Third Party & Independents Archives

The President-Elect and the Electoral College: Don't Speak

How does this sound? Prime Minister Pence left the parliamentary sessions in a rush and avoided reporters on his quick car ride back to Number One, Observatory Circle. President Trump was in London, and did not respond to questions from the gathered journalists on the hold-ups to the tax reform legislation Prime Minister Pence has been trying to push through Parliament.

You see, when you dismantle the Electoral College and joyfully quickmarch to a popular vote, what's to stop the reformist zeal from going further? Why not go whole hog and adopt the French Constitution? With Le President and Le Premier Ministre. Or dispense with the President altogether, and have a Prime Minister and a Parliament. Like the U.K. Or Canada. How about once again becoming - after 240 years - subjects of the monarch: Queen Elizabeth the 2nd?

So what was President-elect Trump thinking when he stated to journalists from the NYT that he would prefer a popular vote? At least according to tweets from NYT's Maggie Haberman.

Yes, Trump has criticized the Electoral College in past years. On Twitter of course. And he is far from the only critic of the stately and elegant institution that the founders put in place over 200 years ago. One that has provided far more political stability and continuity over the last nearly two and a half centuries, than in France. For example. Heck, over the last 75 years. How many republics has France gone through?

America is divided. Deeply so. And evenly so. More evenly so than any pollster had imagined a few short weeks ago. So winning the popular vote while losing the Electoral College was always a very real possibility. As Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight continually warned, to his credit. Because of the geography of America's urban-rural and coastal-flyover divides, popular voting for the presidency would tend to favor the more liberal coastal areas, while under-representing flyover country and coastal rural areas. Compared to the Electoral College.

But can one be sure that dismantling the Electoral College would produce the progressive elites' now-shattered dream of demographics as destiny? If you believe in identity politics, then you stubbornly insist on this, as the more radical, younger Clinton supporters do. But people don't always respond kindly to the labels that elites slap on them. Rubio was and is right that there is more potential Hispanic and Latino support for GOP candidates than professors at Oberlin would have you believe. The election proved him right. And the slow and steady rising of African Americans taking their rightful place within the conservative movement is something liberal media tends to belittle, but any serious demographer should and does take note of.

If a popular vote was installed, campaigning would change and flyover country would be tragically ignored, save for places like Texas and Illinois. How voters would respond downticket to a popular vote at the top of the ticket, is hard to predict as well. And what further changes would be demanded is anybody's guess.

It would be foolhardy, therefore, to change the electoral system merely for the sake of perceived partisan gains at the top of the ticket. President-elect Trump should be careful about expressing his preference for the popular vote, because it chips away at the credibility of the Electoral College and deepens the divisions in America. Not a helpful thing for an incoming president.

Posted by AllardK at November 22, 2016 10:38 PM
Comments
Comment #410399

The electoral system shall remain the same.

No Clinton will be locked up and the foundation will remain.

There will be no wall and there will be less deportations.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not be repealed.

More poor people will get more free stuff.

America will, as always, be great.

Posted by: Speak4all at November 23, 2016 7:41 AM
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