Former Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke is feeling the crush of other candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidiential nomination, and the once self-described moderate has moved far leftward in recent days, including on the issue of upending the American electoral process by eliminating the Electoral College.
The idea — which would take some effort to pass — is, of couse, a reaction to Hillary Clinton's dramatic Electoral College loss in 2016, which came despite Clinton winning the popular vote. Since then, the complaint has been that the Electoral College over-represents inconsequential (read as "Republican") states, while larger (and, coincidentally more Democratic) states are under-represented.
Most Democrats have used the line that eliminating the Electoral College would move Americans closer to a direct Democracy — a "one person, one vote" standard — but O'Rourke took the measure a step further, comparing the system to "slavery," according to The Washington Free Beacon.
“This is one of those bad compromises we made at day one in this country,”O'Rourke told the audience. “There are many others we can think of and they are all connected, including the value of some people based on the color of their skin. There is a legacy and a series of consequences that have persisted and remain with us to this day.”
He went on to suggest that eliminating the Electoral College could be akin to a reparations-style apology for the institution of forced labor.
“In this conversation about how we repair the damage, how we make things right, and how we keep from committing the same injustice going forward is squarely connected to the reason that we are all convened here today and that is fixing our democracy,” he continued. “So yes, if we get rid of the Electoral College, we get a little bit closer to one person, one vote in the United States of America.”
O'Rourke's explanation seems to rely on the mistaken notion that the Electoral College was part of a package of compromises created to appease slave states, akin to the 3/5th compromise, which allowed states with slave populations to count each slave as 3/5 of a person when calculating their representation. The Electoral College, however, was a compromse to small states, not slave states, giving weight to less-populated areas to prevent the presidency from being decided only by, at the time, Virginia and New York.
Regardless, repealing the Electoral College and replacing it with a popular vote is unlikely, but O'Rourke has to distinguish himself in a crowded field, and particularly at an event that caters to hardened "Resistance" progressives.
The We the People Membership Summitt attracts largely far-left activists and high-value Democratic donors. According to Open Secrets, which questioned why nearly all of the potential 2020 Democratic candidates are showing up at the summit mostly for "grassroots organizers" organized by groups in Phoenix, Arizona, the backers — all of whom had a presence at the summit — together "contributed roughly $65 million to Democratic candidates and liberal groups in the 2018 election cycle."
Backers include the George Soros-funded Service Employees International Union, Planned Parenthood, MoveOn Political Action, and the League of Conservation Voters.
To gain attention, O'Rourke has to be far left. The summit kicked off with a tribute to convicted cop killer, Assata Shakur.