Lest we forget, barring some last-minute divine intervention, New York Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is on her way to an easy election victory next month and a seat in the House of Representatives. The former bartender has already made clear that she has a long list of things she would like to see investigated if the Democrats take over control of the lower chamber. But this week she’s added a new item to the agenda. We need to get rid of the Electoral College because of racism and slavery. (Washington Times)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist hoping to represent New York’s 14th Congressional District, declared over the weekend that the Electoral College is a racist American relic that must be abolished.
“It is well past time we eliminate the Electoral College, a shadow of slavery’s power on America today that undermines our nation as a democratic republic,” the 28-year-old Boston University graduate tweeted to her 881,000 followers Saturday afternoon.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was commenting on a tweet by GQ magazine’s Julia Ioffe, who complained that the Electoral College has helped conservatives get elected.
There was a time when I too thought we needed to get rid of the electoral college, and in the context of the modern era, it’s not as if there aren’t some reasonable arguments supporting that position. Some of the motivations for creating it originally don’t seem to be quite as persuasive today. For one thing, the idea that the voters need the guiding hand of their betters to protect them from making a bad decision is rather insulting. Also, through the wonders of modern technology, having all the electors gathering together to officially certify the totals isn’t really a consideration in the 21st century. But either way, the creation of the EC had nothing to do with either racism or slavery.
Over time I came to realize that these weren’t the primary drivers of why the Founders put the EC in place. The biggest thorn in the side of Democrats (and socialists, apparently) is the fact that both George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump (not to mention Benjamin Harrison) lost the popular vote but still won the election. It’s easy to understand how that seems unfair on the surface, but we also need to understand that we do this for the same reason that representation in the House is based on population while representation in the Senate is leveled out across the country.
The House represents the people. The Senate represents the states. And the Electoral college merges those two competing needs in an awkward fashion, but it gets the job done. Without that balance, a few states could dictate the outcome of every election. Did you realize that as of 2018, 9 states contain more than 50% of the U.S. population and could control every election in a raw vote count?
Tossing a bone to opponents of the Electoral College, I’ll go one step further and submit that even that rationale may be fading. The Founders originally pictured a nation where the states were not only strong and independent but might frequently be at odds with one another. Today the boundaries which exist between the states are almost entirely artificial and the nation is more of a single (if frequently messy) entity. But the Constitution is still the backbone of the nation and the Electoral College is too deeply enshrined in the fabric of our country to be cast aside as a throwaway line to the left’s base.