May 19, 2022

The Electoral College, Now More Than Ever

One must read to the end of The Washington Post’s editorial, “Abolish the electoral college,” before hitting on the real reason the Post’s editors want to upend the long-standing constitutional institution. “Mr. Trump’s election was a sad event for the nation,” notes the Post, “his reelection would have been a calamity.”

Maybe, maybe not. That’s a matter of partisan perspective. Those who are genuinely concerned about the future of American governance would be calling to strengthen institutions that provide political stability, not destroy them. But when your concerns about “American democracy” are really just a euphemism for partisan power grabs, you end up making lots of sloppy arguments.

Like so:

“It is alarming that a candidate came so close to winning while polling more than 5 million fewer votes than his opponent nationwide. The Electoral College, whatever virtues it may have had for the Founding Fathers, is no longer tenable for American democracy.”

The fact that the Electoral College doesn’t align with the “popular vote” isn’t alarming; it is the point. If the Electoral College synchronized with the outcome of the direct democratic national vote tally every election, it wouldn’t need to exist. It isn’t a loophole; it is a bulwark.

The Electoral College exists to diffuse the very thing the Post claims is most beneficial: the “overbearing majority,” as James Madison put it. If majoritarianism is truly always the best means of deciding an issue, then the Post would support a mere majority of states being able to overturn the First Amendment or decide abortion policy.

But if states still matter, then the Electoral College’s “virtues” are far stronger today, in an era when federalism is ignored and Americans are more likely to cluster in urban areas, than it was in the founding generation when Washington was largely powerless. It is one of the institutions that makes a “democracy” tenable in a truly diverse and sprawling nation.

On the most basic level, the Electoral College helps compel presidents to govern nationally rather than represent a handful of states. We saw it when Biden was forced to temper his positions on fracking and defunding the police because he had to appeal to those outside of urban areas. If he is to be successful, Biden must govern in ways that are popular to diverse cultural and geographical areas — such as North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona, and not just California and New York.

Running up the score in big states gives partisan activists fodder, but it is irrelevant. If Donald Trump ran for the national vote, he might well have won it by spending all his time in California and New York talking about things that matter to Californians and New Yorkers. The entire dynamics of elections would be different. Our election is geared toward winning states, not people.

It should also be noted that the system The Washington Post wants to nix has been the most stable in the world. A direct national poll would be a radical change, even by international standards. Most free nations don’t have democratic majority votes for their executives. Parliamentary systems, for example, are not national polls. Between 1935 and 2017, the majority of British voters backed the party that formed a government on only two occasions. Voters do not even cast a ballot directly for the prime minister. In 2019, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau “lost” the “popular vote.” By eliminating the Electoral College, we are far more likely to spark the creation of smaller parties that would keep presidents from gaining a majority.

Of historical interest: Vladimir Putin was elected through a direct national poll.

I will spend the rest of my life pointing out that presidents don’t “win” or “lose” the popular vote — because there is no “popular vote,” nor has there ever been one, nor does anyone compete for it. Just today, Reuters informed us, “Trump’s open defiance of Biden’s victory in both the popular vote and Electoral College appears to be affecting the public’s confidence in American democracy.” The entire statement, from “popular vote” to “American democracy,” makes me cringe. It’s this kind of coverage that allows The Washington Post and other critics of traditional constitutional governance to convince its audiences that presidents are winning elections even while really “losing” them. It bodes poorly for our future.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and the author of the book “First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History With the Gun.” To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
0 0 votes
Article Rating

This is a demo advert, you can use simple text, HTML image or any Ad Service JavaScript code. If you're inserting HTML or JS code make sure editor is switched to 'Text' mode.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Lisa A Good (@guest_1081136)
1 year ago

Among other things, the Founders did not want someone elected due to shear popularity and not be qualified to lead the Nation. It is more necessary than ever.

Charlotte H (@guest_1081235)
Reply to  Lisa A Good
1 year ago

I agree with Lisa……… we need a President who has knowledge and has proved that through his 1st term in office. I have seen Biden as he has spoken on TV and saw how his sentences showed he does not have the ability to run our country. I see from Lisa’s comment we are thinking the same thing.

DWB (@guest_1081241)
Reply to  Lisa A Good
1 year ago

Lisa, I agree and believe this election shows the corrupt democommies for what they are.

gm (@guest_1081249)
1 year ago

dr 31oct20
dr 15oct20
Here’s a known fact, sleepy Joe (😎) Biden of 47 years in govt., is the founder and creator of the Swamp Creatures, as the nemesis of justice shall prevail upon these liars n cheaters and his cohorts the democrats, some republicans, Obama judges, MSM(msmafia) etc. This nest is huge and will unravel all those involved in the government. WHAT IS A.G.BARR DOING ABOUT THIS CRIME, HE’S RUNNING AROUND MAKING ARRESTS NOT RELATED TO THE MAIN CRIME SCENE OF UKRAIN/RUSSIA, WHICH HE TOTALLY IGNORES FOR AFTER THE 03NOV. The democrats/cohorts have induced so much fear by intimidation and, their gimmicks they shower on those who do not surrender to their Political Evil and bully tactics are threatened after 03nov is what they can expect if dems. win by hook or by crow. To this I inject a change in the Top Military Command and DOD, who should work at the pleasure of the President CIC of the Armed forces with the mandate of the people and not otherwise, and not some nitwit statements made by thieving democrats who do not practice what they preach but accuse PTrump for all their immoral and unethical behavior as reported daily by few honest news media. Democrats have the qualities and characteristics of criminals; they can sugar-coat their words to you, into believing all they will tell you, that they will do for you and never will, if elected.

Deanna Benton (@guest_1082034)
Reply to  gm
1 year ago

Tried to post 3 times to let the author & gm know they are spot on. (Used modified vernacular 3 times – no profanity, violence, or other negative wording used as is in some allowed posts) This site’s algorithm keeps censoring. So much for individual freedom of speech, but the MSM can prevaricate all it wants. In my original posts I mentioned The [email protected] Re$et, which everyone needs to look in to. Boils down to [email protected]$m. I mentioned The $wamp, the ‘incoming’ $wamper, and a$$ociated leaches. I mentioned acquisition of p0wer and $$$$ in terms of long-term DCer’s. Don’t be fooled, they are NOT altruist’s. They pretend to be Mr. Smith goes to WA”., but it’s a farce. It’s been gotten away with for so long they aren’t even hiding their inconstancy anymore. Their rhetoric is spouted with no intention of draining the fetid waters. The current big guy that we placed there (for the very said same reason) has been doing the job of drying things up for 4 years. Good on him. Also the [email protected] [email protected] was an excuse for a $wamp Re$et. Do some research and the math. The numbers are all kinds of messed up; sorta like the v0te.

SouthernLadyNC (@guest_1081273)
1 year ago

I have no desire to have New York and California telling the rest of the country who will be in charge of leading our government. Every state should have equal say; each one is as important as the other.

Charlotte H (@guest_1081446)
Reply to  SouthernLadyNC
1 year ago

I agree………

TAIWAN COMMONER (@guest_1081513)
Reply to  SouthernLadyNC
1 year ago

Without the Electoral College all of the less populous states would be dominated by the coastal cities, with their much larger populations! That is a fact! With them in control, the central states would cease to exist! These coastal cities are places I would never choose to live. They have the lion’s share of our national budget, and have shown they don’t care about those of us in the middle states. Where do those city slickers think their food comes from, the “store”? If a single one of them could come up with an alternative that would be fair, I would listen! The fact that it WOULDN’T BE FAIR IS OF NO CONCERN TO THEM, OR ACTUALLY MORE ATTRACTIVE TO END!

Katydid (@guest_1081300)
1 year ago

I keep saying it….follow the money. All the East Coast elitest are “sucking a hind tit”. They either are working for the Govt. at an absurd salary or have contracts with the govt. at absurd mark ups. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Michael O'Connor (@guest_1081432)
1 year ago

I agree with GM, I have been saying it for months, where the hell is Barr and who is his boss, President Trump I believe. Once the dems take over Barr and Durham are gone and so is the evidence, if there is any?



Sign Up For The Daily Newsletter


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x