“Saying the president should be determined by popular vote is like saying that the Indians should have won the World Series because they scored more total runs, even though the Cubs won more games.”
You’ve seen something like that the last few weeks, right? I have. Because I’m someone who knows what an idiotic notion the Electoral College is, and have argued very openly and fervently for its demise, I get told a version of this stupid analogy all the time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I think I have the answer as to why exactly it’s such a flawed comparison.
Basically, what the Electoral College does is to make it so that votes that get “scored” for a candidate on one state are worth more than votes “scored” for a candidate in another state. In other words, what it really does is say something along the lines of, “Runs scored at Wrigley Field count more than runs scored at Progressive Field.” Now, I totally get that people are trying to compare each state’s individual election with one of a baseball game’s nine innings, but that too is a stupid argument to make.
While it is true that we hold 50 different statewide elections for the presidency, ultimately, it’s just one office (two if you count the Vice-Presidency) that we’re voting to fill. Yes, the Electoral College was designed to give each state as close to equal chance of selecting the president as possible, but what I’m saying is that clearly that is a flawed way of thinking. I know, call me nuts, but it seems like we should maybe take the philosophies of a bunch of dudes who largely saw no major issue with owning black people like furniture as being the final conclusive word on any subject.
What I’m arguing, what millions of people like me are arguing, is that it’s time to stop thinking of the presidency in antiquated terms. We already have the House and the Senate that are built to give each state equal representation. It makes no logical sense that we’d treat the branch of government that represents each state equally by its definition like we have to do something special with it to ensure its equity.
One person, one vote for one office. It’s pretty simple. Instead of thinking about the election like bowling frames or baseball innings, the presidential contest should be considered like a football game. One game, score more points than your opponent, or go home the loser. Why on Earth do we need to care that the empty fields in Wyoming or Kansas are as equally represented as the living, breathing humans in downtown San Diego?
Essentially what people who want to keep the Electoral College are saying is, “Well, that’s how it works because that’s how it works and it should just work that way.” Really what they’re saying is, “My guy won this way, so we have to keep it this way.” But you know for goddamned sure if it were the other way around, and Clinton had won the Electoral College and not the popular vote, conservatives and Republicans would be flipping their shit.
Ultimately, I just don’t think Republicans like the cold, hard fact that they’re pretty much outnumbered in this country and the popular vote counts of five of the last six elections bear that out to its fullest conclusion. Their argument that the Electoral College protects rural and lesser-populated areas is stupid because it’s “We, the People” and it’s not “We, the People of Certain Areas That Need to Be Coddled.” Whenever I hear a conservative say that the coasts are just mad that middle America voted for Trump, I laugh because that implies that Trump won by some sweeping landslide, and the truth is if 80,000 votes in key swing areas had gone differently, it would have kept Republicans out of the White House another four years.
Why are we even worried about equal state representation in the White House? We have that for Congress, and it makes sense to, but the president answers to all fifty states equally. There is no reason that Wyoming vote should count for more than a California vote, but right now that’s how it works. If there are more people to be impacted by a president’s decisions in one area than the other, than those votes should count more.
I think maybe in order to convince conservatives to ditch the Electoral College, we should just call it what it really is: a safe space from democracy. They hate safe spaces, right? So we should just convince them that the Electoral College is for whiny, snowflake Americans who can’t handle being on the losing side of an election.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the definition of the word “Republic” that precludes us from directly electing our president. The time is more than right for it. In the last twenty years we’ve had two men elected that should never have been there thanks to the Electoral College. If you thought Dubya’s reign of error was bad for us, what do you think a 70 year old, self-involved, narcissistic billionaire is going to do to our country?
Runs scored in one stadium should count the same as runs scored in another stadium. When anything has outlasted its usefulness, there is nothing wrong, nor unconstitutional, about changing it. Not that I think we’re going to change it. We’re Americans. We’re more comfortable knowing the problem exists than we are with doing anything about it. But I just thought I’d knock a peg or two out of that stupid baseball analogy. Defending something that’s broken just because it helped you win is the height of selfishness, and we shouldn’t reward it anymore.
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.