Harry Reid to Nevada voters: Let’s consider diluting the value of your vote.
After Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about 2 million votes but lost in the Electoral College count 290-232, Reid told reporters Wednesday, “I think it would be educational for the country to have some hearings on the Electoral College system. … So I think it’s something we should look at, absolutely.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., filed a bill Tuesday to abolish the Electoral College. In the unlikely event Congress were to pass the bill, amending the Constitution still would require agreement by three-fourths of the state legislatures.
According to The Hill, Trump, who seldom misses an opportunity to waffle on any issue, called the Electoral College “genius” on Tuesday morning, though in a a Sunday “60 Minutes” interview he said, “I’m not going to change my mind just because I won,” the president-elect said. “But I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win.”
For Nevada voters dumping the Electoral College system would mean the state’s collective voting strength would drop from six to four.
The electoral college system was set up to give smaller states like Nevada an outsized voice in the presidential election. In a proportionate system, Nevada would have only four votes, one for each member of the House of Representatives, which is divvied up by population. But Nevada gets two extra votes, one for each senator.
Similarly, instead of having only one vote, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, the Dakotas and a couple of others get three.
When the Constitution was written the states were intended to be sovereign entities, conducting the affairs within their borders, while the federal government would handle those enumerated duties beyond the scope or power of the individual states, such as defending the country from invasion and regulating interstate commerce.
Over the years the federal government has usurped more and more powers never envisioned by the Founders. Congress — using the carrot and stick of federal funding — dictates to states what the legal drinking age will be, what the highway speed limits will be, what education standards should be attained and whether to expand Medicaid, among many, many other things.
If Harry wants to consider some hearings on a constitutional amendment that would be educational for the country, he should call for hearings on repealing the 17th Amendment, which in 1913 changed the election of U.S. senators from selection by state legislatures to a popular vote.
Since then the Congress has treated the states like fiefdoms over which it holds indomitable power.
James Madison said during debate over the Bill of Rights, “The state legislatures will jealously and closely watch the operations of Government, and be able to resist with more effect every assumption of power, than any other power on earth can do; and the greatest opponents to a Federal government admit the State Legislatures to be sure guardians of people’s liberty.”
George Mason warned when the Constitution was being drafted in Philadelphia, “(W)e have agreed that the national Legislature shall have a negative on the State Legislatures — the Danger is that the national, will swallow up the State Legislatures — what will be a reasonable guard agt. this Danger, and operate in favor of the State authorities — The answer seems to me to be this, let the State Legislatures appoint the Senate …”
The delegates agreed unanimously.
But in a fit of progressive pique this common sense check against unbridled power was overturned by the 17th.
In 1997 Nevada’s own Jay Bybee, a former constitutional law professor at UNLV and now a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the recommendation of Harry Reid, penned an article railing against the 17th Amendment’s alteration of the country’s power structure:
“The Senate’s slide to popular democracy unyoked states and the national government in a way that has left the states nearly powerless to defend their position as other legitimate representatives of the people. As the United States moved into the Twentieth Century, it was inevitable that Congress would aggressively exercise power over matters such as commerce and spending for the general welfare in ways that no constitutional prophet would have foreseen. The lack of foresight of the circumstances under which Congress would exercise its powers did not excuse our failure to maintain those constitutional structures that assure the tempered, essential use of such powers. When we loosed ourselves from the mast to answer the Sirens’ call, we unleashed consequences only Circe could have foreseen.”
If Harry wants to dabble with the Constitution, he should look to the 17th Amendment, not the Electoral College.