To the Citizens of the Republic,
I come to you, eyelids twitching, to ask you the following: What in the name of democracy have you morons done to our country?
Did I dedicate my life to the founding of this nation, pour my heart and my dignity into its establishment, pioneer it into utter potential, and get shot at the tragic age of 47, only to have my legacy crumble just beyond my cold, dead hands? There are many grievances I would like to address if I only had the time. But for now, it is my understanding, at least from where I stand in my marble-encrusted grave, that in the past few years you have taken screwing up to a whole new level.
I am talking about elections. I am talking about voting. I am talking about the Electoral College.
I begin with some background, in case it was wiped out of the poor excuse that is your history books. To be clear, our main intention back then was to ensure that a Constitution be ratified; without it, we could be expected to tumble into another era of ruin, a sure division of our new nation and a descent into hostility. But we soon ran into a problem, you see — a split between those who wanted the President to be elected by Congress, and those who wanted a popular vote from all citizens. (I, for the record, was against the latter, as I admit I did not have excessive faith in the general ability of the people.) After months of debate, we finally ended up with a compromise: the Electoral College. The Southern states also got the “three-fifths” clause, which gave the planter states extra sway in elections without actually letting African Americans, you know, vote.
That’s not to say that I didn’t have any faith in the proposed system, at least not at first. I was the one who really pushed for the creation of the Electoral College — as James Madison now refuses, even in death, to let me forget (although I believe part of his anger comes from the fact that I got an entire 46-number Broadway musical dedicated to me, and he didn’t). And I suppose that in any case, I must concede my part in it, especially with Federalist No. 68 hanging over my head.
Back in 1788, I wrote in that extensive document that it was “the sense of the people” that should be at the forefront of the crucial decision that is the selection of a president. It was my belief that the existence of the College would ensure this, while at the same time ensuring that the individual occupying the position be chosen “by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.” I have to issue admitting that, at the time, it seemed like a pretty sound argument.
But I’m sorry, has the “sense of the people” simply evaporated over the past two and a quarter centuries? What kind of sense is guiding the people now, to the point where our clearly impotent 45th president of the United States received a whopping 46.1% of the popular vote in 2016 (don’t even get me started about the 46.9% in 2020)? And to our very “capable” electors, you had ushered in with your decision the exact opposite of what we were trying to protect against a nation governed by stupidity. Do you expect me to believe that your actions were guided by the suggested careful analysis, deliberation, and reason? You have taken the intention of our electoral system and twisted it horrendously.
If I could get shot again, I would.
Furthermore, it was my understanding that this process of election would afford “a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” I must ask, America, what about our 45th president screamed “qualified” to you? Was it his esteemed history on a reality show, of all things? Or perhaps his astounding ineloquence, shockingly present in every situation? In our electoral system, I had written (with a level of confidence that in hindsight I now find slightly regrettable), “there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.” Yet I still don’t believe this is a ridiculous standard to be held to when it comes to the highest office in the land, so what about it was discardable to you?
While I’m at it, I might as well mention that another main point of the Electoral College was to minimize the risk of “foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” I need not even point out that the last four years have turned that point of mine to moot as well. Will you go to no end to disgrace me?
(I apologize for the background noise; Thomas Jefferson is standing behind me laughing at the sheer irony of the situation. It’s safe to say that Federalist No. 68 has been the source of much of my humiliation from my peers in recent months. America, I do not appreciate the ridicule you have caused me.)
In my defense, I, along with my fellow Founding Fathers, realized that the Electoral College wasn’t an entirely perfect system. We figured this out in our third election, but we assumed the people (you, the people!) who came after us would scrap and revise it once the lot of us were all dead and gone. But you didn’t! Instead, you chose to cling to the Constitutional document like a security blanket long overdue to be washed and possibly even burned. And look at what we’ve ended up with! 2016 was bad enough and alone had me rolling in my grave — but what happened this month was enough to make me astral project right out of it. Now, you’ve got one band of crazies claiming that the vice president can refuse to open the envelope containing the electoral results, and another believing that Congress can just object if they don’t like the results. I understand I have been lying dormant for a good number of years, so might you explain to me at what point the prospects of our great nation went so dramatically downhill? America, what is this current parody of our ideal state? What is this fever dream of democracy, and how do I escape it?
In conclusion, this was nothing like what I imagined. I implore you to do something — anything — before I lose what little faith I have left in all of you.