Don’t abolish the Electoral College
When I hear politicians talk about abolishing the Electoral College, it immediately makes me think about the impact on the state of Iowa. It would be devastating. The ripple effects would render Iowans’ voices moot in the general election and bring an end to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus status.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution knew a pure form of democracy could be dangerous. That is why they set up a system of checks and balances, including the Electoral College. It ensures a president has broad support throughout the entire country, not just the largest metropolitan areas. All states deserve representation within the federal government. We would lose that voice if certain candidates get their wish and the Electoral College is abolished.
The assumption that a national popular vote for president would require the candidates to campaign in every state is false. In fact, presidential hopefuls would campaign in fewer states than they do now, focusing only on the most heavily populated centers of our country, like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Candidates would ignore rural America and our concerns. Winning individual states would not matter.
Iowa and the majority of the Midwest would be rendered irrelevant by a national popular vote. If they do not need our votes in the general election to win, the political parties would drastically alter the state-by-state presidential nomination process. Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status would end.
The issues Iowans care about, particularly on rural matters, would be ignored. If presidential candidates don’t need our votes, they are not going to care a whole lot about our problems. Iowa relies on our farm economy, and our farmers feed the world. A bloated federal government that focuses only on major metropolitan areas would do very little to protect Iowa and other rural states. A national popular vote would have a dramatic, negative impact on our state and our country.
Iowans take the vetting process of presidential candidates very seriously. We make them earn our vote. That means candidates need to come here, share their views and vision, listen to our concerns, and answer tough questions. Iowans are very good at testing presidential candidates of both parties. We don’t determine the eventual presidential nominees, but we weed out the pretenders from the contenders. That is a very important step in the process.
Iowa is a purple state. We voted for Trump in ’16, Obama in ’12, Obama in ’08, Bush in ’04, and Gore in 2000. Preserving the Electoral College is not about protecting one party over the other. This is about protecting our state and I will fight to the end to protect Iowa. That means opposing any efforts to abolish or circumvent the Electoral College. I hope those that truly care about the state of Iowa will join me in this fight.
Paul D. Pate is Iowa secretary of state.