Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY recently trashed the Electoral College as a scam that is racist and unfairly providing an advantage for white people. The complaint that the way the United States elects presidents, by a majority of the electoral votes of the states rather than a majority of the popular vote, is unfair is not a new one. The Democrats have lost two national elections, once in 2000 and the other in 2016, even though more people voted for their candidate in recent memory. AOC, though, was the first national figure to put the complaint in such stark, racial terms.
Political figures in the heartland are not taking AOC’s complaint without offering a response. Sen Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, took the fiery congresswoman to task in a tweet.
“Actually @AOC, eliminating the Electoral College would silence our voices here in Iowa and in many other states across the country.
“This is just more evidence of how out of touch the Democrats have become.”
Former Arkansas Mike Huckabee, a Fox News contributor, added:
“The great sage, AOC, apparently didn’t take Civics so she wants to get rid of the Electoral College. The college we need to close is the one who gave her a degree! She won’t watch this but hope you will. Electoral College is good for Dems and GOP.”
Huckabee included a YouTube excerpt from his show on the Trinity Broadcast Network in which he, among other things, discussed the purpose of the Electoral; College and the current controversy surrounding it, Huckabee explained the purpose of the institution, using small words so that people like AOC might understand,
As most people who had been awake in civics class remember, the Electoral College ensures that presidential candidates have to solicit the votes of all Americans, not just those in a handful of high population state. Such as California, New York, Florida, and Texas. Under a system in which a presidential candidate has to get the popular vote, people in the heartland, in states such as Iowa and Arkansas, would be ignored and disenfranchised.
Townhall sought the advice of Tara Ross, a lawyer, and expert on constitutional history, to expand on the reasons that the Founders established the Electoral College. Ross quoted none other than civil rights icon Vernon Jordan to explain why the institution is crucial for ensuring that African Americans have political power and influence.
“’Take away the electoral college,’ Mr. Jordan wrote at the time, ‘and the importance of that black vote melts away. Blacks, instead of being crucial to victory in major states, simply become ten percent of the total electorate, with reduced impact.'”
Ross went on to explain the dangers of direct democracy.
“Americans would be better served to remember the real history of the Electoral College: The institution was created because the Founders knew the dangers of simple democracies. Two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner are not just. Instead, the Founders created a system of checks and balances, including our Electoral College.”
Ross went on to note that political affiliations of states are not permanent. Texas and Florida used to be part of the “solid south” that voted straight Democratic since the Civil War. The two states now tend to vote Republican. California, as recently as the 1988 presidential election, went to the Republican candidate, George H. W. Bush. The state was also the home of such Republican luminaries as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. No, California is a reliably Democratic state. But none of these states of affairs are necessarily permanent.
Nor is the Electoral College racist. It is not structured to favor one race over another. The fact that more African Americans live in coastal, urban centers that in the rural heartland is an accident of history.
Finally, according to Ross, the Electoral College ensures that politicians seeking the presidency has to seek the votes of all Americans.
“The purpose of our state-by-state presidential election process is simply to ensure that voters from a variety of regions, states, and subcultures are taken into account at election time. The truth is that the Electoral College helps all Americans, no matter their skin color. It does this by rewarding presidential candidates who do the best job of taking into account the needs of a wide variety of voters.”
In other words, the key to gaining the presidency is to forge coalitions of a wide variety of Americans, not cherry-picking just one numerous group and ignoring anyone else. As Ross might say to AOC if she were her student, thus ends the lesson.