You hate third party candidates now? Try competing without the Electoral College.
I wouldn’t call our Founding Fathers perfect, but man did they leave us one of the greatest documents penned in the English language. Their brilliance provided America not only with the Bill of Rights, but with the Electoral College.
Grumbles about the Electoral College have existed for a long time, but after President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, its elimination shot to the top of the Democrats list of issues in their campaigns.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren proclaimed her wish to abolish the Electoral College at a recent town hall, but I don’t think she’s given it much thought to the mess this would create.
Before I dive into the importance of the Electoral College, let’s look at Warren’s remarks. She told CNN’s Jake Tapper:
“I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and makes sure that vote gets counted,” she told a CNN town hall in Jackson — noting presidential candidates didn’t tend to campaign in states like Mississippi, which are not Electoral College battlegrounds. “And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”
The pact would only go into effect if enough states sign on to pledge the 270 electoral votes necessary to win a presidential election. With the addition of Colorado last week, states with a combined total of 181 electoral votes have committed to the pact.
Critics of a national popular vote argue that the Electoral College ensures presidential candidates won’t focus on major population centers like the East and West coasts, where voters skew Democratic.
The criticism has some basis in the fact that the Democratic candidate for president has won the popular vote in four out of the last five general elections but has lost the presidency in two of those races.
Importance of the Electoral College
Did anyone pay attention to civics in school? This isn’t rocket science.
I hear that heavy populated states would choose the presidents as the main argument to keep the Electoral College, but another argument trumps (no pun intended) that one.
Without the Electoral College, we’d end up like Europe and other places with parliaments.
People already hate third party candidates, but the two major parties would hate them more without the Electoral College. You think those candidates cause spoilers now? They’ll face even more disappointment. Peter J. Wallison explained at RealClearPolitics:
In the election of 1992, Bill Clinton received a majority of electoral votes and was the duly elected president, despite the fact that he received only a plurality (43 percent) of the popular votes. A third party candidate, Ross Perot, received almost 19 percent. In fact, Bill Clinton did not win a majority of the popular vote in either of his elections, yet there was never any doubt—because he won an Electoral College majority—that he had the legitimacy to speak for the American people.
This points to the reason why the Electoral College should remain as an important element of our governmental structure. If we had a pure popular vote system, as many people who are disappointed with the 2016 outcome are now proposing, it would not be feasible—because of third party candidates—to ensure that any candidate would win a popular majority. Even in 2016, for example, although Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, she only received a plurality (48 percent)—not a majority; third party candidates took the rest.
If we abandoned the Electoral College, and adopted a system in which a person could win the presidency with only a plurality of the popular votes we would be swamped with candidates. Every group with an ideological or major policy interest would field a candidate, hoping that their candidate would win a plurality and become the president.
There would candidates of the pro-life and pro-choice parties; free trade and anti-trade parties; pro-immigration and anti-immigration parties; and parties favoring or opposing gun control—just to use the hot issues of today as examples.
People forget that Hillary only received 48% of the popular vote, not 50% and above. In other words, she did not receive the majority of the popular vote. In 2000, Al Gore received 48.38% of the popular vote.
Without the Electoral College, we could end up with a president who only had 25% of the vote. Wallison points out that the government could add a run-off amendment, which means the top two or three candidates would hold another election:
Of course, we could graft a run-off system onto our Constitution; the two top candidates in, say, a 10-person race, would then run against one another for the presidency. But that could easily mean that the American people would have a choice between a candidate of the pro-choice party and a candidate of the pro-gun party. If you thought the choice was bad this year, it could be far worse.
A mess. An absolute mess. These Democrats have to think long and hard before they shout from mountain tops stupid ideas just to appease the feels of some people.
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