The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers Summary and Analysis of Essay 68

Summary

Hamilton defends the process for selecting the president. He argues that the system of an electoral college ensures that “the sense of the people” will play a key role in selecting the president, while, at the same time, affording “as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder.” It was believed that electing the president directly, without the intermediate step of the electors, might lead to instability. Hamilton argues that electors will be protected from bias since they do not hold any other political office and are separated from electors from other states. Hamilton believed that this system would best ensure that the president was a man of great virtue and ability.

This paper also discusses the provisions for the House of Representatives to elect the president in cases in which no candidate receives a majority of the votes. It furthermore defends the decision to elect the vice-president in much the same way that the president is elected.

Analysis

This paper presents one of the more peculiar aspects of the American Constitution: the electoral college. Although in modern American politics, the electoral college is seen by some as an archaic and unnecessary relic of an earlier time, it illustrates the founders’ fundamental concerns about stability.

One of the inherent weaknesses in a government based on the will of the people is the potential for mob rule. This was often the downfall of direct democracies, where all the people decided on public matters directly rather than through representatives. In designing the electoral college, the founders sought to insulate the selection of president from the convulsions of the multitudes. The college was essentially an extra layer of security helping to guarantee that the president would be a truly capable individual.