David Broder is right to raise questions about a new, foolish attempt to circumvent the Electoral College process for electing presidents. The heart of the proposed approach:
The National Popular Vote Plan, as it is known, has passed both houses of the Maryland legislature and is headed for signing by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The scheme, invented by John R. Koza, a Stanford professor, relies on the provision of the Constitution giving legislatures the power to “appoint” their presidential electors. If legislatures in enough states to make up a majority of the electoral college — 270 electoral votes — pledge to commit those votes to the candidate winning the national popular vote, no constitutional amendment is needed. [Former Senator Birch] Bayh and other high-minded individuals, such as former Illinois Republican representative John B. Anderson, a one-time independent presidential candidate, support the plan, arguing that it is a perfect expression of 21st-century democracy, while the electoral college is a relic of 18th-century thought.
There are many issues arguing against going to a national popular vote, whether directly or indirectly as put forth here. I’m not going to address them, but I’ll point you in the smart direction. Read Kip’s analysis of the District Method. (Thread here.) He explains it perfectly.
To the plan under consideration, what state would be so stupid as to give its votes away like this? Aside from Maryland, of course. Is it so hard to believe that Maryland could vote for one candidate while the rest of the nation could vote for another? This may count as some perverted form of solidarity, but it’s not an American principle.
The founders devised the Electoral College to avoid such lunacy. We should not be running towards such lunacy.
3 thoughts on “Mob rule is anti-American.”
The District method is a terrible idea, and would exclude even more Americans from meaningful participation in presidential selection. It would move us from a handful of battleground states to just a few dozen battleground districts — with greater incentive for our gerrymandered districts to be further distorted for partisan advantage in presidential elections.
That’s worse than today’s system.
Further, the district method would, in fact, make it *more* likely that no candidate (in a 3- or 4-way race) would win a majority of EC votes, thus invoking the indefensible “House Contingency” — which would ignore both the popular and electoral college votes. Yuck!
A national popular vote is the best solution to a presidential election system that makes voters in 2/3 of states irrelevant. Either the NPV state-based plan (or even better, a constitutional amendment with a majority requirement, perhaps with instant-runoff voting), would re-engage millions of Americans in our national elections.
As a small “d” democrat, I think that can only be good for responsive government and sensible public policy.
Gerrymandered districts is a different beast, and one that needs to be addressed more, just for good measure.
As to a national popular vote, politicians would visit and worry about only a handful of markets. Arguably that’s little different than today, but that’s because they’re fighting over swing states. Not perfect, but better than strictly population-based. With the District method, politicians could address the needs of groups within currently uncontested states.
I like the Electoral College because it puts a check on majoritarianism. We are a republic, not a democracy, so we need checks on the power of the majority to trample the minority. The EC addresses that.
The Constitution already acts as a check on “majoritarianism” or mob rule. We don’t need another one.
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