I seem to be on a political kick lately. Not hard to understand with all the news about the GOP hopefuls and the national interest in the upcoming duel between Obama and his Republican opponent. All this coverage of Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire and South Carolina nominating results. All this talk about the influence of the swing states, the states that political pundits are saying will decide who wins, who loses.
Besides the unfairness of the above three examples, there’s another reason why we should use the popular vote: In states that seem to be already decided based on past voting (non-swing states for either nominee), too many voters might be discouraged from voting simply because they’d feel their vote wouldn’t matter. And it wouldn’t. The electoral votes in California, for example, are already decided ten months ahead of time. A vote for anyone other than Barack Obama wouldn’t matter. Might as well tear up your vote and throw it to the wind, maybe even skip voting entirely. A vote in South Dakota for anyone other than a republican wouldn’t matter. Throw that one to the wind as well, maybe even skip voting entirely. But, you say, they’d have other races to decide on a state and national level, so they’d still come out to vote. Yes, the dedicated and politically aware voters would still vote. But what about the millions of not so dedicated or not so politically aware, the semi-apathetic? Hmmm, the argument would be that we don’t want those millions deciding anything so important anyway, an echo of our Founding Fathers’ reason for not wanting a popular vote to decide such an important matter, their fear of giving too much power to the riffraff. Or as Ron Paul said in his 2004 essay “The Electoral College vs. Mob Rule,” “The Electoral College system represents an attempt, however effective, to limit federal power and preserve states’ rights. It is an essential part of our federalist balance. It also represents a reminder that pure democracy, mob rule, is incompatible with liberty.” So, Ron, who decides who the mob is? So, Ron, we should keep an elitist system for making this decision and not put it at least partially in the hands of the mob, the riffraff, the rabble, the great unwashed . . . the people? I don’t think so.