I remember when I was in seventh grade. It was the 1968 Presidential Election. Hubert Humphrey was the Vice President under Lyndon Johnson. He was the Democratic candidate for President that year. The election happened. He lost to Nixon. The day after the election, I was in first period, which for me was English. Our teacher, Miss Rossi, was in tears that morning. She was so upset that she couldn’t stop the tears when the bell rang and class began.
For that hour, Miss Rossi spoke of the election. Mainly, she spoke about the Electoral College and although I was in seventh grade, it was the first time I learned anything about the body that elects our president and vice president. Before that, we had been taught that we, the people, vote for and elect the president. I don’t know why the text books hadn’t told us differently when we studied the elections in fifth grade, but they hadn’t. That year, even on the morning after the election, it appeared that HHH (Hubert Horatio Humphrey) had won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. It later turned out, once all of the ballots were counted, that Nixon did indeed win the popular vote (there was less than a 1% divide between the two candidates), but in the early days post election, it appeared differently.
That’s what I think about when I hear the term Electoral College. It didn’t seem fair then and it still seems like there should be a better way; one that better reflects the popular vote. I still think of the passion with which Miss Rossi spoke and I wish that more Americans had that passion. We, I think, are too complacent. We vote then we accept until the next time. We don’t do anything about perceived injustices until it happens again.
So this ThrowBackThursday post I dedicate to Miss Rossi wherever she is. I think she’s still around. She was very young in 1968. It was only her second year teaching so probably around 23. I know that somewhere, Barbara Rossi is sitting with tear-filled eyes and wondering why we still have the Electoral College.