Take this tweet, for example, by conservative Daily Beast columnist Matt K. Lewis.
Wow, that’s a lot of red! It also necessitates assuming that a big red area means a lot of people live there, which is almost never true. The blue areas may be smaller, but a lot of people live there. People vote. Land doesn’t. It’s that simple.
Lewis’s argument is the one that most blatantly assumes its audience is full of knuckle-dragging morons, but others aren’t much better. Take, for instance, this op-ed by National Review editor Rich Lowry at Politico from earlier this week:
The case against the Electoral College is, first, as Elizabeth Warren said, that it supposedly ensures that some votes don’t matter: In heavily blue or red states, voters on the other side are effectively disenfranchised.
This isn’t true, though. All votes are counted toward the outcome in every state. Voters from Republican, rural areas in California, for instance, aren’t disregarded; they are simply outnumbered.
If it is the considered progressive view that this is tantamount to disenfranchisement, California could immediately mitigate the problem by splitting its electoral votes by congressional district the way Nebraska and Maine do. This would require no change to the U.S. Constitution, or elaborate schemes. Of course, California is loath to give up any of its solidly Democratic electoral votes.
The case Lowry makes here, that conservative rural voters in California are “simply outnumbered,” could just as easily be a case for moving to a popular vote: “Conservative, rural voters from states like Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Utah, and so on are simply outnumbered by the large amount of Democratic voters from California.”
Except that in the alternative scenario to the Electoral College—the candidate with the most votes wins, which is how it works in most other presidential republics around the world—what state you live in has absolutely zero bearing on how much weight your vote holds. If you live in Los Angeles, your vote would count exactly as same as the vote of someone who lives in New York, or Orlando, or Cheyenne, or Dover, or Charleston. One person, one vote.
This makes the most sense, because as both Lowry and Sen. Elizabeth Warren alluded to, the states themselves are pretty diverse. There were only four states in 2016 where every county voted for the same candidate: Oklahoma and West Virginia, which went for Trump, and Massachusetts and Hawaii, which went for Clinton. Every other state was conflicted.
All of the other reasons why hardline traditionalists say we need to keep the Electoral College around are proven to be worthless pretty much every single election cycle. Take, for example, the idea that presidential candidates will flock only to high-density metro areas if we moved to a popular vote, which bears strong similarities to exactly the way it is now. The majority of Donald Trump’s general election rallies in 2016 were in cities or in the surrounding suburbs, and during the 2016 campaign, according to ABC News, just 13 states saw a major party presidential candidate during the last 7 days of campaigning, out of 45 total rallies.
If that doesn’t convince you, consider the fact that no matter how a state votes, the electors can simply choose to do whatever the fuck they want once they cast their Electoral College ballots on behalf of other people in the state they live in. And if there was ever any hope for the case that the Electoral College would protect against the “tyranny of the majority” and prevent a dumb, vicious asshole from becoming president, well, look at who’s running our country right now.
At this point, the arguments for why we should keep this arcane, archaic piece of shit system of electing a president around are so disingenuous, it’s almost refreshing when its defenders (like our friend Esoteric Jeff here) make abundantly clear why, exactly, they prefer the current system to a more democratic one: because they think democracy itself is bad.
“Pure democracy is an evil, not a virtue” is a good campaign slogan. Conservatives should start using it!