If the National Popular Vote drive kills the Electoral College, rural and small town Americans who supply our food and energy will lose their voice.
By USA Today•
Should rural and small-town Americans be reduced to serfdom? The American Founders didn’t think so. This is one reason why they created checks and balances, including the Electoral College. Today that system is threatened by a proposal called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, or NPV.
Rural America produces almost all our country’s food, as well as raw materials like metals, cotton and timber. Energy, fossil fuels but also alternatives like wind and solar come mostly from rural areas. In other words, the material inputs of modern life flow out of rural communities and into cities.
This is fine, so long as the exchange is voluntary — rural people choose to sell their goods and services, receive a fair price, and have their freedom protected under law. But history shows that city dwellers have a nasty habit of taking advantage of their country cousins. Greeks enslaved whole masses of rural people, known as helots. Medieval Europe had feudalism. The Russians had their serfs.
Credit the American Founders with setting up a system of limited government with lots of checks and balances. The U.S. Senate makes sure all states are represented equally, even low-population rural states like Wyoming and Vermont. Limits on federal power, along with the Bill of Rights, are supposed to protect Americans from overreaching federal regulations. And the Electoral College makes it impossible for one population-dense region of the country to control the presidency.
This is why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. Instead of winning over small-town Americans, she amassed a popular vote lead based on California and a few big cities. She won those places with huge margins but lost just about everywhere else. And the system worked. The Electoral College requires more than just the most raw votes to win — it requires geographic balance. This helps to protect rural and small-town Americans.
Now a California millionaire named John Koza is trying to undo this system. He is leading and funding the National Popular Vote campaign. Their plan is to get state governments to ignore how their own citizens vote in presidential elections and instead get them to cast their electoral votes based on the national popular vote. If it works, this will be like getting rid of the Electoral College but without actually amending the Constitution.
California has already passed NPV, along with 13 other states plus Washington, D.C. Nevada, with six electoral votes, could be next. NPV only takes effect if it is joined by enough states that they control 270 electoral votes, which would then control the outcome of all future presidential elections. If that happens (NPV needs 81 more electoral votes), and if the courts do not strike it down, big cities will gain more political power at the expense of everyone else.
The idea that every vote should count equally is attractive. But a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin famously reminds us that democracy can be “two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for lunch.” (City dwellers who think that meat comes from the grocery store might not understand why this is such a big problem for the lamb.) And when you think about it, every check on government power, from the Electoral College to the Bill of Rights, is a restraint on the majority.
The Electoral College makes it even harder to win the presidency. It requires geographic balance and helps protect Americans who might otherwise have their voices ignored. All Americans should value constitutional protections, like the Electoral College, that remind us that the real purpose of government is to protect our individual rights.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”
Warren’s lofty rhetoric notwithstanding, a large portion of the Democratic party’s present animosity toward the Electoral College is rooted in rank partisanship. Since they watched their supposed “blue wall” evaporate in the small hours of the 2016 presidential election, many Democrats have felt sufficient anger with the system to seek to remake it. This habit has by no means been limited to the Electoral College. Indeed, no sooner has the Democratic party lost control of an institution that it had assumed it would retain in perpetuity than that institution has been denounced as retrograde and unfair. In the past year alone, this impulse has led to calls for the abolition or reinvention of the Senate, the Supreme Court, and more.
Insofar as there does exist a serious argument against the Electoral College, it is increasingly indistinguishable from the broader argument against the role that the states play within the American constitutional order, and thus from the argument against federalism itself. President Reagan liked to remind Americans that, far from serving as regional administrative areas of the nation-state, the states are the essential building blocks of America’s political, legal, and civic life.
In our era of viciously divisive politics, the states are arguably more necessary than they have ever been. Critics of the Electoral College bristle at the insistence that it prevents New York and California from imposing their will on the rest of the country. But the Electoral College guarantees that candidates who seek the only nationally elected office in America must attempt to appeal to as broad a geographic constituency as possible — large states and small, populous and rural — rather than retreating to their preferred pockets and running up the score. The alternative to this arrangement is not less political contention or a reduction in anger; it is more of both.
In addition to protecting the political diversity for which the United States is famous, the Electoral College brings with it a number of practical advantages that are crucial to good government. Under the current system, the result of presidential elections tends to be clear almost immediately — there is no need, for example, to wait three weeks for California to process its ballots; it is nigh-on impossible for voters to return a tie or disputed outcome; and, because presidential elections are, in effect, fifty-one separate elections, accusations of voting fraud and abuse hold less purchase than they would if all franchisees were melted into a single, homogenous blob. The freak occurrence that was Bush v. Gore is often raised as an objection against the status quo. Less attention is paid to the obvious question: What if that recount had been national?
Impressively, Elizabeth Warren’s plan for straight abolition is not the worst reform being touted at the moment. Impatient at the lack of progress that the #Resistance has made in pulling the wiring out of America’s constitutional engine, a handful of states have adopted the “National Popular Vote” plan, which binds their electors to cast their ballots for the candidate who wins a majority of votes nationwide. Until enough states have signed on to tip the balance past 270 — and, indeed, until the inevitable litigation has been concluded — adoption of the NPV will remain purely symbolic. Should it be put into action, however, it would achieve the remarkable feat of removing all of the benefits that the Electoral College provides while preventing the electors of each state from voting for the presidential candidate whom a majority in that state had picked. Who knew that the outsourcing craze would extend to democracy?
The U.S. Constitution is a complex document that, as Whitman might have put it, contains multitudes. At once, it boasts guarantees of democracy and protections against it; hosts an outline for national action, and a blueprint for localism; and serves as a vehicle for the majority, while including guarantees that the most significant decisions must be broadly agreed upon. The Electoral College is one of the many finely tuned institutions within the charter that have ensured stability and continuity in America for more than two centuries. To destroy it in a hail of platitudes, civic ignorance, and old-fashioned political pique would be a disastrous mistake.
There’s no question that Democrats had a good night on Tuesday. But it was nowhere near what the resistance crowd had hoped. The question now is: Can the party resist its angry base demanding retribution, or try to act like adults and get things done?
When it comes to wave elections, this one wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
In 1994 — two years into Bill Clinton’s first term — Republicans gained a stunning 54 seats to take control of the House, and 9 to take control of the Senate.
Then, in 2010 — two years into Barack Obama’s first term — Republicans gained an even more stunning 63 seats in the House, and six in the Senate, in another stunning rebuke of a Democratic president. Continue reading
by Jim Geraghty • National Review
Republicans lost a bunch of races on Tuesday that they wanted to win. Since Tuesday night, I haven’t seen any riots. I haven’t seen any violent protests, like the ones that have plagued Portland this year. I haven’t seen any Democratic candidates hung in effigy, the way Marsha Blackburn was in Tennessee earlier this month. I’m sure the “Proud Boys” will pop up again in some form, but they’ve been quiet since the NYPD announced arrest warrants for nine of them after that mid-October brawl.
Democrats, progressives, and liberals won a lot of the races that they wanted to win. And what happened? Did they celebrate with glee and good cheer? Did they relax? Did their anger and rage over the 2016 election dissipate and give way to relief and a more optimistic outlook for the future?
No, apparently some of them just got angrier and more explicit in their threats: Continue reading
By now a lot of professional Democrats—campaign consultants, party leaders and the like—are probably wishing they’d never heard the term “big, blue wave.” It set expectations so high for the next election that almost any outcome short of a total rout of the GOP will go into the record books as a disappointment.
If the parties fight to a draw—GOP ends up in control on both sides of the Capitol with a diminished majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and better numbers than it currently enjoys in the U.S. Senate, and the number of Republican governors and GOP-led state legislative chambers does not change appreciably (which is how things would probably turn out were the election held today)—then the Democrats will have been seen to have suffered a major defeat.
Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and other leading Democrats had hoped to nationalize the election by making it a referendum on President Donald Trump’s first two years in office. They may still get the opportunity to do that—Trump, as the events on the U.S. border with Mexico reminds us, is often his own worst enemy. Nevertheless, most of the news is good as the economy has roared back to life and Continue reading
By Holly Scheer • The Federalist
Hillary Clinton isn’t ready to let go of her election loss to President Trump. Clinton is in Mumbai, India, at the India Today Conclave, a “a meeting point for the best minds from India and around the world to map the geopolitical and economic future of the country.” But instead of keeping her focus on the complex and numerous problems facing India, Clinton took aim Monday at Americans who voted for Trump. Her patronizing and condescending words targeted voters in states that twice voted for Obama, and show she still doesn’t understand why Americans didn’t vote for her.
Clinton compared herself to the mother of the country, trying to enforce something wholesome that the children aren’t fond of. She said, “She ran the presidential campaign like a mother who was telling the kids to eat spinach because it was good for health while the other guy was asking them to go eat fast food and have ice-cream,” India Today reported. Clinton may not have realized it, but this also sheds a lot of light on how she sees the average American. She views them as short sighted, more interested in junk than substance, and in her words, they’re “backwards.” Continue reading
by Fred Barnes • Weekly Standard
Republicans won 7 Democratic seats (so far!), lost none, and took control of the Senate. Harry Reid is history. Democrats thought for sure they’d add some governorships. Nope. They won one but lost 4, including the governor’s race in the bluest of blue states, Maryland. In the House, they lost at least 8 seats, probably more when the final results are in. Now there are more House Republicans on Capitol Hill than we’ve seen in many decades.
For Democrats in the midterm election, it came down to this: they defeated Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania. That was it. Nothing more. The next most embattled GOP governor, Sam Brownback in Kansas, was reelected. Continue reading
by Carol E Lee • The Wall Street Journal
Voters went to the polls Tuesday deeply frustrated with the political system and handed Republicans a decisive victory. Mr. Obama was a central figure in key races where Republicans criticized his leadership.
Most Democratic Senate candidates refused to appear with Mr. Obama on the campaign trail, trying to distance themselves from an unpopular president. Democrats tried to keep the focus on policies of particular importance in their states. Continue reading
by Noah Rothman • Hot Air
It is probably safe to assume that you have been following the midterm elections closely. You decided to click on this link, which would indicate that you have at least a passing interest in the coming national vote in which Americans will determine which party controls the upper chamber of Congress for the remainder of the Obama presidency. If, however, you have been closely following the coverage of the coming midterms, you might have noticed that network news outlets do not appear to share your enthusiasm. You’re not imagining things.
According to an exhaustive study performed by Media Research Center analysts, between September 1 and October 20, the three major broadcast networks only bothered to mention the fact that there is a critical election coming up only 25 times. Of those mentions, only 16 of them were in the context of packaged report. Continue reading
“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
December 31, 2012
As we approach 2013 we also review some of our must read articles from 2012. Please see below for several timely pieces by George Landrith on various topics, such as, taxes, the fiscal cliff, the economy, jobs, the election process and results, foreign policy, government largess, energy, and the Constitution. Continue reading