Faction creates violence. A fundamental purpose of our constitutional republic is to protect citizens against the tyranny of a group from oppressing the rest of society by its beliefs and ideology. Madison wrote about factions in Federalist 10: “The instability, injustice and confusion introduced into public councils have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished…”. Madison writes that a faction is a number of citizens amounting to a majority or a minority united by a passion or interest adversed to the rights of other citizens or the community.
This National Popular Vote movement is just such a faction. It is an effort to undermine the constitutional process of a Presidential election and create confusion. Under Article V there are two methods to make changes to the Constitution but by design they are arduous and would require rigorous public debate and agreement. Indeed, the Electoral College was amended by the XII amendment.
But this is not the way of factions. The problem with the Constitution as expounded for over a hundred years is that it is too cumbersome and slows down progress. Progressives want to go around it. Besides, the document that governs us was written long ago by white men who were slave holders to hear its supporters tell it.
At the public hearing on this topic at the Committee for Veterans and Legal Affairs I heard the proponents first hand. A member of the committee stated that the use of electors was anti-democratic and provided the southern slave states with an advantage because of the three-fifths clause. Never mind that the northern states pushed for this compromise to reduce southern power not increase it. The south was pushing for a one-for-one count to increase their representation in the what was to become the House of Representatives. This was only indirectly related as the three-fifths clause was mostly discussed July 11-14 and 16 and the Electoral College not until September 4 and 6.
The committee member may not be aware Democracies have been throughout history to be mobs. A country our size would not have able to function under a democracy. Instead faction, in pursuit of their interests, would have split us apart. Thankfully a republican form that incorporated elements of a democracy was created.
Another Committee member harped on the fact that as a small state we never get visits by presidential candidates, so we need to change the Electoral College. Ask yourself: Do you need candidates to visit the state in order to decide for whom to vote for? Are we not able to determine a candidate’s positions through speeches and the nationwide press?
Another argument is one person one vote. Nine states have approximately half of the US population. Maine is not one of them. Worse, 146 counites out of 3,141 have about half the population. None are in Maine. Which person’s vote is more important: A Maine resident or a non-resident?
These arguments are spurious or at best misguided.
The Electoral College evolved after heavy debate at the convention concerning the term of the President and a form of election that would represent the people and the states. It has worked for 240 years. This project wants to remove the state influence and transfer it to the people only.
States safeguard the country from the violence of factions through boundaries. Strong passions in one state are contained by the dispassion in others. This movement wants to break down the state barriers and circumvent the Constitution. Who would benefit from this? Surely not the voters of Maine which this will disenfranchise.