Diary

Progressives Need a Lesson in Civics

One of the big features on the Democratic campaign trail this year is the fact that many presidential wannabes want to abolish the Electoral College.  Their arguments are devoid of logic other than the fact that they lost in 2016 (and 2000), loaded with hyperbole and full of absurdity.  One of their biggest, most stupid arguments is that the institution is a vestige of slavery.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact anyone even regurgitates this garbage is proof of their low IQ.  Hint: CNN ran a special suggesting such… case closed.

This is simply an attempt by progressives to somehow tarnish the institution by nefariously linking it to slavery.  As the evidence at best, these dopes have an unclear comment by James Madison at the Constitutional Convention.  He, you may remember, is considered the “father of the Constitution.”  In that quote, Madison actually suggests that the Electoral College would keep the election of our only national leader- the President- from becoming strictly sectional affairs.

Madison’s belief that the Electoral College would work best to prevent sectional hegemony was confirmed when John Quincy Adams was elected President.  Despite the odds and despite the opposition whose popularity was decidedly sectional in nature, Adams became the first President to become so without a plurality of the vote.  With so many viable candidates, no one won the Electoral vote either.  But, the Republic responded under the 12th Amendment and the forces of sectionalism were held at bay.  No candidate that year could have been more anti-slavery than Adams.  In summation, the mechanisms put in place by our Founders worked to stymie sectionalism and, in this case, slavery.

Instead, the better argument, should they decide to use it, would be that the Electoral College is unfair and not fully democratic.  Our Founders did not choose our form of government by accident.  That is the reason the country was not founded as a pure democracy but as a republic.  Now, this writer knows that most of those who propose abolishing the Electoral College may not know the difference, but that is their problem.  Instead, they established a republic, but one that allowed democracy great leeway as an element of self-government.

Regardless, since the early 19th century, the Electoral College is largely a democratic system.  It became such when states moved away from legislatures selecting electors and allowing direct elections by the people.   In the 20th century and the present, not a single state chooses electors by any method other than democracy.

Hence, the progressive Left’s real problem with the Electoral College is not slavery or its “undemocratic nature.”  Their problem is with the notion of federalism.  The detractors complain that the system is unfair or unequal.  They often trot out the case of California versus Wyoming.  However, to preserve the idea of federalism, the Electoral College was designed to diffuse power among the states.  By including the number of Senators (set by the Constitution at two per state), they deliberately and thankfully created a slight imbalance in favor of the smaller states.  Why?  Because one of the worst fears of our Founders was the “tyranny of the majority.”  It is why we are a republic, why there is a separation of powers, why terms of the Senate and House are set by the Constitution and host of other things in the Constitution which the Left apparently has not read and/or does not understand.

Regardless, obviously big states have an advantage over the smaller states.  Any candidate for a national leader cannot necessarily ignore the big states.  But, since they are the only national leader, the Electoral College forces candidates to consider the smaller states.    It allows the presidential candidate to appeal to a large spectrum of the American electorate.  Not only that, not all states are exclusively urban.  Of course, the bulk of the population in Illinois is located in Chicago and its environs.  But, winning Illinois means that a candidate cannot exclusively focus on the Chicago area.  There are very few states exclusively “urban” or “rural.”

The Electoral College ultimately succeeds in producing a winner that appeals to a broad spectrum of the electorate, not just those in urban areas.  That is by design.  Trump’s victory in 2016 was not a flaw in the system; in fact, the system worked exactly as intended.  It was Hillary Clinton’s ill-advised campaign strategy to ignore three states- Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin- that caused her loss.  It had nothing to do with Russians, Facebook “fake news” postings, sexism, or deplorable voters.  She took those states for granted and paid the price within an even-field system.

It makes no sense to scrap a system that has worked incredibly well for over two centuries especially when the reasons are as spurious as “slavery,” or as idiotic as those being espoused by Democrats on the campaign trail.  Their proposals and obvious end-around the Constitution- the National Popular Vote Compact- are likely doomed to failure if not on the campaign trail, then at the Supreme Court.