Hilary Clinton won the so-called “popular vote” for the U.S. presidency this week, but Donald Trump became president. How so? Our arcane, outdated, Electoral College. The New York Times informs today in the first three paragraphs of an article:
“In November 2000, as the Florida recount gripped the nation, a newly elected Democratic senator from New York took a break from an upstate victory tour to address the possibility that Al Gore could wind up winning the popular vote but losing the presidential election.
“She was unequivocal. ‘I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people,’ Hilary Clinton said, ‘and to me that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.’
“Sixteen years later, the Electoral College is still standing, and Mrs. Clinton has followed Mr. Gore as the second Democratic presidential candidate in modern history to be defeated by a Republican who earned fewer votes, in his case George W. Bush.”
Donald Trump had been alleging constantly during the closing months of his campaign that “the system is rigged.” As it turns out, he was right. On Election Day of 2012, in a Twitter post he called our Electoral College “a disaster for democracy.” Since Clinton won the most votes this time, yet Trump won the most electoral votes, does this scenario make him “a disaster”? He’s president now, so we’ll show him some respect even though he highly disrespected his opponent Hilary Clinton by constantly getting his crowds to chant, “Lock her up.”
How did we get our Electoral College? Our founding fathers didn’t think ordinary people should decide who is president. Why? They believed ordinary people were too dumb to decide such an important thing. So, Alexander Hamilton, with the influence of John Adams and James Madison, crafted the Electoral College. Only certain free, American men could vote, and in some counties or states they had to own land. Then “electors” had been preselected in the states. These electors were the “intelligent,” more informed men. “On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December,” the electors in each state would meet to consider the popular vote and then cast their votes, the only ones that counted. And they did not have to vote the same as the popular vote, as is customarily done in more modern times.
Then too, small states are allotted more electoral votes per capita of population than large states. Thus, less populated states such as North Dakota and South Dakota have three electoral votes whereas the highly populated California has only 55 electoral votes. If the same ratio for the Dakotas was granted to California, it would have over 190 electoral votes. Here is one thing Mr. President-elect Donald Trump is right about–it’s a rigged system!
How can you call that democracy? It’s a farce, an outdated, archaic system when women couldn’t vote, many men couldn’t vote, and of course slaves couldn’t vote. The world is totally different now. We’ve had such an information technology revolution for so many decades that the U.S. Electoral College needed to be abandoned a long time ago. Today, all Americans know enough about the candidates to make a calculated decision. What should take the place of the Electoral College? Very simple–majority rules. That’s real democracy.
Thus, forget individual states with their electoral votes. To me, that’s not the United States of America (USA); it’s the Individual States of America (ISA).
I’ll give George C. Edwards III the last word. He is a political science professor at Texas A&M University. He has authored a book on the Electoral College. He says, “I think it is intolerable for democracy. I can’t think of any justification for it, and any justification that is offered doesn’t bear scrutiny.”