Unethical Quote Of The Month: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)

“In 2016, nearly three million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump – but Trump took the presidency. That’s not exactly the sign of a healthy democracy. Democracy hangs on the idea that whoever gets the most votes wins.”

—-Senator Elizabeth Warren, dumbing down democracy to a partisan audience at the Center for American Progress ‘Ideas Conference’ 

No U.S. election proved the foresight of the Founders and their Electoral College innovation more clearly than the 2016 edition. A single state, California, culturally estranged from the majority of the nation in dramatic, perplexing, even bizarre ways, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton by more than 4 million votes. This single, virtually one-party state, under a pure popular vote system, would have overcome the will of the rest of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, which narrowly favored Republican Donald Trump by more than a million votes. This was exactly the kind of scenario the Electoral College was devised to avoid—indeed, devised in order to have a country at all. The smaller states, then as now culturally distinct from the more populous states and fearing a permanent fate of being dictated to by their larger cousins, insisted on such devices as the U.S. Senate, where all states had equal power, and the Electoral College, which prevented an,overwhelming mob of single-minded voters in one region dominating the choice of a national leader in perpetuity.

There are other benefits of the device as well. The Electoral College tends to handicap single issue candidates and radical ones. It requires that contenders for national leadership appeal to all regions, or at least not to just a powerful few. Narrow issue, increasingly extreme parties as Warren’s Democrats have become are definitely penalized by the Founders’ system, which is why contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination are already taking aim at it. What the Electoral College should be doing is to force Democrats to become more inclusive, less divisive, and rational. Instead, they are already working to de-legitimatize the results of the next election, should it not go their way.

That is not to say that there are not good arguments for eliminating the Electoral College. There are, just as there are strong arguments for keeping it in place. What makes Warren’s statement unethical is that she knows this. She is a scholar and a Harvard professor: she knows the history of the system; she knows the reasons for its existence. Scholars have debated the Electoral College for decades. (You can read some of the scholarship here.) Never mind: though Warren knows better, she still chooses to reduce the debate to the infantile “Democracy hangs on the idea that whoever gets the most votes wins” as if she is unaware that democracy in voting for a class president and democracy applied to choosing a leader of a diverse, populous, sprawling nation that includes different issues, concerns and attitudes in varying concentrations in self-governing states, cities and communities are two very different things. Then she falsely uses her credentials as an academic to pretend that this goo-goo gah-gah analysis that is literally mouthed by fifth graders is objective and sophisticated expertise.

Her statement also conveniently and intentionally omits the California factor, just as it ignores the fact that the 2016 county map looked like this:

One could say with justification that an electoral system that awards power to the Presidential candidate voted for in the blue counties is also “unhealthy”–unstable and  dangerous, even. Attacks on the Electoral College like Warren’s should be recognized for what they are: self-serving distortions that are really an admission that the speaker wants her party to be able to openly ignore, indeed oppose, the needs, sensibilities and values of  the citizens of “flyover country” and gain power over them anyway.

We also know that had Hillary Clinton won the election while losing the popular vote, Warren and other Democrats would be praising the system, just as the principle underlying Clinton’s insistence that Trump accept the legitimacy of his inevitable defeat once it befell him was instantly inoperative when the Democrats lost.

(It is puzzling, though, that Warren is so eager to ignore the very same region where her people—you know, the Native Americans, especially the great Cherokee—once reigned.)


Pointer: Other Bill


72 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)

  1. Love the maps. They remind me of maps of Israel and Gaza and the West Bank. Maybe the Dems should refuse to acknowledge the existence of Flyover Country. I guess it’s a good thing most of the nukes are in Flyover Country (I assume.)

  2. I don’t know if we need electors, or if direct popular elections would work, but basing the allocation of electors in part on the number of senators — as well as the allocation of senators themselves — violates the principle that all people should have an equal vote. Under the current system, people in sparse states have disproportionately high representation because they share their senator with fewer people. It’s a difficult practical problem to make everyone’s voting power exactly equal in a representative democracy, but the way senators are elected makes it so much worse. It may have been a necessary compromise, but viewed afresh it’s indefensible.

    The “California factor” doesn’t seem like a real problem to me. California is not a monolithic Democratic state. It only looks that way because of the electoral system. In the last presidential election, California was a blue state that awarded all 55 of its electoral votes to Hillary Clinton. That’s 10.3% of all electoral votes. But nearly a third of Californian voters — 4.5 million people — voted for Trump. Because of the winner-take-all electoral system, however, their votes had no effect outside of California, and no effect on the election. If we had used a direct popular voting system, those votes would have been added to national totals. They would have counted.

    Finally, geographic maps of election results are deceptive. Geography doesn’t vote, people do. Some of those little blue dots have more people in them than entire red states. Of course they should have a greater influence on how the country is run.

      • Trump would prevail by 49 under that scenario, assuming that DC dropped to one electoral vote. The popular vote argument pretty much precludes all of the parliamentary systems, too.

    • We are a republic not a democracy. We are comprised of 50 sovereign states that are theoretically equal in the Republic. Each state chose to join the union of states on the condition that they be treated with equal deference to the larger states. Large states have greater electoral power than any one smaller state as you point out. It is the degree of that electoral power that is regulated through the electoral college system.

      • We are a republic not a democracy.

        This line always bothers me. A republic is a type of democracy. It would be more accurate to say we are a republic, not a direct democracy.

        • Mostly correct, but at the risk of being too pedantic, it would be accurate to say we are a republic, not a representative democracy. I don’t know of any countries that utilize a direct democracy, although I think there are a few examples in certain parts of a few countries.

        • It bothers me too, because it is often said with an “I’m so smart” kind of air, especially when that person might be hard-pressed to explain what a “republic” is. Democracy is an easy short-hand for Constitutional Republic. And, since there really are no Classical Democracies around, it seems like a safe shorthand in most scenarios.

          Having said that, in this instance, it might be appropriate. Warren is saying something to the effect of “majority rules, and it is a problem that the majority did not get its way.” That would be a problem for a democracy. That is how a democracy is supposed to work. But, that is where it seems entirely appropriate to say, “we are not a democracy.” We have several features in the Constitution that are anti-democratic, not the least of which is the federal structure.

          Warren should understand this. Her followers need to understand this.


      • That’s how things got to be the way they are, but that doesn’t make it just or fair. I don’t see why we should care about the equality of the states, not if it means treating people unequally. People matter. Geographic political boundaries set decades or centuries ago, some by foreign governments…not so much,

        • 1)People do matter — that’s a good reason for keeping the Electoral College so that people in the smaller states will continue to matter, rather than just people in the jumbos.

          2)The constitution was the product of a series of compromises. The so-called Great Compromise was the provision for having a House of Representatives apportioned largely by population and a Senate having equal representation to each state. Without this there would have been no constitution and almost certainly no United States — very few Europeans expected our experiment in democracy to succeed and having a relatively strong federal government was IMHO a pre-requisite.

          3)If (and I do not support it) we were electing a president based solely on the overall popular vote, candidates would campaign differently, voters would decide to vote or not based on a different paradigm. There is no reason to suppose that Trump (or Bush, for that matter) could not have won under a different set of rules.

          4)Have we already forgotten what a nightmare Florida was in 2000? What if we had an election that was as close as 1960? How would we like having 30 or 40 Floridas before the election was decided? Would it ever be decided? It’s disingenuous to suppose that a popular vote election would not carry its own baggage.

        • There is no measure of “just” or “fair” that would satisfy everyone. The purpose of a republic is to rule the country by fundamental law, i.e. a constitution, that protects the rights of minorities. If we didn’t care about things like states rights or individual rights, we would’ve opted for a pure or representative democratic form. But we did care, and the people that founded this country knew that the states would never band together if their rights weren’t protected under whatever form they chose.

          The ultimate form they achieved was purely a compromise. Equal suffrage in the Senate was a design feature to provide states as political units with a say in their government. A purely representative form would essentially reduce the US to one state for federal purposes, a prospect the several states found unpalatable, and understandably so. It is unlikely the US would have ever happened without the compromises that so many currently decry.

          People matter, but people who form their own local communities and states also matter. The generic “Geographic political boundaries…” is a red herring, and fails to acknowledge the unique culture of each region and state. Despite efforts by the left to homogenize us into a politically correct clone of continental Europe’s wet dream, this country loves it’s geopolitical subdivisions, and our constitution recognized the necessity of embracing those differences rather than trying to square the circle.

          You may not think those things are important. But many of us disagree strongly with that. State and regional differences are a large part of what gives the United States its uniqueness, and despite the baggage that comes along with it, I want it to remain unique in the world. Failure to acknowledge our unique cultures and trying to force everybody into an ideal of polite society is a back door to tyranny. I reject it utterly.

          If you don’t like our government, work to amend the constitution to your will. Otherwise, enjoy the beauty of our Founder’s brilliance. Or not. It’s up to you.

          • I agree with this reasoning, Glenn.

            I also note that the Senators were originally elected by the state legislatures, until that was changed to a popular vote. While the old system had serious problems, it more likely than not produced statesmen, who had the welfare of the nation in general in mind.

            What we have now is a disaster, and Senators like Warren are a symptom of the sickness of directly electing Senators. This system lends itself to cults of personality, and partisan shills who no longer acknowledge the Constitution.

            Name Senators who are also statesmen: there may be a few, but you will have to think hard to get to good candidates.

            • Good point. Unfortunately, I think it’s mostly just partisan rot. I doubt going back to indirect senator elections would deliver any better, but who knows?

    • The “California factor” doesn’t seem like a real problem to me.

      You DO understand the large states prevail in the House, which controls the purse strings? What you propose is tyranny for minorities.

  3. Senators are their to represent each state being an equal partner in the Union. Okay, so you’re all saying, no duh, but this concept has enduring value.

    Senator Warren is not an idiot. She is an Alinskyite communist seeking to undo our Constitution.

  4. The Democrats love to hate the Electoral College. They fumed about it for 8 years under George W. Bush, then they ignored it for another 8 years and now they’re on fire again. They won’t change it because they’re afraid that they may one day win an election via the Electoral College and not the popular vote. It’s a cynical political ploy. But that’s the current Democratic Party for you.

    (As for those states that are changing their rules so that the winner of the popular vote gets the Electoral votes, I can’t wait until they have to award those to a Republican.)

    Some of our Founding Fathers didn’t want a direct election because they thought the common people weren’t intelligent enough to vote for appropriate candidates. The Electoral College came out of some of that wrangling. Ironically, the party that thinks of itself as representing the common man has spent the last year and a half railing against a huge segment of the population that it believes isn’t intelligent enough to vote for an appropriate candidate.

  5. Would minorities and women even have civil rights if the majority always ruled?

    There is nothing more dangerous than a learned professional that distorts the truth.

    • Wait…didn’t they? I thought the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments passed with little to no black votes.

      Likewise, very few women voted on the 19th Amendment that gave them the right to vote.


    • That’s an oversimplification. The electoral college (coupled with the 3/5 compromise) helped slave states. But the electoral college also helped Rhode Island, Delaware, Vermont and New Hampshire, because New York was the Goliath in the North. And, it also “only” exists because the large states saw the Electoral College and the 3/5th compromise as worthwhile trade-offs.


    • The founders acted in their economic interest? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you. Let’s undo everything because part of that economy was based on slave ownership. Here’s an idea, let’s not count black people in any states for purposes of determining numbers of congress people because they didn’t have the vote in the late 1700s and were chattel.

  6. It doesn’t help Warren that even the idea that Hillary “won the popular vote” is still basically a lie. Nobody received a majority of the popular vote. If you’re really going to try to read the tea leaves as to “left/right” public preference based on the number of votes cast (never mind those who sat it out), you would have to note that Republican + Libertarian out-polled Democrat + Green, and that McMullin and Castle votes would probably have to be added to the “right” side of the scale as well.

    • Which brings up the idea of preference-order voting, where you don’t pick one candidate and vote but rather list every candidate you’d be willing to vote for, in order of how much you like them. Everyone’s first-choice votes are tallied. If no candidate has a majority, the candidate receiving the fewest votes is disqualified and all of his or her votes are moved to the next choice on each voter’s list. That process is repeated until someone wins.

      It seems unfeasible for an election of any real size but it IS an interesting idea to get around the problem of people choosing the lesser of two evils from the major parties rather than “waste” their vote on the third party candidate they actually like- I can say “Hey, I’d vote for Castle, but if he can’t win I prefer Johnson, and if he can’t win I guess Clinton” or what have you.

      • Please don’t tell me that there were conscious people who “actually liked” the ridiculous 3rd, 4th and 5th party candidates in 2016. You could throw a rock in Times Sq. and have good odds of hitting someone better. Ralph Nader would tower over all of those midgets as presidential timber, and the idea of Nader in the white House was alike an SNL skit.

        • In theory, the candidate lists wouldn’t be limited to just single representatives from each party…Luke’s system would require more jungle primary operation than traditional primary operations.

          But it still has flaws.

          Any nation whose popular vote is as close as the United States’ popular votes are…the Electoral College is an excellent system for balancing regional population monopolies with political monocultures across a culturally diverse nation.

          The majority of our Presidential Elections have CLEAR popular winners and the Electoral College has only ONCE gone against that.

          Of the 49 Elections I have Data On (Going back to 1824):

          In 16 of those, the Electoral Winner Did NOT have a Popular Majority.

          Of those 16, only 5 were won by a candidate who didn’t have the most votes…meaning in 11 of those elections the Electoral College still went to the candidate with the *most* votes, even if they didn’t have a majority of votes.

          Of the 5 who won where they didn’t have more votes than their competitor (1824, Adams v Jackson; 1876, Hayes v Tilden; 1888, Harrison v Cleveland; 2000, Bush v Gore; 2016, Trump v Clinton), only 1 were won by a candidate, where the other candidate actually had a popular majority: Rutherford B Hayes v Samuel Tilden.

          Of the Remaining 33, where the Electoral Winner ALSO was garnered a majority of votes, 16 of those could be termed “Landslides”, with at least a difference of 10% in the popular vote between winner and loser.

          11 had a clear majority with a difference of 5-10%.

          6 had a very narrow majority with a difference of less than 5% between popular vote winner and loser… but when you look at the Electoral Votes, they ALL have clear landslides…meaning that, though the majority winner was CLOSE…they had a broader spread of appeal.

          Precisely what the nation needs and precisely what the Electoral College works towards.

          Only in a handful of instances has the EC not given a clear indication of Broad Appeal (less than 5%):

          1824 (Adams v Jackson), which was a House of Representatives decision
          1876 (Hayes v Tilden)
          1916 (Wilson v Hughes)
          2000 (Bush v Gore)

          Nope. The Electoral College is still doing precisely what it was meant to do.

          Wild off tangent:
          I am open to ideas that some of the states are TOO big and perhaps could afford to break up. But that’s too radical and will be impossible this day in age.

          • It’s especially annoying though to worry about making sure the President is a directly elected office. It’s a clear misunderstanding of the Role of the Chief Executive coupled with a dangerous imputation of importance & power onto a single person.

            The House of Representatives is supposed to be directly elected and MASSIVE.

            The Senate is NOT supposed to be (and in a Republic-undermining move, was made so).

            The President, even less so.

            I’ll never stop supporting the Electoral College, I will remain open to modifying conditions that touch on the Electoral College.

          • Since I rarely see a wild tangent I don’t enjoy following:

            I’ve also heard it suggested that some of the states should be broken up with regards to the electoral college only (which, although huge, would be a much lower threshold of impossible than actually subdividing them completely). Of course, if you start dividing states you then get to hear forever about how both sides cheated the system by gerrymandering the divisions.

        • Jack: “Please don’t tell me that there were conscious people who “actually liked” the ridiculous 3rd, 4th and 5th party candidates in 2016….”

          That may be, but my point is that if Warren is going to cavil about the election results not representing the will of the people under the existing system, when no single candidate won an actual majority of the votes, she can’t just then assume that the one with a modest plurality would be the true preference of the overall electorate….or that the second in vote count would not be.

          • Precisely- the preference order vote just serves to actually determine what we can only speculate under the current system (i.e. how many of Stein’s voters would actually go Hillary, how many of Johnson’s would go Trump, etc).

        • I certainly didn’t like my chosen candidate (Johnson), except as a better choice than either than the two main candidates, and the potential to move things in a vaguely more liberty oriented direction. You might quibble about the “better” regarding him, but it’s such a low bar to clear…

      • That wouldn’t work, simplification of the problem:

        Candidate A: Right Winger, gets 40% of people’s 1st choice, 10% of people’s 2nd choice.

        Candidate B: Left Winger, gets 40% of people’s 1st choice, 10% of people’s 2nd choice.

        Candidate C: Moderate, gets 20% of people’s 1st choice, 80% of people’s 2nd choice.

        Moderate, who would win hands down if candidate A or B were booted from the running, would be booted in the first round and it would come down to a typical close election.

        • Yeah, you can get into things like assigning point values to preference order to overcome that as well, if you want it to get REALLY spicy.

          As I understand it, the general idea isn’t that such a method would give a third party candidate an overnight win, but would allow more people to vote third party as their first choice and (over time) build support for those parties.

  7. The EC was a masterstroke of brilliance just as the House of Representatives and Senate are. Excellent solutions and quite visionary. I am sure that back in the day it was quite simple to see how one or two populous states could control the country.

    • As was the election of Senators by the states.

      You want to get money out of politics, repealing the 17th Amendment would take a huge chunk of money away.

      Unfortunately, that would run contrary to the Progressive agenda, as the power of the federal government would be greatly reduced if the Senators answered to their state governments, instead of the general populace whose passions are fueled by any number of different interest groups.


  8. I think the Right Honorable Senator Warren believes her own drivel, even though she ought not to, with her academic credentials and whatnot. The senator and her esteemed colleagues probably do think it would be in the interest of the nation, and completely coincidentally of the Democrats, if the presidential election was basically a race for the Super Governor of NY/CA/Chicago. If you give her enough time, you can also transform the fed govt into a clone of the CA govt. The best part about it, you can’t run away from it! Currently, if you are unhappy in CA, if you have the means, you can vote with your feet to somewhere where the political/business/etc climate is more to your liking. But under a super CA govt, everywhere will be the same! It’s kind of like the logic behind the Berlin Wall. When people are unhappy, but they can’t change it through political means, they leave. The GDR govt noticed that if current trends continue, they’ll have no one to govern, after having like 10% of their population flee from ’49 to ’61 (year of the wall). You can’t run a Worker’s Paradise without the workers, right? It’s also an embarrassment, when you try to sell your society as the cutting edge in human progress, but for some reason nobody wants to be there. Can’t blame it all on spies and saboteurs, although this option will be exercised. This might sound cynical, but I think that is the mindset present among her peers. Of course they have good intentions and mean well, but that is insufficient to start messing up people’s lives.

      • …at which point they will turn Texas blue, just like all the hippies grew gray ponytails and beards and migrated to Vermont, turning the former solid conservative/libertarian bastion into the state that gave us Bernie Sanders.

        • I think for a large state like Texas it will take some more time for it to turn, than compared to Vermont, where there is like 10 people.

          • I disagree. The public school system in Texas is one of the few institutions controlled by the Left there. And they are cranking out predictably brainwashed left wing voters EVERY year on average. Coupled with the refugee crisis from California, Illinois and New York, you could see a Blue Texas in 8 years.

            • Jeez, that sounds like a worst case scenario.
              I think it’s given about how controls the public schools in just about any state.
              It will depend on if the local culture in Texas can be drowned by influx of newcomers in such a short period of time. That kind of change is a bit slower to see.
              Is Texas currently a complete polar opposite of CA, that it is in essence a Red one party state, or is variable? I know that the 3 largest cities are usually Dem constituencies, but what about the rest?

              • Texas is most definitely NOT a monolithic political culture like California is. Our elections are generally closer than California’s, though still clearly conservative.

              • “Is Texas currently a complete polar opposite of CA”

                Depends on the context you are asking about…

                Is Texas completely bonkers like California? No, it’s a polar opposite of California as are most of the other 49 states…though one or two here and there are trying to be as off-the-rails as California.

                • ”though one or two here and there are trying to be as off-the-rails as California.”

                  Illinois, an unenviable bottom-feeder in many categories, has gotten its tit-in-ringer without all the Land-Of-Fruit-n-Nuts dumbfuckery.

                  • Yeah, my best friend, who lives in Illinois, disclosed his tax burden and then despaired as Illinois decided it need to raise taxes further. His property tax alone (on a house lot smaller than mine) was greater than my property tax + my federal income tax…

                    He’s considering fleeing from that place, luckily, he’s a libertarian, so I think Texas would be cool for him to come here.

                    • NJ is getting there, although so far Phil Murphy, who said he was going to turn the place into “California East” hasn’t gotten too far, and is likely, like every Democratic governor since Brendan Byrne, to be a one-term wonder.

            • you could see a Blue Texas in 8 years.

              OVER MY DEAD BODY

              We are actively educating refugees as to why they fled to Texas: leave your failed policies behind! Our way works better than that of the state you fled from!

        • Steve-O: “…at which point they will turn Texas blue.”

          Possibly (hopefully) not; maybe the dims will schism and throw themselves back into squabbling factions that will not be able to act in concert, and will drive away more moderates.

          I’ve heard that the existing dimocrat leadership is worried that as much as 40% of their supposed base self-identifies as “socialist” (hence, Bernie), and are afraid that will hamper their ability to offer a unified front and espouse policies that will attract the less radical. Perhaps this could lead to a disabling ongoing internal cat-fight, or a real split.

    • The sad part about so many fleeing California is that so few of those leaving have the insight to realize what caused California to suck. They move to Arizona, Oregon and Washington and vote for the same kind of progressive idiots that ruined California.

      • I agree that the lacking of self-awareness is astonishing.
        So you you are leaving CA, because taxes are high, regulations up the butt, real estate/rent very pricey, hobos as far as the eye can see, everything to the right of Marx is hate speech, etc. (Of course there are nice things about CA too, depends if they are more important to you than the bad stuff)
        But in you new state and municipality, it would be nice if we had more inclusion, more homeless shelters, laws that make it an act of Congress to evict delinquent tenants, ban plastic bags, etc.
        So why did you move out of CA?
        1,000 yard stare…

  9. My principle objection to the Electoral College is that most states give all the electoral votes to whoever won, even if by one percent. If the votes were always split as close to the actual turnout, rather than giving them all to one candidate, we would have less silliness like 2000 and 2016.

    I don’t say this as a means to say how to make an election turn out for a candidate I would prefer. I just say it would be a way to greater represent the will of more voters. If a state goes 51-49, over half the people’s votes essentially don’t count. Yeah, that’s what happens when we count them all up, but… I think splitting the electoral votes would be a good balance between the current system and a pure vote-based system.

    • The best proposal I have seen is that the winner in each congressional district gets that electoral vote and the winner of the state gets the two “senate” electoral votes. The “problem” with this is that it puts a lot of California and New York votes into play. It would be interesting to see how past elections would have worked out under that mechanism. The benefit is that it opens up more states as legitimate campaign grounds.

  10. Hang on. Something else has bothered me about this map you posted all morning.

    This map shows what color each district has, but not the relative density of population who voted there. We have huge chunks of red in Montana, but that represents less people than my beloved home state of Rhode Island.

    I looked for a map of relative population density to compare this map to, but… it’s not the same shape, so I can’t do an overlay that shows the districts and their relative density. If I can find a district map that matches the density one, I might be able to do it. At any rate, I think this map is being taken slightly from its context by failing to acknowledge the huge amounts of essentially unpopulated areas in the west of the US that are the same color as the densely populated New York and LA areas. A more accurate infographic would be more ethical as well, I think.

    • You are correct, of course, and have proven yourself to have the same stripe of OCD as I do.

      You have to understand that a geographical representation is what it says it is, and a geopolitical one will look different, as will a population density map.

      All would be needed to get a better picture of the situation. Most low information voters quit reading when I used the word ‘geopolitical.’

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