- A lot has changed in our nation in the last two centuries, but the aspirational nature of our values has not.
- There are times in our nation’s history where fate, possibly God, was allowed to intervene because of our principles and founding documents. The election of 1860 was one of those times.
- Those that seek to change our electoral system do not realize how fragile our democracy is, nor do they understand that throughout our history our electoral system has been a protective safeguard.
- National Popular Vote is a bad idea. If an end run around our Constitutional system is allowed, even at a state level, our nation will have more citizens disenfranchised and forgotten about.
In the Presidential election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln received less than 40% of the popular vote. It was due to the foresight of our founding fathers that Lincoln became our 16th president. Lincoln’s name was not even allowed on the ballot in several of the southern states, yet he became our President. The right man at the right time was put in the presidency both through God’s will and the foresight of the framers of our Constitution.
In the Civil War there was the North and the South, the good and the bad, the wrong and the right, but in the end thanks to Abraham Lincoln being on the correct side of each of those equations we emerged as one nation. Imagine the consequences if most states at the time did not have a winner take all methodology regarding awarding electoral votes. Lincoln’s name was kept off the ballot in 10 of the southern states. If on a statewide basis, it was not a winner take all proposition in regard to the electoral vote, we might have had a much different outcome.
The election of 1860 was rigged against Republicans, in favor of pro-slavery Democrats. Each state receives electors equal to the number of Senators and Representatives that they have. The issues that divided the Democrats in Charleston on April 23rd, 1860 were passionate and fueled by personal dislikes but, from a policy standpoint, they were trivial by today’s standards. The Northern Democrats supported slavery, just not it’s expansion, and the Southern Democrats wanted to be able to bring slavery westward. Keep in mind this chasm had nothing to do with ending slavery, it was just a disagreement as to where it was appropriate. Due to pure mathematics, it is very unlikely that the Democrats would have left Charleston split. The Democrats most certainly would have compromised, healed divides, and unified to win the election if they knew a split would give Lincoln and the anti-slavery Republicans a win. In short, the state-by-state Electoral College system allowed the pro-slavery Democrats to divide themselves. Even though Lincoln’s name did not appear on the ballot in the majority of Southern States, the system worked as intended and our nation through blood and iron not only survived but survived as a beacon of liberty and hope for the rest of the world.
If electoral votes were awarded proportionately there would have been a different composition of candidates in 1860. Stephen Douglas (the Northern Democrat) and John Breckenridge (the Southern Democrat) most certainly would have joined forces to win the popular vote. Without an Electoral College state-by-state methodology, we would have handed the election of 1860 to the Democrats. With the Democrats in control of the White House, slavery would have been prolonged and the union would have disintegrated underneath the North-South tension, the United States as we know it today would not exist. A change in the electoral college system would have created a Breckenridge-Douglas ticket, which would have brought about a Breckenridge-Douglas presidency. A Democrat win in 1860 would have destroyed our country, and with it, our ability to defeat Nazi Germany, institute the Marshal Plan or win the Cold War. The world would have been very different, much of it under the oppression of both Communism and Fascism.
It is true that the Electoral College has evolved as political parties emerged and voting rights were reinforced by the 14th amendment, but the winner take all system insulates our democracy from the whims of the large population centers like California and New York. In Outstate America, it has been a blessing that has kept midwestern states relevant and politicians responsive. Ten electoral votes here, and ten electoral votes there, it starts to add up, and those of us in “flyover country” and our issues become relevant to the coastal elites. If electoral votes were awarded proportionately, states like Minnesota and Wisconsin would never be battlegrounds, wide swaths of the Midwest wouldn’t matter.
If middle America did not have a voice in the political process, Hillary Clinton would be our President. While our Republican elected officials do not always practice the values of middle America, it is those voters that elected them. U.S. Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) feels that the state-by-state Electoral College system isn’t working and we must go to a National Popular Vote system. Rep. Emmer outlines a proposed workaround the Constitution in this video. It boggles the mind how any Republican could advocate for a radical change to a system that gives a voice to a large part of the country. Under Tom Emmer’s National Popular Vote, if presidential candidates were to venture into the Midwest they would only hit large population centers in order rack up the most total votes and ignore the Outstate. Essentially, Outstate America would be relegated to a political and cultural backwater. Tom Emmer certainly hasn’t studied the political dynamic of Lincoln vs Pro-Slavery Democrats, Bush vs Gore, or is yet to admit that his plan to circumvent the Constitution would have elected Hillary Clinton. Tom Emmer maintains that as a Congressman he would never have to weigh in on National Popular Vote. Never is a very big word as nobody knows what the future holds. As the National Popular Vote initiative picks up steam it is very likely that Congress will have some sort of involvement in the future, either directly or peripherally.
While I shake my head at Tom Emmer’s scheme that would deprive Outstate America of a voice in Presidential elections, I am breathless at Donald Trump’s misunderstanding of how he was elected and who elected him. You must read the article and watch the video to believe it. President Trump stated he would rather have a “popular election” and Trump believes he is such astonishing political figure, all he would have to do is change campaign strategy to win. First, no, President Trump will never win a “popular election.” Secondly, yes in a “popular election” President Trump would have to change election strategies and pander to the large population centers and the coastal elites, to the exclusion of the forgotten men and women who elected him in the first place. I can only hope that was Trump’s boastful nature and not an actual belief.
Tom Emmer’s National Popular Vote is becoming a reality and that is a tragedy. While it is very much a state issue, Republicans that opened this can of worms need to do their best to stop it. The unraveling of our Electoral College process is very much underway; we need to recognize it as a threat and stop it. We have a bicameral legislative system that gives both proportionate representation and provides for two Senators to represent the entire state, regardless of the population of that state. We are not a direct democracy subject to the whims and tyranny of the majority, rather, we are a Constitutional Representative Republic that spreads out power amongst the people of all 50 states. Republicans, Conservatives, Constitutionalists, Libertarians, and others that want political stability and respect for individual liberties need to stand against any sort of National Popular Vote that would leave us at the mercy of those who do not understand our values. Furthermore, should National Popular Vote initiatives become a reality, Presidential candidates and Presidential administrations would have no reason to care about us or our values.
Whether it is Tom Emmer or Donald Trump, any departure from our current Electoral College system would hurt voters in middle America. They would truly be sidelined politically and would forever remain the forgotten men and women of this country.