First of all, let's get something straight. Complaining that Hillary Clinton should be president because she won the popular vote is like saying George Foreman won the Rumble in the Jungle because he connected more blows before Ali knocked him out.
Sorry Clintophiles, but the rule of the game is to win electoral votes and that rule has been in place long before Mephistopheles swallowed Donald Trump's soul in exchange for the presidency. This is not to say that we shouldn't eliminate the United States Electoral College (USEC), but shouldn't we understand it first? I hear so many people bitching about it, but they don't seem to understand it. I too have protested its existence despite not knowing three things about it. So if that's you too, what say we take this moment to learn about it, together, so that our opinion is informed, whatever that may be?
For starters—spoiler alert—the Framers couldn't agree on how a president should be chosen. Aside from a popular vote, some wanted Congress to choose, others preferred the governors and/or State Legislature, and a few thought Punxsutawney Phil should decide—until it was learned that Phil made derogatory comments about beavers and wanted to build a dam to keep the muskrats out.
In their defense, the Framers couldn't agree because none of their options were ideal. Letting Congress decide would undermine its independence from the Executive Branch. Ditto the states, which they did not want beholden to a president or vice versa. They couldn't let Punxsutawney Phil pick because he was a rodentia supremacist. As for a straight-up popular vote, well, it's worth remembering that these guys were aristocrats. To them, some hippy-dippy, Kumba-Yo Are You Crazy? concept of letting the masses decide was a horrifying proposition.
For one reason, a single, centralized national election is easier to rig than multiple statewide ones. They also understood that smaller states would struggle for a voice. Then there was the concern about the "tyranny of the majority." As someone (possibly Ben Franklin) said, "A democracy is three wolves and a lamb voting on what's for dinner. . ."
In fact, that's why they already had decided on what type of government to apply. It was called a "Representative Democracy"—a kind of Democracy-light in which the citizens vote, not for laws, but for officials who vote for laws in their consideration. It was James Madison who had the brilliant idea of applying this concept to the selection of a president. He believed a body of "electors" with the ability to overturn an errant popular vote would create an adequate buffer between the presidency and mob rule. Or, as I call it, three wolves and a lamb voting on dinner with an orangutan making sure the lamb doesn't end up in the broiler.
So, what's the problem with having electors? For starters, a candidate can lose the majority vote and still win the election. Secondly, because of the winner-take-all aspect of the USEC, it disenfranchises voters who support their state's losing candidate. For instance, since all of California's 55 electoral votes went to Clinton, every Trump vote was effectively tossed in the can.
Then there's the woefully inadequate qualifications of an elector. According to Article II of The Constitution, anyone is eligible who isn't a "Senator or [U.S.] Representative" and has not engaged in any "acts of insurrection or rebellion," which means my goldfish can be an elector so long as it hasn't taken an inordinate amount of trips to Moscow recently.
And last, it flies in the face of the one man/one vote concept. Because, yes, it is true that the USEC gives the smaller states a competitive voice to the larger states. But it diminishes the voting power of a whole shitload of individuals at the same time!
Here's the gist: In every state, a single electoral vote represents a certain amount of individual votes. Historically, the smaller states have fewer individual votes per electoral vote, meaning each person's vote in a small state weighs more than those in a large state. This may be how small states compete for a voice, but it sure isn't fair to individual voters in big states. Besides, what does it matter if some states don't have a voice? States are just imaginary lines that surround real, actual human beings, and what matters is that the humans get equal say—to each other—regardless of the size of the state in which they reside.
That said, given my newfound understanding of the Electoral College, I do not believe it is as useless and archaic as many say. We have good reason to be weary of its unintended consequences, but for me, the desire to keep it boils down to contempt for mob rule.
We have seen how undignified majority groups—with their mottos and their tomes and their temples and their websites and their uniforms—have fucked countless minorities right in their collective assholes. We have seen how they shove their agendas through like a son pushing his grumpy mother's wheelchair over anyone standing between them and The Lion King box office. The USEC sure isn't perfect, but the fact that a straight up popular vote is like three Satanists and a virgin voting on who to sacrifice is a great reason to keep it.