Tuesday, September 03, 2019


I'd just written a post about the likelihood that Texas will remain a red state for a while, then I saw this:

Republicans denouncing the Electoral College? Maybe -- as the New York Daily News reported a few days before the 2000 election, some Republicans thought Al Gore might win the Electoral College and lose the popular vote. They were preparing to contest the outcome:
So what if Gore wins such crucial battleground states as Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania and thus captures the magic 270 electoral votes while Bush wins the overall nationwide popular vote? "The one thing we don't do is roll over," says a Bush aide. "We fight."

How? The core of the emerging Bush strategy assumes a popular uprising, stoked by the Bushies themselves, of course. In league with the campaign - which is preparing talking points about the Electoral College's essential unfairness - a massive talk-radio operation would be encouraged. "We'd have ads, too," says a Bush aide, "and I think you can count on the media to fuel the thing big-time. Even papers that supported Gore might turn against him because the will of the people will have been thwarted."

Local business leaders will be urged to lobby their customers, the clergy will be asked to speak up for the popular will and Team Bush will enlist as many Democrats as possible to scream as loud as they can. "You think 'Democrats for Democracy' would be a catchy term for them?" asks a Bush adviser. The universe of people who would be targeted by this insurrection is small - the 538 currently anonymous folks called electors....
But would Democrats and liberals suddenly discover the virtues of the Electoral College if Texas were now perceived to be a solidly blue state? No, for a lot of reasons. Democrats know how easy to lose "firewall" states -- it wasn't just Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan that went Republican in 2016, it was also Iowa, which had been Democratic in six of the previous seven elections, and Ohio, which had been Democratic for four out of six. Also, a single Democratic Electoral College victory accompanied by a popular vote loss still wouldn't offset the two wins of that kind by Republicans since 2000.

But more important, Democrats and liberals have a habit of not taking our own side in an argument. The day after a Democrat with a minority of the popular vote secured an Electoral College victory by winning Texas, there'd be a piece in Vox titled "Democrats Now Have an Overwhelming Advantage in the Electoral College. We Should Still Get Rid of It." Similar pieces would appear all over the liberal opinion sphere.

And there's this:

Bothsider journalists and pundits who'd previously sneered at critiques of the Electoral College would now embrace those critiques, because Republicans would be vigorously working the refs.

I'll admit that I wouldn't defend the Electoral College in the abstract. I'd demand that we follow the rules in place for George W. Bush and Donald Trump, since they haven't changed. But the institution still needs to go, as a matter of principle.

What won't happen is a widespread shift by Democrats and liberals to a pro-Electoral College position. The progressive campaign for a national popular vote would run out of steam, but Democrats wouldn't be likely to defend the institution vigorously. We pat ourselves on the back for having principles other than self-interest. We're not Republicans, who don't bother with any of that nonsense about what's best for the country.

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