"National Popular Vote" Initiative: The 8-Track Tape Player of our Time!

Some ideas seem so smart at the time…

Remember the SX-70 Land Camera? Unfold the darned thing, snap a picture, and Good Lord, the color  photograph the camera would spit out like a plastic tongue developed in front of your eyes. Amazing.

Not too many years into things, Edwin Land decided the same body of logic could be applied to movies, as well. All you needed was a special camera, some special film, a special film cartridge, a special movie player with a 12" screen to plug the cartridge into, and a really, really dark room to watch the grainy, flickering images roll by. Yep, instant movies appeared commercially in 1978–another amazing development.

Of course, half-way ’round the world, Sony was well into development of "instant movies" of their own, with the invention of the "Betacam": A portable television studio anyone could operate. Less than five years after Land’s Polavison hit the local Sears store, Sony (so to speak) blew Land out of the Water.

And all those folks that bought the funny little movie-players and "instant" movie cameras were chumps.

Instant movies seemed so smart at the time.

Kinda like the "National Popular Vote" initiative. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this cunning little bit of malarkey, but five or six states so far have signed on, the latest evidently being Massachusetts: they will apportion their Presidential Electors based on the outcome of the national popular vote, not necessarily how the voters in their state actually vote .

Ostensibly, this is to avoid another George W. Bush or Rutherford B. Hayes. You know: A person elected President that didn’t, well, deserve it because more people nationally voted for their opponents. This is all the fault of the Infield Fly Rule of the Constitution, known as the Electoral College–you know, that archaic bit of Constitutionalism that clings to the founding document like a polyp, the Electoral College only messes things up, thwarts the will of the people, etcetera, etcetera. You’ve heard the drill.

In this line of thinking, everything always operates as diagramed, there are only blue skies and rainbows on Election Day (or, now, if you prefer, "election month"): There are never any electrical blackouts on Election Day, or blizzards, or terrorist attacks. Imagine a state like California deciding that it wants to award it’s electors based on the popular vote that was cast nationally on the election day when all their power went out … and Sarah Palin had won that popular vote, minus the votes that couldn’t be cast because, well, the damned power was out.

Again, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

A sublime illustration occured Election Night last as to why this initiative is a rather dunderheaded. It seems the people in Nevada voted for Repulican congressional candidates over Democrat congressional candidates (a very apropos comparative stand-in for a presidential "popular" voting sentiment) by a total of 356,902 Republican votes to 316,878 Democrat.

However, the comparative stand-in for a "national" (or "cumulative") polling result elected Harry Reid, a Democrat. Should Sharron Angle be seated based not on the fact that she lost the election, but rather that more people state-wide clearly voted for her policy choices as reflected in the number of votes cast for Republicans? I know, I know, if only…

…That we would agree with the politics of this illustrative result hardly makes it right. The opposite result is just as likely, and it is every bit as anti-(small "r) republican.

But, we conservatives understand the Rule of Law, and why Things are The Way They Are: Would those who advocate apportioning electors ala the National Popular Vote then start demanding that Senators be chosen in a similar manner? Should we also abolish the Senate as well, because it is apportioned by state, and, as such, is not nearly as reflective of popular sentiment anyway , at least in contrast to the House? 173,000 people in the township known as "Deleware" voted for Chris "The Bearded Marxist" Coons, and yet his vote in the Senate carries as much power as the vote Barbara Boxer casts, who captured the votes of 3,925,000 Californians. This isn’t very democratic, or "popular vote-ish" either.

The electoral college exists for a reason. The founders didn’t distrust the ability of the various states to choose a president. They just distrusted the ability of everyone to get to the polls. At the right time.

Weather permitting.