Conservative Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly says Democrats want to abolish the Electoral College in order to take power from the “white establishment.”
During The O’Reilly Factor opening segment last week, the conservative pundit threw his support behind the system, insisting its survival was necessary to ensure that voters in predominantly rural states are not overrun by a growing population of minorities in city centers.
“The left wants power taken away from the white establishment. They want a profound change in the way America is run. Taking voting power away from the white precincts is the quickest way to do that,” he told The O’Reilly Factor viewers on Tuesday.
“The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with,” O’Reilly said.
The segment has left liberals reeling, with many calling Mr. O’Reilly’s comments racist, saying he appears to prefer white votes holding additional influence over ballots cast by minorities.
Those disappointed with Mr. Trump’s victory have protested the centuries-old system and called for a shift to a popular vote that would create equity among individual votes nationwide. Others have pushed back, arguing that the system put in place by the Founding Fathers in 1787 is a traditional and key element of the US democratic process.
O’Reilly is correct in one thing: under the current system, the Electoral College does place an emphasis on votes from those in rural, and generally white, areas, allowing a vote cast in a very small state like Wyoming, for example, to have 3.6 times the influence of one cast in a large like California. That seems unfair because a handful of voters in a small state can decide the president for the majority.
But in O’Reilly’s view, a popular vote system would essentially strip states like Wyoming of their voice in the presidential election, arguing that abolishing the electoral college would make large cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston more appealing campaign destinations for Democratic candidates, who may seek to win favor with minorities and urban dwellers and tip the national vote to the left.
O’Reilly’s characterization that the push to abolish the Electoral College is driven by a desire to overthrow the reign of “white privilege” on the electoral process has drawn particular criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.
Juan Williams, a Fox News contributor and regular substitute host for The O’Reilly Factor, dismissed O’Reilly’s claim that race is the driving factor in the debate around the Electoral College.
“Not everybody who is challenging the Electoral College is doing it because of race,” Mr. Williams said on the show. “Lots of people think it should be ‘one person, one vote’ no matter where you live in America. But if you’re out in the sticks now your vote is now worth more than a vote in California.”
That’s a major sticking point for proponents of the popular vote. But, in O’Reilly’s view, simply reverting to a system based on the popular vote would not just bring the weight of a single vote in California in line with a vote in Wyoming, it would also tip the entire election into the hands of liberals.
But Dr. Edwards, who wrote the book “Why the Electoral College is Bad for America,” suggested that if the popular vote were the law of the land, the campaign in California – and ostensibly the outcome – would have been very different.
As it is now, candidates take for granted that California will go blue. But there are nearly 5 million registered Republicans in California, 30 times as many as in Wyoming. If every vote was to be weighed individually, Republican and Democratic candidates alike would spend time in the state – a point Donald Trump alluded to shortly after the election.
“Candidates don’t run ads in California. They don’t invest in the ground game in California,” Edwards says. “But they would. They would take their case to people everywhere because all those votes count.”
Watch’s O’Reilly’s statement below:
What do you think? Should the Electoral College be abolished and allow the majority decide the presidency?