By Ethan Nobles on 11:41 PM
Filed Under: TheNaturalStateHawg
Whenever the Arkansas General Assembly is in session, the best advice for those of us in the Natural State is to pray hard that they don't screw anything up too badly.
The Legislature, as usual, made its typical array of tax-levying, budget surplus-wasting decisions. However, it did do one thing right -- HB 1339 got hung up in a Senate committee and never emerged. The legislators have all gone home now, so the session is over and it appears HB1339 is finished, too.
What is (or, actually, was) HB 1339? Part of the national movement by that National Popular Vote bunch to do away with the Electoral College. Under the terms of HB1339, Arkansas would be required to cast her votes in the Electoral College for the presidential candidate that won the popular vote.
The Arkansas House passed the bill (no surprise, really -- that group would pass legislation to build reeducation camps for conservatives if the national Democrats said it was a good idea), but got nowhere in the Senate. Yay for the Senate!
This most recent move to render the Electoral College moot goes directly back to the Bush/Gore election in 2000. It seems a lot of people are upset because Al Gore won the popular vote, but George W. Bush carried enough Electoral College votes to get in office.
The funny thing about all that outrage is that it's pretty circumstantial. John Kennedy (the secular saint of the Democrats) lost the popular vote back in 1960 but wound up in office, anyway. Yes, Richard Nixon carried the popular vote but couldn't hack it in the Electoral College. Was that result fundamentally unfair? I can't help but think the folks pushing for abolishing the Electoral College would find some rationale for that election being fine and dandy while the Bush/Gore one was an outrage in that the will of the people was flaunted.
Frankly, I'm fine with both of those contests and any presidential election resulting in the winner of the popular vote not getting in office. Why? Because abolishing the Electoral College dilutes my vote. That rotten old Electoral College was developed in the first place to give those of us in more rural states at least some ability to keep from getting run over by people in larger, urban areas.
Look at it this way. Every state sends two senators to Washington, D.C., and a number of representatives based on population. The purpose of limiting the number of senators to two per state rather than tying the number of senators a state could elect to strictly population was the notion that their is merit in a system that protects local interests. California and New York, for example, have much more sway in the House of Representatives than does Arkansas, whereas the field is leveled considerably in the Senate.
The Electoral College was developed along those same lines. Further, presidential candidates do bother to show up in smaller states such as mine and campaign and concentrate instead on those states that have larger populations.
The Electoral College, then, brings a bit of balance to the system -- larger states do have more influence in electing presidents, but the rights of voters in smaller states are protected, too. The system has worked out very well in most elections.
Is it worth throwing out the Electoral College in favor of going strictly with the principal of "majority rules" rather than recognizing those of us in smaller areas ought to have some influence, too? What Arkansan wants a law that states his or her state will simply cast Electoral College votes in favor of the majority regardless of how we actually voted?
I have a feeling this wouldn't be an issue at all had the tables been reversed in 2000 and Gore lost the popular vote but carried the Electoral College. I'm sure this issue will come up again and again until it passes the Arkansas Legislature. When that days come, those of us living in smaller states will come to regret that decision.