Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ending the Electoral College

Yesterday as an extraordinary day, the likes I which I haven't seen since I rallied against the Vietnam War at the Pentagon in 1969, and my wife (then girlfriend) and I marched against that same immoral, unconstitutional war that same year in New York City.   Yesterday, my son and daughter and nephew marched in New York City against Trump and everything he espouses.  My daughter-in-law and mother-in-law marched against the new President and his polices in Washington, DC.  Another nephew was at a similar rally for decency in Barcelona.   My wife was taking care of our grandson, and I helped out a little with that, too.

The marches against Trump were also rallies against immorality.  But not against a violation of the Constitution.  Because, unlike the Vietnam War, which occurred without the Declaration of War mandated by our Constitution, Donald Trump was elected President in accordance with our Constitution.  He received more than the required majority of votes in the Electoral College.

We'll never be able to precisely identify all the factors that led to this miscarriage of democracy - miscarriage not only figuratively, but literally, since Trump lost the popular vote.   If I had to identify the single most important factor, I would certainly put James Comey's public statements about possible Hillary Clinton email on her assistant's computer, so close to the election, in stark violation of FBI precedent and policy, right up there as a grievously significant factor.  But it's obviously not the single most important factor.  Because that would have to be the Electoral College.

Because, look, even with Comey's statements, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million.  Which means that the only absolutely knowable reason Trump not Hillary is now President is  Electoral College.

Yeah, I know that Trump's campaign would have been deployed differently if winning depended on the popular vote.   But Trump only won because he won very narrowly in a lot of states.  How could those narrow margins possibly have added up to a victory for Trump in popular vote, however differently he might have campaigned?

And, this is not the first time in recent history the Electoral College has defeated democracy.  The Supreme Court wouldn't have been called on to make a decision in Bush v. Gore over the Florida vote in 2000 - and awarded the election to Bush - if there had been no Electoral College - because in that year, Gore won the national vote, and no one objected to the national vote count.

The rallies yesterday are aptly focused on winning elections in two years, and after.  That's the only way to stop Trump and Republicans who support him.   But that impressive power - correctly identified in the media as the most powerful demonstrations since the Vietnam War - needs to go further.   We need to once and for all retire the Electoral College.  We need to insist that a vote in California or New York counts exactly the same as a vote cast in Michigan or Wisconsin.

This doesn't guarantee that someone like Trump would not be elected again.  But it will mean that an occupant of the White House will never again be a product of an antiquated system designed to protect the nation from democracy, rather than directly express the will of the people, which is democracy itself.

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