Ever since Al Gore’s Electoral College loss to George W. Bush in 2000, and even more intensely since Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College loss to Donald Trump in 2016, my liberal friends and family members have been calling for the abolition of the Electoral College in favor of a “one-person, one-vote” approach.
The reason for their opposition to the Electoral College is, of course, obvious: In both instances, their preferred candidates had received the most popular votes, but nonetheless lost the election; and like voters in general, liberal voters want their candidates to win.
What’s less obvious is how Democrats’ and Progressives’ opposition to the Electoral College is a manifestation of their hypocrisy.
The most important function the Electoral College serves is, in theory, to make sure that the votes of communities, not just individuals, are represented. I say “in theory” because all except two states (Nebraska and Maine) have implemented a constitutionally-questionable “winner-take-all” policy by which the candidate who gets the most votes state-wide gets all of that states electoral vote, thus effectively disfranchising voters in small communities in favor of urban voters.
Nonetheless, even despite the winner-take-all perversion of the Founders’ intent that is in effect in 48 states and the District of Columbia, the EC still assures that smaller states’ votes receive fairer consideration in the national election. If the winner were chosen strictly by popular vote, on the other hand, the nine most populous states, which collectively have more than 51 percent of the nation’s population, could effectively nullify the votes of the remaining 41 states.
Perhaps even more importantly, in a system whereby nine states could choose the president, presidential candidates would have little reason to so much as visit the smaller states at all, much less care about or be responsive to their needs and concerns. Small states would effectively be ignored and disenfranchised as candidates concentrated all their efforts in the more-populous states.
And therein lies the hypocrisy: Liberals, who rail against Voter ID for fear of disenfranchising the nearly-nonexistent percentage of citizens who do not have government identification, don’t mind disenfranchising entire states if it furthers the Left’s political agenda.
It’s no secret that larger states tend to lean liberal, especially given the winner-take-all rules that tip states’ votes in favor of those of their largest cities, whose voters tend to be more liberal than those in rural areas. Abolishing the Electoral College would cause those smaller states’ votes to be effectively nullified by larger states’ votes. That’s okay with the Left, however, because it would suit their political purposes.
Another more subtle manifestation of hypocrisy is that the Left, who tend to emphasize the rights of communities more so than individuals, are eager to toss out the one institution that more than any other guarantees that communities, not just individuals, will have a voice in presidential elections.
Think about it. Liberals are really big on “public” programs. They support public schools over private ones, public transportation over private vehicles, and publicly-funded health care over private insurance. They view the Second Amendment as being a “collective” right rather than an individual right, and they advocate for exceptions to individual free speech rights when the feelings of some community may be hurt by politically-incorrect speech. In short, in nearly all of their positions, Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives emphasize the rights of communities over those of individuals.
But when it comes to the Electoral College, which emphatically defends the rights of communities to have their collective voices count in national elections, the Left becomes fiercely individualistic. “One-person, one-vote” is their mantra, despite the disenfranchising effect such a system would have on small communities and states.
In short, the Electoral College was a stroke of genius. It’s unfortunate that all but two states have chosen to pervert it in such a way as to nullify the votes of small communities within states in favor of those of urban centers within those states. But even that’s not enough for the Left. Now they want to eliminate the Electoral College altogether so they can dismiss the votes of all but the largest states entirely. Let’s hope they never succeed.