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Rules, Schmules

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.

(Emphasis added)

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.


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Comments (11)

It always amazes me that th... (Below threshold)

It always amazes me that the liberals tout the constitution when it comes to Homeland Security, but when it comes to this subject, the second amendment, etc., the constitution is irrelevent all of a sudden. ww

I was shocked to find that ... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:

I was shocked to find that the state in which I now live, Maryland, has passed into law a bill which will award the state's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

Washington's Senate just passed a similar bill.

Do these fools not understand the benefits of a representative republic over the "Tyranny of the Majority"?

Don't forget, whenever this... (Below threshold)

Don't forget, whenever this comes up, to mention how such a system will turn every precinct in every corner of every state in the country into the worst of Florida 2000. If the electoral votes in CA depend on the number of popular votes in Wyoming, then good people should be contesting every single ballot in Wyoming, every questionable registration, every tally from every machine. Every exit poll that is not 100% accurate should be used to justify calling for recounts, inevitably the vote will change a little each time and each time, because so much rides on every vote, will justify another count.

Oh, and forget about any results on TV from anywhere in the country until Hawaii's polls close, we can't have the popular vote swaying the voters who haven't gone to the polls, yet, especially in a race close enough to be decided by the number of voters in Hawaii. Then, even when they think they have a winner, don't count on an 'official' call until all the absentee ballots (gone over with a fine-toothed comb, to be sure) have been counted and recounted in every precinct in every state.

So, yeah, this is all sounding like a great idea.

I think you'll also find th... (Below threshold)

I think you'll also find that the twits that advocate such measures would simply return a blank stare if asked why the Founding Fathers chose to implement a constitutional republic and abhorred (and rightly so) tyranny that is democracy.

The 2000 election is a grea... (Below threshold)

The 2000 election is a great example of why changing the Electoral College is a bad idea. In 2000 Gore received 51,003,926 votes and Bush received 50,460,110 votes. A difference of 543,816 votes or 1/2 of 1% of the total votes cast. Typically an automatic recount is generated when the difference is 1/2 of 1% or less.

If the country had used the popular vote to elect the President in 2000 then there would have been 50 Florida's with each state having to recount the votes.

Speaking of 2000 - 600,000 ... (Below threshold)

Speaking of 2000 - 600,000 Californians (just one state) could have voted for Bush instead of Gore without changing the electoral result at all, but would have given Bush the popular vote...how many liberals in Sacramento, if Gore had gotten 2,000 more Florida votes, would have liked to watch their electoral votes being cast for George Bush instead of Gore in that case - giving the election, again, to Bush?

We all know that most of th... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

We all know that most of those liberal demacrats are a bunch of miserble lowlife scum suckers

The Thunder Run has linked ... (Below threshold)

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/21/2008 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Michigan and Florida should... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Michigan and Florida should inform the Democrat party that their candidate won't be labeled as "Democrat" on the state's ballet if their delegates are not seated at the convention.

I'm sure the party would go to court, but then they have to justify their on going bias in allowing the same states to always go first. To be fair, the order of primaries should be rotated among all the states.

I don't think your "it's un... (Below threshold)

I don't think your "it's unconstitutional" argument holds water. The language of the bills that I've read state say something to the affect that "this state will award their electoral vote to the winner of the national popular vote" with the condition that it not take effect until similar legislation is passed by states holding a majority of the electoral votes.

There isn't an agreement between states, but rather a group of individual states saying that they are going to change their law about how their electoral votes are cast.

Rance,While Jay Te... (Below threshold)


While Jay Tea surely overstates his argument when he says, "it is itself unconstitutional," and "it's firmly established that any agreement between two or more states will need Congressional approval", (please see United States Steel Corp. v. Multistate Tax Comm'n and Virginia v. Tennessee for examples of why this assertion is incorrect), something of this magnitude and importance would surely be open to a challenge under the compact clause that is cited in his article.

Quite a bit has already been written on this subject by various legal thinkers and, while all agree that a compact clause challenge could result, there is disagreement on the merits and likely outcome.






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