Dear Dems: Stop Attacking the Electoral College
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact aims to undo the Founders' system by default.
Connecticut became the latest state to break with the Constitution last week by joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The state Senate approved and Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy vowed to sign a bill that would pledge the state’s electoral votes to the national popular vote winner in presidential elections.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a scheme developed by opponents of the Electoral College — generally leftists who would rather see the president of the United States elected by popular vote than via the Electoral College system the Founders established in the Constitution.
The Electoral College was designed to make the presidential election a truly national contest. It forces candidates to recognize all regions and not ignore small states and rural areas in favor of large states and major metropolitan areas. The process, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68, “affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”
Democrats are not happy with the Electoral College, however. Hillary Clinton, as we are repeatedly reminded, won the national popular vote by roughly three million votes. If it weren’t for the Electoral College (and men, and women, and whites, and James Comey, and Russia, and… and…), she would be president right now. Therefore, in the eyes of Democrats, the Electoral College is no longer relevant.
Worse, it’s a sign of disfunction, says Elizabeth Warren: “In 2016, nearly three million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump — but Trump took the presidency. That’s not exactly the sign of a healthy democracy. Democracy hangs on the idea that whoever gets the most votes wins.” It’s a good thing we’re a republic and not a democracy.
But consider this: Over 20% of Clinton’s 65.8 million votes came from California and New York alone. Take those two deep-blue states out of contention and she would have lost the popular vote by three million. Clinton didn’t campaign hard enough in the Rust Belt, losing states she mistakenly assumed would stay in her column. Clinton ignored these states in favor of big blue vote buckets like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and other major metropolitan areas.
In fact, the 2016 election is proof positive that we do need the Electoral College and that it is still relevant.
It’s typical Democrat behavior to assume that because they can’t seem to win something, then the game must be rigged. This is why they came up with the national popular vote scheme in the first place. Recognizing that their most loyal voters tended to be in metropolitan areas, and that these areas were growing (more Americans live in cities than in rural areas), Democrats pined for a popular-vote strategy that could secure them a lasting national presence as it has in several states with large metropolitan areas. California and New York are perfect examples.
The National Popular Vote Compact began in 2007. Laws were introduced in states that would pledge that state’s Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote regardless of the outcome of that state’s vote. In other words, if a given state votes for the Republican candidate, but a Democrat wins the national popular vote, then that state’s electors must pledge to vote for the Democrat. The compact goes into effect when the total number of states on board reaches 270 electoral votes, the winning number to become president.
With the recent addition of Connecticut, there are now 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, in the compact. They are all deep blue states, of course, and they hold a total of 172 electoral votes. Given that these states are unlikely to actually vote Republican anytime in the foreseeable future, this compact is currently almost meaningless. However, according to the compact’s website, there are 12 more states in which the bill has passed at least one chamber, totaling 96 electoral votes, which would bring the compact total to a very relevant 268.
It’s ironic from a historical perspective that Connecticut joined the compact. It was Connecticut’s Roger Sherman who argued against a national popular vote for president during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He, like many Founding Fathers, feared the tyranny of the majority, noting that the people at large “will generally vote for some man in their own state, and the largest state will have the best chance for the appointment.”
Today’s Democrats believe that just the opposite is taking place — that smaller states and rural populations (i.e., Republicans) are running the country. Barack Obama complained after the 2016 election that the Electoral College works against Democrats. And Clinton has been calling for the abolition of the Electoral College since Al Gore’s loss in 2000.
The case can be made that the Electoral College does favor Republicans, but that may be because the GOP knows how to run a presidential election better than Democrats from a technical standpoint (if not always politically). It could also just be the ebb and flow of presidential politics. Coalitions come and go, states change from blue to red and from red to blue. It is the nature of politics, and it is how our federal republic works.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is not a solution to this issue because there is no problem. If Democrats want to win a presidential election, then they should front a candidate who wants to be president of all the people instead of just those she doesn’t consider “deplorable.”