On Wednesday, Joy Behar, co-host of ABC News’ “The View,” suggested that the division of the United States into states — each given two U.S. Senate seats under the Constitution — constitutes “gerrymandering” for the Republicans.
Behar interrupted Matthew Dowd, former chief strategist for the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign and current ABC News political analyst, who was breaking down the 2018 midterm election results, pointing out that Republicans have “geography” while Democrats have “demography.”
“I think we had a presidential year in a midterm,” Dowd said, citing the extremely high turnout — 118 million votes cast in House races, perhaps nearing the turnout rate of low-turnout presidential elections, according to Time magazine.
Dowd described the elections as a “battle between geography, which Republicans have … and there’s demography, which Democrats have. In 2016, we had a split decision: Trump takes the Electoral College — geography — Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote.”
“Last night was an even bigger example of that,” the analyst added. “So Democrats won the popular vote last night by 8 million votes, but they lose the U.S. Senate races in red areas.”
“Because of gerrymandering,” Behar interrupted.
Luckily, Dowd immediately shot down this idea. “No, that’s not gerrymandering, that’s the Constitution,” he replied. “The districts are gerrymandered, but the states are part of the Constitution.”
Dowd added that “the blues are getting bluer, and the reds are getting redder,” and he lamented that “both parties are going to take the wrong lessons from last night.”
It seems some liberals have already started taking the wrong lessons. Behar’s quip about “gerrymandering” illustrates a new kind of absurdity the Left has begun to push. The new conspiracy theory is that whenever Republicans win it’s unfair because the rules have been rigged against Democrats, who should win because of “the popular vote.”
“I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority,” Vox’s Ezra Klein infamously tweeted. “After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).”
Musician and actor Mikel Jollett declared that “Democrats won the popular vote tally in the Senate by 12% yesterday. (9 MILLION votes!) Stop pretending Republican Senate pick-ups represent some kind of ‘will of the people.’ The whole problem is the Senate DOESN’T represent the will of the people.”
Democrats won the popular vote tally in the Senate by 12% yesterday. (9 MILLION votes!)
Stop pretending Republican Senate pick-ups represent some kind of “will of the people.”
The whole problem is the Senate DOESN’T represent the will of the people.
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) November 7, 2018
Mark Copelovitch, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tweeted, “Senate popular vote: Democrats: 40,558,262 (55.4%) Republicans: 31,490,026 votes (43.0%) Senate seats: Republicans +3.”
As Aaron Blake pointed out over at The Washington Post, there is no “popular vote” in either the House or the Senate. Each race is different, and each race matters. Blake noted that not every Senate seat is up for re-election — by design — so that even if the Senate popular vote were a thing, last night would not reveal it.
Furthermore, if the “Senate popular vote” were a thing, Republicans should have won even more seats.
There’s also this: While Democrats lost seats on Tuesday night, they actually won most of the races that were held — at least 22 of the 35 seats, and possibly a couple more. That’s 63 percent or more of the seats, despite winning just 55 percent of the vote.
Sounds pretty unfair to Republicans, right?
Blake excellently shot down this idea. But he did not address the broader concern.
Progressive liberals have started attacking the basic American institutions enshrined by the U.S. Constitution, calling for packing or abolition of the Supreme Court, abolition of the Senate, and now some sort of “popular vote” overriding the geographic divisions of the states themselves.
Joy Behar’s gut response — isn’t it unfair that Republicans won Senate seats? Aren’t the rules skewed in their favor? — was more revealing than Dowd seemed to realize. The Left thinks they are entitled to power, because “more people” support their views.
This is a gut Progressive view, and it’s dangerous for the Constitution, for the rule of law, and for America’s heritage. The Founders expressly created a system that checked the popular will through various means, especially empowering the separate states to have their own say in government.
The United States was originally even more about the states. Senators weren’t originally elected by majority vote in their separate states, as is the case today (thanks to Progressive activism). The separate state legislatures chose their senators, thus enabling people who represent the people’s will to choose more level-headed leaders who would be more likely to agree with each other, and less likely to shout at each other on television for votes.
One of the reasons America’s polarization has become so toxic is the slow erosion of institutions that separate the different sides of the yelling American populace from themselves. The Founding Fathers created a system that balanced the will of the people with representative government — senators elected only every six years, a Supreme Court that should not be tied to political issues.
To some degree, liberals are correct in complaining that the will of the people is checked by American institutions, but they’re wrong to think that’s unfair. America works best when people are less rabid about politics, when political leaders can compromise, and when leaders stick to the wisdom of the Founders as expressed in the Constitution.
Liberals are undermining the faith in the Constitution, and Americans need to call them out on it.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.