Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Colorado’s political suicide
On Your Right
I see Colorado’s attempting suicide again.
Proof is Senate Bill 19-042, titled “National Popular Vote,” through which Colorado joins a compact among 11 states requiring them to appoint electors “in association with the national popular vote winner” and to give all of their electoral votes to that winner, circumventing the Constitutional method of presidential election through the Electoral College.
Having passed the Colorado Senate on a party-line vote, the bill moved to the House, where party-line votes in committee hearings prevented both testimony from the state Attorney General on the plan’s constitutionality and its referral to the people for their approval. Apparently, popular democracy is only popular for select purposes. It was then passed out of committee on another party-line vote.
Guess which party wants to erase Colorado and its citizens from the political map? The bill’s sponsors tell that tale: Sen. Mike Foote, D-Boulder; Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver and Rep. Jeni Arndt D-Fort Collins. Yes, the Democrats — still blinded by rage at having been beaten in 2016 by a candidate they considered beneath them, but who could campaign and count votes better than they — have decided to punish Colorado by silencing its residents’ voice in national politics. Odd, since the state supported Hillary — but logic was never the Democrat’s long suit.
If the bill passes the house, and it will; if Gov. Polis signs it, and he will; Colorado will join states including California, Illinois and New York who agree to let unknown others elsewhere select their electors for them. All those states are reliably, deeply blue; all will use the masks of “fairness” and “equality” to disguise the truth about this proposal: it’s a naked power grab by the nation’s most populous and left-leaning nanny states.
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Today’s argument echoes that made when our Constitution was being written and ratified. Then as now, representatives of population-heavy states demanded direct election of the “national executive,” because that would most effectively represent the will of the people. Lightly-populated states, rightly fearing domination by their populous neighbors, refused, arguing that the republican nature of the new government, with diverse interests and challenges facing the various states, would make such an arrangement unstable. Large states argued for “democracy.” Smaller states recognized the threat to the 49 percent that rule by 51 percent posed. In the end they prevailed. We should pay attention, because what they pointed out is still true.
When writing the Constitution, the founders spent as much time on the Electoral College as on any other single issue, and more than they did on most. They designed it with care, because they realized it would be a powerful protection for the republican form of government they were creating: by allowing small and middling states a voice somewhat louder than their populations would permit in a direct democracy, they prevented concentration of power in a few large population centers — and the authoritarian rule that would inevitably follow. The founders knew their history, apparently better than many today. They also understood human nature, and its tendencies toward the small and weak. The protections they created against these tendencies are as valid today as then, because those things have not changed.
If Colorado joins the National Popular Vote compact, it will have taken another large step toward its own elimination. Not the first; that was arguably its 1913 ratification of the 17th Amendment, which turned senators from representatives of the interests of their disparate states into House members with six-year terms. If the compact were to be effected and to survive legal challenges — both doubtful, but not impossible — Colorado’s disappearance would be complete. Remember, there are more people in a single county in parts of California or New York than there are in Colorado. And they’re a lot easier to control, being bunched up like that.
Want specific EPA actions on mine runoff? Tough. Those are going to be developed to suit New Yorkers. USDA guidelines on dry-land farm products? Take a number and wait while we solve farm issues in Illinois, Florida and California. Inland port-of-entry import regulations? Fuggetaboudit. The states running the show all have seaports. And so it will go. Colorado, once a center of attention in national politics, will become another forgotten backwater in flyover country.
There is also an historical truth to be considered in this progressive-pushed rush to “democracy.” It was voiced by James Madison as an argument for, among other things, the Electoral College. “Democracies,” Madison observed, “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” John Adams agreed: “Democracy wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that does not commit suicide.” As Colorado is now poised to do.
So call Gov. Polis. Tell him to drop the pen and step back from the edge.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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