November 16, 2016

Sore losers and math

Th recent election losers are crying that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. Boo Hoo it is not fair. When reasonable people point out that we do not elect candidates for President by popular democracy in this country then Democrats insist we must change the system. "Abolish the Electoral College" is the rallying cry of the not-so-oppressed. This "I don't like the results, let's change the rules" approach is exactly what the Founders feared most.

The Founders were concerned about the tyranny of the majority. They did not want 51% of the population determining the President.  They did not want the passions of the day to dictate law, so they instituted a representative form of government. They believed the nation was a collection of States, not a collection of administrative districts. The States had a say in how they were to be governed. That is why initially the States chose the Senators while the people chose the representatives. Senators were to represent their States while the members of the House were to represent their districts (This very workable system was changed by the loathsome XVII Amendment). That is why the States choose the President through the Electoral College.

The Founders also recognized that the Constitution would need to be changed from time to time. While they wanted to include this mechanism, they also wanted the process to be deliberative, necessary, and free of immediate passions. In other words, to thwart knee jerk reactions like those of sore losers in Presidential elections.

There has been a general hue and cry that the Electoral College must be abolished. Here is the mathematical problem with that proposal: 3/4 of the States must ratify any Amendment to the Constitution. A quick count on the surface indicates Mrs. Clinton won less than half of the states. The very electoral college map that kept her out of the White House will prevent passage of any Constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College. For the record, Obama won the 2012 election with less than fifty percent of the states. In fact, one has to go back to 1984 to find a Presidential candidate that won more than 3/4 of the States.  I won't even address the fact that some of those blue states have Republican controlled legislatures. I also will mention that a full 2/3 of both the Senate and House of Representatives must approve a proposed constitutional amendment before it can be sent to the states for ratification. Democrats have less than 50% of the seats in either house. Perhaps you sore losers should read Article V of the Constitution and while you are at it spend a few minutes perusing the Federalist Papers.

The election is over. The person you wanted lost. Changing the rules will not change the results. Just as blowing up the filibuster rules and giving the President powers to change law with the stroke of a pen seemed a good idea when you were in charge, changing the rules can come back to bite you right on the seat of your pants. Be careful for those things you wish for.

3 comments:

Ed Bonderenka said...

Those that want to abolish the Electoral College were OK with super delegates to get Hillary nominated.

Joe said...

That is a great point!

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

A Convention of States is the only other way to amend the Constitution, but the likelihood that such a Convention would see fit to abolish the Electoral College is pretty much slim to none, for the same reasons you outlined.

Frankly, I don't see a Convention of States being called anytime soon anyway. That's really a last-ditch move, in my opinion. On the other hand, I went to bed on November 8 thinking I'd wake up in Hillary Hell.

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