A Governor Who Understands The Purpose Of The Electoral College

On Thursday, The Hill reported that Nevada’s Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday vetoed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which had been passed by the Nevada Assembly and Senate.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would essentially nullify the Electoral College. However, it will not become effective unless enough states to control 280 electoral college votes pass the measure. The idea is that 280 electoral votes would be a majority of the Electoral College and would elect the person who got the most popular votes. At that point we would live in a county governed by New York and California–two states that have not done a particularly good job of governing themselves. That is exactly what our Founding Fathers were attempting to avoid (as explained by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 68).

In Federalist 68, Alexander Hamilton stated:

And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.

The idea was that the Electoral College would give less-populated states a voice in the election of the president. A candidate for president would be required to gain a broad base of support–he would be required to represent the entire country–not just one or two sections.

To illustrate what elections would look like without the Electoral College, let’s look at where the campaign money comes from in elections.

According to opensecrets.org the top donor states are California (22 percent), New York (21 percent), Illinois (7 percent), and Florida (6 percent). The other states provided 44 percent of campaign donations. California has 40 million people; West Virginia has 2 million people. Without the Electoral College, how likely is a presidential candidate to campaign in (or represent) the people in West Virginia? There is a valid reason for the Electoral College.

 

Why We Have The Electoral College

On Thursday, USA Today posted an article about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPV). That is the proposal working through the states that would essentially eliminate the Electoral College. The article points out that the Electoral College was put in place as a part of the system of checks and balances to make sure that small, less populated states would be represented in presidential elections.

The article notes:

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.

The article notes that the reason Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election is 2016 is that she won California and some big cities, but failed to win votes in the center of the country.

The article observes:

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.

The article notes that fourteen states have already passed NPV. The good news is that NPV only takes effect after it is joined by enough states to control 270 electoral votes (a majority of electoral votes). At the point the Electoral College becomes moot. If the NPV reaches 270 electoral votes, what is the point of voting in a presidential election if you live in a sparsely-populated state? We will be run by California, New York, and some major cities. None of the states or cities involved are particularly well-governed–some of them are on the verge of bankruptcy. Is this really a good idea?

The article concludes:

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.

This Is Not Good News For Our Representative Republic

The Daily Caller is reporting today that New Mexico is the fourteenth state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). This is the group that says their states electoral college votes will go to the presidential candidate who gets the most popular votes. In other words, it really doesn’t matter how the residents of these states vote, this is where the electoral votes are going. In essence, that means that New York and California will determine who our next President is if this trend continues.

Just for reference, this is a picture of the 2016 election:

The article points out:

States that have passed similar legislation to join the NPVIC now represent 189 electoral votes. The compact could become official when that number hits 270, enough votes to elect the president of the United States.

That would change America from a Representative Republic to a Democracy.

I am reminded of the words of Benjamin Franklin after the Constitutional Convention of 1787:

A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Moving forward with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact means that we will not keep it.