By Anna Daniels
Yesterday, December 19, electors cast their votes in the Electoral College against a backdrop of protests across the country, including here in San Diego. For the second time in some of our memories, the winner of the popular vote lost the Electoral College vote.
Democrats howled after Al Gore’s loss in 2000 and agreed that something must be done about the Electoral College. All of the sound and fury ultimately signified nothing–here we (Democrats) are again.
A useful thought experiment is to imagine what would have happened if Trump had won the popular vote and not the Electoral College. Do you seriously think that we would be hearing about anything except how the election was stolen from Trump?
It is past time to assure that the candidate receiving the popular vote is elected president.
A Constitutional Convention to eliminate the Electoral College under a Trump presidency has little likelihood of being convened. The Electoral College, established by Article Two of the Constitution and further codified in the 12th Amendment served as a protection to slave states. A direct election would have favored the North over the South which had more than a half million slaves who could not vote.
If the system’s pro-slavery tilt was not overwhelmingly obvious when the Constitution was ratified, it quickly became so. For 32 of the Constitution’s first 36 years, a white slaveholding Virginian occupied the presidency.
National Popular Vote Interstate Compact
Since a Constitutional Convention is not much of an option, there is a work around that has been pursued on the state level. While the Constitution establishes electors, it is the states that tell them how to vote. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It has been enacted into law in 11 states with 165 electoral votes (CA, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA). It will take effect when enacted by states with 105 more electoral votes.
The New York Times editorial today takes the position that it is Time to End the Electoral College.
And so for the second time in 16 years, the candidate who lost the popular vote has won the presidency. Unlike 2000, it wasn’t even close. Hillary Clinton beat Mr. Trump by more than 2.8 million votes, or 2.1 percent of the electorate. That’s a wider margin than 10 winning candidates enjoyed and the biggest deficit for an incoming president since the 19th century.
The Democratic Party must take this up as an issue now and DNC leadership must be committed to take the issue to all 50 states.
The Electoral College has institutionalized our country’s original sin of slavery and it has given disproportionate weight to smaller states such Wyoming where resident’s votes count more than 3.6 times as much as California. It has given Donald Trump the presidency.
The Mandate and Minority Rule
What the Electoral College hasn’t done is given Trump a mandate. Spin it as much as they want, neither Trump nor his attendants can make Trump’s popular vote loss of more than 2.8 million votes into a mandate. The Left needs to resist the use of that term every time it arises from the Trump camp. Language is resistance.
What we have in lieu of a mandate is minority rule. With a Republican President and Congress and most likely the Supreme Court, our system of checks and balances is compromised. It is up to us, the people, to provide them during a presidency whose very legitimacy will rightfully continue to be questioned.
Take action today
Tell state legislatures: Dismantle the outdated Electoral College system by joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact now. Click here to sign the petition