Law & Principles
Staff | September 2, 2020
New documentary defends the Electoral College
A new book and a new feature-length documentary from OCPA and Save Our States make the case for Hamilton’s “excellent” system.
Destroying a system that has helped ensure peace and stability for centuries seems foolhardy at best. Unfortunately, progressives are trying to do precisely this by nullifying the Electoral College and replacing it with a national popular vote.
Dan McLaughlin, a senior writer for National Review, explains why abolishing the Electoral College is disastrous. “The core function of the Electoral College is to require presidential candidates to appeal to the voters of a sufficient number of large and smaller states, rather than just try to run up big margins in a handful of the biggest states, cities, or regions. Critics ignore the important value served by having a president whose base of support is spread over a broad, diverse array of regions of the country.”
History shows the Electoral College accomplishes this goal, but opponents argue it distorts election outcomes. Since 2009, Save Our States has organized the defense of the Electoral College. Now Save Our States is releasing a feature-length documentary showing why the Constitution's presidential election process is still relevant today.
The film is titled Safeguard: An Electoral College Story, and it takes viewers on a journey through the idea of checks and balances, the conflict between individual rights and democracy, and the constitutional structure of states. (Watch the trailer here.) It shows how the Founding Fathers established the Electoral College as a way to divide power and channel the will of the people through the states in presidential elections. This seemingly peculiar process fits into a broad tapestry that ensures no person or political party can run roughshod over our republic.
The film rebuts the claim that Hillary Clinton should be president because she received more votes than Donald Trump. The filmmakers show Clinton lost not because of skewed rules but because she ran a lousy campaign that didn’t appeal to disaffected voters.
Unfortunately, advocates for abolishing the Electoral College have been gaining ground in recent years, by convincing individual states to pledge their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. For this “National Popular Vote” (NPV) plan to take effect, a majority of states must agree to it. In November, voters in Colorado will decide a ballot measure that could remove them from the compact.
Trent England, executive director of Save Our States and author of the new book Why We Must Defend the Electoral College (Encounter Broadside, 2020), persuasively argues Colorado would lose its voice if it stays in the compact. “Right now, Colorado voters decide how Colorado votes for president. But with NPV, voters in Los Angeles would suddenly have a say not just over how California votes, but over how Colorado votes. And because there are more than twice as many people in the Los Angeles metro area than all of Colorado, they would have twice as much power over Colorado’s votes.”
Preserving the Electoral College ensures the people of Colorado—and Oklahoma—have a voice in presidential elections and aren’t drowned out by bigger states.
Save Our States is continuing in the footsteps of defenders of the Electoral College, including Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68, “The mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the union of which was to be wished for.”
The Electoral College seems obscure and irrelevant at first blush, but Hamilton and OCPA understand its importance. It has fostered free and fair elections resulting in a peaceful transfer of power for more than two centuries. In these divided and uncertain times, we should preserve—not destroy—our time-tested institutions.