I am presently sporting a black eye as the result of a misguided duck decoy (really), but it is nothing compared to the metaphorical black eye I expect to get from many of my conservative friends after they read this.
Nonetheless I feel compelled to venture into the turbulent waters of Electoral College politics. Now, many will raise their hackles at the mere suggestion that the way we award electoral votes should be changed. There may be little understanding of how and why we got to where we are today, but if it was good enough for the founders …
The truth is, the present winner-take-all system is a far cry from the rather patrician idea that a group of thoughtful citizens should be assembled every four years to contemplate the relative merits of various individuals and then select that person who could be entrusted with the office of president.
As Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, “it was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation. … A small number of persons, selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”
Today the chase for electoral votes is a force for corruption and special-interest payoffs. I will never forget the torture of sitting in the House and watching as our “leadership” went about threatening, bribing and breaking arms of my colleagues until they got the requisite number of votes to pass Bush’s trillion-dollar Medicare prescription drug plan. A bigger piece of garbage I have never seen – especially one being pushed by the Republican Party.
One could rationally ask why, in heaven’s name, the party of smaller government would push so hard for what was, at the time, the biggest increase in government since the creation of Medicare. Alas the reason was crystal clear: Bush needed Florida for his re-election.
I wish I could say that was the only time something like that happened, but, of course, it’s not. It is part of the routine practice of buying electoral votes. I am sick of it. Whether it’s buying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes with steel tariffs or Ohio’s with “No Child Left Behind,” it all stinks to high heaven.
But there is another reason why I have come to support the concept of the National Popular Vote Initiative. I believe, as do many of my readers, we are a center-right nation. Let’s look at how Americans view those “hot button” issues that Republican presidential candidates are told never to mention. Sixty-five percent of the nation believes border control is a higher priority than amnesty for illegal aliens; 86 percent believe in restricting abortions; and 64 percent believes that a marriage should be between one man and one woman. Candidates ignore these issues for fear they will lose the electoral votes of crucial swing states.
Some argue that the present system protects the interests of small states, especially those that hold conservative values. However, today 12 of the 13 smallest states are ignored after party conventions and are derisively referred to as “flyover” country.
Further, there are millions of Republicans in California, New York, Massachusetts and other hopelessly “blue” states who don’t bother to vote in presidential elections because they know their vote won’t matter. All the state’s electoral votes are going for the Democrat, so what’s’ the use?
The National Popular Vote plan works within the Constitution to award a state’s electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in the entire United States. Under the plan, an evangelical voter in rural â€¨Wyoming would count the same as the union steward in Cleveland or the welfare queen in New York.
Now, I know we all shudder when we think of the possibility of Al Gore winning the presidency because he had a majority of the popular vote. However, few people realize that, had there been a switch of a mere 60,000 votes in Ohio in the Bush/Kerry election, Kerry would have won the majority of the nation’s electoral votes and would have, therefore, been president, even though Bush had a 3,000,000 popular vote lead!
And last, there is the issue of voter fraud. It won’t entirely go away with the National Popular Vote plan, but it is harder to mobilize massive voter fraud on the national level without getting caught, than it is to do so in a few key states. Voter fraud is already a problem. The National Popular Vote makes it a smaller one.
I know that the initiative is opposed by some conservatives because they see high-profile liberals supporting it. Interestingly, it is also opposed by many left wingers. When all is said and done and the “elites” in both parties line up to oppose something, I tend to want to look a little more closely at the proposal. It may just be something that would benefit the rest of us.