A light, first frost came early to the Berkshires this year, prompting home gardeners to cover and protect more delicate crops for the night. I remember thinking, with a smile, as I made my way down to the garden the following morning, that a bird flying high over the still-quiet neighborhoods and town-outskirts at dawn, looking down, would have puzzled at the strange sight: an odd array of so many sheets, blankets, and tarps spread out like a scattered, mismatched patchwork-quilt of sorts, in all the backyards below! I was happy to see that the tomatoes and lettuces had survived alongside the beans and chard, beneath the sheets. But it was time to harvest most of what was left—except for the winter squash. The hearty fruit could survive a lighter…
Matt Taylor, the director of new film Safeguard: An Electoral College Story, said that if the United States switched from the electoral college system to a national popular vote system, the president could be elected without any minority votes.
Responding to recent claims that the electoral college system is racist, Taylor told The Epoch Times: “If you went to a national popular vote system, you would need zero minorities to win the presidency. That is why the electoral college matters, you could win the presidency with only white people.”
The Electoral College is a method written into the U.S. Constitution for selecting the president of the United States. The number of electors matches the number of congressional delegates each state has. In this process, each state holds its own election, awarding their state’s electors to the candidate that won the most votes in their state. To win the presidential election, the candidate needs 270 electoral votes.
“Virginia is 20 percent African American. So, if your state is splitting out to 47,47, suddenly, your minority voice becomes a tipping point of that state, which means you have amplified your voice from a tiny minority to actually mattering more than everybody else. Because you are the tipping point in those states. You’re the tipping point in Michigan, you’re the tipping point in New York, you’re the tipping point in Georgia,” Taylor said.
In 2016, President Donald Trump received 304 electoral votes and Hilary Clinton received 227, but Clinton won the popular vote by just over half of the total votes.
Taylor emphasized that the United States has never been a pure democracy, but that instead, there are democratic systems all throughout the Constitution. The United States is under a federalist system, in which states make their own laws and have sovereignty and the federal government makes some laws that bind the 50 states together.
“The states have a lot of rights in how they elect their electors and how they conduct their business,” said Taylor.
In the system set up by the founders of the American republic, there are laws that cannot be changed by the majority of the democratic process because of the Bill of Rights.
“We have fundamental rights, the Bill of Rights is the most undemocratic part of the Constitution because it says, no matter how much you want a national church, you cannot have one, no matter how much you want to ban free speech, these are rights are fundamentally yours, that is not up to a democratic vote,” Taylor said.
“And it makes it so that anyone in this room right now could be the tipping point. So, the candidate doesn’t know who the tipping point will be. So, the candidate needs to talk to all of us and try to appeal to all of us, hence, moderating and becoming a unifier and not a divider,” he added.
President John F. Kennedy won his presidency with a 303 to 219 Electoral College tally but the national popular vote by only 112,827, a margin of 0.17 percent, with some arguing that Richard Nixon should have gotten the popular vote because of ambiguous results in Alabama.
“It’s not always perfect. But ultimately, generally speaking, it works,” Taylor said. He also said that if the public does want to change or abolish the electoral college it should be done out in the open with an amendment to the Constitution.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact effort has almost succeeded in quietly overriding the electoral college system and having the president elected by popular vote. The compact is being adopted by many states and, according to the website for this effort, “The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 74 more electoral votes”.
Once the bill is enacted by enough states, “All of this group of 270+ presidential electors will be supporters of the candidate who received the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC—thus making that candidate President.”
According to Taylor, if the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is adopted, the majority or “mob” would win each time and fail to protect individual rights as well as democratic ideas and systems. If the majority always won out with a little over half of the population of voters, then minority groups would be left.
Taylor also argues that the electoral college prevents politicians with an extreme view from winning because they have to appeal to all voters in most states to win, not just 51 percent of a homogenous group.
“It’s constantly coalition building, you’re constantly trying to work together, and you’re constantly diversified. And that is a brilliant, beautiful system that unifies the entire country, as opposed to one geographical region or one ideology,” Taylor said.
He added the electoral college system also keeps voter fraud limited by state, instead of having the whole nation do a recount, a state or county would only have to do the recount in a dispute.
Jan Jekielek contributed to this report.
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