A week out from Donald Trump becoming the fifth man to win the presidency while losing the popular vote thanks to the Electoral College, it seems worth explaining: Why the hell do we have this thing?

The Electoral College comes from many Founding Fathers supporting two principles that conflict slightly with modern sensibilities: They felt people shouldn’t have the right to control their government directly, but should be credited for owning slaves.

Our history shows that voting wasn’t for everyone right away, in the sense you had to be a white male (ideally, with some property). This wasn’t restrictive enough for the Founding Fathers, who believed deeply in America as a whole while having virtually no faith in the individuals making up the American people. In general, they sought to prevent the people from picking the folks who would actually make up our government: It wasn’t until 1913 that the U.S. finally ratified an amendment allowing for the direct election of United States Senators.

That’s the true Electoral College legacy: The vast majority of America being ignored in favor of a handful of swing states. Apparently, James Madison once mused, “Someday, I hope the rest of the nation is at the mercy of a handful of people in Wisconsin who just can’t make up their fucking minds.”

The theory behind the Electors who make up the Electoral College was that voters could pick individuals from their community uniquely equipped to make good decisions and they, in turn, could pick the president using their superior reasoning.

The logic behind this is questionable: If voters are too ignorant to pick a president, why would they get an Elector, right? More importantly, we no longer attempt to follow our Founding Fathers’ intention, as many states have passed legislation that obligates Electors to support either the candidate picked by the voters or the one supported by their political party, no matter what their big discerning brains might conclude.

There are occasional “Faithless Electors,” who ignore the will of their state’s voters and make their own choices—yes, this is technically what our Founding Fathers actually wanted them to do—but they are few and far between.

OK, so we’ve established:

1. The reasoning for creating the Electoral College was iffy.
2. Even if you agree with that reasoning or just feel we should always go along with our Founding Fathers, we’ve so distorted the Electoral College that their plan doesn’t apply any more.

Now let’s bring slavery in the mix.

As we assembled a national government, the South wanted to make sure their slaves were represented. They did not want them to actually vote, of course, but they still felt their presence needed to be acknowledged to ensure the future Confederacy would have its proper say in the presidency. This led to the three-fifths compromise, whereby for electoral purposes each slave would be counted for the slave states as 60 percent of a human being.

Yes, this becomes particularly monstrous when you consider that these states gained power through people whose best interests they probably weren’t considering, in the sense they had enslaved them.

Obviously this was a complete violation of “one voter equals one vote,” but the Electoral College allowed for it, ensuring our democracy wasn’t too democratic.

OK, so the Electoral College doesn’t have the noblest origins, nor does it function as intended. Even so: Is it really that bad?

That depends on your tolerance for periodic national crises that should never have occurred. Three of the previous four times the “winner” lost the popular vote can be safely termed disasters, with drawn-out battles to determine the president that left much of the nation embittered: John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden in 1876 and Bush over Gore in 2000.

The fourth was literally four years wasted: Incumbent Grover Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison largely due to voter fraud and reclaimed the office during the marginally less fraudulent next election, giving him those sweet non-consecutive terms.

Oh, there’s a bonus crisis: 1800 saw vice presidential candidate Aaron Burr nearly become president instead of his de facto running mate Thomas Jefferson when it was realized no one had bothered to differentiate between votes for the #1 and #2 jobs. Happily, the two overcame this hiccup and got along swimmingly until Jefferson charged Burr with treason.

But wait, there’s more! The Electoral College also benefits our nation in ways that, upon closer examination, turn out to be nonexistent.

There’s an insistence that in the case of a close election, it would be too hard to do recounts involving the entire nation, which is why we need the Electoral College to isolate the uncertainty to a single state. To which I say: Florida. As recently as 2000, we had to wait over a month for a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling to declare that the guy who received fewer popular votes nationwide (and possibly in contested Florida itself) was actually the winner. Oh, and the Supreme Court felt the best approach to guarantee a fair election was to stop an attempt to ensure the vote was counted accurately and this ruling was reached thanks to a single vote by an unelected judge, as the rest of the nation realized, “We don’t particularly matter.”

That’s the true Electoral College legacy: The vast majority of America being ignored in favor of a handful of swing states. Apparently, James Madison once mused, “Someday, I hope the rest of the nation is at the mercy of a handful of people in Wisconsin who just can’t make up their fucking minds.”

Despite all these reasons to scrap it already, the Electoral College has traditionally been quite safe, because…

1. Most of the time no one’s really thinking about it. Then when there is a problem…
2. The party that gets to sneak into the White House likes it very much and decides it’s worth keeping around a little longer. And they continue to like it until it screws them over, at which point…
3. The other party says, “This thing’s not so bad, after all!”

There is a hope for change, however: our President-elect. He has called the Electoral College a “disaster for democracy” and even urged that ”We should march on Washington and stop this travesty” whenever someone takes office despite losing the popular vote. (Granted, he hasn’t said this recently, but give him time.)

So enjoy the Electoral College until President Trump takes it away and remember: Your vote counts. Sort of.