Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke joined the growing list of presidential hopefuls eager to abolish the Electoral College this week, calling it an outdated system comparable to “slavery.”
“Yes, let’s abolish the Electoral College,” he said at the annual We The People Membership Summit in Washington, D.C. “This is one of those bad compromises we made at day one in this country. There are many others we can think of and they are all connected, including the value of some people based on the color of their skin. There is a legacy and a series of consequences that have persisted and remain with us to this day.”
O’Rourke’s complaints against the electoral process aren’t unusual: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D‑Mass., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D‑N.Y., have made similar comments. And Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently signed a bill that added Colorado to a growing list of states apart of the National Popular Vote Contract.
The argument is the same: Every vote matters, so the popular vote should outweigh the indirect representation the Electoral College provides.
“If we get rid of the Electoral College, we get a little bit closer to one person, one vote in the United States of America,” O’Rourke said.
Abolishing the Electoral College would be disastrous. Opponents of the institution claim it’s outdated and no longer fits American governance. But its checks on the election process and human nature are both timeless and necessary.
The Founders understood that man has the right to govern himself, and that he can do so badly. The Electoral College serves as a check on man’s worst tendencies, placing a barrier, or a reasonable body of electors, in the way of the mass’s passions.
The Electoral College guarantees that less populous states still have a say in national elections. Without it, candidates would campaign heavily in large states and highly-partisan cities — more than they already do. It’s true: Even with the Electoral College’s guidance, flyover states still hold less sway than populated swing states. But abolishing the Electoral College would eliminate this influence completely, furthering the divide between urban and rural America.
The country’s longevity is largely due to the stability the Electoral College provides. Abolishing it would put at risk America’s values and well-being. O’Rourke and the rest of the Democratic gang would be wise to remember its purpose before calling for its dissolution.