The Electoral College comes under fire once again

  • 10 October 2018
  • NormanL

As the left surveys the damage it did to the Senate confirmation process, one of its early takeaways is that the whole process is rigged in favor of less populous, Republican-leaning states. Their answer...the same one they trotted out after Hillary Clinton's loss in 2016: do away with the Electoral College. From Reason magazine, we get this:

...some Democrats are turning their fire on the idea that each state should be equally represented in the upper chamber of Congress. "The idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change," NBC national security reporter Ken Dilanian tweeted.

Others, like GQ correspondent Julia Ioffe, took issue with the Electoral College, which allowed Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump to place four justices on the Court, even though Bush and Trump lost the popular vote in 2000 and 2016, respectively.

We would expect the Democrats' media handmaidens to pick up the argument. But they are hardly the only ones backing the concept. Hillary is on board, as is Democratic Socialist darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

"I passionately believe it's time to abolish the Electoral College," Hillary Clinton wrote in The Atlantic last month. Clinton's view isn't surprising. After all, she earned nearly 3 million more votes than Trump in 2016, but still lost.

In their criticisms of the Electoral College, Ocasio-Cortez and Clinton fail to grapple with the reason we have such a system in the first place. By preventing the majority from getting its way all the time, the Electoral College ensures that views from every part of the nation are represented. That way, those in high-population states with large cities aren't the only ones who have a say.

Which is by design, as students of the Constitution and its history already know. But understanding the Constitution is well beyond the abilities of many in the media, and certainly of many in politics. But let's assume they get their wish and, after a long, perilous fight to amend the Constitution, the left changes the Senate's representation. Would it solve their current problems? Hardly. It just might create entirely new ones they never saw coming:

Abolishing the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote–based system might also have some unexpected results. Clinton won the popular vote in large part due to her margins in New York and California, where Republicans knew their votes didn't matter. Changing the system might motivate some of those Republicans who stayed home on Election Day to come out of the woodworks. Texas Democrats might do the same. It's impossible to know who would have won in 2016 absent the Electoral College, as both parties—to say nothing of both campaigns—would've likely had very different strategies.

A much simpler response for Demcorats and their fellow travellers is to go out and win elections in those states they disdain so much. That's hard, uncomfortable, work. Easier to carp about flyover country's political power than actually find out why they aren't all that successful in those states.