Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect wrote recently that while people are pulling down statues of Confederate leaders, they should also turn to scrapping the Electoral College as a legacy of slave owners that warps our democracy.

Meyerson on TAP

One More Confederate Monument to Destroy: The Electoral College

For anyone who still wonders why Confederate monuments need to come down, let me refer you to a famous line from the great bard of the white South, William Faulkner. In the white Southern universe—that is, in matters of white racism—Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and their traitorous ilk were erected to perpetuate and reinforce white supremacy, and hence are completely valid targets for teardowns. But America suffers from one particular legacy of racism more damaging than the monuments, and the great Black Lives Matter movement that is seeking to create a more egalitarian nation needs to target that legacy, too.

I refer to the Electoral College…

The Supreme Court, by striking down…the ability of a presidential elector to vote for a candidate other than the one that their state’s voters supported, affirmed that popular majorities determine whom a state will support for president—but not whom the nation will support. Al Gore received half a million more votes than George W. Bush in 2000 but lost the Electoral College vote to him. Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more votes than Donald Trump, but also lost in the Electoral College…

The Electoral College was one of the last particulars that the Constitution’s drafters settled upon. Two factors led to its creation. The first was the pre-democratic belief that only a handful of men drawn from the nation’s elite had the brains and dispositions to select a president. The second was the insistence of the drafters from slave states that the presidency should not be determined by popular vote, as the eligible electorate (at that time, white men of property) in Northern, non-slave states exceeded and would likely continue to exceed the eligible electorate in the South. Their fear, of course, was that under a popular-vote system, an anti-slavery candidate might one day win the presidency. Hence, they created the Electoral College, which benefited slavery and the South by giving every state, no matter its population, two extra votes (reflective of its Senate representation) and by lumping slaves into their population count by tallying them as three-fifths of a person.

From a Southern perspective, the system worked brilliantly. Had the Democratic Party not split in two (into a Northern indifferent-to-slavery wing and a Southern rabidly pro-slavery wing) in 1860, the Electoral College would have perpetuated slavery until God knows when. Once slavery was abolished and the 15th Amendment to the Constitution ratified in 1870, the South had to find other ways to suppress Black voting, and with its current Republican friends on the Supreme Court, it has managed to do so to this very day.

But as the United States becomes more racially diverse, and as the governing principle of the Republican Party has overtly become white supremacy, that racist Republican right can only cling to power through its reliance on the Electoral College, which stands athwart the principle and reality of majority rule. (Having long favored suppressing minority rights, Republicans have also come to favor suppressing majority rule, now that it’s clear they can’t win majority support among the nation’s voters.)

In short, the Electoral College reflects and perpetuates the same values that those Confederate monuments reflected and perpetuated. Those who believe that Black Lives Matter need to topple this deeply undemocratic monstrosity, too.