Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Nov. 20, 2000 / 22 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

This is what the Electoral College is supposed to prevent -- LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I've been on tenterhooks waiting for New York's junior senator to weigh in on the Electoral College. Just days after her election, Hillary finally ended the suspense. She vowed to combat the Electoral College so that "the popular vote, the will of the people" will reign triumphant.

It should come as no surprise that Hillary opposes the Electoral College. Alexander Hamilton explained that the whole point of the Electoral College was to interpose "every practicable obstacle" to "cabal, intrigue and corruption." The roundabout method of choosing a president imposed by the Constitution was intended to frustrate "the adversaries of republican government" and prevent them from gaining "an improper ascendant in our councils."

Instead of relying upon "existing bodies of men who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes," the Constitution placed the power of selecting a president "in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America."

But it would not merely be a vote of the people because the framers feared that a direct popular vote would tend to reward candidates practiced at the "little arts of popularity," as Hamilton put it in Federalist No. 68. The people would simply vote for electors, and the electors would have the "temporary and sole purpose" of choosing the president.

Though the system somehow let Bill Clinton slip through, the Electoral College has largely been free of the corrupting influences of concern to the framers. Electors have occasionally wandered off the reservation, as in 1988 when a lone Dukakis elector cast his vote for Lloyd Bentsen, but as a group they've been pretty incorruptible.

Electors have never been stolen outright by a Chicago mayor or Texas precinct captain -- as popular votes have been. No elector has never been convicted of taking bribes -- as members of the House and Senate have been with woeful frequency. The New York Times has never run an op-ed piece enthusiastically endorsing electors trading their votes -- as it did recently with regard to Nader and Gore voters trading popular votes across state lines.

The Electoral College is supposed to be enigmatic and complex -- the better to foil "foreign powers," "cabals," corrupters and other enemies of republican government. It remains to be seen if the Electoral College can frustrate the corrupt machinations on behalf of Al Gore.

Indeed, the current crisis foisted on the nation by Al Gore illustrates with some clarity the sort of mischief the Electoral College sought to prevent. The late Yale law professor Alexander Bickel argued that by tallying presidential votes state by state, the Electoral College would isolate the effect of voter fraud in any one state, legitimizing the election results.

If the entire raw national total were up for grabs, the whole country would have to be initiated into the Chicago vote-stealing customs now being introduced in Florida. Mysterious ballot boxes would be turning up in every black church in America. Hapless old people nationwide would be taking to the airwaves to claim they were really trying to order a Whopper but were tricked into voting for Pat Buchanan.

The Electoral College also tends to turn narrow popular-vote margins into definitive electoral victories. Even assuming Gore's popular vote advantage holds (and Bush's numbers would surely be higher if the media hadn't incorrectly given Florida to Gore early election night), the candidates' nationwide tallies are separated by a sneeze. At a certain point you have to cut off debate or there will be chaos and endless rioting.

People can't live like liberals, endlessly jawboning hypothetical possibilities and refusing to submit to rules. There have to be institutional boundaries to curtail endless navel-gazing. If a lawyer is one day late filing the complaint, Granny loses her slip-and-fall case. That's how rules work. Legitimate claims -- which Gore's is not -- are sometimes devalued for a social order that we prefer.

The Electoral College establishes a set of rules. It acknowledges the states as separate and sovereign entities casting all their votes for a single candidate. Even assuming Gore's ephemeral fraction of a percentage point advantage in the popular vote holds, Bush took 30 states, and Gore won only 20. The Electoral College hands a decisive win to Bush.

The final tally could yet make Bush the popular vote winner and, in any event, he has already won more votes than Bill Clinton got in either of his two tries. (You remember Clinton -- he was the one they said we couldn't impeach because that would overturn the results of an election.)

Much more horrifying than the curious prospect of a popular vote "winner" losing the electoral vote is that fact that Hillary "Cattle Futures" Clinton is going to be a U.S. senator, and we've learned to live with that.

JWR contributor Ann Coulter is the author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton. You may visit the Ann Coulter Fan Club by clicking here.


11/16/00: The liar next time
11/09/00: JUST GO!
11/06/00: Hail Mary past
11/02/00: As the nose grows: The scripture according to Gore
10/30/00: Clinton sure can pick 'em
10/26/00: Gore's 'Nam flashbacks
10/23/00: Courting George Orwell
10/20/00: The three faces of Al
10/17/00: Must Christian conservatives be fascists?
10/13/00: Oil good; Dems bad
10/10/00: Al Gore: Serial fibber
10/06/00: Sigh of the crook
10/03/00: So who's the 'dumb guy' now?
09/29/00: Don't do drug legalization
09/26/00: I'd burn down my neighbor's house
09/22/00: Democrats worship the money shot
09/19/00: Other film footage we'd like to see
09/15/00: Bush can name the **^%*
09/12/00: The Supreme Court ratchet
09/08/00: Our mistake -- keep polluting
09/05/00: Bubba protects and serves
09/01/00: AlGore's 'going out of business!' tax plan
08/29/00: Bush's compassionate conservatism
08/25/00: Space alien tells funny jokes in bathtub
08/22/00: Dems view world only in black and white, not in color
08/18/00: Another Damascus Road conversion
08/15/00: The viagra cotillion
08/11/00: The hand-wringing Hamlet from Hartford
08/07/00: The Democratic party's white face
08/04/00: Hillary's potty mouth
08/01/00: The hole in the story
07/28/00: Cheney's detractors can't get their story straight
07/25/00: AlGore: Elmer Blandry
07/21/00: The tyranny of non-objectivity
07/18/00: The state's religion
07/14/00: Reform it back
07/11/00: Keating for veep
07/07/00: Gore invented 'Clueless'
07/04/00: The stupidity litmus test
06/30/00: O.J. was 'proved innocent' too
06/27/00: The last guys 'proved innocent'
06/23/00: Serious Republican candidates don't get serious press
06/19/00: They weren't overzealous this time
06/16/00: Evolution of the strumpet
06/13/00: Actual journalistic malpractice
06/09/00: I did not have sexual
relations with that ... man!
06/06/00: IRS turns Bubba's screw
05/30/00: Too corrupt to be an Arkansas lawyer
05/26/00: Choose liberalism
05/24/00: Violence against coherence
05/22/00: Developmentally disabled Republicans
05/16/00: For womb the bell tolls
05/12/00: Asylum from Georgetown
05/10/00: The truth is out there, even for the clueless
05/08/00: Barbie is a liberal Democrat
05/02/00: Moving the goalpost
04/28/00: The bastardization of justice
04/25/00: How Monica Lewinsky saved the constitution
04/24/00: It's sunny today, so we need gun control
04/19/00: No shadow of a doubt -- liberal women are worthless
04/14/00: It takes a Communist dictator to raise a child
04/11/00: The verdict is in on Hillary
04/07/00: Vast Concoctions III
04/04/00: 'Horrifying' free speech in New York
03/31/00: Check-Off Box For Pimp Suits
03/28/00: All the news that fits -- we print!
03/24/00: Net losses all around
03/20/00: To protect, serve --- and be spat on
03/16/00: Thank Heaven for the consigliere
03/13/00: Vast concoctions II
03/09/00: The bluebloods voted against you
03/07/00: The Tower of Babble
03/03/00: Vast concoction
03/02/00: Hillary's sartorial lies
02/28/00: You have to break a few eggs to make a joke
02/22/00: I've seen enough killing to support abortion
02/18/00: A liberal lynching
02/15/00: McCain and the flag
02/11/00: The Shakedown Express
02/08/00: To mock a mockingbird
02/05/00: Summing up Campaign 2000: 'Oh, puh-leeze!'
02/01/00: A Confederacy of Dunces
01/28/00: Dollar Bill's racist smear
01/24/00: How high is your freedom quotient?
01/21/00: Numismadness
01/18/00: How dare you attack my wife!
01/14/00: The Gore Buggernaut
01/10/00: The paradox of discrimination law

© 2000, UPS