View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, September 23, 2004

Littwin on Amendment 36 

I don't usually make a habit of agreeing with, much less quoting, the Rocky's Mike Littwin. But I have found him open to constructive comments, and while he writes with a definite point of view, he usually doesn't make up stuff.

Today, he offers a liberal response to Amendment 36. His argument goes something like this:

The Electoral College stinks. The Founders were snobs. But that's the system we've got. Since we're not going to amend the Constitution to get rid of it, we could, state-by-state, apportion votes proportionally. But if we're the only ones who do it, we end up with less clout than Halliburton, er, Wyoming. In fact, the most likely states to do this are Democratic (you assume facts not in evidence, sir -ed.), so the Democrats will essentially take themselves out of the race altogether. Therefore, Amendment 36 is a bad idea, both for Colorado, and for any other states that choose to follow our generous, self-sacrificing example, noble though it may be. Particularly because those states are Blue.

(He also asserts simultaneously that it stacks the deck in favor of small states while not helping small states at all. It's an article that practically screams for an extended Fisking, but I've got better things to do. Like look for a new contract.)

If the Blue states are more likely to go this way than the Red ones, you can forget electing any Democratic Presidents any time soon. There's no way you get a snowball effect, because the incentives are all on the other side. Most of the small states are solidly one color or another, so they have no leverage and no incentive to split; all it does is further dilute the power of the large states.

What's important to notice here is that it's a pragmatic argument, or several pragmatic arguments, not a principled one. It's just pragmatic on a different scale. Which is exactly the kind of debate the Founders wanted us to be having.

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