Government & Politics

The Electoral College Preserves Inclusion

We're not a democracy, we're a constitutional republic.

Arnold Ahlert · Nov. 14, 2016

In yet another demonstration of their “respect” for the nation’s laws and our Constitution, many leftists are calling for the elimination of the Electoral College following the election of Donald Trump. “The only reason he’s president is because of an arcane, insane 18th century idea called the Electoral College,” insists filmmaker Michael Moore. Like so many of his fellow travelers, Moore demonstrates a profound ignorance of a constitutional mechanism the Founding Fathers put in place to limit the power of what millions of Americans just voted against: an all-powerful federal government that has routinely ignored them.

There is a reason this country is called the United States of America. It’s because we are not a direct democracy, but a constitutional republic consisting of 50 separate entities plus the District of Columbia, operating under a federal umbrella. And while the Founders recognized the need for the extra layer of government, they were also extremely wary of politicians who would see it as an opportunity to eviscerate states' rights. The Electoral College was the vehicle they used to preserve those rights and simultaneously maintain democratic legitimacy.

The process operates as follows. Sometime before the federal election, each party chooses a slate of potential Electors. On Election Day — which, sadly, has become election month in many cases — voters in each state select their respective state Electors by voting for a presidential candidate. There are limits on who can be appointed to the position of Elector. According to Article II Section one of the Constitution, members of Congress or people holding a United States office cannot be appointed as Electors, and Electors can’t pick two presidential candidates from their own state. The number of Electoral College members equals the number of people in Congress plus three additional electors from the District of Columbia — 538.

According to current federal law they are required to convene on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December to cast their ballots. This year it’s Dec. 19, and only those who represent their state’s winning candidate in 48 of 50 states (Maine and Nebraska apportion votes by congressional district) will meet at their state capitals and cast their votes. Each state then sends its official vote certificates to the vice president acting in his capacity as president of the Senate, state officials, the federal court with jurisdiction over each state’s capital area, and the federal archivist. Those certificates are then due in Washington by Dec. 28. Congress convenes on Jan. 6, 2017, for the official Electoral College count.

There are no constitutional provisions or federal statutes that require Electors to abide the popular vote in some of their respective states. Thus it is unsurprising that ordinary leftists and their celebrity allies are circulating petitions urging the Electors to “go rogue” and ignore the wishes of their states' voters. Moreover, a group called FaithlessNow is targeting 160 Electors in 15 states Trump won that don’t require a commitment to the winning candidate. In 25 states and the District of Columbia, Electors are bound by state law or pledges to cast their vote for a specific candidate. The penalties for failing to do so range from being replaced and/or paying a fine, to a fourth degree felony in New Mexico.

Thankfully, the odds of reaching a critical mass of so-called “faithless Electors” is exceedingly slim. As the New York Times reveals, more than 99% of Electors have voted as pledged throughout the course of the nation’s history, and the last faithless Elector was an anonymous Minnesota Democrat who cast his 2004 vote for VP candidate John Edwards instead of presidential candidate John Kerry.

This year a couple of GOP electors, Texas firefighter Chris Suprun and Georgia businessman Baoky Vu, threatened to defy state voters. Suprun has rescinded his threat, and Vu was convinced to resign and be replaced by state party officials. Moreover, since Republicans control Congress, it is virtually certain they would vote to void such progressive-instigated machinations were they to occur.

Hence, some Americans — campus crybabies accommodated by canceled classes and exams, “disaster” counseling and other infantile coping mechanisms including Play-Doh, coloring books and therapy dogs; rent-a-mob thugs whose idea of democracy consists of violent protests, brutally beating up Trump supporters and inundating Twitter with Trump assassination threats; and those who wish to secede from the union — will be forced to deal with unpleasant reality.

That goes double for a Leftmedia yet to discover that their overt bias during the campaign is very likely to result in Trump being able to talk right past them directly to the American public. And because they’ve already denigrated Trump and his supporters in every way possible, from calling him a misogynist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, a racist, a bigot and a xenophobe, to enabling those comparing him to Hitler, Stalin and Satan, future attacks will ring increasingly hollower. In fact, by completely squandering the trust of the American public, the Leftmedia may have just accomplished the unthinkable: enabling their own irrelevancy.

It’s worth remembering that many of the same Americans now calling for the Electoral College’s elimination were confident of a Clinton victory precisely because they believed a blue state Electoral College-inspired “firewall” was impossible for Trump to overcome. Now that he has, they will continue their efforts, led by a group called the National Popular Vote, to further erode states' rights and require Electors to vote for the candidate who wins the national vote. NPV’s efforts have been well-received, mostly by Democrat-controlled legislatures. Ten states and the District of Columbia representing a total of 165 Electoral votes have signed on. If they reach the 270 total required to elect a president, they will have effectively circumvented the Constitution to get their way. What else is new for leftists?

If it were up to those in favor of eliminating the Electoral College, Clinton would be heading for the Oval Office. Yet far more important, she would be doing so based on a huge vote advantage in only three states: New York, California and Illinois. Moreover, the votes in those states were undoubtedly driven by a big edge in four cities: New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

Now let’s remember why Trump is president-elect: Millions of Americans rejected a cadre of arrogant and condescending elitists in government, media and academia united by their utter contempt for the “bitter clingers” who populate “flyover country.” And yet, rather than come to grips with that rejection, the elitists and their followers would rather institutionalize their contempt, and effectively turn national elections into referendums controlled by a handful of populous locations. It is precisely the effort to prevent that from happening that gave rise to the Electoral College.

In other words, the Founding Fathers recognized that direct democracy is “two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” The wolves lost in 2016. And just like Clinton, it’s time they accepted it.

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