Do Tennessee Republicans Need Rescuing From Themselves?

I’ve always sensed that Republicans, as a whole, were good at getting manipulated, out-foxed, or hoodwinked by Democrats, and a bill coming up in a state Senate committee for vote next week seems to fit that pattern. If citizens aren’t awake, they may also be taken in to the detriment of us all.

The bill, Senate Bill 1657, would commit Tennessee’s electoral college votes to whichever presidential candidate has the largest percentage of the total presidential vote, nationwide, even if it is not a majority of the vote.

The reason I’ve been given for the bill is that some think a pure popular vote is the only way Republicans are ever going to be able to elect a President in the future. As I see it, there are three problems with this argument. First, the facts are against them. Second, the bill won’t fix our real problem. And third, history shows we create unintended problems when we mess with our Founding Father’s wise procedures.

The Facts

Assuming that we don’t want to adhere to the governing philosophy bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers who tried to find a means by which the majority could rule while also protecting the majority from the tyranny that results when they are mislead, deceived, or uninformed, then let’s just look at the facts surrounding this bill.

The fact is there has been only one presidential election in over 20 years in which the Republican won the national popular vote. Furthermore, when Bush won in 2000, had this bill been in effect, he would have lost to Gore because Gore had more votes than Bush and our Electoral College votes would have gone to him.

Yet, for reasons I can’t fathom, some seem to think that, going forward, there are going to be a greater number and percentage of Republican voters. Yeah, right. Maybe after the next generation gets “Bern-ed” by a Sanders-type presidency a few times.

There is also data to bear the fact that the bill plays into the hands of Democrats. The Republican National Committee (RNC), which opposes the bill and which you would think might give the Republican sponsors of this bill some pause, did a statistical analysis of the bill. The analysis shows that of the 20 states that stand to “gain power” from a National Popular Vote, sixteen of them voted for Obama in 2012.

Not only was Tennessee not among the twenty, but according to the analysis, Tennessee would actually lose power when it comes to presidential elections. We don’t have much now, so I’m not sure why losing what little we have is a good idea, unless the hope is that the bill will cut down on television campaign commercials every four years.

These kinds of facts may also explain why the only states that have passed this compact are deep blue states and why liberal George Soros is putting so much money behind this effort.

The Problem

But our problem in America isn’t that we’ve not had enough Republican presidents. Our problem isn’t the Constitution or the Electoral College. Our problem is us—too many uninformed, mislead, disinterested, what’s-in-it-for-me-now voters. This bill will not “fix” that problem.

But that’s not all. Our larger problem is Congress. They are the ones who will not stand up to a phone-and-pen President, won’t reign in federal courts, and are spending us into oblivion.

What can a President who adheres to the constitutional separation of powers really do with an inept Congress other than perhaps embarrass them into doing the right thing? Then again what makes us think a little embarrassment is what is needed to reform Congress? If an in-the-toilet approval rating isn’t enough embarrassment to bring reform, then I don’t know that even a brash or bold Republican President is going to fix this problem.

A Bad History of “Reversing” Our Founding Fathers

One of the times we changed the wise election procedures put in our Constitution—changing the way we elect U.S. Senators—we unwittingly started on the journey that has now effectively abolished federalism. Catering to the majority’s wants, not fidelity to the Constitution and particularly the constitutional principle of federalism, is now more important for most U.S. Senators.

And now, not for sound policy reasons, but in the hope that a Republican will have a better chance of getting elected President, we have some who want to circumvent the wise principles and structures in our Constitution that sought to minimize the tyranny of a majority that could be easily manipulated and mislead.

Like the 17th Amendment, this national popular vote bill seems to be a “fix” not fitted to the problem. And pure democracy, once armed and with no structural restraints, will never regulate or restrain itself. Never has; never will.

Presidential candidates already promise too much to too many to get their votes. This will make that problem only worse. Worse yet, they will then claim they have a “mandate” that Congress must enact.

Who will save these Republicans from themselves? And maybe the better question is who will save America from itself?


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Invite David Fowler to speak at your event