(By Gary Greeno) America’s voters should pick America’s president, we’re told – and it sounds logical. Why shouldn’t the top vote-getter across this broad land be declared the winner of the White House? That’s the superficially appealing argument for something called NPV, the national popular vote concept. What’s wrong with it? Plenty.
To understand why, you have to go back and start with the wisdom of the founders who created our constitution. One of the big issues of that day--and today--is the danger that pure democracy would cause the majority to trample on the rights of the minority. “Dictatorship of the majority,” it’s called. Hamilton, Madison, and the other founders were well aware of such dangers.
So to keep the election of the president from the dictatorship of the majority, they invented the Electoral College, the body that really elects the president. They did not want the president to be elected by a majority of the people, nor by a majority vote of the members of the US House, all of whom are elected by popular vote.
If such were to happen, minority interests would not be respected. Modern example: Obamacare – jammed though with no opposition votes when both houses of Congress and the President were controlled by one party.
To preserve a balance of power between states whose population entitled them to more representatives than less populated states, the Electoral College with its weighted voting was adopted for the election of the president.
When you vote for president, you actually vote for that candidate’s electors who are pledged to vote for that candidate. Each candidate gets a slate of electors equal to the number of federal representatives that state is entitled to (2 senators plus the allotted number of representatives for that state) The candidate who wins the popular vote in that state gets the votes of its electors – all of them unless the state has passed a proportionality rule.
In this way, the states with less population are able to have a somewhat greater influence on the outcome and thus reduce the danger of a dictatorship of the majority. The founders were all about checks and balances.
Should 57 counties trump 3084?
The electors meet after the election and cast their votes which are recorded and sent to the US Congress who counts the vote and declares the winning candidate who gets at least 270 electoral votes (one more than half the total of 538) as President. In 2016, Donald Trump won 304 electoral votes, and Hillary Clinton won 234.
Votes in the United States are accumulated by county. Some large cities are considered counties (City and County of Denver or made up of more than one county e.g. Boroughs of New York City). County totals then are added to determine state totals.
So who won the most counties last time? Trump, with 3084. How many counties did Hillary win? Just 57. Wow! Then how did she get almost three million more popular votes than Trump?
Just the state of New York would account for more than half the difference. There are 62 counties in New York. Trump won 46 of them, Hillary won 16. There are 5 counties (Boroughs) that make up New York City. Staten Island, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Clinton won 4 of them, Trump won Staten Island.
But – out of those 5 counties in New York City, Clinton won well over 2 million more votes than Trump in those 5 counties. This alone represents two-thirds of her nationwide vote margin.
Consider that these 5 counties are a total of just 319 square miles, whereas the United States totals over 3 million 797 thousand square miles. If presidential elections were determined by popular vote, our whole country would in effect be under the control of New York City (less than one ten-thousandth of the land area) and possibly one other large Democrat-controlled city.
The party of big cities & free stuff
New York City’s population is twice that of Los Angeles and three times that of Chicago. All are controlled by Democrats. Such control seems to extend into the state in which the city resides. Thus California, Illinois, and New York are all run by Democrats. As of this January, the State of Colorado has also come under across-the-board control of Democrats.
The Democratic Party, in turn, is increasingly under the control of Leftist ideology (Socialists). And their tactics are increasingly aligned with those of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”.
Respect for differing viewpoints seems to be disappearing. Senator Cory Gardner and his family and others have been run out of restaurants recently by Leftists. To counter that, Republicans are tending to swing towards more conservative, confrontational views as well, but the power of conservative views is more dispersed, more diluted.
Big cities are generally controlled by Democrats. Why is that? My opinion is that there is more “free stuff”; food stamps, tuition, low cost housing, welfare, etc. Governments and charities tend to give out “free stuff”.
Governments are supported by taxes and charities are supported by donations. And there are groups of like-minded people such as unions, some big businesses (GM, Solar, Universities, Public Schools etc.) and poor people who are dependent on “free stuff”. Power to tax is given by voters to governments, so voters in big cities give power to city governments so they can continue to get “free stuff”. (Sounds pretty simplistic doesn’t it.) Taxes are generally higher in large cities because of the need to pay for the “free stuff”.
So, we have an increasing need to preserve the rights of the minority, those who reside outside of the influences of big urban centers with their concentrated populations, so that those who don’t want “free stuff” can continue to retain the ability to pay for their “own stuff”.
Rural areas cover 97 percent of the nation’s land area but contain barely 19 percent of the population (about 60 million people)– clearly a threatened minority.
NPV: Minority out of luck
This brings us to NPV. The intended function of the Electoral College in helping preserve the rights of the minority is under attack in Colorado and other states by the Democrats. Already, 11 other states plus the District of Columbia (3 electoral votes) have adopted legislation that would require their 172 electoral votes to be cast for the candidate who wins the 50-state popular vote.
Once enough states agree to this to the point where their electoral votes would equal or exceed 270 votes, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would kick in and the Electoral College would be no more.
Only the adherence of states with 98 additional electoral votes is now needed to trigger the compact. Colorado with its 9 electoral votes is in process of adhering to the compact via Senate Bill 42, now on track to passage by the ruling Democrats.
Other states with bills pending to join the compact (Arizona, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, and Virginia) would bring the tally of pledged electoral votes to 94.
Only one more state thereafter, and the Electoral College--though still nominally imbedded in our constitution--would be functionally out of business.
And what are the consequences? The popular votes of a few large metropolitan areas would determine the presidency forever after.
Majority rules from then on, like it or not. Minority: out of luck.
Do you want to live in that kind of America? I don’t!
Gary Greeno (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Colorado Springs