With a growing number of candidates joining the crowded race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, each is seeking to stand out. That’s why candidates are moving left in an attempt to attract news coverage and votes in advance of the presidential primaries next year.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas recently called for tearing down existing barriers on our southern border with Mexico.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey hinted at packing the Supreme Court to add new justices, or instituting term limits on justices in an effort to change the philosophical makeup of the high court.
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called for abolishing the Electoral College. Her reasoning? To make every vote count.
“Every vote matters,” Warren said recently. “And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting. And that means get rid of the Electoral College and everybody counts.”
The former Harvard professor is wrong. A direct democracy will not make everybody count; instead voters in big cities will count.
Such a system would disregard the contributions, values, and representation of the millions of men and women in rural communities where our energy, food, manufacturing and most members of the U.S. military come from.
People view issues differently when it affects their neighbors and community. In urban America, where the popular vote would be paramount without an Electoral College, many voters don’t know military service members, farmers or energy workers.
Alaska has one of the highest enlistment rates in the U.S. military. New Jersey has one of the lowest.
But if we elected the president based on the national popular vote, New Jersey’s 9 million people and manageable size would become much more valuable than Alaska, with a mere 736,000 people scattered over an enormous territory.
Presidential candidates often make campaign promises on military and national security issues. But would an audience in Newark have the same concern for the well-being of a military force from far away Fairbanks?
The disconnect between city and country is most salient in the coal industry. Towns throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania were basically impervious to dot.com bubbles and housing crashes. They had coal. Multiple generations of coal miners lived, worked, raised families and built communities near the seemingly inexhaustible coal mines that powered the electric grid of the nation.
But urbanites thought they knew better. Billionaires like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched campaigns, to the tune of over $100 million, to close those mines in the name of preventing climate change. Mines closed. Today many coal-mining towns are dead or dying.
Schools in these town have closed for lack of funding and students. Main streets are empty. Poverty is rampant, as is opioid use.
Will Bloomberg, the Sierra Club or any of these green groups from Manhattan and San Francisco raise a dime to help these communities that for so long have depended on coal? The answer is “no.”
People in coal country and urban America and not neighbors and don’t know each other. It’s easy for city dwellers to support policies that affect people they’ve never met.
This differentiation permeates the logic behind the Green New Deal. Its hope of eliminating combustion engines and building high-speed rail was written by people envisioning Brooklyn. It was not written with an Oklahoma farmer in mind.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is author of the Green New Deal. She and the textbook urban elite want to “look at factory farming.” It’s unclear what her concerns are, and what she knows about farming. But as an urbanite, she’s sure she must know best.
This brings us back to the Electoral College. Ocasio-Cortez does not represent the values of farm communities. Nor does Rep. Carol Maloney, D-N.Y. – Bloomberg’s representative in the House – stand for coal miners.
But when it comes to electing our president, rural communities deserve representation.
President Obama did not understand how rural America worked. The jobs there, he told an audience, were not coming back unless someone had a “magic wand.” This elitism made it easy to make policies and regulations about a group of people he did not know.
President Trump knows the people of rural America, even though he is clearly not one of them. He gave them a voice, and even though they were not part of the popular majority in the last presidential election they sent him to the White House. Spending time in rural America – something Hillary Clinton did not do enough – made the difference for Trump.
Rural communities deserve someone fighting for them. Abolishing the Electoral College would establish New York City, Chicago and San Francisco as the nation’s main political centers. Based on the current state of those cities, we can only hope for something better for our nation.