone from the golf team that ‘Jay-Z is my fuckin’ nigga’.
Just try and imagine a decent, middle-class, public high school with a large, diverse, broad-socioeconomic-ranging, gender-equal population, and imagine they’re casting their votes for student president.
Now pretend that high school is the USA, which means that the election was won by the most ‘popular’ candidate – either a rah-rah towel-snapping jock or a Tracey Flick clone. Unfortunately, the US primary system is set up like that, and the richest, ass-kissingest, my-mom-and-dad-bake-the-chocolatiest-browninesest guy wins every time, while the rest of us smoke cigarettes in the back of a Dodge Mini-Ram. So we get rid of the primary system and go straight to the Electoral College – which at least gives every clique an equal vote for a slice of the presidential pie.
To make it more understandable, the Electoral College should be started at the high school level. That way, somebody who really understands the students could take up residency next to the principal’s office and earn the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance before morning announcements. Think of all the underrepresented groups in high school as an individual state, and assign them an electoral number and whoever gets the majority (say, 10) wins the whole shebang. The preppy kid whose parents leave every weekend, allowing jocks to puke and discard their rubbers in his backyard, will never waltz into the office like it’s their birthright again. The underclass will rise up and unite behind a man/woman of the people. For example:
STONERS (three percent of the student body, two Electoral Votes):
No smarmy ‘Most Likely to Suck Off the Corporate Teat’ type who is thinking about his ‘future’ will take five minutes to pull off a one-hitter before Earth Science, and why would they? But a stoner might. Sure, stoners don’t count, they don’t vote – but if you pledge to share the wealth, dude, one stoner will surely vote for you, and that’ll be enough for two electoral votes. YOU 2, THEM 0
ANGRY YOUTH (around one percent of the student body, one Electoral Vote):
A lot of kids these days are armed, pissed off and sick and tired of masturbating. They are waiting for somebody to listen…they just hate everyone…but their anger could be harnessed into a positive grassroots movement for a strong voice for the disenfranchised. Buy a flak jacket. YOU 3, THEM 0
GAY STUDENTS (openly homosexual less than 0.05 percent, actual gay students 10 percent, four Electoral Votes):
If you could do one thing to make the world a better place, wouldn’t it be to bring back the TV show My So-Called Life? Of course, life ain’t as sweet as the show makes out – the gay character clearly went to a high school that doesn’t exist, or at least not in all those states that voted ‘red’ on Election Day. Gay kids enjoy high school about as much as Tipper will enjoy Ralph Nader’s environmentally friendly Christmas card. Some candidates might preach tolerance, but you should ‘reach out’ to the gay student body, offer to have rainbow float in the Homecoming parade…whatever it takes to nail those votes. YOU 7, THEM 0
KIDS WHOSE PARENTS GIVE THEM NEW CARS AND WHO CELEBRATE BY DOING FUNNY THINGS TO OTHER SMALLER STUDENTS WITH WIFFLE BATS (10 percent of the student body, 98 percent of the power, nine Electoral Votes):
This is them, the kind of kids who come from families whose names all start with the same letter and who cry at graduation, and whose folks pay all the bills. What are you going to do? You are going to keep on fighting, that’s what – because thanks to the Electoral College, its still a barn-burner. YOU 7, THEM 9
SKATERS (two percent of the student body, two Electoral Votes)
A well-timed ‘Skateboarding is not a crime!’ in one of your speeches and this demographic is all but wrapped up. YOU 9, THEM 9
RANDOM LOSERS (82 percent of the student body, one Electoral Vote):
They respect you, they believe in you, they understand you, they trust you. The skinny ones know that you would never stuff them in a locker, fill it full of farts and then padlock it shut. The fat ones know you would never use them to win a 40 of malt liquor and a bag of Chalupas in a ‘hogging’ contest. The average losers (aka the regular people), know that you’re one of them…which is why they’ll cast their ballots for the popular go-getters who will completely ignore them the minute they win. YOU 9, THEM 10
So the winner and still reigning champ is…one of those guys. In short, the Electoral College gives voice to the little guys, saying, ‘I wish I could hang with the in-crowd. I bet if I vote for one of them…’.
Oh, I almost forgot the most important group of all, the apathetic 50 percent who think that voting for the rich kid cheerleader or the arrogant smarmy know-it-all is for suckers, so they go and guzzle huff paint thinner behind the 7-11.
Now they are your people, that is your Electoral College – and it’s damn-near a majority.
Patrick Sauer is a freelance writer living in Greenwich Village, New York.
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