Monday, April 02, 2007

E.J. Dionne jumps onto the as-of-now small bandwagon of those hoping to bypass the Electoral College by moving to a system where each state would pledge their electors to the candidate who won the national election regardless of whether that candidate won that state... in other words, a national popularity contest, where the candidate with the most votes becomes President regardless of the number or size of the states in which they won the most votes.

Now.... it's possible that Dionne, like the others in favor of this scheme, are solely (or even mostly) motivated by pure principles, that they sincerely dislike any electoral system other than that of majority rule. What other reason could explain their being in favor of a system where their state's electoral votes are NOT cast in favor of the candidate who won the majority of votes in their state?

See, it's possible that the people of Maryland, where Dionne lives, could vote for a particular candidate (we will assume a Democrat, given the state's demographics and history of election fraud), only to have their electors have to vote for a Republican because the Republican won a majority of votes nationwide. What a stick in the craw that would be.

Even worse (from a particular perspective) would be seeing your candidate win a majority of electoral votes under the current system but fail to become President because the guy you didn't vote for won the overall national popular vote.

Why would the people of Texas, who voted for Bush in 2000, have wanted to see their electoral votes cast for Al Gore in 2000? Why would the people of Maryland, assuming Kerry had won Ohio (and with it, enough electoral votes to become President under the current system) want to have seen their electoral votes going to Bush because Bush had more votes nationwide than Kerry had?

Why would the people of small states - such as Maryland - want to give up the influence they now have, where they carrry more weight under the current system than their relatively small populations would give them under a new system?

I don't believe for a minute that Dionne is motivated by principle regarding majority rule. He has a long history of having minority views on any number of subjects and yet has never shied away from calling for Congress and the courts to ignore public opinion in favor of Dionne's positions. For example, gay marriage is opposed by a majority of the people, yet Dionne has no problem opposing efforts to ban it. Another example: most people are in favor of eliminating the estate tax, yet Dionne thinks Congress should ignore them. And a third: Dionne is in the minority regarding gun control yet screams that Congress should pass strict gun control measures.

No, Dionne, like the others, is motivated because he thinks the new system is more likely to result in candidates he likes becoming President than is now the case.

He surveys the current landscape and sees a solid core of Republican electoral votes from states such as Montana, Utah, Wyoming and so on, states with small populations that are reliably Republican. These states guarantee a base of electoral votes for a Republican, freeing GOP candidates from having to campaign there and thus able to spend their money and time in the so-called battleground states. Dionne also sees blue states like California, where Democrats traditionally win easy, and with margins that don't translate into extra electoral votes. Dionne wants a situation where a Democrat winning California by 2 million votes totally offsets a GOP candidate winning the smaller states.

No matter how he paints it, Dionne is just another political hack, going with whatever scheme is thought of to guarantee his candidate a win. To him, like so many others on both sides of the aisle, the only principle worth defending is the one that results in a win....