The Popular Vote is Dumb and Dangerous

The Popular Vote is Dumb and Dangerous

The political needs and wants of citizens vary on a very broad spectrum based on their differing locations.  What is good for those in New York City is not necessarily the same for those in say Sioux Falls, SD - heck, the politics in Lake Pleasant, NY vastly differ from those in Brooklyn, NY.  Different locations of a state can have completely distinctive interests from one another.  So, when it comes to national politics, you have to take into account these diverse demographics because policies will often be viewed differently.

Simple analogies are a great way to explain things like this in a much smaller relatable manner, especially for those that tend to get swept up in popular rhetoric like the idiotic notion of trading the Electoral College in for the popular vote.

When I was in college, I had to find roommates off-campus in order to afford an apartment.  Typically we would get three roommates willing to split a three-bedroom apartment evenly.  However, one semester I had a roommate who wanted to help a couple of his friends out by letting them crash in his room for a couple weeks…which quickly turned into months.  Well, this seemed fine at first, until it came time to make decisions regarding common areas of the apartment like the bathroom, kitchen, living room, etc.  Now, technically these two extra occupants were paying the one roommate what they could in order to stay in his room so therefore they decided that they also deserved some kind of say in any kind of democratic process when it came to decision making.  So, suddenly if my other roommate and I wanted to compromise we were now out-voted 3 to 2 by sheer headcount.  One room of the apartment had all the "democratic" power just because they had the most people in the apartment.  

This is how pure democracies operate.  As Dennis Prager says, it is essentially two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for supper.  That may be the most simple analogy to relate to; however, de Tocqueville captured this concept quite succinctly in Volume II of Democracy in America back in 1840:

Now it is in the nature of all governments to seek constantly to enlarge their sphere of action; hence it is almost impossible that such a government should not ultimately succeed, because it acts with a fixed principle and a constant will, upon men, whose position, whose notions, and whose desires are in continual vacillation. It frequently happens that the members of the community promote the influence of the central power without intending it. Democratic ages are periods of experiment, innovation, and adventure. At such times there are always a multitude of men engaged in difficult or novel undertakings, which they follow alone, without caring for their fellowmen. Such persons may be ready to admit, as a general principle, that the public authority ought not to interfere in private concerns; but, by an exception to that rule, each of them craves for its assistance in the particular concern on which he is engaged, and seeks to draw upon the influence of the government for his own benefit, though he would restrict it on all other occasions. If a large number of men apply this particular exception to a great variety of different purposes, the sphere of the central power extends insensibly in all directions, although each of them wishes it to be circumscribed. Thus a democratic government increases its power simply by the fact of its permanence. Time is on its side; every incident befriends it; the passions of individuals unconsciously promote it; and it may be asserted, that the older a democratic community is, the more centralized will its government become.
— Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Volume II, Chapter III

Eventually, we, meaning the actually three original co-signers, had to come to an agreement that each room - not every person living in each room - had some kind of equal say when it came to negotiations.  However, obviously we weighed in favor of the roommate with the most occupants due to his burden of occupants he represented.  It was not perfect but it was fairer than majority rule.

This is mostly how the Electoral College operates.  Political power is more weighted to give more equal power to the lesser populated states while also taking the heavy population of certain states into consideration.

If you look at the United States map as a giant shared apartment (or whatever similar analogy of your choice) and visualize each state as a weighted democratic bloc of individuals seeking as much equal representation to the other states, you can quickly visualize the problem with states like New York or California, which have very densely populated cities and thus are very heavily populated states, compared to say the very sparsely populated and dispersed states in the country, like for example Wyoming or North Dakota. And each region in these states has different political views based on their own local interests that often clash with another region’s interests.  

If you dig even further into even a state like New York, you even seen this difference in counties where the smaller populated areas of the state differ politically from the big urban areas. The map looks mostly red in fact, yet the high concentrated population of a few small locations of the state still carried the entire state blue.  Those few counties happen to be the locations of the largest overwhelming concentration of citizens of the state.  It’s like this in most states but on the coasts it is just a bit more obvious.

So, in my analogy New York would be like a 62-room apartment with about 5 rooms that have more like-minded voters than the rest of the rooms combined. If anything, this may even be a good argument to diversify the “winner-take-all” Electoral system for each state, but that is a discussion for another time.

Oh, and for those curious about why there is this phenomenon where large cities typically vote liberal Democrat, it is called the “Curley Effect”.  It is basically a kind of group-think collective subconscious which occurs when inner-city citizens (and now spreading to suburban areas too) tend to become insulated in a bubble of public sector goodies like public transportation, public utilities, public spaces, and heavy doses of welfare benefits like food stamps.  All thanks to the big businesses that took residence there years ago and have continued to stay and grow (partially thanks to crony capitalist dealings that keep them there.)   This is also, generally speaking, where Democrat leaders tend to stake control on a local basis in order to keep the cycle going.  And cities tend to keep growing more and more expanding their political influence.

This is exactly why Democrats are attempting to do away with the Electoral College. They know that they control the heavy populated regions  of the country and in a pure democracy all that matters is your localized mass headcount.  

So, if you live in the city, especially if you have never traveled outside of it before, it may be difficult to peer outside your worldview paradigm but please understand “flyover country” is vastly differently culturally and politically.  Even less populated areas deserve at least a weighted say in federal policies that tend to affect them contrary to their vantage point.  This is why the Electoral College delivers a much more level playing field than allowing a handful of liberal cities decide a national election.

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