Dickinson College, Spring 2024

Category: Discussion Page 1 of 3

Debating the Electoral College

Resolved:  The Electoral College Should be Abolished and Replaced with a Direct National Popular Vote for President

There have been about 12,000 proposed constitutional amendments since 1788, and nearly 700 of them have concerned ideas for fixing the Electoral College.  There have been 27 amendments to the US Constitution since its ratification.  One of those amendments directly concerned the Electoral College (12th), and naturally, it has been the longest in textual change so far. Perhaps even more revealing, a majority of the other 26 amendments have involved some aspect of the American election process.    This is not to say that US campaigns and elections are “rigged,” but it’s clear they’ve never been perfect.  The question is, can we make them somehow “more perfect” by eliminating the Electoral College?

Here are two completely contradictory views by some informed historians:

On the side of elimination:

On the side of preservation:


What do you think?

1992 Campaign

Scenes from the 1992 campaign…

“The War Room” (1992)

The “War Room” was an important documentary film project with unprecedented access, but it wasn’t the pioneering effort in this genre of “fly-on-the-wall” depictions of modern American campaigns.  That mantle belongs to Robert Drew’s 1960 film, “Primary,” featuring footage of John F. Kennedy’s primary campaigns.

But arguably the most memorable and unprecedented media spectacle of the 1992 campaign came from Ross Perot and his on again / off again presidential bid.  See this clip of his first appearance on Larry King Live (CNN) in February 1992:

1968 Campaign

Margaret O’Mara opens her discussion of the 1968 with Lyndon Johnson’s decision to abandon his bid for reelection.  This was a dramatic TV announcement in March that followed an equally unexpected on-air commentary from noted TV new anchor Walter Cronkite about the “stalemate” in Vietnam.  Click on the image below to see the series of clips that recreate O’Mara’s opening vignette.


1932 Campaign



Here are scenes from Fox Movietone News’s coverage of the final days of the 1932 campaign:

And here is an audio clip of the closing remarks of Herbert Hoover’s formal acceptance speech on August 11, 1932, following the Republican National convention held in Chicago in June:

Full text of Hoover’s speech is available here.

Election of 1912

Here are three gateway images for the election of 1912:

  1.  The candidates (identify and describe)
1912 candidates

Courtesy of CSPAN

2.  The issues (Explain the division among Progressives)

1912 Cartoon

3.  The Drama (Explain the meaning of this relic)

Courtesy of National Park Service

Courtesy of National Park Service


Election Day 2016

I Voted Stickers

Here is a draft slideshow built from the work of students in History 211 showing scenes from Election Days past in American history.

George Caleb Bingham, "County Election" (1852) --Courtesy of St. Louis Museum of Art

George Caleb Bingham, “The County Election” (1852) –Courtesy of St. Louis Museum of Art

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