By Gary Spina
George Soros, Andrew Cuomo, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, and major liberal big-city newspapers across the country support replacing our Electoral College system with what they call a National Popular Vote Compact.
“Let’s do away with the Electoral College and have our presidential elections determined by a straight popular vote of the people. What could be more democratic?”
It all sounds so right – if you say it fast enough. After all, there were four times in American history when a presidential candidate won the popular vote but lost the election – and how can that be fair?
All right, let’s look at history – and then let’s think this through. And let’s keep in mind that, no matter how well crafted, and no matter how well intentioned, no system works in a vacuum of morality.
Back in the 1824 presidential election, there were four candidates for president. Andrew Jackson received more votes than the other three candidates and more Electoral College votes, but none of the four candidates won more than 50 percent of the Electoral College.
In that case, a corrupt House of Representatives (is there any other kind?) decided the election by choosing John Quincy Adams even though Adams had come in second in both the popular and the electoral vote.
A little morality and decency would have gone a long way, but Jackson was a “common man” who spoke truth to power and the good ol’ boys in Washington wanted desperately to silence him. Sound familiar?
Had the Congress been honorable, the Electoral College would have served us well enough. Of course, four years later when Jackson came back with a solid majority it was payback time in Washington.
In the election of 1876, Samuel J. Tilden ran against Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden received 50.9 percent of the popular vote, while Hayes received 47.9 percent. But Hayes had won 185 Electoral College votes, while Tilden won only 184. To complicate matters, there were a total of 20 Electoral College votes in dispute in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina where each party claimed victory – and in Oregon, one elector was declared “illegal.” What a mess!
Here, too, a little morality and decency would have carried the day. But as it turned out, “The Compromise of 1877” decided the election. Actually, it was more a “deal” than a “compromise,” made possible by the fact that, for the first time since the end of the Civil War, the Democrats had managed to win back a majority in the Congress — and the devil was playing the fiddle, and all of Congress was dancing. Republican Hayes was awarded all 20 electoral votes in exchange for the Republicans agreeing to end Reconstruction by withdrawing all federal troops from the South.
The Democrats were seen as the great liberators, unless you were a Southern black. In 1964, it took the Senate Republicans to pass the Civil Rights Act over the opposition of the Democrats.
When the bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964, the “Southern Bloc” of 18 southern Democratic Senators and one Republican Senator led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage. Said Russell: “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states.” – (Wikipedia)
In 1888, Benjamin Harrison (grandson of William Henry Harrison) became president with 233 electoral votes, 47.8 percent of the popular votes. His opponent was incumbent Grover Cleveland who had more of the popular votes – 48.6 percent – but had garnered only 168 electoral votes. No problem here – this is how the system is intended to work.
Cleveland rebounded to win back the presidency in the next election four years later.
George W. Bush became president in 2000, with only 47.87 percent of the popular vote and 271 Electoral College votes. Albert Arnold “Al” Gore, Jr. won 48.38 percent of the popular vote, but only 266 electoral votes. Again, like it or not, this is how the system was designed.
So, let’s examine the Electoral College design. A straight popular vote is democratic, to be sure, but America is not a democracy. We are a constitutional republic — and with good reason.
A democracy means the majority rules at all times. A constitutional republic means we are governed by written laws – written statutes within Constitutional constraints duly enacted by representatives of the people – and as such American justice is not – at least should not be — a stoked-up, highly inflamed, rage-blind lynch-mob, majority affair. You see, our founding fathers understood the “tyranny of the majority.”
Without the Electoral College, candidates for president might not even bother campaigning in the smaller states with smaller crowds and fewer votes.
If only the popular vote counted, the problems and concerns of the people of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming would be all but ignored by candidates who would be better served by courting the masses of voters in the big cities in California, Florida, New York, and Texas. The heartland and Bible Belt and traditional rural values would have no voice.
Without the Electoral College, all a candidate has to do is play the odds. Without the Electoral College, why should either party waste precious time, effort, and campaign dollars in any state it is sure to win or sure to lose?
Both parties could completely ignore New Jersey and Massachusetts which almost always vote for the Democrat no matter what the candidate does or promises to do if and when he gets out of prison. But with the Electoral College every state counts.
With the Electoral College, States Rights remain a very vibrant concept – a Constitutional component of our freedoms not to be trifled with – for in any given election, any state big or small can be a key “swing” state in which the entire election can be won or lost.
Therefore, learned candidate, dismiss Rhode Island or Delaware at your peril. Smile seriously, oh, road-weary candidate, and take your promises to New Hampshire, Nebraska, and West Virginia, and stand on your issues and be seen and heard and evaluated by the voters there.
The Electoral College gives every citizen and every state of the union a piece of the pie. The office-seeker, too, is well served.
The Democrat can still stage his photo ops by booking a 5,000-seat meeting hall in Chicago where he expects a crowd double that size. That way he can have his news crew filming the adoring crowds outside the packed meeting hall knocking over flimsy barricades trying to get inside so they can swoon over their savior. That would play well even on the television screens in the Iowa farm country.
The Republican can walk into a packed Kansas church meeting with cow manure on his shoes and promise to guarantee low-interest farm loans and water rights and legislation to lower the cost of producing corn and pork and “God Bless America!” will play well on the sets of New York City news stations.
Of course, the conservative candidate has it easiest of all. All he has to do is show up anywhere and everywhere – Chicago, Kansas, farm, church, or city street — and explain how both the Democrat and Republican career politicians – those seasoned liars — are so far removed from the average American, from the will of We the People, so outside our Constitution and our Bill of Rights — how those silver-tongued devils are unabashedly campaigning on false promises and outright lies – campaigning against the very evils they themselves once sponsored and voted for, once tweaked and refined and raised rates and taxes on – the liberty-stealing and prosperity-stifling regulations and policies that once again, if they ever get back into office, they will shake their heads at and throw up their hands and defend as the “laws of the land” — laws that, although they try, they cannot change. But maybe they can get it done in the next election.
The Washington crowd are masters at feathering their own nests. They got away with passing the Seventeenth Amendment, campaign finance reform, and suppressing voter ID laws. Let’s not let them get away with taking away our Electoral College.
Click here: National Popular Vote-NYS Bill S4208/AB489 Alert-This Scam Has to Be Voted Down