Watching the debate over the Electoral College unfold in these pages has made one thing clear: Those proposing the “National Popular Vote” don’t fully understand how it works. Because of that, if they succeed, their proposal will diminish the voting power of every person in the state.
The issue comes around every decade or so. After all, killing the Electoral College seems like a good idea on a gut level. Why shouldn’t we choose the president directly? Why do we need electors from each state to mediate between the voting box and the Oval Office?
We don’t. But as students of politics know, the tyranny of the majority is a very real danger, and it’s one that raw popular voting promotes, as we’ve seen when it produced leaders like Hitler and Milosevic. The Greeks called it ochlocracy, or mob rule, and it’s something political thinkers from John Stuart Mill to John Locke to James Madison have wrestled with.