| April 4, 2011

Stick with the Founders, oppose National Popular Vote

As the “National Popular Vote” (NPV) bill is currently being considered by the Oklahoma Legislature, the proponents of NPV have distributed a tome of more than 800 pages explaining their position. However, the reasons to oppose NPV can be summed up in much fewer words. Here is what you need to know about NPV.

Supported by Soros

A bill can be known by the company it keeps. NPV is endorsed by left wing groups like ACLU, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, and Common Cause, an organization that receives its funding from groups like George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the Tides Foundation. Obviously, these groups would not be supporting NPV if they did not stand to benefit from it. Meanwhile, no major conservative figures have come out in support of NPV.

A good rule of thumb for deciding whether a bill is good or bad is to see if Soros supports or opposes it. Soros has funneled money into nearly every major radical leftist group in the country, and is bent on shaping the United States into a European-style social democracy.

The reason these groups have flocked to the NPV movement is their radical agenda is much easier to advance without the Electoral College standing in the way. It is becoming increasingly difficult for liberal presidential candidates to draw electoral maps where they can win without having to compromise on many of their positions.

Under a NPV scheme, a candidate like President Obama could run on a much more extreme platform and focus all of his efforts on getting voters to the polls in liberal strongholds rather than having to come to the middle and persuade more moderate voters to vote for him.

An NPV scheme will turn the presidential election into a get-out-the-vote contest, rather than a debate on ideas. With liberal groups like Project Vote (ACORN’s voter-mobilization arm) committing massive voter fraud, conservatives will be at a disadvantage in every presidential election.

Thwarts Federalism

The NPV supporters argue that this plan is pro-federalism because it would be based on the states enacting interstate compacts to cast their electoral votes for the national popular vote winner. In fact, this plan thwarts one of the main functions of our federal system.

In our federal system, the states operate as laboratories of democracy that allow us to test new and innovative ideas. In order for this system to work the states must have diverse political environments that display clear differences between states. In other words, the federal system needs conservative states and liberal states.

In addition to acting as testing grounds for new ideas that the federal government can implement, a heterogeneous political map allows citizens to choose their political climate by “voting with their feet” and leaving one state for another with a different political landscape.

Proponents of NPV have failed to take into account the impact of increased attention from national candidates in states that were previously considered conservative or liberal strongholds. An effort by a liberal candidate in a conservative state to drive votes in his areas of support will send more liberal voters to the polls, possibly electing more liberals at the state and local level. This would also be true in a liberal state with a conservative candidate attempting to send more conservatives to the polls. The end result would be to change large majorities into narrow majorities at the state government level. On the surface this seems like a good thing because we would have a more balanced government. In fact, this is a bad thing because a more balanced government does not allow for liberals or conservatives to advance their ideas in the purest form at the state level. Instead, we would get the diluted versions of these ideas because of the necessary compromises that would take place. The difference between the policies in states would shrink and the choice between liberal and conservative would become less clear. For conservatives, this is undesirable.

Currently, there is a clear choice between states like Texas which implement conservative policies and states like California which implement liberal policies. One can compare the two states and see that Texas is thriving while California is floundering and see that conservatism creates prosperity and liberalism does not. Under a NPV scheme, we could see this distinction blurred.

Under the current system, conservative ideas will win in the long run. As more states, like Oklahoma, successfully implement conservative policies to undo the disastrous liberal policies of the past, more and more citizens will recognize that conservatism is the answer to the problems that face our states and our country. Under an NPV plan, this conversion cannot take place because true conservative policies will rarely be implemented at the state level.

Effectively Eliminates the Electoral College

The NPV movement is really an effort to get rid of the Electoral College without having to amend the Constitution. The Electoral College was developed for a reason. The Founders were well aware of ancient democracies and the shortfalls of a popular vote for president, and chose to develop a system that protects our constitutional republic.

The current electoral process demands that the President have a broad base of support from the states, thus making him the President of the United States, not President of the People. Surrendering the state’s will to the will of the people of other states is simply not how the system is supposed to work. The Founders considered electing the President by a popular vote and chose against it.

The process for breaking an electoral tie indicates that the Founders were focused on the states electing the President. If there is no electoral majority winner, the election is thrown to the House of Representatives where there is a runoff between the three candidates with the most electoral votes. In that runoff, each state delegation votes as a block. This means the winner would be the winner of a majority of the states.

This solution indicates that the intent of the Founders was to have the President selected by the states, not by popular vote. NPV goes against that intent by ensuring that the states will have no say over who is elected president if they have signed on to the compact.

The Electoral College discourages third party or extremist candidates from running because it is nearly impossible for them to get the electoral votes to win the presidency. NPV supporters vehemently deny this, and point to state gubernatorial elections as examples of popular votes where third party candidates do not gain traction. There are many differences between state level elections and national elections, so this comparison is not very persuasive.

A more accurate comparison is the presidential election process in Mexico. Mexico also has a federal system, but their states are little more than agents of the federal government. Because the states are weak by design, the president is elected by a national popular vote. The result is a proliferation of third (and fourth, fifth, and sometimes sixth) party candidates in Mexico. The President of Mexico was elected with just over 35% of the vote in 2006, just edging out the second place candidate by half a percentage point. The United States should not be modeling its electoral process after the notoriously messy and corrupt system in Mexico.

NPV supporters put forth many more clever arguments, but the underlying premise of their movement is flawed. Their premise is the U.S. needs a more democratic system for choosing the president, which ignores the Founders’ choice to reject such a system for a host of reasons. Conservatives should stick with the Founders and oppose NPV.

A third-year law student at the University of Oklahoma, Bobby Lepak is an OCPA research assistant.

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