Every day since the November 8, 2016 election, we’ve seen the number of citizens who cast their presidential vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump increase.
According to the Huffington Post:
- Clinton’s popular lead, 1.7% greater than Trump’s, is greater than Nixon’s 1968 lead over Humphrey and greater than Kennedy’s 1960 lead over Nixon (per New York Times columnist David Leonhardt as of Friday).
- Clinton’s popular lead also exceeds Gore’s over GW Bush in 2000 (another Republican win in which the voice of the people was out-shouted by the electoral college).
As of Saturday, Clinton’s lead over Trump was nearly 2 million citizens’ votes strong, and still counting.
This is the fourth time in history that our citizens lost and the electoral college—well, didn’t win, exactly. The winner was the candidate most citizens did NOT vote for.
So what the [expletive deleted] is going on?
Once upon a time—that is, in the 1700s—the founders of the U.S. Constitution were afraid of democracy. In “The Federalist Papers,” which attempts to clarify the thinking behind the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton wrote: “…the office of the President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” [If we adhered to this intent, last Tuesday’s results would be nullified on this point alone.]
The founders were not convinced that the citizenry would be able to ensure that an unqualified “man” would be prevented from becoming president. Hence, the electoral college, which was expected to take the will of the citizenry into account but not necessarily agree with it. [See factcheck.org.]
At first blush, the current fiasco appears to be the fault of the electoral college. In fact, it’s the fault not of the college itself but of the way individual states have decided the college should work. In all but two states (Maine and Nebraska), whichever candidate wins the most votes by even the tiniest fraction gets all the electoral votes of the entire state, rather than casting electoral votes in a way that’s representative of the citizen voters. This is not democracy.
The electoral college is an echo of the days when individual states could ban women from voting. It originates from the same thought process in which black individuals counted as only three-fifths of a person.
The electoral college is the appendix of the United States: something we don’t need, and something that flares up from time to time and can jeopardize life itself.
Either we remove the diseased electoral college, or we reform the way states apply its principles and restore it to its original intention: ensuring that no one anything like Donald Trump moves into the White House.