Way back during the interminable weeks between the 2000 presidential election and the final decision in Bush v. Gore, I spent hours upon hours explaining to otherwise intelligent and politically savvy folks just how this country works. Most of these discussions centered on the Electoral College and the media-induced confusion over its presumed complexities.
They usually began: “But Al Gore won the popular vote; shouldn’t he be the president? Isn’t that the way a democracy works?” Explaining that we are not a democracy but a constitutional republic was not that difficult; most Americans still have some notion of what our Constitution is, although many haven’t any idea of what is actually in it.
The toughest thing, though, was trying to put over the idea that, as envisioned and enacted by our founders, ours is a sovereign nation of equally sovereign states. I would ask those persuaded by the “popular vote” press pundits, what they thought about the U.S. Senate; why it was created and how its members were apportioned, and was it fair that Rhode Island and New York had equal representation there? And finally, the way I usually wound up these chats was by asking, “What exactly is the name of our country?”
Yes, the fact that our Fifth Columnists of the Fourth Estate are constantly agitating for the abolition of the Electoral College should tell you just how vital it is to our constitutional form of government, and just how much the thought of states’ rights terrifies the left. And with good reason.
Very quietly, many states have made decided turns to the right. In the last few years, they have voted to restrict abortion and amend their constitutions to ban same sex marriage. Others, noting the need for fiscal restraint, have begun to restrict the crippling power of state and municipal unions, and to reform those entrusted with the education of our children.
And this week, word is, that several governors are exploring the possibility of refusing to establish the healthcare exchanges mandated in Obamacare, with others poised to join in, now that SCOTUS has essentially removed the penalties for doing so. Still others have gone a step further by revisiting the process of state nullification of unjust federal legislation. And the surprising thing is, not all of these are what would be considered “red” states.
It’s a funny thing about our country; voters act one way when electing state and municipal officials, and sometimes in an entirely different manner when it comes to congressional and presidential elections. Here in my state of Connecticut — a liberal bastion, to be sure — we have had our share of Republican governors, as have New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. My husband likes to say that the people want a national nanny and a local daddy.
What this all means is that many states, and more importantly, many of the people are rediscovering the idea of just where the sovereignty in the U.S. Constitution resides, even if the Roberts Court has yet to figure it out. And the key to conveying the essence of this to the rest of the country is the Electoral College. Voters must be made aware that, should this nation ever adopt the election of our chief executive by popular vote, many of their votes would be rendered much more useless than they feel they are now, as candidates would need only to cultivate the voters in the most populous states while basically ignoring those in flyover country.
The intentional constitutional friction between the states of this vast nation was crafted by our founders as a way to guarantee that the interests of small agricultural states would never be threatened by those of the larger, more industrial ones; federal sovereignty was to be invoked only in cases of the true common good; national defense, tariffs, treaties and the like.
The only way to save this nation from an ever-tyrannical central government — all three branches of it — is to restore the notion that we are a union of fifty individual governments, as guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment. Let us hope this reeducation manifests itself in more bold action by the states, leading up to and including November.