COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Have you ever seen those “man-on-the-street” interviews, where late night comedians ask people if they know who the vice president is?
Or they ask, “Do you know the name of your senator?”
The answers can be very funny – especially when they have no clue – but that’s what also makes it frightening.
Many citizens simply do not know who was elected to represent them or even the basics of how government works.
After the midterm elections, this was demonstrated on TV and social media, when several people pointed out that the so-called “popular vote” for House and Senate candidates gave Democrats a total vote lead over Republicans – so Democrats should control both houses.
But of course this is terribly misleading and just plain wrong.
That’s just not how Congressional elections work.
The so-called “popular vote” or a total of votes cast for any one party across the nation, does not apply to House and Senate races, which are won or lost in each separate state.
The voters of California may be quite a bit more numerous than Georgia, for example, but that doesn’t mean you can lump all the party votes together from multiple states.
It only matters who the voters of Georgia chose to represent them in Washington. The number of total votes cast in favor of one party or another at the national level is completely irrelevant.
Wishful thinking about a national popular vote for control of Congress might make one party or the other feel better after a loss.
But it’s just not how our government works.
The “popular vote” only matters within a state, for candidates representing that state alone.
The founders of our country understood that states should have roughly the same power in the legislative branch.
That’s because the founders didn’t want populous states at the time, like Massachusetts, to trample the rights of other, less populated states like Delaware.
It’s still a sound principal today, so that California, or New York, for instance, can’t dictate what Alabama does.
The popular vote only matters in statewide, county or city-wide local races.
This is similar to the way the electoral college works when it comes to electing a President. Each state gets a certain number of electors. The popular vote doesn’t matter.
So, remember, if you hear a pundit or politician talk about the “national popular vote” in the House or Senate, you’ll know there’s no such thing in a democratic republic…
And if the people want to change that, the founders also gave us a way to do it: it’s called a constitutional amendment.