As I watched coronavirus spread, and the death toll mount, as the federal government under Trump’s leadership uselessly flailed about …. as I watched the economy collapse with tens of millions of people out of work …. as I watched, yet again (losing count how many times now), a black man be murdered by a police officer, this time with a knee on his neck, and then saw the convulsive riots, followed by the inspiring nationwide and then worldwide marches and protests, with black, brown, white, red, yellow people shouting in unison Black Lives Matter ….as I watched all of this with a mixture of tears in my eyes over all the tragedy, but energizing hope in my heart at so many people taking to the streets for justice….I thought to myself, well, at least one good thing out of all of this tragedy is that Trump can’t possibly win reelection in the midst of this three-pronged apocalypse.
Such is the power of emotion. Emotion blinds us. Now is the time for cold hard reality minus the emotion, minus the hyperbole, minus wishful thinking and assumptions. It is time for facts.
Fact: Trump cannot possibly win the popular vote. But of course, he didn’t win the popular vote in 2016 either. He lost the vote to Hillary Clinton, but he won the Electoral College.
Fact: It is well within the realm of possibility Trump could win the Electoral College again.
The Electoral College is a slap in the face to the whole concept of Democracy.
It came about as a compromise between framers of the Constitution who wanted the President to be elected by the people versus those who wanted the President to be elected by Congress. Translate that last part — “elected by Congress “— to what it really meant at the time, that is wanting the President to be selected by intelligent, educated white men, rather than including the unwashed masses of uneducated white men. So let’s be clear on what the Electoral College enshrines. It enshrines the notion that the masses cannot be trusted with the decision of who is to be our President. Considering what we have had under a Trump Presidency, I think it is now incontrovertibly clear that it is the Electoral College that cannot be trusted as the decider of who will be President.
And as if it were not bad enough that the Electoral College was founded on the premise that the masses are too stupid, consider the advantageous position it originally gave to slave holding states. States were allowed to count slaves as part of their population total to determine how many votes they had in the Electoral College. No surprise then that 10 of our first 12 Presidents were slaveholders. This illustrates the most insidious and damaging flaw of the Electoral College system beyond the obvious flaw that it renders the popular vote meaningless. It is the fact that it gives extra power to small pockets of voices that in no way deserve that extra power.
It was small pockets of very loud voices — primarily white working class men — who were given that extra power via the Electoral College in 2016. A majority of citizens in this country voted for Clinton, by a margin of 2,868,686 so it was not even close, but small pockets of white men voting in swing states for Trump made Trump our President. How can this be excused? How can this be justified? Why is this still tolerated? If anyone can explain to me the great advantage of the Electoral College system (other than it making compaigning more convenient, since you only need bother with the swing states, but “convenient” does not count in my book as defining a “great advantage”) then please do explain it to me. Although I suppose the advantage is perfectly obvious if you are a white male Republican.
Why has the Electoral College, a bastion of anti-democracy and, in practical effect originally and still to this day a bastion of white male privilege, not been abolished? In 1804, the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution tinkered with the Electoral College, fixing a flaw in the system. But is it not patently obvious that the whole system is flawed? And lest you think 2016 was just an odd and unusual circumstance, it has in fact happened five times in Presidential elections that the winner of the popular vote did not win the Electoral College. We could be looking at 2020 being the sixth time. Five times democracy did not prevail. Five times, the person the citizens of this country wanted to be President did not occupy the White House. Democracy?
The present occupant of the White House has made it clear, both by actions and by rhetoric, that he will engage in unscrupulous tactics to tilt the election in his favor. Whether it is tinkering with the United States Postal Service in order to sabotage vote by mail — or at the very least set up in advance the narrative he plans for election day, that the election is rife with fraud — or whether it is echoing the talking points of Russian trolls advancing disinformation campaigns, or whether it is Republican State Governors (take a look at what happened in Georgia’s primary election to see examples of the sort of machinations that will be employed across this country this November where there is Republican control of the election process) doing their best to “accidentally” place voting impediments and obstacles in predominantly Democrat (that is to say black and/or poverty stricken) neighborhoods and districts, we must all see the grim truth: Democracy may not prevail in November 2020, and the man a majority of this country’s citizens do not want in the White House will remain in the White House.
Having stated the facts, it is time now for me to express some emotion. Under normal circumstances, all of this would be cause for very great anger. But now, under the circumstances of a pandemic, an economic collapse, and this country finally, at long last, facing a reckoning on its systemic racism, this incompetent self-serving thug President remaining in office for a second term will not just be a source of anger, it will be the fatal, final crushing blow to this country. That is an emotional statement, I admit. But it is not hyperbole. And oh how I wish it were hyperbole.
I would like to end this on a positive note and urge you all to get out and Vote this November, and I do, I most urgently call upon all of you to vote. But the sad factual truth is that millions of you will have your vote erased and canceled by the Electoral College, your voice being overridden by pockets of white male Independents in so-called “swing states.” So I will hold my breath on election day, and watch and see if the majority comes out the winner, or if the majority comes out the loser. Again.