In America, we nurse the illusion that all people are equal. In fact, many of us claim that the equal worth of human beings is the bed rock upon which democracy in the United States was built.
Theologically, equality came with the New Testament when salvation was offered equally to all believers, Greeks and Jews, women and men, the circumcised and uncircumcised. This idea of equal worth was spread with Christianity so it would be natural to come to America with the church. But equality became a secular as well as a theological principle.
So how much do we believe in equality when it comes to our governmental institutions through which the aspirations and needs of the people are manifested?
The subject is pertinent today because there is a stirring in the land about the Electoral College being used to choose the president and his/her national administration. Among the electorate we will find all kinds of different reasons for abolishing or keeping the Electoral College. In the quest to distort the equality of human beings – a Christian principle – everyone seems to be looking for political advantage.
We don’t have many in the citizenry who can remember when change of the Electoral College was a serious issue. That was around 1970 as an aftermath of bigot George Wallace’s winning 46 electoral votes in the South with the goal of keeping Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey from winning a majority in the Electoral College.
The idea of a bigot negotiating between the two parties after an election frightened everyone except George Wallace and his 46 electors. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce invested considerable time and money explaining the options to reforming the Electoral College so that a person like Wallace could never play the game again.
Conservatives were more alarmed than liberals for some reason. They presented a strong case for getting rid of the winner-take-all feature but the people were not listening so nothing happened. We can write extensively again about reform or abolition of the Electoral College and be assured that nothing will happen.
But there is a cognitive gap between our claim of equal worth of all human beings and the workings of the Electoral College. So “one nation under God” once again becomes a false claim because a nation under God would foster the Christian value of equal worth of all citizens.
There are several characteristics of the Electoral College cheapens the worth of citizens. But let’s focus on the allocation and application of the electors.
The Electoral College is a federal animal in that it is a composite of the people’s representatives in Congress and the state’s representatives in the Senate. Each state gets one elector for each senator and each representative.
In 2020 California had 55 electors for a population of 37,253,000, or 677,345 per elector. Wyoming was allocated three electors for a population of 563,626, or 187,875 per elector. In North Dakota it took 224,197 people to get an elector. It is easy to see that equal worth is not equal.
The 2010 census was used because that was the latest one, raising another issue. During the 10-year periods between censuses, many demographic changes take place, distorting the equality of human beings even more.
In 2020, Minnesota led the nation in voter turnout with 79.9% while Hawaii turned out only 57.5%. (The national turnout was 66.5%). Since each state has a fixed allocation of electors, Hawaii got their four electors regardless of the turnout. (North Dakota’s turnout was 64.6%).
Generally speaking, North Dakotans oppose abolishing the Electoral College because it gives the state an advantage. So political advantage seems to be a more important value than the equal worth of human beings.