I can’t believe my fingers are about to type this, but I actually agree with Donald Trump.
Before you accuse me of being a troll and clicking out of your browser, though, let me clarify.
And he would know, of course, because he didn’t win it. If it weren’t for the Electoral College, he wouldn’t be occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In the call-in interview to Fox, Trump said:
“Remember, we won the election. And we won it easily. You know, a lot of people say ‘Oh, it was close.’ And by the way, they also like to always talk about Electoral College. Well, it’s an election based on the Electoral College. I would rather have a popular election, but it’s a totally different campaign.”
Like most things that spew from his wayward maw, Trump probably has no idea what he is suggesting. He likely has not the foggiest inclination he is inadvertently echoing a Democratic position that would have made president Samuel Tilden in 1876 instead of Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover Cleveland again in 1888 instead of Benjamin Harrison, former Vice President Al Gore in 2000 instead of George W. Bush, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 instead of Donald Trump.
In March, the League of United Latin American Citizens, along with the states of Texas, South Carolina, Massachusetts, and California, filed a series of lawsuits claiming the “winner-take-all” system the Constitution’s framers established as a compromise to slave-holding Southern states violates our country’s democratic principles.
South Carolina Democrats stated:
“Trump received 54.94 percent of the vote in South Carolina, yet he received every single electoral vote from South Carolina. Likewise, Secretary Hillary Clinton received 40.67 percent of the vote in South Carolina, but received none of the electoral votes from South Carolina.”
Leading the coalition is attorney David Boies. He said in a statement:
“Under the winner-take-all system, U.S. citizens have been denied their constitutional right to an equal vote in Presidential elections. This is a clear violation of the principle of one person, one vote.”
When Americans go to the polls to cast a vote for president, they are not actually voting for a candidate; they are voting instead for a designated group out of 538 electors.
Article II of the Constitution stipulates “each state shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.”
The 12th Amendment explains further:
“The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President…But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.”
The framers did not totally trust “We The People.”
While the Southern slave-holding states were large, most of their populations consisted of slaves, counted only as three-fifths of one white person–and only white men could vote.
Northern states like New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania–although not completely devoid of slaves themselves–were more populous; therefore, it was conceivable they would have more votes, effectively disenfranchising less populated states. The Electoral College “solves” this by granting votes to states based on their number of senators and representatives in the House, not by the number of popular votes cast.
This means California and New York–states that generally vote Democratic–are unable to overshadow smaller states like Delaware and Rhode Island, and less-populated states Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas, let alone the mostly Republican Southern states.
But Thursday wasn’t the first time Donald Trump decried the system that made him president. Back in 2012, he tweeted:
“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”
Exactly. Look whom it’s put in the Oval Office–him.
So what do we do lest we allow this anachronism to elevate the wrong person to the executive branch a fifth time?
Watch this brilliant tutorial from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
When you’re done watching, share it widely.
Image credit: KSPR.com