President Trump and President George W. Bush won the electoral vote during the election, but not the popular vote. How does the electoral college work?
If metro areas want something different from states such as Iowa, then voting in Iowa becomes essentially meaningless.
There is a movement afoot to eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with a popular vote. It is a very bad idea.
To proceed, we need to leave our naiveté at the door and recognize that voting methods that allow the “correct” side to win are preferred by that side.
A pure popular voting system appears appealing, but there are sound reasons why the Electoral College system was created to select a president.
Allowing everyone to have an equal voice in an election is a worthy goal, if everyone has an equal voice. There are numerous reasons why this wouldn’t occur.
A new kind of disenfranchisement
If the voters are randomly distributed by secondary aspects, then a democratic vote might be fair, but if voters are “blocked” by pertinent characteristics, then losing groups would be essentially disenfranchised.
Election 2020: Republicans as a multicultural working class party? That’s Trump-level delusional thinking.
If there were more women than men, and they voted as a bloc, then men’s votes would mean nothing. If all whites voted as a group, then people of color would be disenfranchised. It wouldn’t matter what they wanted, or even if they voted.
This bloc “solidarity” has been characterized as three hungry wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
In the last several presidential elections, there has been a distinct pattern of rural voters preferring a different candidate than urban voters. Urban voters are different. They are more dependent upon governments in almost all aspects of their lives.
Consider Nevada as an example. Clark County is Las Vegas. It contains 75% of the entire population of the state. The two largest cities in the state have 90% of the population. If you are a Nevada rancher, it doesn’t matter what you want or even if you vote … if you want something different than the people in those two cities. If ranchers don’t conform, they are disenfranchised and have been removed from the democratic process.
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Now expand this to the nation as a whole.
Diverse states, diverse interests
The ten largest metro areas in the United States contain almost 110 million people. If every single person in Iowa, my home state, wanted X and the urbanites wanted Y, it wouldn’t matter what Iowa wanted. Whether everyone in Iowa even voted would make no difference at all. At a federal level, the entire state would be disenfranchised.
Dennis Clayson (Photo: Special to the Register)
As long as the people of Iowa are randomly the same as the urbanites, then there is no problem. However, if metro areas want something different from states such as Iowa, then voting in Iowa becomes essentially meaningless.
In relationship to national elections, unless they conformed, the people of Iowa would no longer be living in a meaningful democratic system.
The Electoral College was created to give people in diverse states influence in selecting a national leader, so that leader would be beholden to the people of Iowa and not just to whatever is wanted in New York and Los Angeles.
Dennis Clayson is professor emeritus at the University of Northern Iowa. This column originally appeared in the Des Moines Register.
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