Commentary Magazine


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Re: Electoral College Hysteria

I certainly agree with Jonathan that it’s amusing to see Democratic pundits up in arms over a “nefarious” attempt by the Republicans to glom onto some of next year’s electoral votes in Pennsylvania. But I’m always amazed at how many people who write about politics have memories whose span can apparently be measured in nanoseconds. In 2004, Pennsylvania Democrats were touting an initiative to have the state’s electoral votes allocated according to the popular vote. Kerry ended up carrying the state narrowly, so they were lucky their bright idea went nowhere, and he ended up with all the votes.

And, of course, after the Electoral College gave the White House to George W. Bush in 2000 although Al Gore won a very narrow plurality of the popular vote, Democrats were loudly demanding the abolition of the Electoral College altogether.

Last year, while discussing the electoral college with COMMENTARY’s legendary former editor Norman Podhoretz, I asked if he had ever read Alexander M. Bickel’s masterful essay on that much maligned but valuable institution. He turned to me and said, “I published it!” And indeed he had, in the December, 1968, issue.

I should have known. And everyone should read it.