Chuck Todd Excited by Idea of Abolishing the Electoral College on 'MTP Daily'

With the Electoral College gathering early next week to elect Donald Trump President of the United States, many on the left are desperate to find a way the turn the institution against him and/or abolish it. Such schemes are popular on MSNBC, and Chuck Todd expressed the same desire on Tuesday’s MTP Daily. “If we are never going to use the Electoral College, then we should abolish it,” Todd exclaimed to his panel of journalists.

Todd’s argument seemed that have been derived from a deep misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution. “My point is, the Electoral College was the idea, a college of influencers, right, deciding whether the American public had made the right decision,” he claimed. By Todd’s argument the Founding Fathers set up the Electoral College to be a type of chaperone for the ignorant masses.

But that is not why the Electoral College was created, as The Washington Free Beacon’s Matthew Continetti explained to the panel, “The Electoral College is there to prevent the biggest majority states to dominate the presidential process, so it’s work as the founding fathers intended.” Continetti was correct, the 2016 election was a great example of the mechanism working as intended. Less populated rural states defended their concerns against the passions of more populated states.

That also seemed to be what panelist April Ryan, from American Urban Radio Networks, misunderstood as well. “That is one piece of the puzzle that needs to be changed,” she said, agreeing with Todd, “This whole election cycle has shown us what the founding fathers have created needs to maybe change.” “But they didn't see social media and the immediacy and how things could change at a moment's notice,” she argued.

And again, that is just what the founders had in mind. The whole system of checks and balances between branches, splitting the legislature into two chambers, the Electoral College, the tedious amendment process, and the Bill of Rights were all designed to slow the fiery passions that “could change at a moment's notice” and defend the people.  

Todd’s fervor for abolishing the Electoral College appeared to have been triggered by an interview he had with Harvard University Professor Lawrence Lessig. In a clip Todd played of their conversation Lessig stated, “[The electors] have an ethical moral obligation when they take the pledge and must vote that way unless there is an overriding moral reason not to vote that way … The Electoral College was made for this election precisely.” Todd reiterated Lessig’s scenario for the panelists:

He is simply making the argument: The electors should pause, not elect anybody president, force it to the House, and if the House after deciding Putin after deciding Trump and his finances, elections Trump, then so be it, but buy more time.

Continetti shot down Todd’s excitement. “Well, that’s ridiculous. The whole project is ridiculous. And look, there's one Republican elector who said that he won't vote for Donald Trump,” he explained, “But it's the height of insanity to think that after this election, we would have the Electoral College overturn the result.”

The excitement the left has for trying to abolish or overturning the Electoral College outcome, stems from a lack of trust in the American voter and the system. Todd’s explanation of the Electoral College as a chaperone demonstrates that. And ironically, Todd ended the segment praising the situation, saying, “Well anyway, the good news is it makes everybody read the Constitution, again. And that's never a bad thing.” 

Transcript below:

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MSNBC
MTP Daily
December 13, 2016
5:48:49 PM Eastern

CHUCK TODD: Members of the Electoral College meet in less than a week to elect the president of the United States. But there is a growing group among them that want to make it anything but formality. Remember, the Constitution does not bind electors to follow the state’s popular vote. Most states have passed laws to force that though. Harvard professor and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig told me earlier today he was aware of at least 20 Republican electors who are considering casting a ballot for someone other than Donald Trump.

LAWRENCE LESSIG : They can't be forced by law, but they have an ethical moral obligation when they take the pledge and must vote that way unless there is an overriding moral reason not to vote that way. And the disqualification or the failure of a candidate to live up to the qualifications would be one such reason. And that's exactly the issue that’s raised by this election. The Electoral College was made for this election precisely.

TODD: Let me bring back the panel, Molly Ball, April Ryan, Matthew Continetti I have a longer interview with Lawrence and we will post the whole thing up. What is fascinating—Matthew you’ll like this--  he is simply making the argument: The electors should pause, not elect anybody president, force it to the House, and if the House after deciding Putin after deciding Trump and his finances, elections Trump, then so be it, but buy more time.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Well, that’s ridiculous. The whole project is ridiculous. And look, there's one Republican elector who said that he won't vote for Donald Trump and there may be others who end up. Of course, Trump has a pretty nice cushion in the Electoral College so he can afford to lose some. But it's the height of insanity to think that after this election, we would have the Electoral College overturn the result and moreover, though, it's so insane, can I see it happening, or see electors voting against Trump for exactly that reason.

5:54:00 PM Eastern

TODD: If we are never going to use the Electoral College, then we should abolish it. Not that you go popular vote,

MOLLY BALL: We use it every four years.

CONTINETTI: The Electoral College is working.

TODD [Speaking over the panel]: but delegates -- No, my point is, the Electoral College was the idea, a college of influencers, right, deciding whether the American public had made the right decision. If you are not going to ever allow them to exercise that power, than why -- I'm not saying get rid of the Electoral College and the idea that a state is worth a certain amount of delegates. Then turn it into a delegate.

APRIL RYAN: That is one piece of the puzzle that needs to be changed. This whole election cycle has shown us what the founding fathers have created needs to maybe change. They didn't foresee social media Twitter –

TODD: Actually, I give them credit. You've got to give them credit. They thought of almost everything, including the emoluments clause.

RYAN: But they didn't see social media and the immediacy and how things could change at a moment's notice.

CONTINETTI: The Electoral College is there to prevent the biggest majority states to dominate the presidential process, so it’s work as the founding fathers intended.

TODD: I get it, but I'm talking about the actual group of people –

CONTINETTI: So there's laws to make them vote on bloc.

TODD: It's that group of people. Why do we have them?

BALL: But they’re not not being allowed to do the job that the founders gave them. It’s just that it looks to me like they're likely to do the job the way they have been directed by the electorates in their states. That’s the way it seems they have interpreted their mandate.

TODD: Well anyway, the good news is it makes everybody read the Constitution, again. And that's never a bad thing.

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