An Ill-Informed Candidate

On Fox News‘ Claremont, New Hampshire town hall with Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg Sunday, Buttigieg had this to say about abolishing our Electoral College.

“States don’t vote, people vote.  …if we’re going to call ourselves a democracy,” the US should move to a popular vote system.

When the moderator, Chris Wallace, asked further about that, particularly comparing the voice of small States like New Hampshire with large States like California, Buttigieg gave an unresponsive answer about how New Hampshire wouldn’t be harmed by abolishing the Electoral College because New Hampshire is one of the first-to-vote-in-primaries States.

There are so many things wrong with Buttigieg’s remarks; here are a couple biggies.

We don’t call ourselves a democracy.  We don’t call ourselves that because we are not a democracy; we are a republican democracy consisting of a federation of States.  As a republican democracy, States do, indeed, vote, doing so alongside citizens (not just “people”), and that’s by design.  The Great Compromise in the final agreement on our Constitution was the creation of the Senate as a separate house in our Congress, which body would give equal representation to the States as States—the two Senators per State structure.

This was intended to produce a number of outcomes.  Two of these were a guarantee that our nation’s member States all would be on an equal level among each other within our central, federal government; large population States would not dominate small population States.  Thus, we would not be a popular democracy with its inevitable devolution through a tyranny of a majority into mob rule.  We would, instead, be a republican democracy with greater protections for and balance of the rights of the minority along with the rights of the majority.

Associated with that is the Electoral College, which functionally extends the protection of small States from domination by large States to the election of our President and Vice President.  States are allocated a number of Electors equaling the sum of the number of Representatives a State has, which is based on that State’s population, and its two Senators.  Thus, States vote as States for these candidates alongside the citizens, with the citizens represented, in addition to their individual votes, a second time, indirectly through their State’s Electors.

Within that, Buttigieg’s facile answer that New Hampshire wouldn’t be harmed because it’s an early primary voter ignored similarly small States like New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and others—none of whom are early voters.  Rather, his answer was (how to put this delicately) dismayingly ignorant.

Anyone who paid attention in eight grade Civics knows all of this.  A man so ignorant of the structure of our republican democracy and the reasons for that structure simply is unqualified for the office of President.

2 thoughts on “An Ill-Informed Candidate

  1. I was also bothered by the fact that he wasn’t called on it at the time – leaving the persuasive tone (which any successful politician has) to carry the day.

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