Monday, December 15, 2008


God save the electoral college

Every few months we have to endure some unlearned dipshit -- nine times out of ten it's a left-wing unlearned dipshit -- who wants to scrap the electoral college. The latest is Jonathan Soros, son of George Soros, in the Wall Street Journal. You can read Soros Jr.'s ill-thought and unlearned musing here.

My two cents 'bout the electoral college:

Far from being archaic, the electoral college is a crucial part of our Republic's machinery for combining democracy with constitutionalism and the rule of law. Indeed, as the Claremont Institute's Charles Kesler opined during the 2000 election imbroglio, "[The electoral college] ensures that the president will be chosen not by a plebiscitary majority but by a constitutional one, distributed by states and moderated by the need to accommodate a variety of interests and viewpoints."

Liberal bellyaching about the electoral college didn't start until it, well, worked. As you may recall, in the months leading up to the 2000 presidential election, many pundits were predicting that George W. Bush would win the popular vote and Al Gore would prevail in the electoral count. When the exact opposite occurred (we all know the story by now), Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and other lefties began calling for the abolition of the electoral college. We were then treated to months of liberal bellyaching about how democracy had been subverted and such. Far from being subverted, our nation's particular brand of democracy had worked just as the founders had envisioned.

To appreciate the electoral college's relevancy - nay, necessity - in these modern times, one need only examine a county-by-county map from the 2000 election. The famous red/blue map reveals a sea of Bush-red counties, while Al Gore's support is concentrated in a select number of large metropolitan areas. The electoral college ensured in 2000 - and again in 2004 - that the overwhelmingly liberal voters who live in and around Boston, New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angles, and San Francisco did not trump "majority" America's interests.

That said, during the 2008 election Barack Obama campaigned vigorously, and spent millions of dollars running TV ads, in Indiana and North Carolina ... and he narrowly won the electoral votes of both states. If the electoral college didn't exist, ain't no way Obama and/or Joe Biden (remember him?!) would've made 20+ appearances in the Hoosier State. Indeed, the Obama campaign did electoral math, and they decided to put megabucks into a state with (a) a traditional Republican tradition and (b) a "largest city" that's smaller than Jacksonville, Florida.

You know, Soros says eliminating the electoral college will ensure "national" elections. But is an election in which a president is more or less chosen by the folks living in a half-dozen or so cities really a "national" election? If the electoral college disappeared tomorrow, is there any doubt that liberal politicians would dump millions and millions of dollars into coastal megalopolises directing anyone and everyone - even those who've not the slightest clue what "three branches of government" means - to the polls?!

Finally, I often recommend Dr. George Grant's The Importance of the Electoral College to those who express interest in the subject. Methinks Jonothan Soros needs to pick up a copy as well. Here are two of my favorite passages:

"Direct popular election of the president was rejected by the Framers because it failed to protect the states from the intrusion of massed centralized forces. They reasoned that a pure democracy was more easily corrupted than a federal republic. It would essentially eliminate state borders and state prerogative, and whenever more centralized government directly governs the people, they thought that there was likely to be more opportunity for corruption. And electing the president by the Legislative or Judicial branches would violate the separation of powers. Thus, the federal solution was to elect the president by a balanced representation of the States and the people. Electors, independent from either the states or the national government, were elected in accordance with standards established by the State legislatures, and the electors then elected the president. This federal approach carefully avoided direct dependency upon either the states or the people, but kept both represented in the process. Giving each State the number of electors as they have representatives in Congress was also in harmony with this balance."

Grant explains further: "The federal nature of the American Constitutional covenant enables the nation to function as a republic - thus specifically avoiding the dangers of a pure democracy. Republics exercise governmental authority through mediating representatives under the rule of law. Pure democracies on the other hand exercise governmental authority through the imposition of the will of the majority without regard for the concerns of any minority - thus allowing law to be subject to the whims, fashions, and fancies of men. The Founders designed federal system of the United States so that the nation could be, as John Adams described it, a ‘government of law, not of men.'"

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