Friday

November 22nd, 2019

Insight

Time to Abolish Congress

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published Time to Abolish Congress

Time to Abolish Congress
Democrats and progressives have been throwing temper tantrums about Donald Trump's election to the presidency since election night 2016. In years past, Democrats may have taken electoral losses on the chin, determined to do a better job persuading the electorate to support their candidate(s). But the present generation shows neither the same pluck nor the same reverence for the rules of the game. If today's Democrats cannot win elections playing by the rules, then it's time to change the rules.

First on the chopping block? The Electoral College.

The Electoral College has thwarted Democrats' presidential aspirations twice in the past two decades. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore lost the Electoral College, despite winning the popular vote by just under 600,000 votes. Gore won the state of California with 5,861,203 votes to Republican George W. Bush's 4,567,429. Under a popular vote election system, that 1,293,774 margin would have been more than enough to push Gore over the top.

Before 2000, the last election in which a president won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote was in 1888. But in 2016, it happened again. Hillary Clinton lost the election with 227 electoral votes to Donald Trump's 304 but received 2.87 million more votes than Trump. As was the case in 2000, California was the source of the popular vote differential; Clinton received 4,269,978 more votes than Trump in that state.

If asked, Americans might not think that California should decide the presidential election. But plenty of Democrats are calling for the elimination of the Electoral College, including Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California, and current presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Advocates for this play on Americans' ignorance of our history. Buttigieg, for example, has stated that the Electoral College has "made our society less and less democratic." Whatever one might want for American society , the American form of government is a democratic republic , not a pure democracy, which the founders rejected. In 1787, James Madison wrote in Federalist 10, "Pure democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

President Trump's ability to nominate federal judges — including and especially U.S. Supreme Court judges — also has Democrats' knickers in knots. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — both viewed as conservative — have been confirmed since Trump took office. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's age (86) and poor health signal her possible departure from the bench — if not before 2020, then almost certainly thereafter. Another four years of President Trump would virtually guarantee at least one more appointment to the Supreme Court, which would translate to a 6-3 conservative majority for a generation.

Conservative Americans have endured liberal Supreme Court decisions for decades. But Democrats — increasingly dependent upon the courts to impose by fiat what they cannot obtain through the electoral process — cannot risk such a result. So they're floating the idea of "packing" the Supreme Court with additional justices. (Although, according to progressive talking points, it's not "packing"; it's "reform," just like when the Supreme Court holds that conservatives have First Amendment rights, it's impermissible "judicial activism." But when the court finds a right to abortion or gay marriage in the Constitution, it's long-overdue recognition of basic, fundamental matters of human dignity.)

As long as we're contemplating changes to the way we elect the president, or to the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, let's not exclude the legislative branch from the party.

But I'm not proposing that we reform Congress. I'm arguing that we should abolish it.

At this point, why do we need it? We have plenty of independent agencies, statutes and regulations; we don't need any more. We don't need any more taxes. And as for confirmation of federal judges? Each state can send two state senators to do the job that the U.S. Senate has done. They surely could not behave worse than what we saw with the Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

Numerous congresses in a row — under Republican and Democratic leadership — have been unable or unwilling to tackle our most serious problems, like runaway illegal immigration (recent studies estimate the illegal population of the U.S. at over 20 million) and a spiraling national debt (now over $22 trillion). They let the president legislate via executive order. They don't declare war; they let the president send troops wherever he wants. They issue subpoenas, conduct investigations, hold hearings and then do absolutely nothing when those subpoenaed refuse to show up, fail to produce records or lie under oath.

Mutilating one-sixth of the U.S. economy with the abominable Obamacare wasn't enough. Now we're told by congressional representatives and U.S. senators that they intend to put all insurance companies out of business; impose an economy-destroying "Green New Deal"; and eliminate livestock farming, internal combustion engines and air travel, among other spectacularly unconstitutional usurpations of our American liberties.

None of these megalomaniacs pays the slightest heed to the principle that Congress' powers are limited . In 1791, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition."

Congress has either ceded or overstepped its constitutional authority since long ago. Would we really be worse off without a federal legislature?

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Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.

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