Notes on politics, mostly.
National Popular Vote
August 31, 2010
W.S.J. on N.P.V.: Surprisingly Fair
Posted by Hendrik HertzbergI’m a bit late getting to this, but on July 29th the Wall Street Journal’s online opinion Web site got around to publishing a piece on the National Popular Vote plan.
It’s by James Taranto, who edits the site, and it comes out against N.P.V. No surprise there, really. Even though all available polling shows that rank-and-file Republicans support popular election, by majorities of roughly 2 to 1—nearly as overwhelming as rank-and-file Democratic support, which averages around 3 to 1—the default position on the professional right seems to be: No way, José. The usual argument is that electing Presidents the way we elect governors, senators, mayors, state legislators, etc., etc., would be a totalitarian horror that would doom America to permanent mob rule by the urban masses and their corrupt bosses, augmented by whatever illegal aliens ACORN hasn’t yet got around to illegally registering.
What is surprising is that Taranto, after a bit of standard right-wing throat clearing (“a partisan protest masquerading as a high-minded reform,” “a too-clever-by-half attempt to circumvent America’s constitutional structure”) does not take this tack. Nor does he sully himself with any of the other usual specious arguments—e.g., residents of small states would be disadvantaged, campaigning would occur only in big cities, the two-party system would be destroyed, vote-stealing would be rampant, recounts would be a bigger danger than under the status quo, etc.
I have to give him extra props for the following:
1. He gives his readers a reasonably fair description of the plan:
The idea is known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If and only if enough states have joined by July 20 of any presidential election year, those states affirm that their election officials will choose the slate of electors pledged to the candidate with the highest national popular-vote total, regardless of the preferences of their own states’ voters.
In other words, it takes effect only if enough states have joined to ensure that the result will be to hand the presidency to the popular-vote “winner.”
One may question some of the tonal body language (e.g., those air quotes around “winner”), but still: succinct and accurate.
Continue Reading >> .POSTED INHendrik Hertzberg
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