It’s been nearly three years since Donald Trump, despite losing the popular vote, ascended the presidency, and some people (read: Hillary Clinton) are still griping about it. As we gear up for the 2020 presidential election, butthurt calls to abolish the electoral college are once again surging, so I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone why we have the electoral college in the first place.
The short version: Direct democracy (AKA, a popular vote) is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
The long version: Literally like, half of the constitutional convention. Remember the Connecticut Compromise? This one had to do with the legislative branch, but the logic bears out: apportioning representatives based on population (the Virginia Plan) was disadvantageous to smaller states, but apportioning an equal number of representatives to each state was unfair to more populous areas, whose voters would be largely disenfranchised. Enter the Connecticut Compromise: the Senate containing two representatives from each state and the House of Representatives containing a number of representatives from each state proportional to its population.
The point was that no voter should be disenfranchised based on where he or she lives. Sound, yes? The same basis was applied to the formation of the electoral college, as a way of electing a president with minimal corruption, a chance for every voter to be heard, and a hybrid of population-based and state-based voting. Ah, remember when “compromise” was a thing that happened in the federal government?
To make sure we’re on the same page: Each state gets a number of electoral votes equal to their number of representatives in Congress. The rest is up to the states to decide. Most states (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska) employ a “winner take all” rule, in which whoever receives the most popular votes receives all of the state’s electoral votes. Population- and state-based voting.
So what’s the problem???
Well, mainly that we’ve got one party that can’t accept losing and instead wants to change the rules of the game so that they can win every time. It’s like playing a game with your older sibling, except the younger sibling has the Constitution on their side. You don’t want to mess with the Constitution.
Basically, since populous cities tend to lean blue and rural areas are more red, there’s more people that tend to vote left, whereas more territory leans right. So if it’s your prerogative to see a Democrat in the White House, your best bet is to change the rules so that the process for electing the president is population-based, i.e. a direct democracy. Which means ditching the electoral college.
This attitude is kind of emblematic of how Trump got elected in the first place. A direct democracy puts the election of the president in the hands of California and Texas, basically, with New York City, Philly, and Chicago in there to shake things up. So basically, if you’re a corn farmer in South Dakota or a rancher in Wyoming or a coal miner in rural Pennsylvania, you’re SOL.
But the Democratic party doesn’t care about those farmers, ranchers, miners, etc. because they’ve never been a reliable voting base. Their “abolish the electoral college” push explicitly disenfranchises enormous swathes of the US population— a faction they never addressed in the first place— so that wealthy urban politicians can get what they want. And they still have the audacity to be surprised by what happened in 2016? I accidentally watched that Netflix “documentary” about AOC and a couple other women who ran for office and one of them said, “After 2016, nothing is certain.” Are you KIDDING ME?
It was mind-boggling enough in late 2016 and 2017 when Hillary failed to acknowledge her campaign’s own failings that led her to lose the election, but that the Democratic party is still pleading ignorance even as their core policies isolate, disenfranchise, suppress, and ignore half the country is beyond baffling and bordering on disgusting. You can’t fail to acknowledge a statistically significant portion of the population, call them racist when they get upset, and then pretend you never saw your own failure coming.
Well, I guess you can. But that’s not how you win elections. You’ve got about a year and a half to figure that one out, DNC. I’d wish you luck, but then what would I write about?