There's more at stake in the battle over how we elect our president than merely who sits in the White House.
The cartoonist Ramirez is typically piercingly brilliant but he got the caption on this cartoon completely backwards. Sadly, many republicans don't quite understand it either. This map claims to show the power of your vote if there were no electoral college, but what it actually shows more accurately is your power WITH the electoral college.
Of course the more populated states will have more electoral votes than the small ones, and so the scarcely populated states should be drawn in this example fractionally smaller. California is huge on this map because it gets 18 times more electoral votes than our least populated state, Wyoming, but its population is more than 68 times larger (39,557,045 people in CA versus WY's 577,737).
California has 55 electoral votes, Texas 38, New York 29, Florida 29, Illinois 20, and Pennsylvania 20. The seven least populous states—Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming—have three electors each, as does Washington D.C.. In other words, since each state begins with two electoral votes (for their Senate seats) and adds another for each House seat or approximately 711,000 citizens, the people's votes in the smaller states actually count for more than those in California toward the presidential election!
The debate about the value of the electoral college comes down to three fundamental questions. Let me set out the questions before answering them.
If we switched to the national popular vote, will more people turn out in Red or Blue states who wouldn't ordinarily turn out because they thought their vote wouldn't change the state's outcome?
What is the likelihood of increased voter fraud and corruption if there were no national popular vote?
Would adopting the national popular vote grease the slope toward the tyranny of the majority and disenfranchising 'flyover country'?
1 - I believe, because I once closely looked into the actual numbers, that there are many more republicans in the many more red states who are low-propensity voters but would turn out in droves if they thought their vote could make a difference in the popular vote. -Which is also why I think the dems whining about losing the popular vote is a bunch of bunk. Far more republicans stay home in every presidential election that do democrats, because there are far more red states that are not battleground states than there are blue states that are at risk of turning red. Plus, although they struggle to get unmotivated millennials to vote if Bernie Sanders isn't in the race (Heh-heh), Dems are already phenomenal at turning out the vote in the big cities. Some of the precincts here in Detroit had 105% voter turnout when I first started working in the trenches for ballot integrity and election reforms. Which leads me to my next point.
2 - Democrats cheat like crazy in elections. We see that no matter how red Florida gets, they still cannot stop Broward County from cheating like Bill Clinton in a whorehouse. The removal of the electoral college would cause a thousand Broward Counties to bloom in all the blue states and the republicans' ballot integrity program would be feckless in the face of such corruption. We simply couldn't recruit enough poll watchers to keep an eye on all the fictitious, dead, and illegal people casting ballots. And the dems would simply shift their corruption to another place that wasn't being watched closely. As it stands now, we can barely keep up the fight where we suspect the worst precincts are. But with the NPV, it would become a futile game of whack-a-mole, and we'd be effectively blind to the corruption from election to election. Although the dems are already trying to cheat in swings states, with the NPV they'll need perhaps only one state to really cook the books to steal an entire national election. Heck, it would only take one Broward County! Furthermore, voter fraud wouldn't even have to happen in a blue state. The dems might manage to cheat right in our own backyards. The GOP is not watching closely the reliably red precincts and so our guard is down there. That weakness could be exploited while we are rushing to cover the places where we know they already have a history of trying to cheat.
To make my point, one of the things the GOP in Michigan started doing to combat voter fraud was to send every new voter registration a letter by registered mail. If the address didn't exist, we knew it was almost certainly a fake, tens of thousands of fraudulent votes were stopped with this method. I assume other states also were doing this. When I worked as a poll challenger in the bowels of Detroit, I'd see the same person come in to vote repeatedly. Now, perhaps they were voting for their family members, but maybe they weren't. Nevertheless, we challenged the votes and pushed for voter id to stop this crap. Of course, the dems responded by making it easier for illegals to get a drivers license and then it becomes even harder to prove citizenship and prevent their registering to vote. I could go on and on about the sneaky ways they cheat. I've helped train and coordinate hundreds of poll challengers. I think I can say most of them would scream bloody murder if they caught a fellow republican cheating. I know I would.
3 - The electoral college is critical because it protects 'fly-over country' from being treated like a permanent minority. We are an elected republic rather than a democracy precisely because our Founders feared the tyranny of the majority. They knew that minorities were at risk from the fickle and capricious force of mere minority. Democracies always fail because the people sooner or later discover that they can vote themselves the largesse of the nation's wealth. Fifty percent of the vote plus one is no proof of wisdom. I agree with Cicero that at times of great crisis judgments should be weighed rather than merely counted. Frankly, I think we ought to repeal not only universal suffrage to ensure subversives, parasites and nitwits don't get to vote (we already have enough of those types in Congress!), but also we should return to the old way of electing presidents and let the legislatures elect through the electoral college, but those are arguments for another time.
I believe in the laboratories of democracy and in the principle of subsidiarity so I am persuaded that 'national solutions' are unlikely to solve more problems than they create. If it works in Indiana, that doesn't mean it will work in New York, but what works in Indiana might work in Michigan. If it is tried in Michigan and doesn't work it is far easier to correct than if it were forced down the throats of every state by DC. The electoral college is more than just a method to elect our president, it reinforces the sovereignty and shared fates of each of the states. It provides another buffer between the states and tyranny; whether that tyranny be one president or a hundred million other Americans.
If there is one flaw in the current use of the electoral college system, it is that the purple battleground states attract more attention than do the solidly red and solidly blue states. As it was once put to me by an advocate of the NPV; there was little attention paid to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico until the little oil balls started washing up on Florida's beaches. Only then did the Obama administration spring into action on behalf of Florida's beaches. Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi's beaches didn't much concern him. There was little doubt for whom they were voting. A NPV supporter might suggest that New York, California, and Illinois should be concerned about being neglected by the electoral college, but the attention given to them by the sheer size of their congressional caucuses negates their being taken for granted. But let's return to the main point.
Big cities in America are a mess because the people in them vote for disastrous agendas which are destroying them fiscally and conservatively. The rest of the country does not want to import the policies of New York and California in particular, and far less do we want those policies imposed on us. We don't presume to say that what works for us would work for them. We just see that what they have chosen causes a disaster. Meanwhile most red states are doing really well fiscally and culturally. We are for the most part reverential toward our established customs and conventions, and although we are always reforming and refurbishing, we are suspicious of sudden radical change. We are also quite leery of government hand-outs. We see government charity creating a dependent underclass and leading to fiscal ruin.
Big city dwellers are have a very different mindset than do the people in suburbia, small cities, big towns, little villages, and the rural countryside. Furthermore many of those blue states would be thoroughly red states without their largest cities. Consider what would happen if you took Chicago out of Illinois, Detroit out of Michigan, Philly out of Pennsylvania, Miami out of Florida, Boston out of Massachusetts, Baltimore out of Maryland, Seattle out of Washington, and Minneapolis out of Minnesota. Those states would be more red than Oklahoma.
"Let us consider an ordinary man living in Megalopolis." Richard M. Weaver once pondered. "He conceives the world to be a fairly simple machine, which, with a bit of intelligent tinkering, can be made to go. And going, it turns out comforts and whatever other satisfactions his demagogic leaders have told him he is entitled to. But the mysteries are always intruding, so that even the best designed machine has been unable to effect a continuous operation. No less than his ancestors, he finds himself up against toil and trouble. Since this was not nominated in the bond, he suspects evildoers and take the childish course of blaming individuals for things inseparable from the human condition."
Thomas Sowell described the difference as a "conflict of visions" between the restrained vision and the unrestrained vision. The restrained vision holds a tragic view of mankind that perfectibility is impossible, that more government is likely only going to make matter worse, and that we can only muddle along with our flawed human material groping toward a tolerable civil order with a justly-ordered liberty. The unrestrained vision tends to believe that all our social problems still exist because government hasn't fixed them yet. They believe not only that we can―with just enough tinkering, power and money―create a society that is so perfect that it won't matter whether men are good or evil. Indeed many with the unrestrained vision believe in the gnostic fallacy that we can―by perfecting society―change human nature and perfect man!
I fear that America is headed for a great divorce between the people in the major cities and the rest of us. If we gave them NYC, Chicago, Detroit, LA, Seattle, Portland, San Fran, Baltimore, Philly, and DC, those cities are in such financial trouble and have so many people on the dole (or are part of the bureaucracy which dispenses the dole) that they'd fall in on themselves almost immediately. Yet is from our major that we hear the most strident voices demanding the National Popular Vote. While I don't think it will be the immediate panacea they believe it to be, it will ultimately encourage corruption and consolidate power in the very urban centers that have already proven to be incapable of governing themselves, and shouldn't be given the power to rule over the rest of us.
Sometimes I think the split cannot come soon enough, and should be led by men of great integrity, sagacity, kindness and patience, so that we can avoid a really explosive civil war. Sometimes I think that it would be best to let history unfold as it will so that there will be no second guessing whether the split was the prudent choice to make. Let us form two or more new nations according to our own guiding principles, but with mutual respect and reciprocity for the others. Live and let live. If California wants to make it legal to shit in the street, let them. Just let us live where drag queens aren't teaching our children.
There is already a war being waged on the battleground of ideas between the big city folk and the rest of us. If we enact the National Popular Vote, the president will increasingly disregard the rest of us and side with big city folk. That would just lead to a real war. No wonder the big city folk are determined to confiscate our guns today.