This week Delaware and Colorado took one step closer to joining the compact of states to undermine the Electoral College. Many liberals claim that the EC was created to “safeguard slavery.” But those looking to end our election system are historically ignorant.
On Monday, the House of Representatives of the State of Delaware voted to join the compact of states looking to award the state’s presidential vote to the winner of the popular vote nationwide, quite despite what voters of the state want.
Delaware would join the 12 states already in the compact. Those states include Colorado, Vermont, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and California in the compact.
Breaking from the trend in his party, last weekend a prominent Democrat jumped to Twitter to side with the Electoral College.
On March 17, Democrat Andrew Yang wrote, “The problem with deciding Presidential elections via popular vote is that candidates would naturally campaign in urban areas with big media markets and their policies would follow suit. Better to have proportional electoral college votes in each state, so you campaign everywhere.”
To that, the historically illiterate Jemele Hill responded that the Electoral College was created to preserve slavery.
“Nah,” she wrote on Monday. “People who live in cities that truly represent the diversity of America should set the course. The electoral college is outdated and was there to preserve slavery. We need to move on.”
Nah. People who live in cities that truly represent the diversity of America should set the course. The electoral college is outdated, and was there to preserve slavery. We need to move on. https://t.co/vRykoYcPle
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) March 18, 2019
Hill is wrong on every point. And so are the Democrats that agree with her.
Firstly, her desire to have the few big cities in the U.S. control every election is precisely the opposite effect that the founders wanted to achieve. Our founding fathers wanted the whole of the country involved in elections and hoped that each president would represent the entire people of the United States. Her recipe for elections would mean only New York, L.A., Chicago, and the other half dozen big cities would decide who our leaders would be.
The Electoral College was created to give the small states, such as liberal Connecticut, the same weight — or at least fair representation — as the big states, such as conservative Texas. Indeed, you can thank the Electoral College for ending slavery because Abe “The Great Emancipator” Lincoln won election to the White House with only 40 percent of the vote.
Many point to the “three-fifths” clause that maintained that each southern slave was worth three-fifths of a person to assess representation. But this clause did not say that a black slave was only intrinsically worth three-fifths of a white person.
What the clause actually did was take power away from the south by refusing to give the slave powers the credit of a full voter to each slave who was not even allowed to vote. The clause was meant to limit slavery, not “preserve” it, as Hill proclaimed.
This was all a compromise. On one hand, it gave the north the chance to have as much electoral influence as the south (which had millions of slaves), and in exchange, the debate gave the south a break on federal taxes.
The debate over the Electoral College was centered on the division of powers and representation, not slavery. After all, some large states had slaves (such as Virginia), and some large states were not slave states (Pennsylvania). The same was true about the smaller states. It was not a linear situation. Neither side was able to exert full control. That is why the compromise was necessary.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.