Is a National Popular Vote Good for California and the GOP?

National Popular Vote is good for conservatives, the GOP, and public policy.  Period.

Having been active in support of the initiative for over a year now, I have met and talked to hundreds of conservative leaders, activists, and elected officials. I have found most of those who reflexively oppose it do so because they think it is a process to amend the Constitution, don’t understand how it works or how it would affect outcomes, or are convinced of some grand conspiracy to turn America into a permanent Democrat hegemony.

The reality is the current system disenfranchises millions of conservatives from the process of electing the president, encourages pandering that transcends ideology (ethanol for Iowa, steel tariffs for West Virginia), and excludes 35 states from relevance in determining the Leader of the Free World. 

National Popular Vote is not ideological. In fact, both sides of the divide have found reasons to support the plan.  What else can explain the strange union of Tom Tancredo and (allegedly) George Soros?

But it’s complicated.  Since conservatives, me included, think “hell no!” the first time they hear about it, it takes time to understand it and realize how much it helps our nation’s governance and our movement’s objectives.  I have been in meetings with dozens of Republican legislators, spending hours going through how it works, constitutional history, Founders’ intent, and the impact it would have on the process.

Almost all of them begin the discussion opposed to the idea. After taking the time to learn more, I’d say 80% leave supporting it.  These policymakers were not brainwashed, but rather took considerable time to consider the plan on the merits.

The fact is, however, it takes 30 seconds to oppose National Popular Vote and 30 minutes to support it.  In today’s world, that’s a tough sell.

National Popular Vote has been signed into law in California, unfortunately without the Republican support it deserved.  A number of elected Republicans were subjected to threats and harassment for a bill considered to be a fait accompli, and it just wasn’t worth the political capital to remain in support. Such is the hallmark of the California Republican Party: it is better to fight each other over anything than fight Democrats.  It is this kind of intramural fratricide that has helped us become a party lacking any relevance whatsoever in public policy.

In 2008, California donors contributed $150 million to John McCain and Barack Obama.  Of that, a mere $29,000 was spent in the state.  Our irrelevance, as the largest state in the union and the 8th largest economy in the world, is terrifying.  Look around our state and see what unchallenged liberal governance has gotten us.

How’s the economy doing?  How about your tax bill?  Making a lot of progress on protecting the unborn?  Feeling a little bit safer with your concealed carry permit?  Proud of Senate and Assembly Republicans impact on the FY12 budget?

What Republicans have been doing in California is not working.  Forcing the RNC and our presidential nominees to commit to California and make the kind of infrastructural investment required to be competitive down ballot is critical to rebuilding our party.  Absent that, I guarantee you the movement to moderate the GOP to be attractive to independents will only increase, leaving conservatives in the dust.

Our ideas are right and we should not abandon them.