Consider the following thought experiment.
We’re in the month of October and the country’s baseball fans are watching the World Series.
Team A wins games 1, 3 and 5; Team B wins the others.
The best-of-seven contest goes to a seventh game.
Team A wins the final game and the series.
Some fans do not accept the legitimacy of the Team A’s World Series win. Why? Turns out that in games 1, 3, 5 and 7, Team A won by a score of 1-0. The other games Team B won by a score of 10-0. Therefore, Team B wins the series 30-4.
This is an absurdity. The rule is: The team that wins four games wins the World Series, plain and simple.
This notion, that each game is a separate contest, however, does not sit well with many Americans in the way we elect our presidents. Each presidential election is actually 51 elections (the 50 states and D.C.).
Maine holds one of these contests. Maine is a unique state with its own interests. Maine’s interests are different from other states. When the voters of Maine cast their votes in a presidential election, the will of Mainers ought to be respected. We show respect to Mainers by not having Maine’s electoral votes dictated by the entire nation.
We have had this system since the country adopted the Constitution, and it has served the nation well.
The problem arises when the candidate who wins the majority of electoral votes loses the national vote. Some Americans question the legitimacy of the winner.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is designed to sidestep the electoral vote process in favor of a national popular vote.
NPV is a bad idea for the following reasons:
It will urbanize presidential elections, since much of the nation’s population is in major cities, at the expense of the rural population.
It is at odds with the federal character of the nation. The states came together and formed the nation with the understanding that the several sovereign states would elect the president.
The Electoral College system isolates voter irregularities to the state where it occurs. NPV would nationalize the consequences of voter fraud.
The push to abolish or sidestep the Electoral College is not new. An effort to abolish it by constitutional amendment was attempted a half-century ago.
NPV has gained steam as a result of the 2016 election. The fact that the national vote and electoral vote are at odds is only part of the reason for the increased effort. For many Americans, the election of Donald Trump was an unacceptable result. For these Americans, any electoral system that could produce that result is, on its face, illegitimate.
I also happen to believe that the desire to change the way we elect our presidents goes beyond any particular election or president. It even goes beyond the belief among some Democrats that the NPV would benefit them electorally.
There is talk of abolishing the U.S. Senate because each state, regardless of size, gets the same representation in the body. Both the Senate and the Electoral College are anti-democratic creations of the Founding Fathers. The men who gave us the Constitution and the nation are seen today as deeply flawed individuals who either owned slaves or tolerated slavery. Many Americans today see the Constitution itself as a defense of the institution, an incorrect interpretation. A rejection of the Electoral College is a rebuke of the Founding Fathers.
Sadly, these feelings of rebuke cannot be easily reasoned away, even with a simple baseball metaphor.
Paul Johnson of Falmouth is a blogger and member of the Federalist Society.