I’m kind of annoyed that I know how to pronounce Pete Buttigieg’s name at this point. The two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has evinced no real qualifying experience to be commander in chief during his 37 years on earth, formally announced his candidacy for the presidency on Sunday.
Which is interesting, since he’s been pretty much running as a mainstream media darling for several months now.
“My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete,” Buttigieg said during his announcement speech, according to CNN. “I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana. And I am running for president of the United States.
“I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor. More than a little bold — at age 37 — to seek the highest office in the land. … But we live in a moment that compels us each to act,” he added.
Oh geez. I wonder how many times we’ll hear “Mayor Pete” and about how precocious he is until he invariably flames out like every other novelty candidate from an unusual background that polls unusually well but wasn’t really prepared for the office — Wesley Clark, Al Sharpton, Steve Forbes, you know the type.
There wouldn’t be much news to extract from this speech if it were just those sorts of shopworn platitudes, however.
During his announcement, Buttigieg signaled he wanted to do away with the Electoral College.
“We can’t say it’s much of a democracy when twice in my lifetime, the Electoral College has overruled the American people,” Buttigieg (pronounced “Boot-edge-edge“) told the crowd.
“Let’s pick our president by counting up all the ballots and giving it to the woman or man who got the most votes.”
.@PeteButtigieg: “We can’t say it’s much of a democracy when twice in my lifetime, the Electoral College has overruled the American people … Let’s pick our President by counting up all the ballots and giving it to the woman or man who got the most votes” https://t.co/ak42dRUf5R pic.twitter.com/EpCC54432k
— CNN (@CNN) April 14, 2019
Yes, this again.
First, let’s just be clear: Both of the times in Buttigieg’s lifetime where the Electoral College winner wasn’t the popular vote winner (2000 and 2016), both candidates knew the rules going in.
Both candidates applied their resources toward winning the Electoral College. Since we don’t have access to alternate universes, there’s no way of knowing whether the results would have been any different if they’d campaigned for the popular vote instead.
However, the makeup of the election certainly would have been. Critics like to point out that with the Electoral College, the presidential tally often hangs on a handful of swing states. However, those swing states generally represent a cross-section of the country. Not only are they geographically diverse, they’re also places where there’s a certain balance between the yin and yang of two-party politics. (That’s what makes them swing states in the first place.)
In a popular vote system, what would happen would be that the largest population centers would be the ones targeted by candidates — no matter how representative they are of the country as a whole (and they’re not representative at all).
Within those population centers, you’d see politicians playing off of divisions at a hyper-local level. Outside of those centers, you wouldn’t see the politicians at all. The vast majority of America’s geography wouldn’t be of any importance to them.
And that’s part of the point — the Electoral College allows smaller states to have more of a say, thanks to the fact that the minimum number of votes any state can have is three. (Electoral College votes are allotted by adding the number of senators for each state to the number of its representatives. Each state has two senators, and each state is guaranteed at least one member of the House of Representatives.)
Of course, you’d have to change the Constitution to get rid of the Electoral College, which is unlikely since all you’d need is 13 states to shoot the idea down and you’d probably have a lot more than that.
That’s why the left is currently trying to circumvent the Constitution with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, in which states agree to give their electoral votes to the popular vote winner no matter who wins the state.
The compact is only triggered when there are enough states signed on to equal 270 electoral votes — the number needed to elect a president. It now stands at 189 votes.
“Mayor Pete” isn’t the only candidate who’s taken a stand against the Electoral College; other top Democrats seeking the nomination, like California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elisabeth Warren, are behind the idea, too.
“Let’s abolish the Electoral College,” former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke said at a conference earlier this month, in a statement that pretty much summed up the position of the Democratic field of candidates. “If we get rid of the Electoral College, we’d get a little closer to one person, one vote.”
However, Buttigieg has shown an unusual antipathy toward how matters are currently arranged, be they by the Constitution or by legal precedent. Not only has he come out in favor of abolishing the Electoral College, he’s also an enthusiastic supporter of packing the Supreme Court.
“It takes the politics out of it a little bit, because we can’t go on like this, where every time there’s a vacancy there’s these games being played and then an apocalyptic ideological battle over who the appointee is going to be,” Buttigieg has said. “If we want to save that institution, I think we better be ready to tune it up as well.”
At least Beto only said that was “an idea we should explore.”
Sadly, you can expect more candidates to sign onto this as well for transparent reasons: Bad Orange Man won the Oval Office even though he didn’t take the popular vote against a candidate with twice as much money as him and a fawning media behind her. Therefore, Electoral College also bad.
One can only hope voters see through the facile thinking behind this open attack on the Constitution.
CORRECTION, April 15, 2019: As originally published, this article describe Pete Buttigieg as the mayor of South Bend, Illinois. South Bend is in Indiana. We apologize for any confusion we may have caused.
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