Can Mitt Romney win Maryland? No, I’m not talking about our state’s popular vote, which Barack Obama will win by nearly 20 points. I’m talking about Maryland’s 10 electoral votes which, under Maryland law, would go to Romney under certain circumstances.
Let me explain: As you know, the national popular vote doesn’t elect America’s president, the Electoral College does. Just ask Al Gore, who won the 2000 election’s popular vote but narrowly lost the electoral vote and the presidency.
Our Founding Fathers specifically rejected the idea of electing presidents by a nationwide popular vote. Instead, they opted to elect presidents state by state, while giving extra voting power to the small (population) states.
This electoral system is consistent with the founders’ desire to check and balance (obstruct) political power and the founders’ need to negotiate political compromises between the states in order to get the Constitution ratified.
Small states have extra voting power because each state’s electoral vote is the sum of its congressional members (based on each state’s population) and its U.S. senators (each state gets two regardless of population).
If the states’ electoral votes were based only on population, each of the 539 electoral votes would represent 395,000 eligible voters. But giving each state two additional electoral votes (the senators) skews the scales dramatically.
For instance, Wyoming should only get one electoral vote by population but, instead, gets three thanks to counting its two U.S. senators. As a result, each of Wyoming’s three electoral votes represents 139,000 eligible voters, while each of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes represents nearly 478,000 eligible voters.
Is this “disparity” unconstitutional? No, because it’s in the Constitution -- it’s how Madison, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams and Washington set up our government. It’s somewhat like the World Series, which isn’t decided by how many runs a team scores throughout the seven game series, but by how many games (four) it wins. Conceivably, a team that scored 25 runs in one game could lose to a team that won four games by scores of 1 to 0 each.
Add to this the decision in all but two states (Maine and Nebraska) to adopt a winner-takes-all system whereby 100 percent of each state’s electoral votes goes to the candidate who wins that state’s popular vote, no matter how close, and you have today’s presidential election system.
All attempts to amend the Constitution in favor of a nationwide popular vote system have failed. So, our geniuses in Annapolis concocted a backdoor effort to abolish the Electoral College.
In 2009, the Maryland legislature and Gov. Martin O’Malley enacted a law that awards Maryland’s 10 electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the nationwide popular vote, not the candidate who wins Maryland. And now, according to the polls, there’s a good chance that Mitt Romney may become the Al Gore of 2012, winning the popular vote but losing the electoral vote.
It would be divine justice if, thanks to our numbskull lawmakers, Maryland’s electoral votes went to Romney. Just imagine the outcry. But Maryland’s 2009 law has a catch -- it only goes into effect when enough other states join the conspiracy to equal 270 electoral votes. At that point, thanks to the conspiracy, a majority of electoral votes would follow the nationwide popular vote that would elect the president.
Mercifully, only nine states equaling 132 electoral votes have joined this compact. So for now, Maryland’s electoral voters will go to the candidate who wins Maryland.
Sun of God?
Dan Rodricks and I have four things in common. We’re both political columnists (he writes for The Baltimore Sun; I write for The Gazette) we both do radio commentary, we’re both Catholics, and we’re both opinionated know-it-alls.
But now, after reading Dan’s Oct. 24 Sun column promoting ballot Question 6, same-sex marriage, I wonder if we both really belong to the same church.
Rodricks writes, “Being Catholic, I was deprived of full schooling in the Old Testament … but I never felt a need to reach much beyond the teachings of Christ to have a foundation in Christianity.”
OK, so far, so good. But then he wanders out onto theological thin ice, “By Christian, of course, I mean people whose religious beliefs are rooted in the teachings of the prophet Jesus of Nazareth …”
Prophet? Jesus was a prophet? I think I hear the ice cracking. But it gets worse.
Dan goes on, “I know in my bones what Jesus was about … I beg the pardon of anyone who has a more elaborate understanding of Jesus, the young Jewish progressive who was baptized and later crucified, leaving behind a legacy of spiritual lessons for mankind.”
Huh? Jesus was simply a “young Jewish progressive” like, say, Doug Gansler or Rachel Maddow? And his legacy on Earth was “spiritual lessons”?
Dan, as one Catholic to another, let me offer you a “more elaborate understanding of Jesus.”
Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God and is, also, God Himself (not a prophet) whose earthly mission was to die for our sins so we can be redeemed and join Him in heaven. That’s why we call him “The Redeemer,” not “a young Jewish progressive.” And Jesus’ “teachings” aren’t mere “spiritual lessons,” they are the Word of God.
So, now I understand why you don’t mind redefining marriage, you’ve already redefined Christianity.
Blair Lee is CEO of the Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His column appears Fridays in The Gazette. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.