Thursday, August 4, 2016


My friend, Frank Stephens is a political consultant who knows a lot more about the electoral college than I do. As a favor, he allowed me to to reprint the following -- because of such a strong reaction to my last blog. Thanks, as always, for reading!!

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What’s an Electoral College and why Are Some

Calling to Abolish It?

By Frank Stephens
Is our way of electing the President of the United States fair?

Assemblyman Tom Umberg, the chair of California’s Assembly Election and Redistricting Committee said, “When you're in first grade, if the person who got the second-most votes became class leader, the kids would recognize that this is not a fair system.” So, why is it fair in presidential elections?
Umberg, taking his grade school analogy to an extreme, is advocating a bill (AB 2948) to enter California into a compact with other states to cast all their electoral votes for the presidential candidate receiving the most popular vote nationwide. This end-run around our Constitution is being pushed by National Popular Vote, and, according to news coverage, by folks still upset that George W. Bush is president instead of Al Gore.
Very few Americans, and we should include Assemblyman Umberg here, even know how we elect our president. What is the Electoral College and why did the Founding Fathers create one? They faced the daunting question of how to elect a president in a nation that:

1. was composed of thirteen large and small States very jealous to protect their own rights and powers and suspicious of any national government;
2. had only 4,000,000 people thinly spread up and down nearly one thousand miles of Atlantic coastlands without good roads or communication;
3. believed that political parties were harmful if not downright evil;
4. felt that a true gentleman should not campaign for public office. The saying was that “The office should seek the man, the man should not seek the office.”

Today some call for an abolishment of the Electoral College. Following Al Gore’s loss to George Bush the pundits argued, it was “undemocratic” to deny the presidency to the man who received the most votes.
This argument is hostile to the Constitution, however, which expressly established the United States as a constitutionally limited republic and not a direct democracy. The Founding Fathers sought to protect certain fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of speech, against the changing whims of popular opinion. Similarly, they created the Electoral College to guard against majority tyranny in federal elections. The president was to be elected by the 13 (now 50) states rather than the American people directly, to ensure that less populated states had a voice in national elections. This is why they blended Electoral College votes between U.S. House seats, which are based on population, and U.S. Senate seats, which are accorded equally to each state. The goal was to balance the inherent tension between majority will and majority tyranny. Those who wish to abolish the Electoral College because it’s not purely democratic should also argue that less populated states like Rhode Island or Wyoming don’t deserve two senators, but they conveniently overlook that fact.
A presidential campaign in a purely democratic system would look very strange. That’s because any rational candidate would focus only on a few big population centers and a few big states. A candidate receiving a large percentage of the popular vote in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, for example, could win the presidency with very little support in dozens of other states. Moreover, a popular vote system would only intensify political pandering, as national candidates would face even greater pressure than today to take empty, middle-of-the-road, poll-tested, mainstream positions. Direct democracy in national politics would further dilute regional differences of opinion on issues, further narrow voter choices, and further weaken what’s left of political courage in our parties.
Consider that those who call for the abolition of the Electoral College are actually hostile to liberty. Not surprisingly, most advocates of abolition are statist elites concentrated largely on the east and west coasts. These political, economic, academic, media, and legal elitists overwhelmingly favor a strong centralized federal government, and express contempt for the federalist concept of states’ rights. They believe in omnipotent federal power, wherein states are reduced to acting as mere glorified federal counties carrying out commands from Washington. Is this what we want for our states?
The Electoral College threatens the imperial aims of these elites because it allows the individual states to elect the president, and in many states the majority of voters still believe in limited government and the Constitution. Voters in southern, mid-western, and western states (we rudely refer to them as “flyover” country) tend to value family, religion, individual liberty, property rights, and gun rights. Washington elites abhor these values, and they hate that middle and rural America hold any political power whatsoever. Their efforts to discredit the Electoral College system are an open attack on the voting power of the pro-liberty states.
Sadly, we have forgotten that states created the federal government, not the other way around. The Electoral College system represents an attempt by our Founding Fathers to limit federal power and preserve states’ rights. It is an essential part of our federalist balance. It also represents a reminder that pure democracy, or mob rule, is incompatible with preserving liberty.
Frank R. Stephens is government affairs director for construction trade associations in Sacramento and Republican county central committee member, CRA 1st Vice Chair. He may be reached at

REMEMBER to cast your VOTE for Brazen Princess before the 27th of August! Thank you!

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