What ever happened to minority rights?
Democracy, it’s been said, can be two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Unfortunately, a desire for this kind of democracy seems to motivate supporters of NPV like George Soros’s Demos Foundation.
Mel Gibson in The Patriot summed up a real concern of many Americans during our Revolution: why exchange one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants one mile away? That is, democracy can be just as destructive of minority rights as a king.
That’s why the Constitution of the United States and every state constitution is chock full of anti-democratic provisions. Think about it: every structure and process is a potential check against the desires of a majority. Representation itself exists to create responsible government, which means more than simply responsiveness to public moods.
The Bill of Rights is a series of anti-democratic restrictions. Constitutional protections exist to restrain majorities from using government to abuse minorities. Of course, the Constitution can be amended, but only by a supermajority—another check against the power of 50% plus 1 to do whatever they please.
On their ideas action blog, Demos lawyer Allegra Chapman asks, “what if the executive sworn into office doesn’t represent the popular vote?”
First, elected officials don’t represent votes. They represent people. And their job is to represent all the people, whether they voted for them, against them, or not at all.
Second, what Allegra seems to be struggling to say is “what if the candidate with the most votes doesn’t win?” She goes on to complain that the Electoral College makes this possible and she claims that it’s happened four times in American history (we know it has happened twice, in 2000 and 1888 , but 1876 and 1824 are dubious examples). Of course, we can’t answer Allegra’s question without knowing why the Electoral College allows that to happen and whether it’s a better system than using the raw national vote total.
Unfortunately, Allegra plunges on, advocating NPV as a “remedy” without ever explaining her bias for raw democracy or why she believes it’s better than the geographical balance and political stability provided by the Electoral College system.
She reproduces two standard NPV arguments: NPV will establish perfect voter equality by making the nation a single electoral jurisdiction (newsflash: even candidates in single-member districts slice and dice the electorate according to every demographic data point available, making all kinds of distinctions among voters and geographic regions) and NPV-sponsored opinion polls support—surprise—NPV. Once again, simply because a majority says something doesn’t tell us whether it’s the right answer–especially if we want to protect minority rights.