It seems like only three years ago that liberals were accusing Donald Trump of not committing to accepting the election results if he were to lose — as everyone expected him to. Oh, wait, that was three years ago. In fact, there were a lot of things being said by liberals three years ago that are amusing to look back on today, such as this gem from Jason Silverstein, national politics reporter at the New York Daily News:
Even if Donald Trump wins the popular vote for President in November, it is entirely possible — and even Constitutionally acceptable — that we could be spared from his leadership. For that, we can thank the Electoral College.
“We take for granted every four years that the Electoral College will vote accordingly to the winners of each state’s popular vote,” Silverstein said, but “there is nothing in the Constitution, federal law or electoral history” that says that’s how it has to work. “The Electoral College has the freedom to override the people’s choice — in part, to expressly stop someone like Trump from taking over.” To Silverstein, the Electoral College was designed to stop Trump, not enable him to be president. The scenario he then presented, that rogue Electors could simply ignore the popular vote in their state and not cast their ballots for Trump, was a ridiculous pie-in-the-sky scenario, but is a fascinating look into how the left fantasized that the Electoral College could “save us” from Trump. In fact, Silverstein’s scenario may have inspired anti-Trumpers to harass and threaten Electors to do just as he envisioned… you know, to preserve the Republic, or something.
Others believed that the Electoral College system gave Hillary Clinton an advantage from the start. “Even before candidates were decided in the 2016 presidential election,” explained MSNBC political reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, “Democrats started with a major advantage – thanks to changes in the Electoral College – over presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.” Of course, once Trump won the election without winning the popular vote, Democrats’ attitudes toward the Electoral College changed drastically. What they had counted on to keep Trump out of the White House had suddenly put him in. The last time this happened was, of course, the 2000 election, where Bush’s narrow margin in Florida gave him an Electoral College victory without winning the national popular vote.
Democrats are pointing to these two elections as reasons why the Electoral College is outmoded, racist, homophobic, transphobic, something-phobic, whatever. The national popular vote is the only truly democratic way to choose our president, they now say. Democrat presidential hopefuls are embracing this idea, and blue states across the country are entering into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, in the hopes of, essentially, overthrowing the Electoral College system. To “preserve” our Republic.
The problem with their position now, besides the obvious, is that when it comes to the Electoral College, it’s not the system they have a problem with, it’s that’s the system doesn’t work for them. The last time a Republican won both the national popular vote and the Electoral College vote was in 2004, when George W. Bush defeated John Kerry. But Democrats didn’t simply concede defeat when it was obvious they’d lost fairly.
Bush won Florida easily in 2004, but the results in Ohio were a lot closer, and John Kerry was urged to contest the results in Ohio over allegations of voting “irregularities” statewide. He did not. No number of recounts in Ohio could have resulted in flipping the state and the national popular vote. The only purpose of challenging Ohio was to overturn the Electoral College results. A recount in Ohio only netted Kerry about 300 votes statewide, but that didn’t stop Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) from filing an objection (on behalf of a group of Democrats in Congress) to the counting of Ohio’s electoral votes, and delaying certification of the 2004 presidential election results. This was only the second time in history such a challenge occurred. Nothing came of the challenge, as we know, but it’s also interesting to note that even now, John Kerry believes that the election was stolen from him.
The Democrats’ attitudes toward the Electoral College have nothing to do with the merits of the system, but the merits of the results. If they lose, the system is rigged and undemocratic. If they win, the system has proven itself to work. Democrats have a history of wanting to change the rules for their benefit. Senate Democrats were more than happy to use the filibuster to block President Bush from nominating judges to the courts, but took that power away from Republicans when they used it to block Barack Obama from nominating judges, citing a “broken system.” Democrats don’t believe in the sanctity of rules or law and order, they believe in winning at all costs. They won’t be happy in a system that doesn’t allow them to win 100 percent of the time.
Democrats the mentality of four-year-old children. They have to win every time, otherwise, it’s not fair. The Electoral College isn’t a threat to our Republic, the Democratic Party is.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis