Unethical Quote Of The Month (With Bonus Points Because Saying Something This Gallactically Stupid On TV Makes Other People Dumber When They Are Watching To Learn Something): MSNBC’s Chris Hayes

“The weirdest thing about the Electoral College is the fact that if it weren’t specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional.” 

MSNBC host Chris Hayes. Yes, he really said this. He really did.

Res ipsa loquitur. I suppose I won’t be excessively stating the obvious to again note, for the second time today, that when a pundit utters something this idiotic,  no one should care what he thinks about anything else.

Oh, one more thing. Imagine the mockery on Hayes’s own network if President Trump said this.

The commentary around the web on Hayes’ revelation has been hilarious, and I was tempted to re-publish some of the best here, but I’m curious to see what the Ethics Alarms regulars will come up with.

Don’t let me down.

27 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month (With Bonus Points Because Saying Something This Gallactically Stupid On TV Makes Other People Dumber When They Are Watching To Learn Something): MSNBC’s Chris Hayes

  1. He was appropriately lampooned on Twitter. Fortunately, I’ve never taken him seriously.

    The Founders, intelligently, bequeathed us a national level of government that really won’t accomplish much unless all the right factors are aligned, and all the right factors generally don’t align except when the nation really is on board with something. This has worked excellently with few hiccups since the ratification of the Constitution.

    The Left currently wants to break the system and make it entirely direct democracy. In other words they really just want an elected King with an elected Rubber Stamp Legislature.

    But really. How brilliant is the system?

    House – Directly Elected and turned over every two years.
    Senate – Elected by the States. And quite often in an opposing political balance to the House. Good. They shouldn’t align unless the nation really is on board with some key vision change.
    President – Elected by an odd amalgamation of popular will and state interest balancing. Often in opposition to BOTH houses. Good.

    Get what the Left wants?
    No Senate.
    President will pretty much always be of the same party as the House majority.

    What point then for Checks and Balances…we’d have a nice European nanny state then.


    That’s what the Left wants.

  2. One is almost rendered speechless by such idiocy.

    Almost. The weirdest thing about the Electoral College is that it exists, that we did not split apart into a dozen independent, squabbling states that would likely have been gobbled up by various European powers.

    The weird thing is that 12 states could come together in Philadelphia and agree on this brilliant scheme. The schism on the large state / small state issue was nearly enough to tear the convention — and then the country — apart.

    If political acumen could be measured, in the late 18th Century the United States would have been groaning under the weight of it, with Britain running practically in ballast.

    • Related: Most astute reaction I’ve read yet would be “If the Electoral College wasn’t in the Constitution, there would be no Constitution.” That’s 100% historically correct, and why no matter how much false propaganda is thrown at it, the device will require an amendment to eliminate, meaning this is just attempted anti-American erosion of our institutions.

  3. So here is an interesting statistic, which is relevant to the Electoral College question.

    I looked at all the presidential elections since 1836 (i.e. after Andrew Jackson).

    Out of 46 elections only 23 (half) presidential winners got 51% or more of the popular vote.

    In 10 elections the winner got 49.0-50.9%, and some of these elections made 1960 look like a landslide.

    In 13 elections the winner got less than 49% of the popular vote.


    Close elections are not a new phenomenon. Many of the elections in the last half of the 19th century were very, very close in the popular vote.

    As a somewhat ironic aside, John Adams won the presidency on the strength of a solid New England. He didn’t win a state south of New York. It was also perhaps the only election where an elector voted for both of the opposing presidential candidates. There were 138 electoral votes: Adams and Jefferson got 139 votes between them.

  4. Pretty sure Hayes or many of his colleagues have never read any of the Federalist Papers.

    This may be the last election for awhile where the left seeks to over turn the Electoral College.

    The mob itching to vote this time looks much more resolute to produce a large majority favoring a flawed President over the resistance nincompoops he supports.

    Then the pure democracy they profess to love will be bad.

  5. So, Hayes how do you argue the Constitution is a living document if things not specifically enumerated are unconstitutional?

  6. I had to watch a video on his Twitter page to see what he was talking about. Now, I can’t see my Android screen because it made me stick pins in my eyes. Why did I do that? *

    Initial observation: Chris Hayes is not as bright as he thinks he is. He tried to imitate Rachel Maddow but he can’t really pull it off; nor can she for that matter, but . . .

    As for his statement, he was asserting the the Electoral College is inherently racist, intended to dilute African-American voter power. He contends that SCOTUS is developing a “one-person, one vote” jurisprudence since the early 1960s.

    He used an example: a city is 60% Black, 40% White. State legislature breaks the city into 4 equal districts, resulting in 3 White representatives, and 1 Black. Conclusion, Whites run a Black majority city.

    His example is flawed on a number of levels. First, he assumed that district plan would pass DOJ scrutiny. It wouldn’t.

    Second, he assumes racial or ethnic groups vote along identity politics. If that is so, he should explain how Bobby O’Rourke represented El Paso in Congress (whose district is heavily Hispanic/Latino) or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents a predominantly Jewish district in New York.

    Third, he assumes the federal government runs local city governments. Just because a district may be drawn one way doesn’t mean the voters vite along those lines in local elections. Take Houston, for example. Mayoral elections are supposed to be non-partisan according to the charter. Yet, how is it that the city has elected Democrat mayors ( two Black and two women) for the 35 years I have lived here, but the city tends to vote Republican in federal elections? Each mayor has been reelected until term-limits ended their office. If Hayes were correct, Houston would be blue in federal and state elections. That may be changing toward purple but it shows his argument does not hold water.


    *Ed. Note: the pins caused my eyes to water and I pressed a button resulting the loss of a fairly well-reasoned post. I am trying to recreate it.

  7. The weirdest thing about gun violence is that if guns had never been invented, there would be no mass shootings.

    The weirdest thing about abortion is that if it were explicitly provided for in the constitution, roe v Wade would not have been necessary.

    Chris Hayes must live in a world of continual wonderment.

  8. The statement is in and of itself just a dumb tautology, like saying it wasn’t visible to the eye. The underlying reasoning is the dangerous part, but it’s nothing we haven’t been hearing for the past 18 years. It came as a shock in 2000 because the last time any president had won the electoral college vote without winning the popular vote was in 1888, 112 years before that contentious election. I think the US had settled into the idea that a president would always by nature have the popular vote.

    Now twice in under 2 decades a president has won by electoral vote only. Not only that, but all five times a president has done so, that man hasn’t been a Democrat (John Quincy Adams was a Democratic Republican, as opposed to Andrew Jackson, the first president from the Democratic Party). Even if we put aside the back-room dealing (Henry Clay throwing his support to Adams in return for a guarantee that he would be made Secretary of State) that led to Adams’ election by Congress in 1824 and the political horse-trade (the end of Reconstruction and withdrawal of Federal troops from the South) that made Rutherford B. Hayes president in 1876, that still leaves three elections where this provision of the Constitution has enabled a man who didn’t win the popular vote to become president. Each time that man has been a Republican, and each time the difference has been larger and larger.

    I’ll go out on a limb and say very few care about the fact that Benjamin Harrison had a four year interregnum between Grover Cleveland’s two terms. Apart from the six states that were admitted on his watch (which would probably have been anyway), his unsuccessful push for greater freedmen’s rights, and the firsts of being the first grandson of a president elected and the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White House, his file is pretty thin. He has achieved no lasting influence.

    On the other hand, George W. Bush was a very consequential president, whose decisions, good and bad, will continue to be felt for decades, and Donald Trump is becoming a consequential chief executive, whose presidency probably won’t be able to be undone in a year by whoever succeeds him. These men have left/will leave their mark, objectively for good or for ill, but entirely within the parameters of the Constitution.

    The problem on the left is threefold – first, that the mark these two men leave will not be a good one from where they stand, second, neither of them should have been given a chance to leave that mark, because their election did not reflect the will of the American people, third, they defeated much more deserving candidates who would have done much more good in the form of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, and they did it by a technicality.

    Here’s the thing: the United States was never designed to be a pure majority system, and there were already plenty of models for the Founding Fathers to follow if that was what they had intended in 1787. They could easily have established their own parliamentary system just like the UK system, where once a party had a majority of votes it would be in total control. They chose not to go that route specifically because they did not want the larger states or a few large cities to dominate the political landscape and be able to ignore the smaller states and rural areas, and, more importantly, the smaller states and the rural states would not agree to a Constitution that would make them de facto serfs to the larger states and cities. The Founding Fathers knew that pure democracy could quickly become “two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.” It’s for that very reason that they created this system of electing the president, so that eventually someone who was not a gentleman from Massachusetts or Virginia could be elected president (Jackson was the first), so that one region (the South, with its huge exports) could not shut the others out, and so that the nation could not become one where the rural areas do more than just fill the gaps between a few huge cities where all the important stuff happens.

    However, the left claims to represent the people, so it’s very easy for them to say “one man, sorry, one person, one vote,” “majority rules,” “the people came together,” and so on to argue that a simple majority should settle everything including the presidency, the makeup of the Supreme Court, and all other consequential matters. It would sound more appealing if it were really what they thought. Abortion was becoming legal in some states, but not others, by vote before Roe v. Wade. Gay marriage was defeated 31 times in 31 states by the ballot box. Texas just voted to loosen gun laws still farther. New York voted the death penalty in in 1995. California just voted to keep the death penalty. These were all also “the people’s choice” but suddenly the left wasn’t ok with the majority or the people making the decision, because it wasn’t the left’s chosen decision.

    The fact is that the left is only for the people as far as they can get them to put a stamp of legitimacy on the decisions made by their leadership. The left is only for an independent judiciary as far as they can get them to decide their way. The left is only for any system or structure as long as it benefits them and moves them one step closer to permanent power with a veneer of legitimacy. Right now they think they could take the presidency and hold it forever if they eliminated the Electoral College. However, I submit that if the people eventually flipped and started voting for the GOP candidates in droves, they would change their tune faster than the Boston Pops with a new conductor.

  9. Chris Hayes is living evidence that, if it didn’t specifically cause cognitive impairment, eating lead paint chips as a child would be perfectly fine.

  10. Excellent comment, with some very good points.

    I think that, prior to 2000, the United States had gotten used to the idea that the winner of the Electoral College was unquestioningly the President, and everyone went on from there. Redemption was always available at the ballot box in the next election (well, except for a couple coup d’etats by the Democrats here in North Carolina).

    Jackson, Tilden, Cleveland, Nixon didn’t spend the rest of their lives tearing down the country in spite over having lost. In 1880 Garfield only beat Hancock by either 1900 or 9500 votes out of 9+ million.

    Think for a moment if Nixon in 1960 had gone the same route Gore or Clinton did — he had every reason to believe that the election had been stolen from him and I believe that was a pretty passionate election. If Nixon had torn the country apart, might we have lost the Cold War?

    Think also of 1912. Roosevelt’s feud with Taft pretty much gave Wilson the White House. If Wilson had run against either man alone, he likely would have lost handily. What would Roosevelt have done in 1914 when the war broke out in Europe? If Wilson isn’t president, maybe Versailles isn’t as harsh, maybe we join the League of Nations. Wilson won with 41.8% of the popular vote versus 50.7% for the two Republicans — if we go by popular vote would there have been a run off?

    Obama, since he won, was fond of saying that elections have consequences. One might think that he could teach his party about that.

    • If you adopt the analytical tool that is summarized like this: “The Left doesn’t care about conduct that tears down our nation’s institutions because they ultimately want to tear down our nation’s institutions”

      Then nothing about their conduct is confusing again.

  11. I recently had a friend visiting from Canada, and while visiting the DC area where I live, she wanted to visit a number of DC monuments, museums, etc. (Of course, being the guy who lives here, it was my first time visiting a lot of these places too!) It gave us a lot of time to chat about our respective governments.

    She really didn’t understand the Electoral College, so I explained it this way:
    The Electoral College serves two essential functions.
    1) We could never accurately count 320-some million votes with accuracy. (Florida proved that in 2000.) But we can accurately count and document 538 votes, and with that accuracy we remove all question of who actually won because the exact tally is there for all to see. We can’t do that with individual votes.
    2) The EC is a perfect mirror for how we pass all laws in this country: through a combination of coequal influences from the population at large and the state governments. If someone advocates doing away with the EC, I wonder (or ask, if possible) if we should also do away with the Senate?


    • Getting rid of the Senate AND the EC…?

      May as well do away with the Presidency OR the House…as a directly elected President will, 99 times out of 100 be of the same Party that just gained a majority in the House.

      That’s just a Parliamentary system. And the Presidency will eventually become a Monarch.

      And we’d basically go straight into the Hell Hole of majority tyranny that the Founders protected us from with the EC and the Senate.

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