As I read their arguments, it could not help but consider the political risks of making false and unsubstantiated claims for the national popular vote to members of the state legislatures, none of whom are dummies. The following is my response to the national popular vote email:
NPV: “Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system.”
PRH: I can’t respond to that statement because I have no idea what “worst features of the Electoral College system” you refer to. Anyone who reads the Federalist Papers will understand that the Framers wanted the members of the lower house of the legislative branch, the U.S. House of Representatives, selected by the popular vote of the people. They wanted the upper house of the legislative branch, the U.S. Senate, selected by the political institutions of the states (the state legislatures), and they wanted the president and vice president to be chosen, not by the people and not by the political institutions of the states, but by the states themselves. That’s why electors are state officials for a day. I suspect that few Americans have taken the time to learn this distinction. To short-circuit the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote is to totally reverse the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
NPV: “If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system.”
PRH: That simply is not true and cannot be proven. How is it fair for all of California’s 55 electoral votes to go to a single presidential candidate when the voters in 14 of the state’s 53 congressional districts vote for Republicans up and down the ballot? And how is it fair for all 20 of Illinois’ electoral votes to go to one presidential candidate when voters in only 10 of the state’s 18 congressional districts prefer Democrats over Republicans?
NPV: “In 2012, for instance, when Obama garnered nearly a half million more votes in Michigan than Romney, Romney won nine of the state’s 14 congressional districts.”
PRH: This is not an anomaly of the Electoral College system. It is a function of the Democrat Party’s long campaign to capture the votes of large political constituencies by promising them “stuff.” This electoral anomaly is created by those political constituencies that want something from government that they could not have earned at the ballot box or in a competitive market.
NPV: “With the present deplorable 48 state-level winner-take-all system, 38+ states (including California and Texas) are ignored in presidential elections; however, 98% of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally… The district approach would not provide incentive for presidential candidates to poll, visit, advertise, or organize in a particular state or focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the state.”
PRH: That simply is not true. The exact opposite is true and if anyone had ever tried to tell me a whopper like that one I’d take it as an insult to my intelligence. For example, had the Maine-Nebraska system been in effect in all states in November 2016, Donald Trump could not have ignored the 14 electoral votes available to him in California or the 9 electoral votes available to him in New York. Conversely, Hillary Clinton could not have ignored the 11 electoral votes available to her in Texas or the 5 electoral votes available to her in Michigan. By assigning more importance to local elections under the Maine-Nebraska system, interest in local politics would be enhanced and much of the negative impact of the 17th Amendment would be reversed.
NPV: “Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in no candidate winning the needed majority of electoral votes. That would throw the process into Congress to decide the election, regardless of the popular vote in any district or state or throughout the country.”
PRH: Again, that simply is not true. And again, I’d take it as an insult to my intelligence if someone tried to make me believe that bit of nonsense. In order for that assertion to have even a smidgen of truth, you’d have to give me a list of congressional races that have been won by third party candidates. They are “scarcer than hens’ teeth.”
If there is a problem with the Electoral College, it is the lack of knowledge and training among individual electors. When I was elected to my first term in the Electoral College I took that responsibility very seriously. I researched and read everything I could find on the origin and the purpose of the institution. For example, as an expression of the fear of foreign influence that motivated and inspired the Framers, Alexander Hamilton wrote, “These most deadly adversaries of republican government (cabal, intrigue, etc.) might actually have expected to make their approach from more than one quarter, 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?”
Clearly, we don’t have to look far to find examples of exactly what Hamilton was referring to.
In 1996, when Bill Clinton and Al Gore ran for reelection to a second term, a major portion of their campaign funds came through intermediaries from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Is it any wonder then that, at the behest of the Chinese and Japanese governments, the Clinton administration attempted a legislative coup d’etat in 1997 that would have destroyed a core function of the U.S. government, the engine of our economy and our standard of living, the U.S. patent system? What was it that Barack Obama promised in exchange for the huge sums of money, from unknown sources, that was funneled into his 2008 campaign after being laundered through the United Bank of Switzerland (UBS)? And what was it that Bill and Hillary Clinton promised to foreign political and business leaders in exchange for the hundreds of millions of dollars contributed to the Clinton Foundation? It was precisely these kinds of people that the Electoral College was intended to identify and deter.
In Federalist Paper No. 68, arguing in favor of the Electoral College, Hamilton explained that, “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 such complicated investigations.”
Reading those words, it is easy to see how the Electoral College has failed in its responsibility in three presidential elections: 1880, with the election of Vice President Chester A. Arthur, and in 2008 and 2012 with the election of Barack Hussein Obama… both of whom were sired by men who were not American citizens. Both of their fathers were British subject at the time they were born. In each instance, it was the responsibility of members of the Electoral College to assure themselves that these men were “natural born” U.S. citizens. In each instance they failed to do so. The Republican members of the Electoral College in 1880, and the Democratic members of the Electoral College in 2008 and 2012, lacked “the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”
In fact, I am aware that letters were sent to a large number of Democratic electors in 2008 advising them that Barack Obama was ineligible for the office he sought and that it was their duty to reject him. However, when the electors voted, every single one of the 365 Democratic electors were so anxious to elect the first black president that they violated their oaths and cast their votes for Barack Obama. If Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, or Niki Haley had won the Republican nomination for president or vice president during either of my two terms in the Electoral College, could I have voted for any of them? Absolutely not! Like Barack Obama, all are products of foreign parentage; none are “natural born” citizens.
In 2012, instead of a 332 to 206 vote victory for Obama-Biden in the Electoral College, the Maine-Nebraska system would have produced a comfortable 282 to 256 vote victory for Romney-Ryan. What this tells us is that the national popular vote movement is merely an attempt to obtain through trickery, that which the left could never achieve at the ballot box.
As one who has spent a career as chief lobbyist for a Fortune 25 corporation, I am acutely aware of the consequences of purposely misleading members of Congress or the state legislatures. Those who are selling the “virtues” of the national popular vote in state legislatures all across the country are seriously misleading and misinforming legislators. When the legislators finally see the truth of the matter they will not be pleased. More and more states will consider leaving the