Popular vote proposal buries rural America

Freedom New Mexico

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to sign legislation promoting a concept known as the National Popular Vote will give impetus to a troubling national movement that seeks to undermine the nation’s Electoral College and replace it with a system at odds with what the founders envisioned.

Americans were reminded of the inner workings of the arcane Electoral College after the bizarre 2000 presidential contest between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. Gore won more votes nationwide than Bush, but Bush ultimately won the election — after recounts and legal battles — because the president is selected by electors in each state. The nation’s presidential election is, in essence, a system of 50 state elections and not a national popularity contest.

If a sufficient number of states pass similar legislation, the nation would shift from this indirect system of electing presidents to a national popularity contest that would shift power from the more conservative heartland to the major coastal urban centers. That no doubt explains why Brown and many liberal activists are promoting this idea.

Without the Electoral College, candidates would spend almost all their time and resources in the nation’s large urban areas, where most of the voters live. That would undermine the national nature of the election, which is why the system was designed as it is now. But California politicians, and Democrats, in particular, do not like the way the system dilutes the influence of our state.

One obvious first question: Would the nation really benefit from a national election that focused on more populated states? To avoid going through the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution, these supporters have come up with a convoluted idea.

States would enter into a compact by passing laws that would do the following, according to the organization advocating the process:

“Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a president (270 of 538).”

This approach seems to be legal under the Constitution, but it clearly is an affront to the spirit of the nation’s founding documents, which eschewed majoritarianism. The constitutional issues loom large, as do the practical consequences of the change. The Republican National Committee voted overwhelmingly against the idea this month.

Shawn Steel, a former state Republican Party chairman, explained a key reason for this vote in a recent Flashreport.org column: “If states no longer control who gets elected, then it’s a simple matter of massing votes from corrupt urban areas. No longer would 50 states matter, but only huge urban regions would control. New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago would push the vote. Chicago’s notorious fraudulent cemetery voters would no longer be confined to Illinois.

“Instead Chicago alone would bury the Midwest,” he wrote.

The views of all Americans matter, in states large and small. The Electoral College accounts for that. It’s time California buries the National Popular Vote idea.