Democrats have been clamoring to get rid of the Electoral College for some time. The cries increased when Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election over the favored Hillary Clinton. They are louder and shriller now.
A recent editorial at The Washington Post declared, “Americans are not going to be satisfied with leaders who have been rejected by a majority of voters, and they’re right not to be. It’s time to let the majority rule.” The editor apparently forgot that the Founder had a reason for putting the Electoral College in the Constitution.
People who support the idea of doing away with the Electoral College are upset by the fact that a candidate can win the popular vote and lose the election. If the candidate with the most votes won the election, there would be no need for presidential candidates to deal with any states except New York, California, Florida, and Texas. The rest of the nation would not matter.
David Harsanyi published an article at The Daily Signal refuting The Washington Post editorial. He explained why the “popular vote” does not matter.
The fact that the Electoral College doesn’t align with the “popular vote” isn’t alarming. It is the point.
If the Electoral College synchronized with the outcome of the direct democratic national vote tally every election, it wouldn’t need to exist. It isn’t a loophole; it is a bulwark.
The Electoral College exists to diffuse the very thing the Post claims is most beneficial; namely, the “overbearing majority,” as James Madison put it.
If majoritarianism is truly always the best means of deciding an issue, then the Post would support a mere majority of states being able to overturn the First Amendment or decide abortion policy.
But if states still matter, then the Electoral College’s “virtues” are far stronger today, in an era when federalism is ignored and Americans are more likely to cluster in urban areas, than it was in the founding generation when Washington was largely powerless.
It is one of the institutions that makes a “democracy” tenable in a truly diverse and sprawling nation.
On the most basic level, the Electoral College helps compel presidents to govern nationally, rather than represent a handful of states. We saw it when former Vice President Joe Biden was forced to temper his positions on fracking and defunding the police because he had to appeal to those outside of urban areas.
If he is to be successful, Biden must govern in ways that are popular to diverse cultural and geographical areas – such as North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Arizona, and not just California and New York.
Harsanyi continued by explaining that Donald Trump could have spent all his time in California and New York if he had been running for the popular vote. He did not because the “election is geared toward winning states, not people.” He pointed out that the Electoral College is part of a system that “has been the most stable in the world.” He explained that most nations do not use the majority vote to elect their executives.