It's not what you don't know that can hurt you; it's what you think you know that just ain’t so that will kill you. Time has taught me that this piece of “country” wisdom is as important as any in the pursuit of public policy. Ignorance based on false facts is deadly in public policy.
Take the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact as an example. The National Popular Vote plan is an interstate compact in which the compacting states agree to award their electoral votes to the person who gets the most votes in all 50 states. It is based on Art. I, Sec. 2 of the Constitution which grants state legislatures the plenary (and exclusive) power to award electors, and the founders’ expectation that states would use that power to maximize their influence in the selection of the president.
The first thing I hear, when the proposal is presented, is that “California is so big, it will run the country” (mainly because I am from California) if the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact takes effect. My conservative friends use California as an example of “what not to do” when it comes to public policy, and so, if California is going to run the country under the state statutes implementing the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, then, they say, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is dangerous.
It is true, California is large but even as big as it is, it is still only about 12% of the entire US population. In elections, 88% beats 12% every time.
As important, there are 5 million Republicans in California. That is a larger number of Republicans than 47 other states. In 2016, Donald Trump received 4,685,047 votes in Texas. He received 4,605,515 votes in Florida. He received 4,483,810 votes in California. What does this mean? Given the winner take all rule in effect in each of these states, the Republican votes in Texas and California didn’t mean a thing. Only the Republican votes in Florida mattered.
I get it. I am a Californian. We think we are the most significant state in the Union. If things don't go the way the leftists in California believe they ought to go, these leftists throw a temper tantrum. But the truth is, as a California conservative, I am the most irrelevant voter in the country. Presidential candidates come to California, collect $130 million from the wealthiest Californians, and disappear. My neighbors and I, who cannot afford to donate to campaigns, never see or hear from those candidates again. The candidates don't care what we think.
If we move to a National Popular Vote system, at least I can join up with Republicans in Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, and 46 other states, to cancel out the Democrats here in California. In the days when California was a battleground state, Republicans would get at least 25% more votes than Republican registrations. In 2016, Trump’s vote was 20% below Republican registration in California. That is a swing of almost 2 million votes. Ask Californians for their vote, and they vote Republican. Ignore them, and the Democrats win big.
Under the National Popular Vote plan, California’s left would not take over the country. There are a lot of conservatives in California. We are the birthplace of Reaganism. We would fight for every vote. With help, we can beat the left.
I want my vote to count. I want Donald Trump to come to California and inspire the conservative movement in California, just like he has in the battleground states across the country. Conservatives here in California need reinforcements. Instead of having our votes restricted to our borders, we need to join with our brothers in arms in other states to defeat the left throughout the country, including here in California. That is why I support the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and that is why America needs the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Ray Haynes is a former National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council. He serves as a senior consultant to National Popular Vote.