The President is not just an expanded version of your Congressman. While the House of Representatives was established as an enclave for direct election, the Senate was originally elected by state legislatures, and the presidency was fashioned as an executive position (hence the name of that branch of government), filled by someone who would manage a federation of independent states, not a landscape of millions of individuals.
The realization that the Presidency is not like a race for your local school board is a gateway to dismissing the other arguments against indirect state-level election.
If it is an irritant that the voters in Wyoming may wield a sliver more per capita clout than the voters of California, there is comforting logic in realizing that this compels presidential candidates to build constituencies across a landscape of less populous states rather than just campaigning in our largest cities.
If it is discouraging that votes in solidly red or blue states seem lost in an ocean of foregone conclusion, there is inspiration to be found in the states that have changed from one party’s hands to another as political winds shift. The South was staunchly Democrat as the 1950s became the sixties. Wisconsin was a reliable blue state seemingly yesterday. A few states may change color before our eyes on Tuesday.
Red-state Democrats and blue-state Republicans are welcome to spark movements that lead to such change. Some succeed and some fail. But along the way, the votes of minority parties are not lost in a vacuum of obscurity.
Barack Obama walloped John McCain by 24 points in 2008. His lead over Romney in the Golden State appears to be roughly half of that, a potential leap of substantial significance.
Obama lost Texas by twelve points in 2008. An active state Democrat party, buoyed by changing demographics, is hungry to narrow the gap for future presidential races. That’s not likely next Tuesday, but after that, who knows? Varying margins of party domination are big news.
Changing our electoral system would require a constitutional amendment, a bar which is properly high. But there is mischief afoot by factions seeking to destroy the founders’ intent with a pernicious initiative called the National Popular Vote Bill.
It asks state voters to surrender their influence in a scheme by which a state’s electors would go to the candidate winning the national popular vote.
Sadly, from California to Illinois to New Jersey, it has passed in eight states and the District of Columbia, totaling 132 electoral votes.
If that total reaches 270, the Constitution is officially hijacked, our history and legacy dishonored. It is fairly depressing that voters in those states would be willing to forgo the clout afforded them at our nation’s birth for some subterfuge born of modern whim.
The bitter irony is that the forces behind this dark venture are using the engine of state’s rights to propel it. The Constitution allows states to determine electors in a manner of their choosing. if they choose this unwise path, they are free to do so.
A Democrat friend of mine predicts a Romney victory Tuesday, but only in the popular vote. He believes Obama will take the electoral vote, delivering sweet revenge for what he and other Gore voters had to swallow twelve years ago.
If that happens, I will be appropriately disheartened. But if my candidate loses the next six elections in the same way, you will never hear me lobby for the abolition of the Electoral College.
It is a part of the American fabric. It deserves to be explained and defended. For a while in my scatterbrained youth, I thought no more deeply than to say the presidency should go to the candidate with the most votes.
Much of the current push for change come from the left, fueled by the prospect of the Democrat votes that tend to spring from large population centers. But even if there were something about big-city life that made people vote Republican, I would be unswayed.
An opinion on this issue should not stem from individual political self-interest. It should flow from an appreciation for how the presidency was envisioned and established by the nation’s first stewards.
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