Thursday, December 29, 2016
Defeated Democrats' new attack line: The Electoral College is racist
This article was posted on December 21st in the Washington Examiner
By Gabby Morrongiello
Democrats still mourning the outcome of last month's election have added a new step to their grieving process: leveling charges of racism against those who support the constitutional method of electing the president.
In keeping with the process stipulated in the 12th Amendment, 538 electors representing all 50 states gathered on Monday to cast their ballots for the 45th president. The result – that Donald Trump will officially enter the Oval Office on Jan. 20 – was affirmed by the Electoral College, an institution the Left is now casting as racist and anti-Democratic.
Mere hours after Trump topped the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: "Hello rest of the world! My fellow Americans are asleep right now so I thought we could talk and maybe explain what happened yesterday."
Then came his explanation.
"This racist idea, the Electoral College, 225 years later ended up benefitting the candidate who spewed racism hate," he opined.
The New York Times, in an editorial on Tuesday, described the centuries-old institution as "a living symbol of America's original sin," arguing that it was created at a time when "slavery was the law of the land" and a national popular vote would have "disadvantaged" Southern slave states, where blacks could not vote but were counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of a population count.
"The whole point of the Electoral College was an effort by the founders to balance large states versus small states because of the fact that we are a federal republic," Hans von Spakovsky, a conservative scholar of election law at the Heritage Foundation, told the Washington Examiner. "They were afraid that if the president were elected simply by the national popular vote, then candidates would simply go to the big urban areas and ignore the more rural parts of the country."
According to Spakovksy, there is "absolutely no discussion" about designing the Electoral College to protect slave states in James Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
"Latching onto this claim, that 'Oh it must be racism,' is just ridiculous," he said. "All you have to do is look at a map that breaks down the entire country by counties and you can see that Donald Trump's support was countrywide whereas Hillary Clinton's support was in very narrow geographical areas of the country."
"So the idea that the entire rest of the country and many of the electors who cast their ballots yesterday were racist in voting for Trump is just an insult to Americans," Spakovsky added.
The assault on the Electoral College by Moore and his progressive cohort isn't new. Many Democrats, including both President Obama and Clinton, have supported eliminating the unique American institution and electing the president and vice president through a popular vote.
"We are a very different country than we were 200 years ago," Clinton told reporters shortly after the 2000 election, when Al Gore won more of the popular vote than elected President George W. Bush.
"I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it's time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president," she added.
Last week, Obama dubbed the Electoral College a "carryover from an earlier version of how our federal government was going to work that put a lot of premium on states."
It's not clear if Obama was referencing the charges that the Electoral had a "racist" origin. "States rights," which was used as a justification for slavery, is sometimes still associated by the Left with racism.
But other liberals in recent days have clearly pressed the claim that the Electoral College is not only anachronistic, it's a vestige of slavery.
"The Electoral College is an instrument of white supremacy – and sexism," read a headline on the left-leaning website Slate three days after the election.
"Born of slavery, the Electoral College could stand against racism in 2016," read another by Salon.com.
Earlier this month, after a forum on the Electoral College on Capitol Hill, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., described the institution as "anti-democratic" and "rooted in slavery."
"The Republican Party has put itself on the wrong side of history here. Fifty years from now, this is the party that stood for denying people the right to vote," former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told liberal comedian Bill Maher during a discussion about the Electoral College in mid-November.
Holder may think supporters of the Electoral College are on the "wrong side of history," but to claim the institution is an instrument of racism is to misconstrue history as it is written, Spakovksy said.
Those hoping to abolish the Electoral College because they view it as racist, outdated, anti-democratic or for other reasons face the profound uphill battle of amending the Constitution, which would require a three-fourths majority vote among state legislatures.
Outgoing Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, Calif., initiated that process one week after Trump's victory when she introduced a bill to end the Electoral College because it is "an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society."
Boxer's bill is the 701st attempt in the past 200 years to scrap the Electoral College in favor of a different system and is just as unlikely to succeed.
Democrats "are only arguing to benefit themselves now, not to defend principle," John Yoo, a UC Berkeley Law professor and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in the Hill last month.
"Nothing better shows how liberal attacks on the Electoral College amount to nothing more than sour grapes and constitutional cherry-picking," he added.