Constitutional CornerSome Americans have not yet been introduced to Quora.com. I was sometime last year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. You learn some useful things on that forum (What are some tips for writing objectives on a resume?), some not so useful (What is the manliest statue in the world?) and get an unexpected insight into the human condition as well (What is the most clever life hack you’ve learned?). But be forewarned: it is addictive.
You can sign up to answer questions people ask of you (and others) in your area of expertise or you can just peruse the answers themselves. Since the election there has been a veritable deluge of questions concerning the Electoral College, many exploring “what if” type scenarios. Like this one:
Could an American presidential candidate win the popular vote overwhelmingly and still lose an election as a result of the electoral college?
The way the “asker” frames the question often reveals their bias, and this was no exception. “As a result of the electoral college” suggests that the writer probably considers the electoral college an anachronism that “prevents” popular candidates from being elected (like Hillary perhaps?).Many questions also reveal a pathetic lack of knowledge about a feature of our Constitution that has been operating for the last 227 years, give or take. Here’s the way I answered:
Absolutely, because the “popular vote” is an artificial, extra-constitutional creation never intended by the framers of the Constitution.
Let’s take this to the absurd: what if, in the states Hillary Clinton, won sometimes by slim margins, she had instead received 100% of the vote of the eligible voters of that state. Guess what? It would not have changed the outcome of the election one iota!
If every eligible voter in the states Clinton won had voted for her, she would have received 96,995,865 votes. Add this to the votes she received in the states she lost (31,792,862), and it would have given her a grand total of 128,788,727 votes, more than twice what Trump garnered (62,238,425, according to CNN). Talk about a blowout!
This absurd result illustrates a simple truth: the people of America do not elect the President, the states do; the people simply assist their state in doing so. I know that statement is hard for some democracy-addled citizens to accept, but it is the truth. We are not a democracy, we are a federal republic; the states are not mere administrative units of a unified nation, they are sovereign entities in a union of states, sovereign entities in their own right. And, most importantly, the very sovereign entities (12 of them at least) that happened to create the federal government in the first place.
Compiling a “National Popular Vote” only confuses the truth of our Presidential Election System, aka, the Electoral College. We should simply stop doing it.