Once again, a group of modern day revisionists have decided that they are far wiser than the geniuses who wrote the U.S. Constitution more than 220 years ago. They’ve decided that, if the tried and proven method our Founding Fathers gave us for selecting our national leaders is not entirely perfect, or (more importantly) if it doesn’t produce the sort of leaders who happen to agree with their liberal view of the way things ought to be, it must be because the Founders erred in creating the Electoral College.
An organization called National Popular Vote (NPV) has launched an effort to create a compact among states whose combined electoral votes represent a simple majority of the 538 votes in the Electoral College. Their goal is quite simple. If they can produce an agreement among states with a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes to automatically assign their electoral votes to the presidential/vice presidential slate receiving a plurality of the national popular vote, the Electoral College will then become meaningless.
Among liberals, the Electoral College has always been one of the least favorite institutions of our federal system. Liberals being what they are, they could never quite grasp the notion that under our system of government the states are supreme and that it is the states, not the citizens of the individual states, who select our national leaders. That concept is inimical to their desire for an all-powerful central government.
In spite of… or perhaps because of… the best efforts of legions of social science teachers over many decades, few Americans understand the purpose of the Electoral College or the role that it plays in the selection of the president and vice president.
The Founding Fathers had some very specific reasons for creating the Electoral College. Aside from their insistence that the president and vice president be elected by the states, and not by the people, their primary concern was that a foreign power might one day attempt to achieve through corruption and political intrigue, that which they could not achieve on the battlefield.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper No. 68, “These most deadly adversaries of republican government (cabal, intrigue, etc.)” might come from many quarters, “but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?”
The Founders were so concerned that none but a “natural born” citizen should ever ascend to the presidency or the vice presidency that they sought to devise a system wherein a small group of men (yes, this was pre-women’s suffrage)… prominent in their communities, well-informed, and trusted by their fellow citizens… would be delegated the responsibility for selecting the president and vice president.
The alternative they settled on was the Electoral College, an independent body consisting of citizen electors chosen for the sole purpose of selecting the president and vice president. The manner in which presidential electors were to be chosen was left solely and exclusively to the legislatures of the various states, and neither the governors of the states, nor the courts, federal or state, were given any role whatsoever in that process.
Unfortunately, the Electoral College has fallen short of expectations in recent elections. The idea that a foreign power might purchase the friendship or the acquiescence of a President of the United States was never a major concern until 1996 when Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and other Democrats were the recipients of large sums of cash from agents of the Peoples Republic of China. Those illegal contributions were not disclosed until well after Clinton and Gore were reelected and inaugurated for a second term. Would Democratic electors have withheld their electoral votes, had they known? It makes for a very interesting speculation, but knowing Democrats as we do it can be assumed that they would not.
In 2004 the Democrats nominated Senator John Kerry. While claiming to be a Vietnam War hero, Kerry refused to release 100 pages of his military records relating to the circumstances surrounding his discharge from the U.S. Navy. Had it been learned conclusively that Kerry was dishonorably discharged in 1971 or 1972, would Democratic electors… veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm… have cast their votes for him? We’ll never know.
In 2008, Democratic electors were forewarned that Barack Obama’s qualifications under Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution were much in doubt. When the Constitution was drafted the Founders made it quite clear that only “natural born” U.S. citizens could serve as president or vice president. Yet, Democratic electors ignored the indisputable fact that Obama was born to an American mother and a Kenyan father. As a citizen of Kenya, a British crown colony, Barack Obama, Sr. passed on his British citizenship automatically, by descent, to his son, Barack Obama, Jr. (See Part 2, Section 5 of the British Nationality Act of 1948). Hence, Obama was born with dual US-British citizenship.
Accordingly, Obama is a U.S. citizen but not a “natural born” citizen as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, making him ineligible to serve in the presidency.
Nor did the 2008 Democratic electors place any importance on the source of Obama’s funds. As the date of the election approached in late October 2008, Obama announced that he had raised some $600 million from 2.5 million contributors, with one-fourth of the money, or $150 million coming from contributors of $2,000 to $2,300… approximately 65,000 individual contributors. The remainder of the $600 million ($450 million) was contributed by, as Obama insisted, those who contributed “$10, $20, or $25… or whatever they could afford.”
Any fourth grader… a level of education achieved by few Obama voters… could have calculated that $450 million cannot be contributed by 2.4 million people in $10, $20, or $25 amounts. The average contribution would have to be approximately $185. That has never happened before in American politics and it did not happen in 2008. Obama lied.
Finally, it was determined by investigative journalists that Obama’s official reports to the Federal Election Commission contained no fewer than 66,383 contributions in odd amounts, such as $188.67, $1,542.06, $876.09, $388.67, etc., etc… obvious foreign currency conversions. However, upon interviewing randomly selected contributors, investigative journalists for NewsMax.com found that many Obama supporters were unaware that they had contributed that much money. The amounts of money reported were real, the contributors were fictitious. What was the source of Obama’s campaign funds? It is unlikely that we will ever know.
So the question arises, are these historical anomalies a product of a weakness in the system, or are they a product of shortcomings of the individuals who populate the system?
That question can be answered conclusively by placing the shoe on the other foot. In other words, what would Republican electors do if confronted with the candidacy of presumptive president-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, a native of Austria and the son of Austrian parents?
There is no doubt whatsoever that the Schwarzenegger candidacy would be rejected. In fact, it is inconceivable that a Schwarzenegger candidacy would ever have made it past the Republican nominating convention. As a naturalized citizen, Schwarzenegger would have received no serious consideration by convention delegates. Unlike Democrats, Republicans care about constitutional principles and the rule of law.
Since the shortcomings of the presidential selection process in recent years can be shown conclusively to be related to human failings, as opposed to the failure of process, the National Popular Vote movement may wish to perform a valuable service to the nation by urging the legislatures of the various states to place criminal penalties on electors who violate their oath of office by failing to perform the necessary due diligence.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, “It was… desirable that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station… A small number of persons, selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to so complicated an investigation.”
The members of the Electoral College are expected to “analyze the qualities” of presidential candidates and they are expected to “possess the information and discernment requisite to so complicated an investigation.” This does not describe what Democrat electors have done in recent elections, nor does it describe the qualities and the characteristics that they have brought to the solemn responsibility they have been given. We don’t need a better system; the system is not at fault. We just need Democratic electors who can put country above party.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Authors Note: ~~ :
As might be expected, the Electoral College is once again under heavy attack from the left.
Of course, if the results of the five-game American League Championship Series were Yankees 6 – Boston 2, Boston 5 – Yankees 4, Yankees 7 – Boston 3, Boston 8 – Yankees 7, and Boston 5 – Yankees 3, we might be able to convince a bunch of rabid upper east side liberals that, in spite of the fact that their Yankees had scored 27 runs in the five game series, compared to 23 runs scored by the hated Boston Red Sox, the Sox had won the series 3 games to 2. They wouldn't like the outcome but they might be able to grasp the concept. They just can't seem to grasp the concept that, while Al Gore won the 2000 popular vote in the fifty sovereign states by 50,999,900 to Bush's 50,456, 000, Bush won the majority of electoral votes by a score of 271 to 266. Gore won big in the most liberal, most populous states, but Bush had a broader appeal across the country. He carried his own home state, Texas, he carried Bill Clinton's home state, Arkansas, and in the unkindest cut of all he carried Gore's own home state of Tennessee.
What the leaders of the movement have apparently failed to recognize is that their proposal to bypass the Electoral College must pass Constitutional muster. It is far from certain that they will be able to do that because, for any state to base its electoral decision based on the popular vote in any number of other states, falls far outside the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.