US Democracy Takes Another Hit
Now don’t get me wrong. This is not because Hillary lost, as I did not vote for her or Trump. But, like you I suspect, the result has left me feeling a level of angst. However, it was not Hillary who was the big loser here, it was democracy in the USA.
As the graphic here shows, Hillary got the most votes. In a true democracy, where every vote is equal, she would now be president–elect, with a 207,455 majority. No small number. But the Electoral College skewed that result by weighting the votes depending upon geographically where they were cast.
Read Nevil Chute’s 1953 novel “In The Wet” where he describes a skewed voting system based on multiple votes. Beware though, the “N” word was in common use then. It’s an extreme version of the Electoral College. For my discussion on the college see this post.
Dispensing with the outdated Electoral College would have 3 immediate positive effects that would return the country to a true democracy. First, and most obvious, is that the candidate with the most votes would win (why does that sound so right?). But second, it would stop the statewide minorities in states other than the “swing” states from being disenfranchised. And third, it would force the candidates to campaign in all states, rather than just handful, which would improve everyone’s chances of fully evaluating them outside if the (possibly biased) media.
There have been many attempts to abolish or amend the Electoral College. One of the current ones is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. So far 10 states plus Washington, DC have joined. It is designed to make a state’s college votes be pledged to the national popular vote winner. This effectively becomes a proxy arrangement. Sufficient states must join to represent 270 Electoral College votes, so obviously has a long way to go. It would also face serious challenges to its constitutionality, and would ultimately require a Constitutional Amendment to reverse the requirement that electing a president be by people state-by-state.
So don’t hold your breath!
As of Nov 15 the count is now nearly 1 Million in Clinton’s favor, and even Trump thinks the whole Electoral College is a “disaster”. Read the BBC article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-37992573.
As a beneficiary of the Electoral College has statements against it increase his stock in my opinion of him.
Here’s an opposing view from one reader:
“The US is not a democracy. It is a Democratic Republic. In that system, the states count for something. The electoral college is the means of attempting to have the smaller states have a say in the election of a President. Otherwise the most populous states (CA, TX, IL, NY) will have a overwhelming say in the outcome. The comment that candidates would have to campaign in all states is exactly backwards. They would focus all of their energies on the most populous states. It’s a good system.”
An interesting point. My guess is that if you asked 100 Americans if the USA is a democracy the vast majority would say it was. As you say, it is not, because of Electoral College. The problem as I see it is a conflict due to the state/federal system. Decisions on federal issues are skewed by the state concept behind the Electoral College. If state grouping was ignored for presidential elections the candidates would concentrate on the geographic areas with the most population regardless of state boundaries. As it is now they spend inordinate amounts of time/money on inconsequentially populated areas like NH. The state/federal system has many good things about it, as it provided self-determination for state issues and central government for issues affecting all states. James Madison favored the popular vote but acknowledged that lack of suffrage for the slaves in the south would make this problematic. Obviously that is no longer an issue. So slavery was at least partly the impetus for the EC. The way it is now the states select the president, not the people. And until that state-centric view changes, the President can be, and was this year, elected by a minority of the country’s citizens.The question is, does the USA want to really be a democracy, or just a federation of 50 democratic “countries”? The fact that the EC is still here, with only half-hearted attempts to disband it, suggests the latter.