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November 22, 2019

A New Leftist Lie: The Electoral College Is Racist

The continuing effort to undermine our Founders’ system for presidential elections.

Ever since Donald Trump whipped Hillary Clinton 304-227 in the Electoral College despite losing the nation’s popular vote by nearly three million (were it not for the one-party state of California, Trump would’ve won the popular vote by more than a million), the Left has caterwauled about the unfairness of it all. In truth, all this began after the 2000 Bush-Gore election — also won by the second-place finisher in the popular vote — when so-called “progressives” began a movement called National Popular Vote, or NPV.

Given the great unlikelihood that our deeply divided nation will change its constitutionally mandated method of electing the president, the NPV’s weapon of choice is the interstate compact — an end run that would take effect as soon as states representing a total of more than 270 electoral votes agreed to grant their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

While there was steady progress for a few years, by the 2016 election the NPV had stalled at 10 states (and Washington, DC) representing 165 electoral votes. In that case, the end result would have been the same, as all 11 signatory states had already voted for Clinton. Since Trump won, however, five more states have signed on, and their electoral vote total is up to 196. Those additional five states, though, were also carried by Clinton, who seemed to cater her campaign to the big cities and population centers while largely ignoring the “deplorables” in flyover country.

In an effort to make it sound less partisan, one standard argument of NPV supporters is that national elections are now decided by just a handful of “swing states,” including Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina. (Since the 2000 election, 14 states and DC have been solidly Democrat, while 22 states have been strictly GOP, arguably meaning that elections have been contested in just 14 states.) Trump won in 2016 by flipping the statewide vote from blue to red in six states: Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The latter three of these were generally considered part of Hillary’s blue “firewall,” and the 2020 Democrat presidential race has been focused on how to flip them back.

But because NPV lacks support in the “purple” states, its proponents are now playing the race card — specifically in the Southern states, which are home to a large black population. Just in the last week, for example, Georgia’s sorest of losers, failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, used the “r-word” in blasting the Electoral College and claiming before the National Press Club, “We have to remember the Electoral College was not designed because people were worried about Idaho not having enough votes. We didn’t know about Idaho. What we did know was that in the south, the populations in the south had equal or roughly equal populations to the north. However, because black people were not considered human or citizens, they wanted their bodies to count for the purposes of the population count but not their humanity.”

In addition, the NYU School of Law’s Wilfred U. Codrington III weighed in from the ivory tower of academia, telling an approving audience in The Atlantic, “America’s institutions boosted white political power in less obvious ways, too, and the nation’s oldest structural racial entitlement program is one of its most consequential: the Electoral College.” Added Codrington, “Commentators today tend to downplay the extent to which race and slavery contributed to the Framers’ creation of the Electoral College, in effect whitewashing history: Of the considerations that factored into the Framers’ calculus, race and slavery were perhaps the foremost.”

Codrington’s contention about compromise is correct insofar as the Constitution itself is the give-and-take hammered out between the rival Federalist and Antifederalist factions — the latter of whom is getting a fresh look through the lens of history. But it’s a long leap of faith to claim a system that recently awarded two terms to a president of color systematically disenfranchises a particular race of Americans. It’s true that states in the Deep South, which have among the highest proportion of black voters, tend to vote Republican, but other states outside that region also have high minority numbers, such as those along the Mid-Atlantic region between Delaware and North Carolina, and have been trending Democrat. (Codrington also seems to assume, of course, that blacks should reflexively vote for Democrats. But what do they have to lose by switching?

Although legislators in 16 states have passed the NPV legislation, Colorado citizens have clawed back by successfully petitioning the NPV proposal to the 2020 ballot. While the grassroots effort to place the measure on the ballot reportedly had over 2,200 volunteers, its proponents have checks totaling nearly $750,000 — the vast majority of the sum coming from California donors bent on imposing their misguided will on the rest of us. (Wouldn’t it be rich if a popular vote thwarted the adoption of NPV in Colorado?)

For all its bluster, though, the chances of NPV going into effect before the 2020 election are slim. It’s true that states with enough electoral votes to push the proposal over the magic 270 mark remain in play legislatively, but most of the low-hanging fruit of states that backed Hillary has been picked, leaving states where legislators are less likely to advance these bills. So it appears — for now at least — that this NPV end run around the Founders’ intent will be thrown for a loss.

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