Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate

Hugh Hewitt stands up for two of the most undemocratic provisions in the Constitution

We the People
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Constitution of the United States

I rise in reply to radio talkster Hugh Hewitt, an intellectually dishonest pseudo-intellectual, a besotted apologist for all things Trumpian, who decided to use his other (non-radio) platform, as a regular contributor to the Washington Post op-ed page, to stand up for two of the worst and most undemocratic provisions in the U.S. Constitution while attacking Gen. Colin Powell and, of course, defending President Donald Trump.

In his column, Hewitt decided to focus on a passing remark by Powell that Trump has “drifted away” from the Constitution. The full Powell quote in an interview on Jake Tapper’s “State of the Union” program on CNN:

We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the president has drifted away from it.

The full Powell interview can be accessed here.

Hewitt doesn’t bother trying to understand what Powell (the first African-American ever to hold any of three high government positions, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, national security adviser and secretary of state, appointed to all three positions by Republican presidents) may have meant about Trump’s “drift” away from the Constitution. As a Constitution nerd myself, I have a few theories.

Instead, Hewitt uses his space to call attention to two of his most beloved constitutional provisions, to which Powell made no reference, which turn out to be two of the least democratic aspects of the Constitution. Hewitt vaguely implies that this has something, anything to do with something, anything Powell said, and, more directly, implying that Democrats are trying to change these features (which, in my opinion, would be fine). Wrote Hewitt:

In truth, the Democrats have embraced a number of anti-constitutional positions. Many among them want to abolish the Electoral College, one of the two load-bearing walls on which the Constitution is built. The other — equal representation in the Senate of every state — is regularly assailed by the left, which dominates the Democratic Party.

This is classic. This is pitiful. This is beautiful. Hewitt identifies two of the most undemocratic features of the Constitution, specifies that in his view they are two of the most important and precious (or whatever “load-bearing” means) keys to our democracy, and derides the laudable desire of some on the left to occasionally seek to mitigate the damage those provisions do in the continuing pursuit of a more perfect union.

The Electoral College

Allow me to address each of them briefly. When the framers of the Constitution came up with the Electoral College system, there were no national parties, no national media, and the norms of the day prohibited anyone who wanted to be president from campaigning for the office. So how would the president be chosen? 

Hugh Hewitt
Hugh Hewitt
Most Americans in 1787-89 knew almost nothing of potential presidents from outside their states (other than George Washington). The idea was that men (all men, of course) of more learning, who were trusted by the people of their states, would have sufficient knowledge of national figures to identify two people who might make a president (in the original Constitution, each elector voted for two men for president, with the requirement that at least one of them not be from the elector’s home state).

If anyone was named on a majority of the ballots (everyone knew the first one would be George Washington, but no one knew what would happen after he left the scene) that person would be president, and the runner-up (not his running-mate; there was no such thing at that time) would be vice president. The first vice president, John Adams, was not Washington’s running mate.

But, in the likely case that, after Washington, no one got a majority of the electoral votes, the names of the top five finishers in the electoral vote would be forwarded to the U.S. House, which would choose a president from among them. This was intended to give the states some input and prevent the House from making an entirely self-serving choice.

That was the plan. That was the hope. You can look it up. I suspect Hewitt knows this, but would rather have you believe that the system as evolved was the one intended by the framers. He would also, presumably, not like to mention that, after the invention of national campaigns, universal suffrage, etc., winning the electoral vote without winning the popular vote has become a Republican specialty, and the last two presidents who pulled it off, George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016, were both Republicans, and that Trump’s only hope to get a second term depends heavily on again winning the electoral vote while losing the popular vote.

Five times in history, the loser of the popular vote has become president. This is the great “load-bearing” feature that Hewitt seeks to preserve.

Hewitt suggests that the Democratic schemes to which he vaguely alludes, for example the proposed interstate compact under which states would agree to cast their electoral votes in favor of the winner of the national popular vote (which I’ve written about before, for example, here), would allow enough states to comprise an Electoral College majority to agree in advance to appoint electors who supported the popular vote winner, from whichever party, thereby guaranteeing that the winner of the popular vote would become president.

I would favor this somewhat far-fetched sounding idea. I actually know of no very good arguments against it. It’s backed by a bipartisan group. But perhaps it really is the kind of evil Democratic plot to which Hewitt alludes to guarantee that whoever gets the most votes wins the election. Hewitt doesn’t say. He just identifies the current system, which allows the popular vote loser to win, as one of the two ”load-bearing” provisions of the Constitution that Democrats seek to undermine.

The two-senators-per-state provision

The other “load-bearing” wall that Hewitt attacks is the provision of the Constitution is the one that assures every state of two senators, irrespective of how large or small the state’s population.

Hewitt doesn’t waste any effort or words explaining why it is good or fair or democratic that California and Wyoming should have equal power in the Senate, despite the fact that California’s population is more than 60 times larger. It’s kind of a heavy lift to justify that logically or with any reference to such strange principles as one-person-one-vote. 

Of course, Hewitt doesn’t suggest that Colin Powell referred to that in any way when Powell said, “We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the president has drifted away from it.”

And that Constitution is so thoroughly and well-established – in fact it is roughly impossible to change – that although some people occasionally talk about it (Hewitt links to one such plan that would take you there), changing the Constitution would be a much, much bigger lift than even the National Popular Vote scheme, which would not require a constitutional amendment.

This feature (two senators per state) is clearly embedded in the Constitution; presumably, changing it would require a constitutional amendment, which would require a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states (including dozens of states that would be voluntarily reducing their power as result). But I’ll tell you one more, obscure but hilarious in my view, reason why it won’t happen. (This is one of the most amusing bits of my knowledge of obscure Constitutional trivia.)

The Constitution itself, in the very short Article V which lays out how to amend the Constitution — the very last words of the original document ratified in 1789 — says there is one feature of the Constitution that can never changed, even by amendment, It reads:

“No State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”

It’s the only thing in the Constitution that the Constitution says can never be changed. I’m not kidding. Look it up. (But then come back to here to see why I bring it up.)

Yes, the provision is perhaps the least democratic provision in the whole Constitution, since it places just that one undemocratic provision beyond the reach of future generations to change. So why is it in there?

The framers knew that their draft Constitution was useless unless all the states joined. And the small-population states would have a strong incentive to spurn a system that would make it too easy for the big states to run roughshod over them. 

The all-states-have-equal-power-in-the-Senate provision was the sop to overcome that fear. And it was apparently necessary to reassure those small states that it could never be changed (unless you can think of some reason why some state would voluntarily give up its equal vote in the Senate.) I almost guarantee you that if you use this as a trivia question — what’s the only provision in the Constitution that the Constitution specifies can’t be amended? — very few of your smarty pants friends will get it.

Hugh Hewitt didn’t mention it. He also didn’t pretend that Colin Powell (who gets lost in Hewitt’s piece pretty fast after the flashy top) favors screwing around with equal votes for all states in the Senate. But he somehow threw it in there as part of a flabby reference to the idea that “the left” which “dominates the Democratic Party,” “regularly assails” the sacred provision. It’s a pretty undemocratic provision. I wish it were more regularly assailed. But it’s both part of our national religion and the only constitutional provision that can never be amended. 

I don’t know if Hugh Hewitt knows this trivia about the only provision that can’t be amended. He went to Harvard, has a law degree, and even holds a tenured faculty position as a Constitution expert at Chapman Law School. Maybe he’s enough of a geek (like me) to actually know that last bit of trivia. But mentioning it would have gotten in the way of his diatribe about the evil plot to undermine the two load-bearing features of the Constitution. Howl on, Hugh.

Comments (59)

  1. Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/11/2020 - 10:38 am.

    This is along the lines of “Dog stands up for bones”. Of course a 21st Century American “conservative” would celebrate the two most anti-democratic features of the failed Constitution. Without those provisions, their reactionary movement would be politically annihilated in a sensible nation.

    Hewitt, however, appears not to understand that advocating for a CHANGE in the Constitution is somewhat different than “not following” it. We are permitted to propose amendments to the document, although the essential impossibility of that process is another reason for the failure of the system.

    Propose changes, that is, with the exception you noted. Presumably the only way out of the senate graveyard/millstone is a formal termination of the existing national union (the dissolution of the 1789 constitution) and its replacement by a new national charter. Since that is obviously both impossible and unwise in a failed “nation” whose various regions have, shall we say, a strong dislike of one another, it’s fair to say that as a country we are permanently stuck. We cannot become a functioning modern democracy.

    And let’s not blame the well-meaning Framers of the 18th Century. If they came back to observe the current state of their handiwork, their almost certain response would be: “What in hell is wrong with you people?”

  2. Submitted by Robert Langford on 06/11/2020 - 10:47 am.

    Thank you. It is about time that Hewitt is exposed for his bias and misconstruction. Really good discussion.

  3. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 06/11/2020 - 10:53 am.

    At least there’s a small amelioration that could help with the Senate. And it’s in the GOP 2016 and 2020 platforms! Statehood for Peurto Rico. P.R would rank roughly 31st in population, so fairly ‘fair’ in terms of voters-per-Senator.

    I’d add, though the GOP would hate it: Two senators for Washington D.C.

    And, as we head further toward fantasy: California should take a page from the Dakotas and split. Then at least you’d have 4 senators repping 60 million residents. (The nigh on impossible fast train between north and south would be a little less likely, but … bygones.)

    And yeah, I don’t care what a US flag with 53 stars looks like. We figured out all the other ones between 13 and 50.

    • Submitted by Scott Walters on 06/11/2020 - 11:23 am.

      It would be difficult for most other states to pull a CA and split. Texas would likely split into a red state and a blue state – no help there. Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina – same problem. None of the other red states has the scale or wealth to realistically pull off the split. They are already too small be able to afford the duplication of setting up second state government. I’d love to see this happen, it seems like a reasonable path way to beginning to resolve the anti-democratic nature of the Senate.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/11/2020 - 01:35 pm.

        I do believe that while new states: Puerto Rico and DC can be admitted and given their 2 Senators each, new states may not be created by the division of existing states.

        If a simple D majority in both Houses and the Presidency is attained in November, admit PR and DC ASAP.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/11/2020 - 02:19 pm.

          Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution prohibits taking territory from a state without the consent of both that state and Congress.

          Congress could admit Puerto Rico (or a territory) to the Union without the consent of the states. It’s debatable whether the same could be said of the District of Columbia. I recall that a constitutional amendment was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification in ’78, but (obviously) it failed.

          • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/11/2020 - 03:13 pm.

            I’d forgotten about this one.

            But wouldn’t Maryland have long ago “consented” to the creation of the District of Columbia? I’d think no state has any right to object to DC statehood based on where DC’s territory came from 200+ years ago.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/11/2020 - 03:39 pm.

              I think you’re right. DC is no longer a part of Maryland so its consent is not needed. The opposing argument goes that consent was given to the creation of a seat of the federal government, but I think that argument has been made weaker with the passage of time.

              I saw a lot of the debate over the DC Statehood amendment in 1978. One of the more feeble arguments against it was that DC would be the only state without any farm land. I never got a good answer to “And this would be important because . . .?”

              • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/12/2020 - 10:18 am.

                I’ve not gone back to research this, and perhaps I should, but aging memory suggests to me that, when Texas was annexed in 1845, the agreement to do so allowed Texas to subdivide into as many as FIVE different states. I can’t recall if subsequent legislation has tossed that provision out or not, nor if the subdivision required the consent of Congress or not, but if splitting California into two states is controversial, splitting Texas into five states might ignite a firestorm.

                I don’t foresee any meaningful change to the arrangement, but claiming, as some do, that equal state representation in the Senate is somehow “democratic” is laughable. Having spent quite a bit of time there over the years, it seems plain that there are excellent climatological and meteorological reasons why Wyoming remains largely empty in 2020, while California boasts multiples of Wyoming’s population. That they have equal representation in the Senate is a travesty, as is the fact that the presidential vote of a Californian (or a Minnesotan) counts for far less in the Electoral College than does the vote of someone living in Wyoming.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/11/2020 - 01:22 pm.

    The Constitution mentions Electors to be chosen by states, but no place will you find the term Hewitt is the Washington Post’s house right winger. Sometimes I think that he was chosen to discredit conservationism in general.

  5. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 06/11/2020 - 02:16 pm.

    The 2 Senators per state was done because all states should be equally represented. The Senate was never meant to represent the people. It was designed to represent the States. The House was designed to represent the people.

    Also, the Constitution strictly forbids interstate compacts like the one mentioned that is trying to bypass the EC. Any such compact would be null and void by the SCOTUS.

    As for the EC, it’s still a valid system that gives smaller states some say in who wins. Without it, we cease to be a republic and become a pure democracy instead (that’s not a good thing).

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/11/2020 - 03:07 pm.

      Thanks for your comment, Bob.

      There’s no overarching moral or political principle that “all states should be equally represented” in a legislative body. That’s just how the (pragmatic) Framers were forced to do it because of (illogical) fear of representatives of “small” states. The fact that you continue to approve of a system that preserves the power of a reactionary white minority does not mean that this is the way it “should be”.

      Second, when you approve of the EC because it gives smaller states “some say in who wins”, you really mean “more say”. And “states” are merely fortuitous geographic constructs, not citizens. There’s no good reason a “state” should (somehow) be choosing the nation’s executive in a democratic system.

      But again, because this “more say” system is resulting in victory for your (minority) political faction, you approve of it. But if the EC were resulting in a single popular vote-winning “conservative” candidate being denied the presidency, I think we know who would be in the streets denouncing the “failed system!”….

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 06/11/2020 - 08:14 pm.

        When you mention “white” you lose all credibility. Using race is a cop out for a weak argument. The Senate was set up by the Framers to have each state equally represented. The Senate was never meant to represent the people.

        We are a Constitutional Republic not a pure Democracy. The popular vote does not matter. If that is all that mattered, states like Montana, New Mexico, Iowa etc would basically never see a campaign because they don’t have enough population to make much difference. Then it would be that CA, NY, IL, TX, NJ etc would decide who would be President and disenfranchise huge swaths of the nation. The Framers were very wise in their decisions on how to set up the Constitution and this nation. Far more wise than most people in the US today.

        I accept the results of the EC as long as it’s not hijacked by things like this new compact to bypass it or electors refusing to vote for the candidate they were sent to vote for. I couldn’t care less which party wins because there’s never any changes made and we’re still heading for that concrete wall at breakneck speed. The outcome is going to be the same whether it’s Trump or Biden.

        • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/12/2020 - 10:05 am.

          That you do not understand these anti-democratic provisions privilege low density rural interests (now heavily white) means you lose all credibility. And that you immediately dismiss race-based arguments is also somewhat of a blind spot.

          The “Republic not a Democracy” chant is not a counterargument against change. It’s just a hollow bromide deployed as a talking point against making the system more democratic. You don’t want a more democratic system because you know your “conservative” arguments would not command majorities, so that means the anti-democratic (i.e. “Republic”) elements are great, since they serve your (minority faction) interests. But you should have the integrity to simply say that, and not hide behind the hollow legalisms of the 18th Century constitution.

          As for “campaigns” not going to Montana, they don’t do that now–as most attention ridiculously focuses on about 5 swing states as a result of the absurd EC. Hell, candidates hardly go to CA, let alone MT! In any event, we could easily require presidential campaigns to visit all states if we wanted, this is surely not a problem so significant that it must derail actual democracy.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/12/2020 - 10:22 am.

          You have managed to be wrong about every single point you have made.

          Eliminating the electoral college does not change the nature of our form of government. We have representative democracy and separation of powers.

          And its actually the current system that means a lot of states don’t see campaigns. Safe red and safe blue states see very little presidential campaigning. Eliminating the electoral college means candidates have to win voters, not states. That every vote counts the same. Eliminating the electoral college will make every voter important no matter where they live. You got it 100 percent backwards.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/11/2020 - 08:25 pm.

        I believe that part of the history behind the EC was that Virginia did not wanted to be outvoted by NYers, which was rapidly becoming the most populous state.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/11/2020 - 03:41 pm.

      “Also, the Constitution strictly forbids interstate compacts like the one mentioned that is trying to bypass the EC. Any such compact would be null and void by the SCOTUS.”

      Close, but no cigar. Congressional approval is required only for interstate compacts that tend to increase political power in the states by way of encroachment on or interference with the supremacy of federal law. U.S. Steel Corp. v. Multistate Tax Comm’n, 434 U.S. 452 (1978). The Popular Vote Compact is a limitation on power granted to the states, not to Congress, so any “encroachment” or “interference” is no state authority.

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 06/11/2020 - 08:26 pm.

        Still incorrect. The compact is trying to rewrite the EC portion of the Constitution and that is not Constitutional. Also, the 14th Amendment prohibits disenfranchising voters. If say Iowa joined this compact and the voters in that state chose the non popular vote candidate through their voting and then the electors voted for the popular vote getter, all those voters in Iowa were just disenfranchised.

        Would you still support this move if Donald Trump ends up being the popular vote winner in 2020? I bet not.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/12/2020 - 10:05 am.

          The ignorance of constitutional law on display here is stunning. The idea that the broad strokes of the 14th amendment invalidates this is comical.

          I frequently see non-lawyer constitutional “experts” rely solely on the text itself to conclude that something (income tax, ACA) while ignoring the caselaw that has addressed the constitutionality.

          That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/12/2020 - 10:40 am.

          “The compact is trying to rewrite the EC portion of the Constitution and that is not Constitutional.”

          No, it is not. It is allocating the electoral votes of each member state. The last time I looked, the Constitution granted the states the authority to choose electors, but did not specify how that was to be done.

          “Also, the 14th Amendment prohibits disenfranchising voters.”

          Not even close. Section 2 of the 14th Amendment reduces a state’s basis for representation in Congress in proportion to the number of male citizens over 21 who are denied the right to vote. It does not say anything about how those votes must be counted.

          You really should read the Constitution if you’re going to talk about it.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/12/2020 - 03:37 pm.

          The Electoral COLLEGE is still not in the Constitution.

    • Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 06/11/2020 - 03:56 pm.

      Two questions: Where does the Constitution say that two or more states may not agree informally to allocate their electoral college votes differently than by state-wide majority vote, as most–but not all!–of us do now?

      Why does Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign get away with a coordinated but unsigned-contractual “deal” with the Russians to skew that election toward him, but the various states in our Union can’t do an informal, but unsigned-contract “deal” to change the way we allocate our electoral college votes?

      I remind everybody that it has been proven that Trump’s campaign did work hand in glove with Russian efforts in 2016. Mueller and his investigators just couldn’t find the Smoking Contract with all the relevant parties; signatures on it.

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 06/11/2020 - 08:38 pm.

        14th Amendment section 2 covers disenfranchising voters. 2 states banding together to vote for the candidate that gets the popular vote even though one or both of those states did not vote for that candidate is disenfranchising the voters. If a State wants to change how it apportions votes, that is fine within that one State.

        There was no deal with the Russians. Your comment here removes any credibility you might have had. Over 2 years and Mueller found nothing. There has never been any proof he worked with the Russians and EVERY single claim by the left has been completely discredited by the facts and the data. Now if you want to talk about Hillary working with the Russians.. in her Uranium One deal or the Steele Dossier … then we can have a nice chat about that.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/12/2020 - 09:58 am.

          What absolute nonsense. Even the Republican Senate committee concluded the Russians were working to help elect Trump. Its actually your reference to Clinton and uranium that is the credibility breaker.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/12/2020 - 03:41 pm.

          Two different statements here:
          First, that Trump or his campaign committee actively collaborated with the Russian government. This is probably false.
          Second, that the Trump campaign, while it did not actively collaborate with the Russians, did welcome their help. Who was it that said “Russia, if you are listening …”?

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/11/2020 - 05:28 pm.

      Good lord that comment is full of falsehoods.

      The United States would still be a republic if the electoral college is eliminated. We still have representative government, separation of powers and all the other provisions that this a republic. Whoever fed you that line has no idea what they are talking about.

      The electoral college lets some votes count more than others depending on where they live. It was set up to protect slavery. And as a practical effect, it means that dozens of safely red and blue states get ignored during presidential elections. There is no reason to have it.

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 06/12/2020 - 10:42 am.

        When you move to a popular vote only it’s then pure democracy which negates the idea of a Republic. The minority loses many of its protections in that scenario. If the EC were abolished, every President going forward would be chosen by only a few states. How would that be fair to all the low population states? Most of the states you claim are already ignored would be even more so without the EC and they would be joined by others.

        Here is a good look at it from an expert: https://tomwoods.com/the-electoral-college-how-to-defend/

        • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/12/2020 - 11:30 am.

          Yes, one of the “protections” the minority would lose is its ability to direct the operations of the country, in other words minority rule. But minority rule should not be one of the minority’s “rights”.

          You and your focus on the rights of “states”. States are simply an unfortunate byproduct of the system of British colonial rule in effect three centuries ago. They were essentially created out of whole cloth, and were simply little fiefdoms for crown favorites. They represent literally nothing real and should be seen as the equivalent of dukedoms in a medieval monarchy. The absurd focus on “states” from 1789 right down to the present is frankly one of the reasons that the US has never become much of a “nation”, and why political minorities have always bleated about “States’ Rights!”

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/12/2020 - 12:03 pm.

          Just a few things wrong with this set of arguments:

          1. States in the United States are artificial constructs, formed by the people. They have no existence save that granted by popular assent.

          2. If the Electoral College is abolished, no state will elect a President. It will be done by the people directly.

          3. You are assuming that the voters in the most populous states will all vote as a bloc.

          4. No one has ever explained to me why it is inherently bad that voters in New York or California would have more sway over electing the President than residents of, say, Arkansas or Wyoming.

          5. Tom Woods is a highly opinionated commentator on the radio. That does not make him an “expert.”

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/11/2020 - 08:01 pm.

      Math
      California Population 39.51 M Pop/Senator: 19.755M
      Wyoming Population 578,759 Pop/Senator 289,379.5
      So the BB fairness doctrine says, 289,379.5 Wyoming residents are fair and equal to, 19,755,000 California residents.
      So it takes 68.27 California voters to equal 1 Wyoming voter,
      BB could you please explain to me your fairness doctrine on how that works and why that is fair? What happened to 1 man 1 vote?

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 06/12/2020 - 10:28 am.

        The Senate isn’t supposed to represent the people. It was set up to represent the States. That’s why Senators were chosen by the State legislatures prior to the 17th amendment. The House is where the people are represented and where population per rep matters. Each person is represented equally in the House regardless of which state they live in.

        The 17th should be repealed so we go back to States having representation again to check the Federal govt.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/13/2020 - 11:06 am.

      The layered electoral system was partly a consequence of the travel and communications technology of the late 18th century.
      Communications took several weeks; travel was even worse.
      So, it was not practical to do day-to-day governance on a national basis.
      Instead (as usual following British common law precedents) small governmental units such as town chose their own representatives. These chose the next level up, until state legislators chose their electors to in turn choose the president.
      Things have changed — direct election is now practical.
      Dump the EC in the dustbin of history along with the Magna Carta.
      Both were significant advances in their time; now is not their time.

  6. Submitted by James Drew on 06/11/2020 - 08:13 pm.

    Equal suffrage of the states (US Senate) can be amended….but it would require 100% (of the states) affirmative vote to do so. A brilliant move by the Framers to protect the states against financial and regional dominance.

    The incantation by the rabid democratizers to pin the state electors to the national popular vote is just the latest twist in a long line of attempts to alter or abolish the Electoral College. They want a voting behemoths of both coasts to elect the highest office.

    Framers like Hamilton saw democracy for what it was….tyranny and destruction. Madison identified instability, injustice and confusion as its fruits. Nowhere is the word found in the Declaration or the Constitution.

    And yet so-called greats like Colin Powell rattle off the word democracy as if it were the sacred from on high. Only demonstrating that willful ignorance can and does abide among the Establishment Elite. Democracy isn’t the beginning of a great nation, culture and civilization….its the end.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/12/2020 - 10:13 am.

      What a bizarre comment.

      The “rabid democratizers” simply want everyone’s votes to carry the same weight no matter where the live. That in no way disturbs the other checks and balances in place.

      And the idea of voting behemoths on the coasts deciding the election is absolutely ludicrous. You can get your votes anywhere. Trump came within a couple million votes of winning the popular vote without even trying for the “behemoth” vote. Again, the idea that someone’s vote should count more or less depending on where they live is indefensible.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/12/2020 - 10:20 am.

      Yes indeed. America is doing so well right now, the last thing it needs is a greater injection of democracy! That you can watch the antics of a President Trump (elected by minority faction) and extol the virtues of a supposed “republic” over a “democracy” strikes me as not being able to see the forest for the trees.

      And the idea that a constitutional system which permits persistent rule by minority faction will engender greater “stability” in the 21st Century is willfully blind, and that doesn’t really describe James Madison…

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/12/2020 - 10:25 am.

      See (math) then explain why Wyoming should have an equal vote to California, or do you believe in Minority rule?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/12/2020 - 10:44 am.

      “They want a voting behemoths of both coasts to elect the highest office.”

      Since most of the population lives on the coasts (1 in every 5 Americans lives in either California or New York State), you are talking about artificially inflating the influence of less populous parts of the country.

      What reason is there for having a minority of citizens dictate policy for the entire country? Are you saying that some Americans are less worthy?

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/12/2020 - 03:43 pm.

        Because that minority agrees with him.
        As Trump said; if everyone voted he’d lose.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/13/2020 - 10:29 am.

        The notion that “without the EC, California and New York would always elect the president” is a FICTION based on the existence of the EC. It assumes monolithic states, either solidly blue or solidly red, where none exist.

        All 50 states are actually purple. They may be bluish purple, like Hawaii, which consistently votes Democratic for president but has had a Republican governor in recent years, or reddish purple, like Utah, which is mostly Republican except for Salt Lake City, but not one single state is 100% Republican or 100% Democratic.

        Look at the county-by-county map electoral map of the U.S. for 2016, or any other year, for that matter.

        You will see red areas in California and New York and blue areas in Texas and Georgia. Yet under the current system, with its assumption of solid-blue or solid-red states, Republicans in the so-called “blue states” and Democrats in the so-called “red states” may as well not vote.

        The real split is not between states but between metropolitan (cities and their increasingly blue suburbs) and rural areas.

        Now Republicans may complain that a national popular vote would give an advantage to urban areas. Well, yes, because that’s where most people live. The Republicans could approach this in one of two ways, either by whining “unfair!” or by finding candidates who are acceptable to more than just their base, people who would be acceptable to urban voters but who would keep the economic (not just the cultural) interests of rural voters in mind.

        Mostly they choose to whine, like the Republicans in Oregon, who have not been able to run a successful gubernatorial candidate since 1984, because they keep running people who are visibly stupid or visibly fanatical about one issue.

        If the EC system is so wonderful, why don’t we use it for governors (each county gets electoral votes based on its population) or mayors (each city block gets electoral votes based on its population)?

        Answer: Because it’s a cumbersome and antiquated system that disenfranchises people.

        • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/16/2020 - 08:23 am.

          Great points.

          “Conservatives” have somehow come to the conclusion that “democracy” means voters with the greatest acreage should win.

          Of course, this is what they think “It’s a republic, not a democracy” means!

  7. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/11/2020 - 11:34 pm.

    “I remind everybody that it has been proven that Trump’s campaign did work hand in glove with Russian efforts in 2016.”

    Really? I believe that it has been proven that there was no Trump-Russia collusion although it does appear that the Clinton campaign had some dealings with the Russians. Please cite the documents with the proof about “hand in glove”.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/12/2020 - 10:26 am.

      The hand in glove is a bit of a stretch. We know the Russians worked to elect Trump and Trump gladly took the help. The idea that Clinton had dealings with the Russians (to help her lose?) is completely absurd.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/12/2020 - 11:49 am.

    My modest proposal relative to the two senators per state rule embedded in the constitution is to leave the constitution alone but instead to reapportion the states every ten years so they have roughly equal populations. Basically, to extend Baker v. Carr to apply to the federal government.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/12/2020 - 03:45 pm.

      That would be consistent with the Constitutional mandate to have a Census every ten years.

    • Submitted by Tom Crain on 06/17/2020 - 09:10 am.

      This proposal is modest?

      It’s one thing for a state to redraw its own state districts within its borders to attain equal protection, but how would this proposal work for US Senators?

  9. Submitted by Chas Dalseide on 06/12/2020 - 12:55 pm.

    I believe that the Senate was the US version of the House of Lords. The nobility didn’t get more or less voting power based on how many people lived on their estates. Of course, they were probably overpowered by the King, but there was the Magna Carta.

    It seems to me that each state accepted the Electoral situation when they applied for Statehood. Only Texas reserved the right to sub-divide, but it was an independent country at the time. [I haven’t heard anyone discuss why territorial government was preferable.] Did Congress ever vote to deny an application for statehood?

    In our lifetime, the United Nations was created. They didn’t proportion the voting power to the size of the country. They did reserve veto power to the big founders.

    Canada, with 100 years to observe the US system, has a Senate that is not tied to geography. I don’t think anyone votes for them either. Again, it is a monarchical state.

    One thing that the Electoral College can do is appoint someone to replace the President-Elect in case of incapacity to serve before being sworn in. I’m not sure it even has to be someone who was on the ballot.

    As for electing a President, voters will have to fall back on working within the party and by using the influence of money, rhetoric, publications, broadcasting, propaganda, religion, volunteers, etc. to get behind their choice. Mostly, the small states don’t have much of that going for them.

    To sum up, the power to advise and consent to appointments and to try impeachments should be more representative. I doubt that there are good arguments to oppose that, except for abusers of power.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/12/2020 - 03:52 pm.

      “Canada, with 100 years to observe the US system, has a Senate that is not tied to geography.”

      Actually, it is. Senators are appointed by region with each region getting 24 Senators (except for the Northern Territories and Newfoundland).

      “I don’t think anyone votes for them either.”

      Senators are appointed by the Governor General, on the advice of the Prime Minister.

      “Again, it is a monarchical state.”

      Not any more. Although the Queen (represented by the Governor General) is nominally the Head of State, the Governor General is appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The last constitutional vestiges of British rule over Canada were repealed sometime in the early 80s.

  10. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/12/2020 - 10:22 pm.

    As a Minnesotan I am glad that our State will always have two Senators (given that we will soon lose a House seat if the census holds true) even if they don’t accomplish much. The Electoral College also gives us sway as we are a reliable count for any Democrat candidate until it is abolished.

    As much as the author would like to denounce Mr. Hewitt as a Trumpian (Mr. Black has not written about anything not anti-Trump in about 5 1/2 years) I find that Mr. Hewitt actually comments about a multitude of subjects (other than Trump) not only in the Washington Post, which has an untold number of readers, but also on a nationally syndicated radio show with about 1.8 million listeners. He opines about politics, culture, entertainment, and a host of other subjects. I believe that he has at least 17 books under his belt, not that book writing is in itself noteworthy, but many seem to be bestsellers.

    Author Eric Black did write for the Star Tribune once upon a time, but is that really Washington Post material? I concede that there are 10-20 regular readers (commenters) for the author’s column, but again, is that really an audience? Sour grapes don’t even make wine.

  11. Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/13/2020 - 08:21 am.

    Quality over quantity!

  12. Submitted by Carl Brookins on 06/15/2020 - 02:13 pm.

    So much on which to comment. If it was my rules to make I’d limit campaigning for president to six months: abolish political parties since they hold the power ($$) or bow to a president. I’d require each candidate to report each and every contribution above $5, name and address of contributor with a maximum possible contribution of $25,000. I’d prohibit all foreign financial support. I’d require every presidential candidate to publicly submit a set of political labels with attached definitions.I’d require each candidate to campaign at least twice in every state then part of this union. I would require each state to create electors under the current Constitutional system who would be required to vote reflective of the popular vote of the state they represent. I would create a set of requirements for any citizen to be eligible to run for the office. One of those requirements would be a series of definitive logical statements of their positions on at least six critical issues of the time. I would require every candidate to avoid pejorative comments about other candidates. I would ask the Congress to pass a law prohibiting candidates and elected federal officials from ever using the phrase “precedence setting.”

  13. Submitted by Paul Nelson on 06/15/2020 - 03:53 pm.

    James Madison, the chief author of the Constitution, was totally opposed to equal representation in the Senate. He eventually acceded to it because it was necessary to get an agreement. There was no principle involved other than expedience.

  14. Submitted by James Drew on 06/21/2020 - 10:36 am.

    When it comes to the US Constitution, it seems everyone has an opinion but few understand the federalism behind it. If we don’t like a particular restraint in an enumeration, we reference an opinion of dissent in the Constitutional debates or label the item as archaic, out of date with modern times. So goes the Electoral college and equal suffrage of the US Senate.
    And the pretense behind such appeals is always “greater freedom and power for the people” or “better and more democracy”. Even the Ivy Leaguers miss the important dynamic of the original document/ body of law.
    The Constitution checks in all directions. Yes, the original intent was not only a limit on Central government authority and certain areas for state government , but it was also a check on the people. Whenever I hear “the will of the people” as the assigned responsibility of elected office, it is certain that more ignorance will follow. The “oath” is to uphold the Constitution, not to run a clearing house for the passions of the people. But give the devil his due. The Con has been reduced to a series of procedural guidelines. And if the legislature in their weakened state needs relief from the various mobs and their unquenchable appetites, the Court will step in as the de facto legislature to ensure our “progress”. Call it what you will but good government is what its not.

Leave a Reply