A national movement is afoot to render null the Founding Fathers' concept of the Electoral College in electing presidents.
You already know why.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, when adopted by a state, impels that state to award its presidential electors to the candidate who is the winner of the national popular vote.
In other words, if the Tennessee General Assembly had adopted such a law in 2004, the last time both its House and Senate were controlled by Democrats, Hillary Clinton would have won the state's electoral votes in 2016 despite Donald Trump winning the state by 16 percentage points.
The stated reason by supporters is "fairness," but we can't imagine what would have been fair about the above scenario in the Volunteer State or any other state.
But the movement is gaining ground in blue states, most recently in Connecticut. Earlier this month, its state Senate followed its state House by approving legislation for the state to join the national compact. Gov. Dannel Malloy has said he'll sign the bill into law.
The state is the first to pass such a measure since Trump was elected without a majority of the popular vote, thanks to populous California, whose overwhelming vote for Clinton was more than the difference in the national popular tally.
The California result, though, is exactly why the Founding Fathers put into place the Electoral College. That way, the largest states wouldn't dominate the voting simply because more people lived in those states.
Now, in theory, if enough states pass such legislation to reach the presidential threshold of 270 electoral votes, the compact would take effect. However, experts expect a court challenge if such a threshold is ever reached.
So far, the legislation has been adopted by 10 states and the District of Columbia.
Four of the states passed the legislation in 2007 or 2008, perhaps fearful of a repeat of 2000, when Republican George W. Bush won the White House without winning the popular vote.
With Connecticut, the popular vote movement will have 172 electoral votes, 98 short of what it believes it needs to steer an election.
None of the states that has adopted the legislation, nor the District of Columbia, have voted for a Republican president since 1988. Five of the states haven't voted for a GOP candidate since 1984. Washington, D.C., never has.
No, this movement is all about ensuring that no Republican candidate ever again be able to win the presidency without also winning the popular vote. Trump and George W. Bush were not the first, though. Before them, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison did so.
Malloy, commenting on Connecticut's legislation, said the National Popular Vote Compact would "ensure an equal vote for every American citizen, regardless of which state they happen to live in."
Of course, that wouldn't be true at all. Voters in enough states to secure an Electoral College win essentially would be holding a popular vote contest, while voters in the rest of the states still would be determining their electors by the candidate who won the most votes in the state (with minor variations in Maine and Nebraska).
"Not only did the framers of the Constitution expressly reject the idea of a direct, popular election for president," law professor Norman R. Williams wrote in the Brigham Young University Law Review, according to Fox News, "but also not one state either in the wake of ratification or at any time thereafter has ever sought to appoint its presidential electors on the basis of votes cast outside the state, as the National Popular Vote Compact requires."
It would be easy to pooh-pooh such an idea as the compact ever having a chance to succeed across the nation, but 12 additional states (with 96 electoral votes) have passed the measure in at least one house in the recent past, and two additional states (with 27 electoral votes) have approved the legislation in unanimous committee votes. One of the states that passed the measure in one house is conservative Oklahoma, and one that passed it in committee is reliably Republican Georgia.
State Sen. Jim Tracy and state Rep. Cameron Sexton, both Republicans, introduced the measure in the Tennessee General Assembly in 2016, but it did not get very far.
We believe, instead, the country should stick with the founders' work, which was evinced in the 12th Amendment to the Constitution (updating Article II of the Constitution) and which, as they put it, avoids the "tyranny of the majority" while allowing the "sense of the people."
"The mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system which has escaped without severe censure," Alexander Hamilton put it in No. 68 of The Federalist Papers. " I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent."