Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Ditching Electoral College would allow California to impose imperial rule on a colonial America

Ditching Electoral College would allow California to impose imperial rule on a colonial America
warns Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner (cheers to Instapundit's Stephen Green).
 … for the first time in the nation's history the most populous state was a political outlier, voting at one extreme in the national political spectrum.

 … Well, yeah, you might say. California has been called the Left Coast for quite a while. Just about everyone in Silicon Valley except Peter Thiel and in Hollywood except Pat Sajak supported Clinton. White middle class families have been pretty well priced out of the state by high taxes and housing costs, and the Hispanic and Asian immigrants who have replaced them vote far more Democratic.

 … In the nine elections before that and after California passed New York to become the most populous state in 1963, the average of California's Democratic and Republican percentages was never more than 5 points off the national figures.

 … In this respect it resembles New York, the most populous state in every Census from 1820 to 1960. In elections 1856 to 1960, New York's Democratic and Republican percentages seldom varied more than 5 points from the national average.

 … The fact that New York voted much like the nation as a whole meant there were few elections when the popular vote winner lost in the Electoral College. In the two exceptions, 1876 and 1888, the popular vote winner was a New Yorker.

If California continues to occupy one extreme of the national political spectrum, there may well be more such splits. At least unless and until the Democratic Party figures it needs more to make a case with more appeal beyond California if it wants to win 270 electoral votes.

All of which prompts renewed arguments about the Electoral College. The case for abolishing it is simple: Every American's vote should count the same. But it won't happen. Two-thirds of each house of Congress and 38 of the 50 state legislatures will never go along.

The case against abolition is one suggested by the Framers' fears that voters in one large but highly atypical state could impose their will on a contrary-minded nation. That largest state in 1787 was Virginia, home of four of the first five presidents. New York and California, by remaining closely in line with national opinion up through 1996, made the issue moot.

California's 21st century veer to the left makes it a live issue again. In a popular vote system, the voters of this geographically distant and culturally distinct state, whose contempt for heartland Christians resembles imperial London's disdain for the "lesser breeds" it governed, could impose something like colonial rule over the rest of the nation. Sounds exactly like what the Framers strove to prevent.