This view propagates a fallacy about how our country was founded and operates. This fallacy is dangerous and preys upon uneducated or ill-informed voters for what purpose? Demonizing the winning candidates? Hang-wringing and self-flagellation over the lack of power one’s party doesn’t get through an election?
GorT has many issues with the American education system*, one of which being that it isn’t something the federal government should be involved with to start (if you disagree, try defending it without using the “promote the general welfare” clause**). Having said that, since the federal government is involved, GorT would be wholly in favor of having a national requirement to graduate 8th grade (or get a GED, etc.) to include a basic civics class and a personal economics class. We should not allow our children to be uneducated in how our country operates or how to manage your personal finances.
So now we have politicians, news magazines, and pundits clamoring over the democrats “winning the popular vote” for the Senate…or the House of Representatives…or the Presidency. But rarely are they publicly challenged as to why this should matter. The answer is quite simple: it doesn’t. And if those that do believe it think it should, we have a course of action available: change the Constitution. Period. That’s how this country works.
Many people jab at those who reference the Constitution with barbs about it being written 231 years ago that the founders could never foresee the world in which we live. I’ll agree that they weren’t time-travelers*** or soothsayers, but I think there is a brilliance in the system of government that was architected.
The United States is a federal republic and not a democracy. For those that read this and are aghast, I’ll pause for you to go Google it or check Wikipedia. In fact, I made that a link, go click thru. Done? Ok. But over the years, starting as far back as the early 1800s with Madison, Monroe, and Hamilton, the federal government’s powers began expanding and the 10th Amendment began to lose its stature. But some brilliance still remains. I think it is clear, both in our founding documents, and in historical accounts of the founders, that they eschewed having governmental power concentrated in a single person (i.e. a king) or a small body of representatives. Therefore, the United States ended up with the three branches of government with limited and distinct powers and associated checks and balances. Powers that have blurred recently through the feckless ceding of power by some or overreaching by others****. We also ended up with the Senate and the House of Representatives for our legislative body. The Senate was constructed to represent the States. And herein lies one bone of contention driving the recent talk about popular votes and a piece of brilliance from the founders. The Senate ensures that no one state, or group of states with high population centers, could advance their issues, concerns, and desires above states with lesser populations. State populations can be driven be many factors and these should not be factors in the relative importance that state is with regards to others – factors like local economy, geology, weather, climate, history, etc. The House of Representatives was created to represent the people and the number of representatives in each state is dictated by the population. The Electoral College blends the two by affording each state a number of electoral votes equal to the total of its representatives across the Senate and House.
If the United States returned to having the belief that the federal government is limited to those powers enumerated in the Constitution and any added through amendments and gave the 10th amendment is due consideration, I think the general public would understand this better and realize that these “popular vote” arguments are nonsensical. Furthermore, I think the country would be in a better place. Those in federal government would have less impact and control in our daily lives – just think about restricting your federal-level representatives being restricted to the Constitutionally mandated powers. Recall the days after the 2016 election and those people so distraught that they needed time off from school or work. This would require our local elected leaders – those who live and work in our communities to step up and likely undertake more issues and efforts. And yes, you might find yourself in a state that has policies or practices with which you don’t agree but there is multiple avenues of recourse: you could work to change them, run for elected office to affect said change, or relocate to a state that is more aligned with your beliefs.
I believe there is a reason why that is better than what we have. We hear the reason in a variety of ways: “locally grown” or “locally sourced” or the concept of subsidiarity in Catholicism. Subsidiarity is the idea that a central authority should perform only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.
I don’t know if we can ever get there but I do believe this country would be in a much better place.
* the order in which we teach science (should be Physics, Chemistry, Biology…not alphabetically like many high schools do); the migration away from diagramming sentences so that one understands how they are constructed and how to decompose them to understand them and craft them for oneself; the lack of teaching students that there are different modes of reading (for instruction, for comprehension, for enjoyment) and how to do each; a general lack of emphasis on critical reading skills – understanding what the author is saying, understanding sources, and dissecting arguments, etc. etc.
** The “General Welfare Clause” and Article I Section 8 (which also uses the term “general welfare” has been abused for 200+ years by our elected representatives and it should have been stopped long ago. It should have been constrained to the powers enumerated in the Constitution and any that are subsequently added by amendment. I could fully support federal transportation and commerce practices, but they really should have been amended to the Constitution and ratified by the States.
*** they weren’t time-travelers, but I am…just read my bio on this site
**** Judicial branch legislating (i.e. determining PP-ACA fee is a “tax”, etc.) or the lack of Congress’ action on immigration leaving the door open for Presidential actions, etc.