Our two-vote system for electing a president must be defended

The Electoral College once again is under attack, which seems to happen when Democrats lose an election according to the rules. There is nothing new about this. We heard it in 2000, when George W. Bush won the White House despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore by just over 500,000 votes.

Well, if Democrats found that to be an inconvenient truth in 2000, they really had enough constitutional reality in 2016, when Donald Trump thoroughly trounced Hillary Clinton in the electoral count despite having lost the popular vote by just under 3 million ballots.  

{mosads}Now there is a movement within the states to pass independent legislation that would require their Electoral College votes to go to whomever wins the popular vote nationwide. This is being done under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Each state must approve the pact separately, but it will take effect only if they get enough states to join in to hit an electoral threshold of 270 votes, the number need to elect a president.

The unintended consequence of this is that, technically, the people of a state could vote for one candidate but have their electoral votes cast for the other. So much for hearing the voice of the citizen.

In his 2017 book, “The Electoral College: Critical to Our Republic,” scholar Josiah Peterson makes a concise yet comprehensive argument on its behalf. Emanating from debate among our Founding Fathers, the Electoral College has played a vital role over the past two centuries, he points out.

The Connecticut Compromise of 1787 created the structure of the House and Senate, and it was that same compromise that inspired James Madison and others to create the two-vote system we use for electing a president. The Founders, embracing Plato and foreshadowing Mill, understood that anything touching upon pure democracy would lead to a tyranny of the majority that would destroy the republic.

One of the most interesting facts in Peterson’s book is that without the Electoral College, the Republican Party likely would not have emerged so quickly and Abraham Lincoln would not have been elected president. There is no way of knowing what would have happened to America if Lincoln had not come to the office, but the fact that he did ultimately made us the greatest, most powerful nation.

People forget that the United States is not, and never has been, a democracy. It was intentionally designed not to be, by well-read men who studied political philosophy and concluded — along with great thinkers and students of political orders for 2,000 years — that a democracy cannot be sustained. Some layering is required to stop a mob from becoming ruler.

Young people particularly don’t understand this non-nuanced construction of the United States, largely because they aren’t taught much American history. This is evidenced by the website Vote16USA.org, where you’ll find under “Essential Information” the following statement:

“Lowering the voting age is a bold idea to strengthen our democracy. Research from this country and others suggests that lowering the voting age can improve voter turnout, spur civic engagement, and encourage effective civic education.”

Again, we don’t live in a democracy — we never have, purposely.

The movement to lower the voting age is a new twist on the idea of eliminating the Electoral College. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) has introduced legislation to let 16-year-olds vote. It appears that some progressive Democrats are betting they can eliminate our Republic of the United States if they let people who are too young to understand the risk help them to do so. Then they could rule — forever, perhaps — by promising free stuff to the masses.

The American Revolution and the French Revolution happened around the same time, so they often are mentioned in one political breath. Yet they were not the same. The American Revolution was led by thoughtful men, with deliberate design. The French Revolution was led by lawyer and politician Maximilien Robespierre, a mob and a guillotine.

In his book, Peterson points out the irony “that the same rules that kept Hilary Clinton from victory secured her husband’s victory a quarter-century before.” Though not always yielding the outcome any one person or group might want, America’s system has provided stability and balance since our nation’s inception, and it represents the single best synthesis of all the great political philosophers. We must rigorously defend it.  

Charlie Kirk is the founder and president of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit that aims to educate students on free-market values. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieKirk11.

Tags Al Gore Ayanna Pressley Donald Trump Elections Hillary Clinton National Popular Vote Interstate Compact United States Electoral College

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