Politics

The Left’s Attacks on the Electoral College Are All About Political Power

electoral college political power attacksIt seems that there isn’t a prominent progressive left in America who hasn’t come out in favor of abolishing the Electoral College.

The latest is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who called for an end to our 200-plus-year-old presidential election system on Twitter earlier this month.

Sanders didn’t explain why he wanted to ditch the Electoral College (it was a tweet after all), but it’s interesting that as a senator from a small state, he has benefited enormously from the supposedly “undemocratic” nature of the American political system.

So much for one man, one vote.

Suggesting that the Electoral College defeat for Hillary Clinton suddenly means that it is outdated or doesn’t work is without merit.

As a hypothetical, let’s say the shoe was on the other foot, and that Republicans currently had an Electoral College disadvantage. Would the mainstream media still be focused on abolishing the institution or running countless stories about how the GOP can’t win over voters and needs to abandon conservatism to win?

It doesn’t take long to answer that question.

As I’ve written before, the Framers of the Constitution created the Electoral College as a way to select presidents who could gather broad-based support around the country.

The system is somewhat skewed in favor of small states, as the total number of Electoral College votes of each state is dependent on the size of a state’s Senate and House delegation.

Since every state has two senators, small states have that edge, though not so much that the large states aren’t still far more important to win.

The implications of this are twofold. Small states collectively can check the power of large ones, and more importantly, presidential candidates must appeal to states as states, not to the nation as a giant, undifferentiated mass.

Even some blue-leaning states have grasped this, as Maine and Nevada recently rejected proposals to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact movement.

As my colleague Hans von Spakovsky wrote: “Under the compact, smaller states like Maine and Nevada would suffer the most under the inevitable tyranny of the most populous states.”

In that sense, the Electoral College is “undemocratic,” as is much of our political system. The Bill of Rights, for instance, is highly democratic. Certain individual rights have been protected from majoritarian rule.

The Founders had differing views on democracy, but few saw it as an unalloyed good. The current system, where states rely on a popular vote to select electors provides that balance of both federalism and democracy.

It preserves federalism (and minorities’ rights), protects the system against election fraud, and has produced a remarkably stable system for selecting presidents in the world’s oldest constitutional republic.

As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68, the Electoral College isn’t perfect, but it is “excellent.”

Why would we want to change now?

There have been countless distortions about the original intent of the Electoral College in this debate, as well as more serious criticisms, but the tenor of the movement to abolish it is veering toward naked partisanship.

Democrats won solidly in the Electoral College as recently as 2012, in which the so-called Rust Belt—comprising states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania—was considered a “Blue Wall” and impenetrable for Republicans.

It took a candidate like Donald Trump, with a very different message, to break through and win, as Clinton ignored the region to target other voters. That served to boost her popular vote totals—but cost her the election.

Far from an indictment of the Electoral College, the 2016 results showed how the system is supposed to work.

Again, presidential candidates have to appeal to states as states. While Pennsylvania, for instance, had been a reliably blue state in presidential elections since the 1990s, voters were trending in another direction. The right candidate—Trump—flipped the state into the red column.

Now, our national conversation has changed to focus more on the concerns of Rust Belt voters,  as that region becomes a political battleground.

That’s a healthy development for a vast, diverse republic.

An empire may ignore the opinions and interests of places far removed from the centers of power, but a representative republic cannot do that if it wishes to survive.

Many on the left can’t handle that dilemma, and now want to change the rules of the game so they don’t have to bother winning back voters who cast their ballots for Democrats less than a decade ago.

It absolutely follows the pattern of the modern left. From the Senate to the Supreme Court, the American left turns immediately and ruthlessly against any institution it doesn’t control.

That’s disturbingly shortsighted.

Not only are the small states that the Electoral College benefits fairly evenly divided between the parties, there is certainly no guarantee that the current urban/rural split will continue in the future.

It perhaps would be a more productive use of time for those on the left to assess why they are losing voters, rather than frantically trying to change the rules of the game to simply cut them out of the equation.

Fortunately, the Founding Fathers predicted human frailty and shortsightedness, and crafted a Constitution that was hard to change, except by the high bar of the amendment process—which the National Popular Vote Compact is intended to circumvent, albeit unconstitutionally.

Reprinted with permission from - The Daily Signal - by Jarrett Stepman

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Frank S.

I believe I learned, in some detail, about the Electoral College when I was in junior high. (My parents were able to send me to a private Christian School, at great personal financial sacrifice to assure I had a good education.) I also learned to appreciate the difference between a pure democracy (majority rules, which can easily devolve to mob rule) and a constitutional republic (rule of law). The problem today (well, one of many problems) is that our education system is not only failing our children, it’s failing our nation and republic. We are now seeing the results of illiterate people, many in power, who are working hard to change the face of America. We must stop these people at the polls or America will become a hollow shadow of its former self, and we will all suffer gravely for it. My poor grandkids….

Todd Taylor

The Dems can’t win fairly in 2020 so they want to change the rules. Dems, how about coming up with a reasonable moderate platform instead; move politically back to the center. Dump the liberal, socialistic agenda, the impeach Trump campaign and the “Russian collusion” debacle. How about sitting on your four snowflake socialistic loving freshmen representatives who have become an embarrassment to the Democratic party.

BajaRon

The left is committed to destroying America. They will do it brick by brick or with a nuclear option. They don’t really care as long as it gets done.

They are doing everything they can to flood the polling booth with illegal voters.
They have a very successful voter fraud system in place.
They are using the courts to make policy because they can’t get it done in congress.
They will kill the Electoral College, if they can. Shifting huge weight to the big cities where their power is concentrated.
They already have complete control over the Main Stream Media, Social Media and the education system where they suppress any suggestion or idea which does not conform to their agenda.

There are only a few obstacles in their way to complete success and unbreakable dominance. Trump and the American citizen.

TomB

Why do we have the Electoral College (EC)? Consider this fact. In the 2016 Presidential Election Hillary Clinton won just 500 counties nationally, while Trump won more than 2600 counties, over 5 times more … yet Clinton totaled 3 million more popular votes. So without EC, a liberal’s promise of “handouts”, well placed in high populated areas, would win most elections and the forgotten people would again be forgotten. Our Founders specifically protected against a pure democracy of “majority rule”. In fact the “idea” to form the Senate (two Senators from every State regardless of population) was intended to prevent the House of Representatives (elected based on population) from becoming too powerful. Democrats have always been famous for changing rules at any time for their benefit. Could you imagine playing poker with them?

Shuttle Guy

What forethought! How could they know 250 years ago that it would be the most genius idea of the whole constitution? AMAZING!!!

Chris

As I’ve said before, what the Left doesn’t (want to) realize is that we aren’t just a nation of individuals, we are a nation of communities. It is flat out wrong for large communities to impose their will on small communities just because they are bigger. No one thinks Germany should be telling Denmark what to do just because Germany has more people, but they’re quite happy to have California tell Wyoming what to do. The electoral college is meant to give smaller communities an outsized say just to prevent that kind of tyranny. If nothing else, it forces candidates to campaign in both urban and rural areas, forces them to campaign in fly-over States not just the heavily populated coastal areas. Get rid of the electoral college and candidates will *only* campaign in big cities and primarily on the coasts. The President is our one national representative, how is… Read more »

Michael Cajohn

Outstanding article. It is a shame as we kowtow to these extremist and forget about the majority.
We need to have term limits and NO retirement for our congress men and women. Rather they contribute to a 401 plan, and there is no recess until we get a budget passed every year.

Stephen Russell

Dems lost & want to scrap EC & We lose.
Only pure dictatorship from Cong.
NO.
Dems Hate America.

rudder

The OP said, “Now, our national conversation has changed to focus more on the concerns of Rust Belt voters, as that region becomes a political battleground. That’s a healthy development for a vast, diverse republic. An empire may ignore the opinions and interests of places far removed from the centers of power, but a representative republic cannot do that if it wishes to survive.” I agree, I saw the same thing in just the state of Mississippi. A couple of decades ago, everything was Democrat Party, if you wanted to get elected, you just had to win the primary election, afterwards the general election was a given. Then the Dems became more and more liberal on social issues. The people of Mississippi began to get a belly full of that tripe. A Republican was elected Governor (Winters). The shift of political alliances began. It starts gradually then picks up some… Read more »

Glenn Lego

The Democratic Senator from Illinois Richard Durbin wanted to abolish the Electoral College. I’d love to abolish him!

Paul W

Everything that the “D”s do or propose is about political power. EVERYTHING. It most certainly isn’t for the good of the country or its LEGAL citizens!

Paul

The Progressive Communist Party hence the Democrats,in my Opinion have bought into the new world order!! They obviously are all about obtaining total control in the one and all arena of political power in order to eventually Suppress the ideals of Conservatism, through applying an all out frontal attack on OUR God Given CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!!!! May God The Father have Mercy on Us.

Joseph Kiesznopski

they just want to make sure nobody else can win but who they want, Thus denying the Country a fair Choice.

Paul DAscenz

I have very little respect for Socialist/Communist Bernie Sanders!
The Electoral College was set up to keep all political parties from rigging the Election. I can’t stand having Bernie, as the President of the United States. Fortunately, I know that this would never come to pass.

Burton Paully

If this nation ever elects the potus by popular vote the country will fold as a mostly United States , because the majority will only be the left coast and northeast coast. So we must not allow our present system of elections be done away with. The electoral collage is the best representative of two kinds of votes. Each state is more equal.

Grady A Phillips

This is like trying to change the rules of the game because you are losing !

Denise

Dems can only win if the illegals are all voting for them. No true American would ever go for their crazy ideals.

Brenda Blunt

The Founding Fathers knew what they were talking about when they set up the system. They wanted to make sure that ALL citizens were represented fairly and NOT to let bullies, tyrants, dictators take over and treat people like they currently do in China, Russia, Venezuela, and Middle East.

Diana

Stop these socialist communist democratics Prosecute they are Treasonist when anyone who tries Changing, Distorting, Twisting, or IGNORING Our CONSTITUTION as WRITTEN is commenting Treason TREASON that includes ALL politicians, state and federal, judges, police, even Military time to PROSECUTE these dangerous deranged mentally ill politicians they are NOT above the Law ,

Robert Hellam

The Left has been “democratizing” our republic for a long time. The direct election of senators, the income tax, the Federal Reserve Board, for example. The move that has been most destructive to us here in California is the Supreme Court’s reapportionment decision back in the 1960’s. Before that, we had a state senate based on geography and a state assembly based on population. Leftists didn’t like that, and now both houses are based on population. Of course, the Court ignored the fact that our state legislature had been modeled on the Congress of the United States. By the Supreme Court’s logic, Congress is also “unconstitutional.” To the Left, the Constitution itself is “unconstitutional.”