New National Popular Vote Scheme: Does it Violate Founder's Plans?
While it is true that the whole Electoral College plan confuses many Americans, the fact is that there are reasons that it was created by the Founders to make the final choice for which candidate will win the presidency the least of which was to protect the smaller states from being run roughshod over by their bigger neighbors. The new National Popular Vote idea would bypass that protection.
One misconception that many Americans harbor about how a president gets elected is the popular vote question. Many Americans mistakenly believe that when a candidate gets the most votes, that is it, he is in. This is not now and never has been a truism in the American system. Several presidents have made it to the White House without having won the majority of the popular vote.
This is because in truth the Electoral College is the mechanism by which our president is given the final nod to winning that office. The popular vote plays a role of sorts in the Electoral College’s decision, of course, but it is not the sole criteria.
The Founders did not believe that simple democracy (the most votes wins) should be the way the United States should operate in every case. They devised a system with numerous checks and balances. They did this because their review of history taught them that direct democracy often causes radical shifts in a nation’s direction. Also, all too often, majorities tend to wield despotic power over the minority in straight democracies. The Founders wanted to slow down those shifts to a manageable progression, a pace that would promote stability and hew closer to our American ideals. The Electoral College was an important one of these checks and balances.
The Electoral College was designed to protect the smaller states from being lorded over constantly by the big states even in the selection of the president. The Founders wanted the election of the president to be free of sectional rivalries as much as possible as the president was to represent the whole of the people not specific regions.
But for decades progressives and other groups have sought a way to circumvent or eliminate the Electoral College and this National Popular Vote scheme is only the newest attempt to do so.
The Heritage Foundation recently wrote a position paper on the National Popular Vote plan. Here is how they characterize the idea.
The National Popular Vote (NPV) plan is the latest in a long line of schemes designed to replace the Electoral College. Imbued with the ideals of this nation’s Founders, the Electoral College has proved itself to be both effective in providing orderly elections for President and resilient in allowing a stable transfer of power of the leadership of the world’s greatest democracy. Therefore, while it would be a mistake to replace the Electoral College, replacing this system with the NPV would be a disaster. The NPV would devalue the minority interests that the Founders sought to protect, create electoral administrative problems, encourage voter fraud, and radicalize the U.S. political system. It also would likely violate the U.S. Constitution’s Compact Clause while directly contravening the Founders’ view of federalism and a representative republic. In an age of perceived political dysfunction, effective policies already in place—especially successful policies established by this nation’s Founders, such as the Electoral College—should be preserved.
The National Popular Vote idea likely violates the U.S. Constitution by circumventing the Electoral College in the first place and the fact that proponents of this idea have gone to the extent of going around the Constitution by attempting to organize this “compact” of states shows that there is no overwhelming desire to properly alter the process by amending the U.S. Constitution.
Hans von Spakovsky also notes that this new idea is a bad one. “It could also encourage voter fraud,” von Spakovsky notes. He goes on to say, “It might result in presidents being elected with very small pluralities, or someone being elected who failed to qualify for the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It strikes directly at the Founders’ view of federalism and a representative republic that balances popular sovereignty with structural protections for state governments and minority interests.”
Everyone wishing to know about this new idea of eliminating the Constitutional method of electing our president should visit the webpage of the National Popular Vote organization. After learning about the scheme contact your state officials and voice your opinion as to its efficacy.
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