Minority Leader McConnell has virtually declared a constitutional crisis by denouncing the National Popular Vote campaign this week. The leader of the Senate Republicans goes against some members of his own party in opposing the plan, which frequent readers will remember as a compact among states to award all their Electoral Votes to the nationwide winner of the popular vote in a presidential election. McConnell scores his first idiot points by describing this compact as "eliminating the Electoral College." Actually, there can be no NPV plan without an Electoral College, since the plan depends on each state's right to determine how it selects Electors. Indeed, the plan, whatever its other merits or flaws, is entirely about choosing Electors. If McConnell is concerned about the autonomy of Electors, then he should question the winner-take-all rules that prevail in most states, where Republican districts end up represented by Democratic Electors, or vice versa, depending on statewide popular vote totals.
McConnell brought up a common argument against NPV during his talk at the Heritage Foundation: critics of the plan fear that it will increase litigation over recount demands across the country and delay scheduled transfers of power. This is no argument against NPV, however, but a complaint against partisan litigiousness. Having made his point, McConnell yielded the idiot podium to Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, who warned that NPV would encourage conspiracies of fraud on a national scale. Kobach envisions Democrats shipping disreputable voters en masse to the states with the fewest safeguards against fraud in order to run up their totals their and tip the balance in a close national race. While Kobach arguably deserves to share our idiot citation with the Senator, his speculations are more delusional than stupid.
The Heritage alarmists may deserve extra idiot credit for going against what some Republicans regard as their party's best interest in the NPV. How Republicans feel about the plan may depend on whether they're a minority or majority in their home states. In California, for instance, many Republicans support NPV because it creates an incentive for greater turnout despite consistent Democratic majorities in that state. While Democrats may take the state again next year, and still win any statewide prizes available, the prospect of helping tip the balance nationally could draw many Republicans to the polls who may have thought voting pointless without NPV. Democrats in the "reddest" states may feel the same way. My own complaint against NPV remains the same: it would make things even harder for third-party presidential candidates than they already are. I admit, however, that that doesn't rise to the level of a constitutional challenge, unless you regard Bipolarchy itself as a subversion of Founding intentions. I would sympathize more with NPV advocates if they'd acknowledge that the Electoral College isn't really the worst threat to democracy in America. But when idiots like McConnell and lunatics like Kobach attack the plan, the friends of NPV have all my sympathies.