Critical Thinking for Millennials—Defining Federalism, how the Electoral College Makes Your Vote Count!
Why We Need the Electoral College
Class is in session, PAY ATTENTION! Here is a conversation between Rush Limbaugh and a caller, in which Rush teaches us all about the brilliance of the Electoral College. Bottom line—without the Electoral College, if you live in any of the 45 + less populated states, your vote, your voice, would never count! Once again, we can thank the Founding Fathers because they cared so much about little people like us, and because they had the brilliance to make freedom available to all of us! ~C.D.
Helping Millennials understand the Electoral College
RUSH: Here’s Lynn in Noblesville, Indiana. Great to have you. Glad you waited. What’s up?
CALLER: Thank you so much. I’m glad to finally get through to you. I have a question on behalf of a house full of Millennials, I should say. I have four children 18 to 24 and a plethora of their friends. The majority of them are Bernie Sanders fans, and they’re having a hard time understanding this whole Electoral College thing, no matter how much we try to explain it. My question is this. What is the negative side to what looks like the positive side of distributing the Electoral College votes the same way we do in some states during the primary?
In other words, if you have 40% of the vote, then you receive 40% of the electoral votes. Because it seems to me the pro side of that would be you would have the candidates campaigning in what are traditionally… Let’s say Trump would campaign in California, which is traditionally Democratic, because he now can get a percentage of votes. I would think that you would have a greater voter turnout because now people who live in states that tend to go one way or another would have more of an impact because their votes could be contributed by percentage instead of all going one way. And it would also seem like it would help to deter the possibility of voter fraud if they don’t know where to target like they do currently.
RUSH: Okay. Let me recast this, and you correct me if I get anything wrong. She has four kids, among them some Millennials — old enough to be Millennials — and they have been questioning the value of Electoral College. Why doesn’t the popular vote matter? It seems like that ought to be the way we elect the president, not state by state. They came up with an idea that we would apportion states like we do in primaries. In the Republican primary, if Trump wins a state, he gets whatever percentage of the delegates in that state according to the vote he got and so forth and so on. Because that would make every state count, you say.
CALLER: Well, I think it’s got more to do with the fact that they’re bombarded with a lot of their friends in an education system and a media system that doesn’t give them the actual historical facts. What I have been telling them is the purpose of the Electoral College as the Founding Fathers had put it together, was designed to make sure that heavily populated areas did not overwhelm the more rural areas or the needs of people who didn’t live in densely populated portions of the country.
And that in doing so, it ensured that everyone had a say regardless of your demographic and that the possibility of voter fraud or rigging the elections… Because they would never know where to target because they didn’t have to… You know, they had to worry about everybody, was the main concept that the Founding Fathers had in mind when they made the Electoral College a part of our election process.
RUSH: All right, and your kids rejected that because they…?
CALLER: Well, they don’t understand why the popular vote doesn’t matter. Especially, as I said, I think it’s more the bombardment of the media and how they’re making it sound.
RUSH: Well, there’s no question. But the reason the media and the bombardment of their friends is able to work is that when they were in middle school, they weren’t taught about the founding of America.
They Weren’t Taught about the Founding Fathers
RUSH: They weren’t taught about the Founding Fathers. They weren’t taught about the concept of federalism. You can’t understand the Electoral College unless you know what federalism is, and federalism is one of these terms that, in many cases, means the exact opposite of the word as it’s currently applied.
The Meaning of Federalism
The word “federalism” you might think that means federalism trumps everything; federalism means federal domination. It does not mean that. It means the exact opposite, in fact.
It means the states are sovereign and the federal government cannot tell ’em what to do in so many different ways.
Two States—California and New York—would Dictate the Rest of the Country
But I think you are very close with your assessment of population centers. The founders did not want population centers to dictate to the rest of the country. They had already seen that happen in Europe in their day, and they had seen the kind of people that gravitate toward various areas. I mean, even in the early days of the country when it was largely an agrarian or agricultural, farmer-type of economy. There were still cities; there were still elites.
There were widely different ways of thinking, and there were various different power locations and power points, and the popular vote was considered a way of relegating a lot of people to irrelevance based on population center and the fact that the country is always changing and always shifting. The primary purpose of the Electoral College is to maintain the power of the states and to support the idea that the election is decided by the states. It’s not decided by the general population, and it never was.
The Electoral College has been with us since the first days of the country. The reason for its founding… I mean, some people would even tell you that the Electoral College was established to protect the country from the votes of a bunch of ignoramuses and people uninformed out in the sticks who didn’t know what they were doing. I mean, there were people even tell you that that was one of the original thought processes involved in establishing the Electoral College.
RUSH: But it is a way of having a flat-out popular election without calling it that. If you didn’t do this — if you didn’t have the Electoral College — we would be at the mercy of how state legislatures draw their electoral districts, and we would have electoral districts drawn strictly for the purposes of winning presidential elections and not for the purposes of state and local representation.
RUSH: But the short answer to this is almost identical to why every state has two senators but a different number of members of the House based on population, and it is to make sure that there is equal representation across the board. There are some states based on population that would not even have a senator, if the Senate were not established the way that it is. Some practical examples. If the popular vote elected the president today, two states —
CALLER: California and New York. Mmm-hmm.
RUSH: — California and New York — would be all you would need. And that means campaigns would occur only there and campaigns would focus only on issues relevant to those people in those states.
RUSH: And there wouldn’t be anything national about it. There wouldn’t be anything that would lend anybody any evidence or enlightenment as to what candidates were gonna do as president because they’d all run in these various states — and there might be three, might be more than California and New York. You might put Texas in there. But the point is it’s always changing. The population’s always changing. Look at… North Carolina was never a battleground state until recently. Now it is, and it’s because of migration from the Northeast.
People that live in the Northeast are leaving the Northeast for a whole host of reasons. They’re relocating in Southern states and Midwestern states — no-income-tax states, milder climate states — and it’s affecting the balance of power in those states. North Carolina used to be reliably red. Now it’s a battleground state. The Electoral College guards against all of this. The Electoral College protects state sovereignty. It actually is one of the most brilliantly conceived electoral mechanisms ever. Let me ask you a question here, Lynn.
What is a Democracy?
RUSH: We are not a democracy. I think if your kids understood that — and most people don’t. We are a representative republic. We’re not a direct democracy.
CALLER: Right. Correct.
RUSH: And most people don’t know that, particularly young people. They think we’re democracy. Tell your kids this. “If we lived in a democracy, if this house were a democracy and…?” How many are in your house?
CALLER: Well, currently three, but I have one in the Navy.
RUSH: Let’s pretend six people live in your house.
RUSH: And you propose that only four people get to eat every day, and you put it to a vote. If four people vote that only four people get to eat, two people don’t, that prevails. That’s what a democracy is. It’s strictly majority-minority rule. We do not have that. We have what’s called a representative republic.
CALLER: Correct. Well, so what would be…? For the people that are, you know, petitioning and complaining that we need to go to popular vote — and I understand the Electoral College — what would be the benefit or the possibility of, as I said, doing the Electoral College based on the number of votes, the percentage of votes an individual candidate received? For example, Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes.
RUSH: Because it would dilute the power of the states. The state sovereignty is key here in the Electoral College —
Don’t Destroy State Sovereignty
RUSH: — and if you’re going to start divvying up the power of each state’s elections, you are destroying state sovereignty. You cannot —
RUSH: You cannot, in a national election… It’s not a primary.
RUSH: Now, I mentioned earlier in the program that I found something yet again that is bubbling up, it’s effervescing out there, and it’s not yet broken the surface in a national way. It’s about, the story, this Harvard lecturer who wrote in October out of fear that Trump would be elected, that our democracy is unstable and rife for being eroded and torn apart, and his theory is because Trump is going to just rip everything up and do it his own way.
Democracy is Fragile
He’s an autocrat and so forth. It’s deeper than that, but this would be an ideal time to get into this, although I don’t have the time to do it right now. But before the end of this week I’m gonna delve into this stuff. The story is basically how stable are democracies, and this guy is a Harvard lecturer, and it’s in the New York Times. They’re convinced that (sobbing), “Our democracy is so fragile! It — it — it’s only one election from being torn apart, and Trump’s gonna do it. Oh, my God!” And this article even misses the point. Why is it the United States is the longest-lasting government of its kind in human history?
Our Representative Republic is the Most Stable Free Government in All of History
I mean, why haven’t we crumbled already? Why haven’t we been felled by internal corruption already? Not only longest-lasting. It’s one of the most stable governments where the population is free. You can find eons of dictatorship and tyranny, but I’m talking about our way of life. It’s precisely because we’re not a democracy that we have survived! It’s precisely because majority rule does have checks and balances on it. It’s precisely because this is a representative republic that we have survived.
So this guy’s article is all about how stable are democracies?
Democracies are not very stable, but we don’t have one when you get right down to it. A lot of people think that this is a conspiratorial point of order. But it isn’t. It’s genuine. There’s a big difference in a representative republic and a democracy. We do not have a democracy. There are elements of democracy in votes here and there.
But in the actual structure of the government, we’re a representative republic. The primary reason we’ve survived is that we have had leaders who’ve respected the Constitution, feared it and the rule of law, and we’ve been very lucky there.