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.