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Practical Politics

The politics of actually getting something done

David L. Horne, Ph.D ow contribuor | 1/24/2019, midnight

As the world turns regarding No. 45, and the new Democrat’s majority in the House goes about its business (e.g. hearings, bill passage, etc.), including advocating for the Voting Rights Advancement Act to replace the 1965 Voting Rights Act and other important duties, we, the constituency, wait, patiently and impatiently. While waiting, we actually can also get something substantial done.

Of the two major actions that thrust No. 45 into the presidency, we can only hope the beleaguered justice department and other intelligence services thwart any more Russian interference in American elections. The second action was, of course, the Electoral College, a constitutional anachronism if ever there was one.

Even though American democracy has long been a dominant model for the rest of the world, true democracy really requires that he or she who gets the most votes should be elected into the contested position. We call it direct democracy in classrooms, but it really is default democracy.

The authors of the U.S. Constitution saddled us with this hedge against the public being bamboozled, or being inattentive, in presidential elections. But it has not worked out as originally planned. The Electoral College has not recently protected us from flim-flammery, and has instead thwarted the will of the majority of voters. And isn’t the essence of democracy the designation of the greatest public good for the greatest number of citizens?

Well, there exists another solid option regarding the Electoral College that we can work on and accomplish right now, even without a constitutional amendment repealing the E.C. That option is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

It is an agreement between states that whoever wins the national popular vote in the presidential election will immediately receive the electoral votes of all of the states in the compact, rather than waiting for the electoral college to meet in December to award the votes. This means there will be no more Michigan-Pennsylvania-Wisconsin surprises. The winners of the national vote will become the POTUS and VPOTUS.

For this agreement to become legally binding, the total electoral votes of the states in the compact must be at least 270 votes. Thus far, 11 states, whose votes together total 172 electoral votes (including California’s 55 votes) have already authorized their participation in the compact. Nine more states have the issue on their legislative agenda right now, but they need agitation and public pressure to push legislative votes in favor of the compact. Those states include Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Indiana, Mississippi, Virginia, New Hampshire and South Carolina. With the combined totals of these nine states, the compact would have 65 percent of the electoral votes needed to become legitimate and binding. Political activists in those states need to get on this issue and get their states to agree.

In those states that do not currently have the state compact as a legislative agenda item, political activists in those states need to organize to get their legislatures to address the issue proactively. The eleven states that have already agreed to the compact are California, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois, Vermont, Washington State, Maryland, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia (three votes).

There are thus 30 more states ripe for initial action. Let’s get busy !  Organize a Social Media campaign! We can get this done before 2020.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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