One of the things that most irritate me about politics (especially Democratic politics) is their innate need to rewrite the rules of whatever contest they’re in to their advantage.
Right now, we have Hillary Clinton and her campaign and assorted lickspittles pushing to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
Now, there is a good argument to be made about whether or not those states should have been excluded. But the proper time to make that argument was when the rules were first announced, or even at any point before the actual voting took place. But it wasn’t until after Hillary had won those states that she suddenly discovered the great injustice she had helped inflict (by agreeing to abide by the rules beforehand) and now wants to correct.
Meanwhile, there’s yet another push to get around the Electoral College. The Boston Globe is pimping this one, a plan to convert the presidential election into a straight-up ballot count.
The plan is called the National Popular Vote, and what they’re trying to do is get the several states (or, at least, enough to carry the election) to agree to “pool” their electoral votes and cast them for whichever candidate wins the national popular vote.
The problem with this plan to subvert the Constitution (and make no mistake about it, it is aboud doing an end-run around the Constitutionally-prescribed electoral college system) is a clever one, but it has one tiny little fatal flaw: it is itself unconstitutional.
The final clause of Article I, Section 10 reads as follows:
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
Here in New Hampshire, we are given a concrete example of that clause’s power when we’re in school. We have a school district that encompasses towns in New Hampshire and Vermont, and it took a literal Act of Congress to establish it.
So, it’s firmly established that any agreement between two or more states will need Congressional approval. Will Congress go for it?
I sincerely doubt it. As a matter of principle, they shouldn’t. The National Popular Vote is an agreement to subvert the Constitution, without bothering with the actual work of changing it. There are already a couple of mechanisms to amend the Constitution, and “get as few as eleven states to agree” ain’t one of them.
And yes, that’s the bare minimum of states who would have to sign on to absolutely control the election of the president. If you take the twelve states with the most electoral votes (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts), they add up to 275 votes — more than enough to win the presidency. The other 38 states (and Washington, DC) might as well not even bother to vote.
I have a simple answer to those who push these schemes: shut your goddamned pieholes, jerks. If you have such deep concerns, bring them up BEFORE they become moot, and why not use the methods that are already established to change things?
I already know the answer: because they’re interested in winning, in getting their way, without actually having to do the work to do so. Concepts like fairness and principles and honesty are absolutely foreign to them.
However, I find it a smidgen discouraging that I am counting on Congress and the Supreme Court to also act on principle. They don’t have the best history (especially the Supreme Court’s decision in the Kelo vs. New London case) of doing that.