A movement that has been around for some time but has recently picked up some steam sounds good to people – elect the President of the United States by popular vote. The problem with their premise is that this is an action of pure democracy and we live in a Republic – on purpose.
Here’s how the proposal would work. Missouri would join other states in a compact that would say once a candidate receives a certain number of the popular vote – they would receive all the electoral votes of the compact member states. Under the scenarios of the National Popular Vote – it would be possible for Missourians to cast a majority of their vote – even 100% of their votes for a candidate that did not receive the majority of the popular vote in all the compact states. This would mean that Missouri’s votes for the candidate of their choice would not count as the state’s electoral votes would go to the candidate Missourians did not vote for in the election. You want to talk about fly over country? Disenfranchisement?
The National Popular Vote movement claims that people are being ignored in Presidential campaigns. They cite the fact that places like California and New York are “fly over” states and see very little funds spent in them for party building purposes. The claim that this results in people being discouraged from participating in elections because their vote doesn’t count is implausible but convenient. The last I checked – California and New York had a huge number of electoral votes and they all counted. The reason campaigns don’t spend a lot of money in those states is because their popular vote and thus their electoral votes are seldom in doubt. Besides – we already have too many people making their voting decisions on 30 second commericals!
The electoral college was put into place to give a voice to all states large and small and to prohibit the larger states from being the 800 pound gorillas when it came to determining the President to represent all. It gives voice to states like Missouri whose population is dwarfed by states like California and New York.
The idea termed “concurrent majority” by John C Calhoun (h/t Ron Calzone) – represents the intent of the electoral college. This is the concept that prevents the tyranny of the majority over the minority. It’s an important check and balance wisely placed in our Constitution by the Founders.
The Founding Fathers studied various forms of governing as they were developing our Constitution. They discovered that pure democracies didn’t last long and imploded as a result of that form of government. They very carefully chose and constructed a republic for the government structure for our country. We have seen that when we tinker with the design that they spent so much time and effort to develop – we get very poor results that have not served our country well.
We need only look to the last time we did a popular vote measure – the 17th Amendment for proof that the original design was brilliant. The Founding Fathers designed the US House to be the popular voice of the people and the US Senate to be a voice of the states. That’s why members of the House are elected by the people in their districts and members of the Senate were to be appointed by state legislatures. We see that our modern “wisdom” in changing this grand design has resulted in a US Senate that functions different than the US House but essentially operates similarly – they all worry about raising enough money to get enough votes to get elected or re-elected. This does not result in the Founder’s original intent of the Senate representing the interests of the states.
The chief sponsor of the National Popular Vote bill was one of my interns when I was Budget Chairman. Every day he saw the sign on my desk that read “What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right”. The National Popular Vote may be popular but it certainly isn’t right for our country!