By Nathan Barton
Two movements are currently underway that, if either is successful, will drastically change the way American government functions. For the worse.
I’ve written about one of these: the effort by Democrats in the current Congress to abolish the Electoral College. I believe that the chances of passing such a constitutional amendment are relatively small.
Now, let us consider another nasty movement. It is much farther along that the abolition effort, and with much more progress to date. It not a full frontal attack on the Constitution or its institutions, but rather more oblique, even insidious. And therefore perhaps both more dangerous and more likely to succeed.
It is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. One of their websites claims:
The National Popular Vote plan has bipartisan support and has been introduced in all 50 state legislatures. To date, 10 states and DC have passed legislation to enter the compact for a combined total of 165 electoral votes, meaning the compact is over 60% of the way to activation.
At least five more states have seen this diabolical plan passed in at least one chamber: Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The compact would be activated after they have states signatory with at least 270 votes in the Electoral College.Purp
Why do I call it diabolical?
Regardless of how the people of a state vote, the state government will order the electors for that state to vote for the candidates that win the most in the popular vote. Say South Dakota (as an example only) with its three electoral college votes and 300,000 voters, votes 90% for Orange Party candidate Smith and only 10% for the other four candidates on the ballot (Purple Party Jones, Pink Party Schmidt, Native Party Iron Thunder, and independent candidate White-Knight). And say that the national popular vote came out with 48,000,001 votes for Jones, 47,999,999 for Smith, 46,500,000 for White-Knight (and 2,000,000 for all the rest). South Dakota’s three electors would be ordered by the state government (presumably under threat of penalty of law) to vote for Jones, opposed by 90% of South Dakota’s voters. AND had nearly 70% of people nationwide who voted against him. (But he “won” with a plurality.)
The cockeyed logic the supporters of this compact use sounds pretty good on the surface.
Supposedly, this makes “every vote count.” And after all, we are told, we are a democracy, and democracy is good. In fact according to a lot of people) it is the only GOOD kind of government, and to be loved, honored, even worshiped. It is, as my title states, many people’s idol. We are told that instead of just a few (half-dozen to dozen) states deciding the race as battlegrounds in which the campaign is contested, all the states will get the benefits of hosting the candidates (and sharing in the bounty of election spending). We are told that it is unfair that South Dakota, with just 800,000 people, or Wyoming with 600,000, should have three votes while California with 50,000,000 people should have just 50 (or so) votes.
Claims like this ignore the reasons we have the government (or rather, the Constitution) that we do. As my parents were fond of reminding me (and we reminded our children), life is not fair. And we are not a democracy. The Fifty States (and the FedGov) were established as republics, with limited powers. And with safeguards against expanding those powers. Part of that was intended to preserve the sovereignty of the united States, each individually. Though that sovereignty has been greatly eroded, it is still an essential part of our federation of Fifty States. The idea that the expressed will of the citizens and voters of a State can be rendered null and void by the actions (votes) of people in other states is repugnant to a philosophy of liberty. Even though often breached, it is still important and has not been changed.
Secondly, there is nothing in the Constitution that guarantees that every vote is “equal.” The “increased” votes given to some states despite their small population were intended to offset their disadvantages compared to the larger states. If votes are supposed to be equal, the principle when fully applied could lead to a very chaotic situation, in local and state government.
Democracy all too often becomes a tyranny of the majority, and this would be a big step in that direction. A republic tempers elements of democracy by limiting power, not just of the government, but of the various parts of that government. People, especially in the heat of passion over issues, try to push limits, so that a republic degrades into a democracy and in turn into a rule by mob and emotions, leading to a situation that soon becomes dictatorship. And the headiness of victory leads to overconfidence and even meglomania on the part of the victors.
One particularly danger tendency is to constantly seek to do end runs around the Constitution. Flawed though it is, it is a bulwark against the evils of government. When you look at the list of supporters for this mad idea, you do find it to be bipartisan, but those who support it are more alike in their love of (and lust for) more government than not. When you look at the other people and organizations that support and sponsor this compact, you find them overwhelmingly neo-liberal (“Regressive” and Tranzi in many ways): the media, academia, and “progressive” institutions of all sorts.
And the supporters tell us “facts” with a lot of errors and even a few lies. Surprised?
What is the solution? Reduce the powers of government; return to a federal government of very limited and specific powers. Make the office of President less of a prize, and less essential to every political party, every interested party to every issue, and everyday life.
Restore liberty, and the “need” to “reform” the Electoral College through things like this will pretty much vanish.
(Ari Armstrong discusses the situation very well in his online article found here.)