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I was recently on Fox News having a discussion with host Steve Hilton about his visit to the Iowa State Fair. He’d just returned from there, having interviewed various Democratic presidential candidates and generally just enjoying the atmosphere. Steve is British (by way of Hungary) and had never been there. He talked enthusiastically about the welcoming nature of the crowd, the pleasant and very “American” atmosphere and of course, the double bacon-wrapped fried corn dogs.
He talked about those a lot. But can you blame him?
Tammy Bruce – another guest on the panel – pointed out that there is a reason the Iowa State Fair is so important and such a huge and necessary campaign stop for any presidential candidate. That reason is…
…the electoral college.
Her words started me thinking about how brilliant the electoral college system is and why we should value it. Unfortunately, the collective understanding of how the electoral college benefits us all is fading quickly. Trump’s win rocked some people so completely that there has been a renewed push to do away with the system in favor of a popular vote.
It seems like a good idea to some people on its face, but a popular vote would kill the vitality of an event like the Iowa State Fair. It doesn’t take a genius to know that the biggest voting populations are in just a few key cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City, among a couple of others. However, life in a place like San Francisco is vastly different than life in rural Iowa, or even in urban Iowa.
There are more votes to court on the coasts. The electoral college system prevents on are of the country from permanently speaking for every other part of the country. On top of that, lazy politicians who would rather talk to only a certain type of voter are forced to get out and meet new voters. They have to find out what life is like in the rest of the nation. They have to talk to those people, get to know those people, and earn their trust.
The Kamala Harris’ of the world don’t stop and talk to the good people in “flyover” country without the electoral college. The Steve Hilton’s of the world don’t get the unrivaled delight of discovering a part of America that is so different from the coasts in so many ways and yet still so uniquely and attractively “American”.
Would the Iowa State Fair still exist without the electoral college? Of course, but it would not have any sort of national significance and would not be a part of our shared culture the way it is now. It certainly wouldn’t thrive the way it does now, and the people of Iowa would be some of the only people who knew or cared about it.
Gay people, Black people, Hispanic people, single mothers, aging seniors – all these groups live in places like Iowa too. Without the electoral college, their voices become irrelevant.
In America, the most important minority is the individual. The electoral college is yet another failsafe to protect the rights of the greatest minority.
You can hear me elaborate on my thoughts about the electoral college in this week’s episode of “Just Listen To Yourself”.
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Just Listen To Yourself is the podcast where Kira asks people to consider their political and cultural talking points and draw them out to their logical end.