A few Democrat candidates have expressed dislike for the Electoral College, but they have not yet made abolishing it a major plank in their campaigns – that is, except for South Bend, Indiana Mayor Peter Buttigieg. He says it is “undemocratic” and it is time for it to go. In making a major issue of the Electoral College, Buttigieg is yet another Democrat that is following the agenda set by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her colleagues now known as “the squad.”
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes – who tries his best to make left-wing gibberish sound intellectual – sees the Electoral College in a different light. On a recent broadcast, Hayes said this (and be ready for an incredible bit of progressive intellectualism). He said: “The weirdest thing about the electoral college is the fact that if it wasn’t specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional.”
Allow me to repeat that again. “The weirdest thing about the electoral college is the fact that if it wasn’t specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional.” How is one supposed to respond to that bit of genius?
Buttigieg’s sudden interest in this outlier issue may be since all the really big issues have become the proprietary property of candidates who have the support of more than five percent of the Democrat voters. It may also be since Buttigieg appears to not know the genius of the Electoral College and what it is designed to do – or better yet, to prevent.
And finally, it may have been motivated by the lawsuit in Colorado in which the Federal Appellate Court followed the Constitution in declaring that Elector Michael Baca had the right to vote for ANYONE he chose. While he was elected as a Hillary Clinton elector, he decided to cast a write-in vote for Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich. These folks are known as “faithless electors” – but it is not illegal. It has been done in many elections in the past. That is how the system works. It has never changed the outcome of an election.
You will recall how the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement tried to persuade a number of Trump electors to cast votes for Clinton – or someone else – hoping to either get Clinton elected or at least take away the Trump majority and throw the decision to the Democrat-controlled House.
Buttigieg is technically correct on one point. The Electoral College IS undemocratic. That is because we are not a pure democracy, but rather a democratic Republic. We govern through the elections of others who represent us and make the governmental decisions on our behalf.
We have the Electoral College for several reasons. First, it is a ballast that spreads the power of the people over a broader geography. Without it, just a hand full of states could effectively render the vast majority of states – and the people in them – powerless in picking presidents. The Electoral College gives a voice to all states in selecting the nation’s Chief Executive.
It is the same reason each state elects representatives by district instead of at-large, as we do with the two senators from each state. If we only elected our representative in the House at large, the major cities would effectively disenfranchise the small towns and rural areas.
The major benefit of the Electoral College is preventing America from falling into political and constitutional crisis. As the theory goes, it is far better to be governed by a legitimate President than to have the presidency in doubt for months – and even years.
In those cases where the winner of the popular vote was counted out in the Electoral College, they are always very, very close elections. Neither the winner nor the loser of the popular vote has a clear mandate from the people. As we often see, close elections are settled by recounts and court cases – sometimes lasting for months and years.
While we tend to favor having the person who gets the most votes serve in office – seems only fair. The benefit of the Electoral College is that it settles the most important single election in time for the inauguration of a legitimate President.
Consider the alternative.
Without the Electoral College the presidential elections of 2000 – in which former Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote, but Governor George Bush prevailed in the Electoral College – and 2016 – in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but businessman Donald Trump carried the necessary majority of the Electoral College.
Without the Electoral College, both of those elections could have remained in doubt as multiple recounts would be undertaken in several states and hundreds of court cases would have been filed to influence every recount. The process would have been tied up in the courts for months and even years. America would have been without a legitimate President in the meantime.
Who would have the authority of the presidency? Yes, one person would have had the popular vote lead on elections night, but all those challenges would have put that lead in doubt. We have seen congressional races go back and forth and recounts and court challenges ensued. In the meantime, that seat in the Senate or the House remained vacant. There was no legitimate representative to swear into office.
One absent senator among the one hundred members of the upper chamber is no threat to the Republic – and the same is even more true if one or two seats in the 435-member House are vacant. But, the President?
With the election unsettled, would the outgoing President just hang in until the thing is settled? There is no provision for that.
In such a situation, any bill signed or vetoed by the person claiming the presidency would be essentially null and void. The Balance of Power between the three co-equal branches would collapse. No presidential Executive Orders would be valid. There could be no treaties or trade agreements. Every power of the interloping President would be in doubt and his every action would be unenforceable.
There would be no President to make appointments. None of the members of the Cabinet would be legitimate. The authority to impose or eliminate regulations would no longer exist.
It would be a constitutional crisis of unimaginable proportions.
Following the 2000 election, we saw numerous recounts and legal challenges being fought out in the courts UNTIL the election was legally and constitutionally settled by the Electoral College. There is no good reason to abolish the ability of the electors to settle an election – and a lot of good reasons to prevent Buttigieg & Co. from doing so.
So, there ‘tis.