Three-cornered Hats Off to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan!
The author explains how this "simplification of the system would radicalize our politics, undermine the rule of law, lengthen the political process, render small states irrelevant, and enthrone urban areas as undisputed kingmakers. Most importantly, there is no guarantee, or even likelihood, that it would result in what should be the key goal of any electoral reform—selecting better people for office."
To bolster his defense of the American order, Mr. Gregg, invokes one of this state's legendary politicos, a Democrat, interning for whom Bill Kauffman called an "anarchist-making experience:"
- Opponents of the Electoral College came closest to prevailing in Congress during the 1970s. In that debate, New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan passionately recounted how he had once sat in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations and stared at a board containing the names of the 143 nations then part of that assembly. He wondered how many of them had existed before 1914 and how many had not had their governments changed by force since then. Only seven, he discovered. Among the nations of the world, what could account for America’s remarkable political stability? The answer, Moynihan said, was the genius of the American Constitution—and at the heart of that document’s success he found the lowly Electoral College. He called the proposal to abolish the college “the most radical transformation in our political system that has ever been considered.” He added that it was “so radical and so ominous” as to require from the Senate “the most solemn, prolonged, and prayerful consideration, and in particular a consideration that will reach back to our beginnings, to learn how we built and how it came about that we built better than we knew.”
The Electoral College is “the basic institution that has given structure to American politics,” Moynihan said, and expresses the core American principle “that power is never installed, save when it is consented to by more than one majority.” This idea is seen everywhere in our system: federalism, the bicameralism of Congress, and the majority vote on the Supreme Court exercising judicial review. The establishment of a simple national plebiscite at the center of the constitutional order would undermine the delicate system of concurrent majorities, he ominously warned, and would leave us vulnerable to “the ever-present threat of an overwhelming issue, an over-powering person, and the end of liberty.”