Well, of course he did. It’s the only thing standing in the way of a complete takeover of the Presidency by the Democratic Party.
The Electoral College is a reminder that the President of our country is not the President of the American people or the President of a supermajority of voters in some places, but rather the Presiding Officer of a Union of Several States in a federal organization.
He’s the President of the United States, chosen by the states, whose electors are chosen by the people. That’s part of living in a representative republic, rather than a direct democracy.
Gore and other liberals think the election should just go to whoever wins the most votes. In other words, Gore and his fellow Democrats are pissed that the Electoral College is working exactly the way it’s supposed to work, and preventing exactly the outcome he prefers (and one that would have made him President on the say-so of an extra half-million Californians, regardless of what the rest of us wanted).
(Spare me the “stolen Florida” arguments about Gore, at least for now. The Supreme Court, despite popular myth, did not rule 5-4 on the constitutionality of the Florida vote, they ruled 7-2, in a large majority, that the Florida court was off the rails. The 5-4 vote was over what to do about it.)
The whole point of the Electoral College is to reinforce the idea that the United States is a federal nation, where power rests with the people in the individual states. Those people in the states, “in order to form a more perfect union,” according to a document most college kids have never read, banded together in a federation, and each four years agree on a Chief Magistrate, a Chief Executive, to represent those states at a national level.
No matter what you may have been told — and there are some really dumb civics teachers out there — it’s not a national popularity contest.
Now, the Democrats, whose power is heavily concentrated in the major cities (for various reasons, including minority voters, the poor, machine politics left from the 1900s, and others) would love to see the Electoral College go out the window. That way, the Presidency would be decided every year by supermajorities in the top 10 or 15 cities in America.
No President — or no candidate who wasn’t stupid — would ever bother again with suburbs, rural counties, small towns, or anyplace where he or she couldn’t just rack up a massive and lopsided win.
Take a look at Pennsylvania. It used to be a swing state, although it’s become more Democratic over time. You can see why:
All you have to do is win crushing majorities in Pittsburgh and Philly, and the rest of the state can go to hell.
Consider this: if you counted up the 2004 Presidential vote (Bush, of course, vs. Sen. John Kerry, a name Democrats have resurrected as the next Secretary of State at their convention), and did it by counties, you’d see a lopsided Bush victory. But if you just went by cities, you’d have a squeaker. Bush would still win, but not by much.
Here’s the map from 2004, again by county (from USA Today). Take a close look at places like Florida, Illinois, and California: big blue cities surrounded by oceans of red suburbs and rural counties. And the mountain states and the prairies can forget about ever getting a visit from a presidential candidate without an Electoral College: only a fool would campaign anyplace too far from the coasts:
Now, of course Republicans are completely in favor of the Electoral College, because it allows them to cobble together victories by winning a majority of electors and the vote of the states, and not just by raking in huge wins in California and New York.
Both sides have selfish reasons to do this. But if we heed the call to get rid of the Electoral College, then why not go all the way and just get rid of states?
That’s not a crazy idea: that’s pretty much how France and the UK operate, with local government basically just a vehicle for national policy. So why bother having a state-by-state contest at all?
Think of the savings: no more governors, no more pesky state legislatures. Just national bureaucrats working with local elected officials (mayors, city managers) to implement Washington’s mandates.
Like, say, health care.
Anyway, remember this much: proposals to dump the Electoral College are not just pleas for “fairness” or “majority rule,” they are a fundamental attack on the Constitution, American federalism, and the foundations of the American political order.
Ending the Electoral College won’t just wreck what’s left of U.S. federalism and leave Washington supreme, it will be a declaration of class warfare between urban and rural, rich and poor, coasts and heartland, far worse than we’re already experiencing.
By all means, let legislators submit the bills for a constitutional amendment (since that’s what it would take), and then let’s have a national debate on directly electing the President. But when America becomes even more polarized, with the poverty-stricken and violent cities going to war every four years with the gated communities that surround them — full of liberals as well as conservatives, make no mistake — no one should say they weren’t warned.