Friday, 9 December 2016
Who knew about Electoral College?
Electoral College came into existence out of disagreement on various issues in the process of drafting the United State of America’s constitution. Of the 55 men present on the first day, 25th may 1787, Native Americans, African American and women were not considered part of the political process, so none attended that convention that put Electoral College into being. It was George Washington that was unanimously agreed to preside over the convention which was held in Philadelphia.
Electoral College system is as old as the USA. Many people especially in Africa have just come to know of it after the 2016 Presidential election in which Donald Trump won through Electoral College votes. Many Africans have asked the meaning of Electoral College votes and received unclear answers. But this post has come to clarify this. But what is baffling is how Africa copied the USA system of government i.e. democracy without knowing the intrigues about it? I recalled if it is because African American was allowed or were not part of the convention that input Electoral College into the constitution in 1787? That is but assumption and if not, what else?
IT WAS A LONG WALK
Many of the rights that America citizens enjoy today can be traced back to political and legal tradition of England who colonized them. The first permanent English settlement was in North America, Jamestown now Virginia in 1607, and was ruled by the Virginia Company; a group of merchants from London.
In 1620, a new group of English men arrived in Plymouth, now Massachusetts. Their ships – Mayflower had 41 men on board that signed a “compact” to set rules and laws to govern them and for them to obey them. This “compact” set up direct democracy, in which they agreed that all men would have to vote for decisions and that majority will always carry the vote and rule. At that time, only adult men were allowed to vote. But this was the beginning of USA democracy. Democracy most African countries had photocopied but not clearly. And is one reason why autocracy and sit tight to power syndrome is eminent in Africa’ democracy.
Electoral College is a group of people who are named by each state to select president and vice president in the USA. The Electoral College includes 538 electorates (Washington DC has three votes) meaning that states with large population have many electoral votes than less populated states. In almost all states, the Electoral College is a “winner – take all system”. What this means is that to be elected president and vice president of USA, candidate must win at least 270 of 538 electoral votes. But surprisingly, you can win popular votes and still not win the contest whereas in Africa, popular votes in election give president the ticket. So I am wondering if Africa decisively dropped Electoral College system when copying democracy.
I know in Nigeria for instance, borrowed English law from Britain and practice it on democracy they borrowed from America. That alone is confusion and so it is in other African countries. Be that as it may be, one thing I appreciate Electoral College system is that it allows the President to function without having to give in to popular whims.
PATHWAY TO LONELY HOUSE
“The president of USA carries with it responsibility so personal as to be without parallel. No one can make decision for him. Even those closest to him... never know all the reasons why he does certain things and why he comes to certain conclusions. To be president of USA is to be lonely, very lonely at times at great decisions”. Harry S. Truman-33rd USA President (1945-53)
Asking me why being President in Africa countries are not lonely? Why are Presidency houses crowded and noisy like marketplace, filled with sycophants that becloud good decisions? However, it is simple to know where the noise comes from if you listen carefully now you will hear. It comes from popular votes that the President must play to their whims.
But the point is, who and how did we borrow democracy without Electoral College into Africa? Was it deliberate? Or is a mistake working for us satisfactorily? I never knew about Electoral College before now and many never and have not. If not for globalization I would have still be in the dark about it. Could it be right to reason that USA never wanted us to know the nexus of democracy that makes them strong over the last 200 years of democracy? Or we are the ones that refused to copy correctly? Only time will tell.