by William Teach | December 26, 2016 6:54 am
They just can’t move on. Can’t let go. Though, let’s face it, the Washington Post’s EJ Dionne is a bit late to this pity party. On the other hand, Democrats will surely be whining about the Electoral College for years to come. If they can still whine about Al Gore losing to George Bush legally in Florida 2000, well, they can whine about Hillary losing the election fair and square for at least till the next election
The electoral college is the worst of both worlds. It’s time for it to go.
It’s important for those who favor the popular election of our presidents to separate their arguments for direct democracy from the outcome of a particular contest.
That’ll never happen, and doesn’t happen in Dionne’s piece.
My colleague George F. Will’s recent column in defense of the electoral college offers an excellent opportunity to make a case that has nothing to do with the election of Donald Trump.
After all, Will, admirably and eloquently, insisted that Trump was unworthy of nomination or election. So our disagreement relates entirely to his insistence that we should stick with an approach to choosing presidents that, twice in the past 16 years, overrode the wishes of Americans, as measured by the popular vote.
Will brushes aside these outcomes. “Two is 40 percent of five elections, which scandalizes only those who make a fetish of simpleminded majoritarianism.”
But when is a belief in majoritarian democracy a “fetish” or “simpleminded,” and when is it just a belief in democracy? The current system makes a fetish of majoritarianism (or, to coin an awkward but more accurate word, pluralitarianism) at the state level, but it’s held meaningless nationally. Who is fetishizing what?
Of course, we do not have “majoritarian democracy” when it comes to election the president, we have federalism majoritarian, which is rather supposed to apply to the Senate, except for the passage of the odious 17th Amendment. At the state level, Democrats are whining incessantly about what the GOP majorities are doing, particularly here in North Carolina. They have a big problem when the majority runs roughshod over the minority.
Part of the answer, of course, is that majoritarianism or pluralitarianism are not fetishes at all. They are how we run just about every other election in our country. If the people get to choose the state treasurer or the county recorder of deeds by popular vote, why should they be deprived of a direct say in who will occupy the country’s most important office?
You can see where this is going. Dionne either has no idea how the Constitution works, or is intentionally being obtuse. And these whines continue for a while till we end with
But the question of how a democratic republic should work is not a game. Will says that the electoral college has “evolved” since the 18th century. Well, yes, we now have the worst of both worlds: The electoral college is no longer the deliberative body envisioned by the founders, but it still thwarts the wishes of the majority. Will does not explain why only “political hypochondriacs” think that the winner of the most votes should prevail. In the absence of one, we should complete our evolution toward democracy and elect our presidents directly.
At the end of the day, this is just Sore Loser Symphony. Had Hillary won the Electoral College but Trump won the popular vote, achieving the majority of that extra from, say, Texas, people like EJ would be extolling the virtues of the EC, telling us how great it is, and how the system worked to give States their votes. If Trump won and Hillary hadn’t gotten all those extra votes out of California, Democrats would have a different meme to Complainstorm. It’s what they do.
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.
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