The Americanism of the Electoral College
COMMENTARY

April 16, 2019 by Guy Redmer
The blue wave didn't hit Texas this primary election, but could it in November? (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

There’s something particularly ironic about a presidential candidate standing in the rural state of Mississippi and calling for abolishment of the Electoral College. Yet, that’s exactly what Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., did on the campaign trail. She’s not alone. Other major Democratic candidates have piled on so that it is now a major talking point for the Left. Amid all of the noise, they have lost what used to be celebrated: diversity.

Indeed, if the Electoral College could be summed up in one word it is undoubtedly diversity. The founders recognized early on that our nation was made up of varied regions and that in a simple majority vote less populated states would lose all voice. While some of the framers championed direct democracy, others feared a world in which 51 percent could crush the other 49 percent. James Madison brilliantly sketched out the Electoral College as a compromise. Currently, each state gets a number of electors that is identical to its number of representatives and senators in Congress. The District of Columbia gets three electors. The institution survives on its original premise: a presidential candidate must win in diverse parts of the country, not just pockets of it.

To date, there have been a handful of occasions in which the loser of the popular vote went on to win the Electoral College. This can occur when the victor wins by small margins in the required configuration of states while the loser wins by large margins in the remaining states. However, none of these cases show any discrepancy in the institution itself. The most recent were George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Anyone can look at the maps for the 2000 and 2016 elections to see that both Bush and Trump won a much more diverse part of the country than their challengers.

Perhaps this is another redeeming value of the Electoral College. The institution really swings into action when the country is politically divided; ensuring that a winning candidate cannot just campaign in more densely populated areas. Instead, they must prove an ability to get votes in varied regions. In the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln lost the popular vote. But he won the Electoral College by taking nearly all the Northern states as well as California and Oregon on the West Coast. The electoral system played in his favor. Arguably, pro-slavery politicians could do the math and it may have played a role in their decision to just quit the entire nation.

Still, calls to eliminate the electoral system continue from time to time and the upcoming presidential election has only become a platform for this reckless idea. Recently, Colorado joined about eleven other states with legislation that would allocate all of their electoral votes to whoever wins the national popular vote. Such legislation would only take effect if the law is passed by states carrying at least 270 electoral votes. Nonetheless, they have joined in a political suicide pact. No presidential candidate would ever have to set foot in many of these areas if there was a one-person, one-vote system. Of course, some adjustments to the institution may be helpful and would not require a constitutional amendment. For example, while virtually every state allocates its electors on a winner-take-all basis, Maine and Nebraska assigns one to each congressional district and two for the statewide winner. Such a tweak still preserves the inherent value of the Electoral College and makes it even more proportional.

But let there be no mistake about it. If the talking points ever gain traction and opponents of the Electoral College get their way, American representative democracy will be dumped in favor of the one-person, one-vote principle. All but a handful of states will feel left out and this could divide the country more than ever.

Opinions

Checking China’s Diplomatic Piracy in the South China Sea
Foreign Affairs
Checking China’s Diplomatic Piracy in the South China Sea
September 18, 2020
by Craig Singleton

China appears keen to bring piracy back as an instrument of foreign policy, but the days of eye patches and wooden legs are long gone. Instead, Beijing’s most effective raiding parties prefer business suits and briefcases, thus allowing them to ransack and plunder under the guise... Read More

The VA Needs to Follow the FDA’s Guidance on Smoking Alternatives
Opinions
The VA Needs to Follow the FDA’s Guidance on Smoking Alternatives

According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s (IAVA) annual member survey 34% of veterans use tobacco products versus 13.7% of their civilian counterparts (2018 data). Smoking cigarettes is detrimental to a person’s health, and quitting is the best path forward. For veterans, who use tobacco... Read More

Gen Z and Millennials are Unequivocally Resurging #MeToo
Opinions
Gen Z and Millennials are Unequivocally Resurging #MeToo

The #MeToo movement that started in 2017 is still very much alive and thriving in 2020, and with good reason. A recent report from Buzzfeed News shockingly revealed 36 former employees of the Ellen Show encountered harassment and sexual assault from top staff. DeGeneres’ former executive... Read More

Why an Anti-Trust Safe Harbor Is the Answer the News Business Needs
Opinions
Why an Anti-Trust Safe Harbor Is the Answer the News Business Needs

News consumption is growing exponentially, but for the past decade, the revenue to news publishers has been on a decline. This is, in large part, because of the unbalanced relationship between news publishers and tech platforms. But that relationship could be changing thanks to the bipartisan introduction... Read More

Moving Forward Together in the Face of a Global Pandemic
Opinions
Moving Forward Together in the Face of a Global Pandemic

This global pandemic knows no borders and has no regard for politics. Like Americans who have come together to take steps to bend the curve, our elected officials have also come together swiftly and in a bipartisan manner to provide much-needed federal assistance to the millions... Read More

COVID-19 Is About to Make Our Affordable Housing Crisis Much Worse. Here’s One Way to Help Stem the Tide
Opinions
COVID-19 Is About to Make Our Affordable Housing Crisis Much Worse. Here’s One Way to Help Stem the Tide

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic created a global economic downturn, the U.S. faced a mounting affordable housing crisis. In March, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated that the U.S. needs at least 7 million more affordable units to sufficiently house extremely low-income Americans. With more than 30... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top