Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Electoral College

During my many years of teaching at Regis University I gave an opening quiz which asked several questions dealing with the US Constitution and other governmental points of interest. I always included a question asking the students to explain the “Electoral College.”

I got some hilarious answers over the years and I wish I had saved those as it would make a great book; “Did a College student really say that?”

One student thought it was the Electoral College that prayed and then elected the pope. Remember Regis is a Jesuit school. Another thought that it was a college which taught all about electricity. A third student had heard of it and thought his uncle had attended that college somewhere in the South. And over the years answers went on and on.

This year I came up with a fun way to teach students and the citizens what the Electoral College was and why we should know about it.

So with the Democratic convention selecting Denver as the host city for the convention this year, I had a post card prepared showing the electoral vote in 1908 by state.

“My Red and Blue State Challenge” asked people by October 15 to pick the states that each candidate would win and thus the number of electoral votes each presidential candidate would get in the election cycle ending November 4, 2008. And later tonight we will calculate how many correctly identified how the states and how many electoral votes each candidate got. We will place all the winning cards in a hat and draw the winner of two nights in Vale for their thoughtful efforts. Some folks thought this contest frivolous in light of the financial crisis facing our nation. How can Gallagher be having such fun with the nation at the brink of a great depression?

Some say our greatest threat facing us as a nation is the deficit. Others say the horrendous debt we are passing on to our children’s children is the number one threat to our nation. Others opine that our greatest threat is from foreign terrorists waiting to blow us up with bombs strapped to their bodies. Certainly these issues are all serious and, indeed, depressing.

But I believe the greatest threat to our Republic is the ignorance of our citizens to our system of government. Thomas Jefferson wrote it so eloquently so long ago. “No nation can be ignorant and free. That’s something that never has been, nor never will be in all the world.”