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Josh Ogden
Lisa Griffin
SLCC English 1010
Should We Get Rid of the Electoral College?
In the United States, presidential elections are decided as follows: eligible
voters cast their ballots in their state of residence, and each state selects electors
that will vote for the candidate that won a majority in that state. Each state gets a
certain number of electors based on their population, and the electors are expected
to vote the way their state did (with a few exceptions). Because of this, California,
which has a large population of republican voters but an even larger population of
democrats, usually sends 55 votes to the democrats, regardless of how many
people voted republican. This dilemma can sometimes lead to a situation where the
majority of people in the country vote for one candidate, but the other candidate
wins more electoral votes and thus, the presidency. This exact situation happened in
the most recent election, which had already been very heated with two of the leastliked candidates ever to run. The fact that Hillary Clinton won more popular votes
but Donald Trump won the election with more electoral votes has sparked yet
another argument about the electoral college. This argument is not new, as this
situation has happened before, but it is perhaps even more heated than it has been
in the past.
Many people (at the present mostly liberal democrats) argue that the
electoral college is undemocratic, that because the president represents the people

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he (or she) should be chosen by straight popular vote. Others (the majority of which
are conservative republicans at this point) cite the reasons the founding fathers
instituted the college in the first place: to provide checks and balances to the
process and protect the presidency from the oppressive majority. The importance
of this argument should not be underestimated, for whichever side of the argument
does win will have a huge impact on future elections and generations.
One angry writer, Andrew Prokop, voiced his outrage at the results of the
election with his article, Why the Electoral College is the Absolute Worst,
Explained, published on vox.com on November 10, 2016. In this article, he breaks
down the electoral process in detail, outlining how the electors are selected and
how they vote almost a month after the general election. He talks about how the
election is essentially decided by a few swing states, and goes on to explain why he
thinks that that is unfair. He mentions the rare instances where rogue electors
have voted differently from their states majority, and discusses why the founding
fathers instituted the college in the first place. He finishes by rebutting some
counterarguments and outlining the prospects for the abolition of the electoral
college. It is fairly safe to say from his rhetoric and arguments that his point is that
the electoral college is unfair and should be done away with. He uses simple, easy
to read language and breaks down complicated political processes in a way that is
easy to understand, so his intended audience is likely any average voter that will
read it. Even so, he is surely aware that the website that is publishing his article is
primarily read by liberal millennials that probably already believe what he is
arguing, so he is somewhat safe in using the kind of angry, condescending rhetoric
that might offend someone who didnt already share his views.

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Prokop begins by stating a fact that would logically lead the reader to believe
one thing: so far Hillary Clinton has won more votes than Donald Trump in
Tuesdays presidential election, and her margin is expected to rise as more votes
from California gradually get tallied. He then flips it on its side with a sarcastic
observation of what actually happened: But due to the magic of the Electoral
College, Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States (emphasis
added). This establishes immediately that he thinks the results of the election are
ridiculous and unfair, and it uses logic to suggest the reader should too. He
expounds upon this using phrases like venerable ritual and Frankensteins
monster of a system to portray his disdain for the process. This is a technique that
is used throughout the entire piece, using a kind of dark, condescending satire to
cast the system he is attacking in the worst light possible.
As Prokop explains the concept of the college and of swing states, he uses
maps of electoral votes that are helpful to visualize the process. He shows the
states that vote consistently one way and the few that are up for grabs backing
up his contention that its unfair that these few states essentially get to pick the
In presenting his counterclaim Prokop definitely portrays it in a way that is
meant to condescend the opposing views and make them seem stupid in his
readers eyes. Even the title for his counterargument section does so: Well, are
there arguments for the Electoral College? He goes on to present arguments and
refute them with heavy logos, citing his belief that those who fear inequality
actually fear being brought down from a higher position to and equal one with
others. Again, here Prokop uses words like basic and obvious to present his
opinion in a way that is supposed to make those who disagree seem ignorant.

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On the complete other end of the spectrum is Jacob Posiks article In
Defense of the Electoral College, posted on themainewire.com. He begins his
article not with words, but with a graphic showing the small number of counties
where 50% of the U.S. population lives, leaving the other half to fill the large portion
left. He continues to make sarcastic observations about the absence of the world
ending because Trump was elected. He summarizes how and why the electoral
college was created, and finishes by contending that Donald Trump won fair and
Posik makes similar tone choices to Prokop in this article, casting those who
disagree with him in a negative light. He describes the millennials protesting the
results of the election as whiny snowflakes to immediately establish in the
readers mind an image of those who would disagree with him. This continues
throughout his article, although when he actually gets down to the presentation of
evidence he takes a less condescending, more imploring tone. He appeals to a
readers sense of justice with the graphic at the beginning and by briefly explaining
why he believes Trump won in the first place.
As he explains why the college was created, he cites the structure the
founding fathers set up in writing the constitution, using logic and ethos to contend
that in this election the college worked just the way it was intended to. In the
context of this election, he chooses to acknowledge why people are upset, which
shows he is empathetic, but he still takes a firm stance and condemns the response
of the outraged. He turns the angry responses on their head by contending that it is
this kind of behavior that is the reason independents leaned toward Trump, causing
the reader to look at both sides in a new light.

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In the end, both sides made their arguments effectively, if a little
aggressively. In terms of sheer volume of evidence, Prokop was definitely more
effective at defending his position. He wrote a lot, and covered most if not all of the
claims and counterclaims if not all. In terms of convincing those who at first
disagree with him that he is right, there is a very real possibility that the way he
presents is evidence and discusses his opposition may alienate anyone who doesnt
already agree with him. Such a reader could very well close their mind off to his
contention or even stop reading. In terms of fulfilling is purpose Posik was more
effective. While he was just as aggressive to start and would likely offend someone
who agrees with Prokop, he later brings it full circle and backs up why he thinks
such people are being foolish, whereas Prokop simply hurls insults and doesnt really
take into account the humanity of his opposition. Posik does a good job of
portraying his oppositions actions in a negative light while acknowledging the good
intentions hidden in them, which makes his contentions more credible.
The debate over the results of the recent election has been heated, with both
sides being very passionate. This passion is understandable and commendable, as
the results of a presidential election can define how people live for a minimum of
four years following it. In trying to convince someone of a certain view, the way one
goes about the argument can be everything. If one is too aggressive and
condescending towards their opposition, the writer can alienate their reader and
close them to their message, however well-intentioned and logical it may be.