Strategist Wikler: Both Parties Should Back Switch to Popular Vote

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 05:10 PM

By Aaron Stern

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Replacing the Electoral College by electing the U.S. president through the national popular vote is as democratic an ideal as there is, says Democratic strategist Ben Wikler.

"The uniting principal is actually the idea that votes should count," Wikler told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Thursday on Newsmax TV."

"So the question is now, do we want to be divided into red states and blue states, or do we all want to be Americans voting for president just the way as our brothers and sisters in other states across the country? Both parties should be competing for a national mandate, should be competing for support from a majority of Americans."

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Critics say the initiative making its way through state legislatures around the country to pledge the Electoral College representatives to cast their ballot for the winner of the national popular vote, rather than the winner within their state, is an end-run around the Constitution aimed at crippling the Republican Party.

Republican strategist Dick Morris says it will give undue influence to urban areas in Democratic states.

"Nobody in New York [under the Electoral College system] is going to bust their hump to get the vote in the city because the state's Democratic and all the city congressmen are Democratic, the governor's Democratic," Morris said. "But if it's part of a national vote, they'll work like hell at getting that vote out, even if they have to steal it."

Opponents of the popular vote initiative say that right now voters in swing states carry an undue amount of influence with presidential candidates, making their votes more powerful than residents of nonswing states.

Morris rejected the notion that all votes were intended to be equal under the Constitution and pointed to the U.S. Senate as evidence, where each state has two representatives regardless of the number of people they represent.

Wikler, host of "The Good Fight," said Morris' comparison was incomplete because the fixed representation of the Senate combines with the proportional representation in the House and the power of the executive and judicial branches of the federal government to form a balanced whole.

"The entire idea is that we have a House, we have a Senate, we have a judiciary, and then we have the executive, which represents a national vote. The system of electors made sense logically at the time it was passed, but no one at that time thought that Ohio, that a tiny number of swing states, were going to determine the balance of power," he said.

Wikler said the signers of the Constitution could never have imagined how polarized the nation's politics would become or how that polarization would be broken down along such distinguished geographic boundaries.

"I don't know of any place in the debates among the Founding Fathers where they said that a small sliver of swing states should determine who becomes president," he said.

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