In an Instagram “story” published earlier this week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed the Electoral College as a racist “scam.”
According to the freshman firebrand, the Electoral College undermines the votes of minorities by reducing the power of the more populous states, where minority voters are concentrated.
It is true that the Electoral College was designed to protect less populous states from being dominated by those with larger populations and that many rural areas are predominantly white. But the racial minorities that do live in such states are probably quite pleased that the Electoral College protects their votes, just as it protects the votes of their white neighbors, from being overwhelmed by the mob.
Without the Electoral College, candidates could win the presidency with only the votes of people in more populous places. Rural states would be irrelevant to electoral success and the interests of people in fly-over country (whether white, black, Native American, or other ethnicity) would be largely ignored.
Under the Electoral College system, however, no candidate can win the presidency without broad support from a variety of regions. This forces those who wish to be president to seek support from different constituencies, including those in the minority.
So, contrary to AOC’s claim that the Electoral College disadvantages people of color, the Electoral College, in fact, protects all minorities — irrespective of skin color.
Some civil rights leaders have even argued that the Electoral College elevates the power of minority voters beyond that which they would have in a nationwide popular vote. Here’s Vernon Jordan, in a 1977 statement to Congress, entitled “Save the Electoral College”:
“For blacks, abolition of the electoral college would severely limit our political leverage in national elections.
The larger states have the most electoral votes. No one can become President with at least taking some states from among California, New York, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio.
Take another look at that list. All of those states have significant black and minority populations. Black support in some of those states is essential for victory in the Presidential race. Take away the electoral college, and the importance of that black vote melts away.
Blacks, instead of being crucial to victory in major states, simply become ten percent of the total electorate, with reduced impact.”
With a nationwide popular vote, which AOC supports, a candidate could be elected president with deep support from a single region or a single constituency of voters. One does not need to be a political scientist to see how this might be disastrous for racial and ethnic minorities. Does AOC really not understand the importance of preventing sectionalism in a country as large and diverse as ours?
As Jordan notes, abolishing the Electoral College could:
“lead to an election of a President by a minority of voters unless a run-off election takes place, and a run-off would be in itself an incitement for minor parties which could bargain away their endorsements to the highest bidder. Remember George Wallace?”
Apparently, AOC doesn’t.