Movement to bypass Electoral College reveals lots of people failed government class
There is a movement afoot to make us more like Germany. Specifically, the movement is to do away with the electoral college and select the president with a straight national majority vote. Massachusetts is the latest state to jump aboard the band wagon built from years of whining (mainly by liberals who think elections they lost were “unfair”). Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, and Washington have also passed the National Popular Vote. This is a terrible idea, and without question contrary to the intentions of the founding fathers. Hell, why don’t we just get rid of the Senate while we’re at it?
I know. You think it sounds like a good idea. You can admit it. Well, you’re not alone. According the National Popular Vote website, approximately 70% of the American population supports changing the electoral college. Of course, the 70% probably all graduated from public schools (just kidding…sort of). Look, we have the electoral college for a reason, and it functions the way it functions for a reason. I think a lesson on government is in order, and its going to be the quick and dirty version.
The United States is a federation (not the wrestling kind). In other words, it’s a sovereign state, made up of what are largely self-governing states. The power of the federal government is specifically limited to its enumerated powers, with the majority of the governing to be left to the states (well, that’s what the dusty old Constitution says anyway). Now, when the United States was founded, it had thirteen sovereign states. Each of those states agreed to become a part of the United States because they benefited from doing so.
America is also a representative democracy, in which we elect representatives to run the government and represent the interests of their constituents. Smaller states were understandably concerned that larger, more populous states would control the federal government simply because they had more people, and therefore, more representatives. In an effort to have our cake and eat it too, the founders created two houses of Congress. One house, the House of Representatives, consists of 435 representatives. The number of representatives each state sends to the House is based on the state’s population. Thus, California has more representatives than Rhode Island. The second house of Congress, the Senate, was created to give every state an equal voice. As such, each state has two Senators.
Why does this matter to the electoral college? Well, because how we set up the electoral college is based on the same rationale as Congress. Each state has a certain number of electors (which are based upon the total number of Representatives and Senators in that state). In other words, the more people in your state, the more electors you have. The electors then formally cast their ballots for the President and Vice President. All of the electors in the state cast their votes for the candidate selected by the majority of the state’s population. The candidate who receives 270 electors wins.
History lesson over. There is a movement throughout the country to change the way we do the electoral college thing. The movement isn’t to do away with the electoral college per se, but instead to force state electors to vote for the candidate that receives a national majority instead of a state majority. This is, simply put, a horrifically stupid idea. Once again, there is a reason for why the electoral college was set up the way it was. A straight national majority vote would only result in an election dominated by urban areas in populous states, and basically get the president elected by California, Texas, Florida, and New York every time. The rest of us can stay home.
I find this to be another one of those definitional issues. The United States of America is a federalist country, it’s not something else. Those that argue the electoral college needs to be, for all practical purposes, trashed, base it on the fact that only a few swing states matter during an election. This may be true, but that’s only because the other states’ populations generally vote for a certain party…it’s not because one state is simply more populous than another. Our current system still allows for small states to matter, which it’s supposed to. If we change the system, why not just get rid of the states, and go all NCAA Division I football and create five regional conferences. Then whatever candidate gets three electoral votes wins.
But it appears that I’m just a quiet voice in the wilderness, since all of you who slept through fifth grade civics class appear to be in the significant majority.