Wednesday, February 13, 2019

It's Past Time For The National Popular Vote (NPV) To Replace The Electoral College

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By now every manjack and his dog knows about the electoral dumpster fire that led to the madman swine now in power and befouling our land. In the end, the great Electoral College misfired by rubber stamping a know nothing, morally bankrupt stooge for a hostile foreign power, when it should have prevented that.

Worse, the resistance and supposed  'fail safe' check on Trump's ascension to power went out more with a whimper than a bang. This as all  efforts by anti-Trump activists to stop him reaching 270 electoral votes fell pathetically short. Activists who'd urged electors to back efforts led by academics (e.g. Prof. Lawrence Lessig) to cast their ballots at variance with the rubber stamping misfits in the states, were largely ignored. E.g.  "Our state was won by the Donald so we gotta give the votes to him!"

The system the Founders set up to protect the White House from being occupied by an agent of a foreign government was straightforward, Hamilton insisted. The choice of president would not “depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes.”  Instead, the Electoral College would be made up of “persons [selected] for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment.”

The electors would be apolitical because it would be illegal for a Senator or House member to become one.  Thus Hamilton wrote:
And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors.
This, Hamilton was certain, would eliminate “any sinister bias.”  Nice assumption but it didn't work out that way, and we've been left to ponder why. But more importantly it's necessary to ensure this farce never happens again. That's why we need to support the movement for a National Popular Vote (NPV) to eradicate an anachronism that no longer functions.  With the NPV in place state electors  pledge  their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote.  

Here one may inquire: How did Hamilton's original grand idea go so far south back in 2016? Basically,  a combination of too little will to overturn the Electoral College as a mere rubber stamp, and too little actual strategy. Specifically, I place the preponderance of blame on two factors: 1) A disorganized effort to thwart the fascists with too many distracting and unrealistic alternative choices, and 2) An unwillingness to rock the boat and just play it safe, especially among Republican state electors.  As for the much ballyhooed "Hamilton electors', they turned out to be more a myth than reality.  If a person had to, he might have counted them on one hand, if that.

The result was predictable: with only external protests erupting - as in Madison, WI-  so the morally  bankrupt Trump cakewalked to his official electoral victory as millions tuned in to updated tallies, aghast.  

Hamilton and James Madison originally had high confidence the Electoral College would function to stop a deranged maggot like Trump, with the morals to match, from gaining office. So that leads us to ask what the hell happened?  Basically neither Madison or Hamilton ever envisioned a day when a man so entangled in financial affairs with foreign governments as is Donald Trump could even be seriously considered, because (in their minds), the electors would carefully investigate the candidate. That hasn’t happened in over a century, so, by those standards, the electors totally failed in their job in the 2016 election.

Taking a stroll down American history lane we also understand that The Electoral College was a compromise designed to keep the president above political considerations, and sold to the public as a way to prevent an agent (witting or unwitting) of a foreign power from becoming president. We now see it has failed on both counts.

Tracking back to the beginning we can even put the more direct source of our current  electoral morass on a bastardized element of the Constitution - a poison pill if you will -  called  Three-Fifths Compromise.  Because of the Three-Fifths Compromise (found in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution,):

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."
The Electoral College thereby handed the White House to four Virginia slaveholders among our first five presidents. Since that compromise has been eliminated, it continues to wreak havoc, i.e. in having put George W. Bush and Donald Trump into officeEach state was then awarded the same number of presidential electors as it has legislators (senators plus representatives), applying the outcome of the compromises to the presidential race. After some debate, the Founding Fathers left it to each state’s legislature to decide how to award its electoral votes — a power that has been confirmed repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Currently, 48 of 50 states, including Colorado, have a winner-take-all model. This means if a majority of Colorado voters fill in a bubble on their ballot for, say, Beto O'Rourke, all the state’s electoral votes are awarded to his electors. Presumably, those electors cast a ballot for Beto. In fact, in some states, including Colorado, state law requires they do so. (In some other states, however, electors are not “pledged” and may decide to vote for another candidate, though such a move remains rare.  But this is what the activist effort in 2016 to prevent Trump's ascension was based upon.)

The winner-take-all model is so ingrained in our culture that calls to change it are often painted as unAmerican, but winner-take-all isn’t in the Constitution, nor has the Electoral College always functioned that way. In fact, only three states cast their votes winner-take-all style in the country’s first election, and a little more than a decade later, every state dropped the system. 

States adopted winner-take-all laws again starting in the 1800s in an effort to have a greater influence on elections. That led to a domino effect that has now swept up every state except Maine and Nebraska.

In 2016, despite a massive increase in support for the Electoral College by Republicans following Trump’s win, Gallup found that most Americans preferred amending the Constitution to do away with the College rather than keeping the current system, 49 to 47 percent.   This polling has paved the way for the National Popular Vote (NPV) movement today - as people realize we cannot have another clusterfuck such as transpired in 2016.  We do not need yet another Bob Woodward effort such as 
Fear: Trump in the White House  to remind us how bad things can get if the wheels of democracy fly off.

Before the NPV, it was generally assumed that ditching the Electoral College would take a constitutional amendment, which must be either approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the states or proposed by a Constitutional Convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures and approved by three-fourths of the states. (Notably, ditching equal state representation in the Senate, on the other hand, requires the consent of every state.) 

But NPV gets around the amendment process by using an interstate compact — an agreement amongst states. It’s the brainchild of Dr. John Koza, who created a board game about the Electoral College when he was a young man (it never really took off) and authored the book, Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote. Now the chair of NPV, Koza had a career with the lottery, where he dealt with interstate compacts, and taught for a time at Stanford University.

Let's also note there is a logical basis for changing to the NPV. Namely, that the respective party nominees then have to go throughout the country campaigning to win voters, as opposed to cherry picking a minority  of states. To grasp my point just look now at how presidential candidates campaign in battleground states, or how gubernatorial candidates campaign.

Doubt the  rhetoric about the importance of battleground states in the current system?  Then  consider this: The NPV campaign found general election events really only happen in battlegrounds. In 2012, for instance, 12 states saw almost all the general election campaign events.  Of 253 events, Ohio saw 73, Florida 40, Virginia 36, and Iowa 27. In 2016, the NPV claims, 94 percent of general campaign events were held in 12 battleground states.   This, my friends, is absurd. 

As one Colorado State Senator put it:  “We should elect the president of the United States, not the president of the battleground states.”

Under a National popular vote,  every vote would count in every state, and every vote in every state would thus be worth courting.  Currently, Republican presidential candidates aren’t even trying to win the popular vote right now; they’re trying to win the Electoral College.  

Instead of this perfidy it's time for a truly rational system, the National Popular Vote.  It returns the ideal of one man, one vote, and has state electors  pledging  their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote .   This mechanism would introduce finally a fail safe mechanism to preventing a minority faction  of deplorables from enacting their rage against the rest of us.  

That includes the current gaggle of buffoons - such as at Trump's rally in El Paso two nights ago - wearing red MAGA hats and chanting nutso bollocks that would embarrass a vociferous chimp. Instead of seeing this spectacle repeated over and over we could again take control of the nation's future direction and halt a travesty of destructive minority rule.    

In this case a minority of  morons and imbeciles who believe anything their mutant twit says - even that an invisible wall has already been erected at the border.  The danger triggered by this faction is that their virus of practiced and proud ignorance - including reinforcement by Trump's incessant lies- can metastasize to the normal populace and begin to convert segments into dumkopfs as well.  See e.g.

by Henry Giroux | February 14, 2019 - 7:17am | permalink
— from Truthout

Update:  As reported in The Denver Post (2/14, p. 8 A) the Colorado House Committee has now passed the resolution to implement the NPV here in Colorado.  

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