Donald J. Trump, America's fevered dream, a lonely grifter who expertly used fear of the other to ascend to our nation's highest office . . . He strode fully-formed, from New York tabloids and reality TV, with the huckster's gift of gab and the uncanny ability to hone in on other's weaknesses. But from that fateful day he rode down on his golden escalator in Trump Tower, he's been our slow-motion national train wreck from which we cannot for even a day avert our eyes.
Just try, for I have, and every time I do, I still can't quite ignore him. Just think of all the myriad of ways, he has sullied his office -- the constant lying, the shameful bullying of others, his blatant disrespect of our courts and media, his cartoonish threats in the U.N. to destroy another sovereign nation, and, most shameful of all, the defending of Nazis and white supremacists. Interestingly, what would have dominated the news for any other President, the paying off of a porno star, doesn't even make the cut. Chew on that awhile.
By the dizzying number of unforced errors, Trump has proven his worst detractors correct. He is spectacularly unsuited to be President. So it is with some sadness I have to admit that Trump is not our main problem -- even though saying that I know I might well lose my glow-in-the-dark Trump Hater decoder ring that George Soros uses to communicate with we minions of the Deep State.
A number of factors made Trump's election possible a strong right-wing news media impervious to facts and the manipulation of voters through largely unregulated social media sites, to cite only a few. But whenever I hear the usual political blah-blah-blah about Trump speaking for the forgotten man, Democrats being condescending toward the working class, or Hillary Clinton being such a flawed candidate, I can't shake the notion that something very important is being ignored.
Namely, that Hillary Clinton, for all her many weaknesses, real and imagined, managed to win by nearly 3 million votes. So the proximate cause of Trump being in the White House is not Russian bots, the mendacious Fox News, or, even, the unpropitious James Comey, but because of the out-dated, convoluted way we pick our Presidents.
It is richly ironic that the Electoral College, which was supposed to be our bulwark against populist demagogues, made it possible for the most demagogic President ever to win. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton contends that the Electors would be "most likely to have the information and discernment" to choose wisely so as to avoid selecting someone "not . . . endowed with the requisite qualifications." To belabor the obvious, in December 2016 when the Electors met last that didn't happen. Instead, they voted for the obviously unqualified Donald J. Trump.
So far this century, we've had two candidates who lost the popular vote and won the Electoral College, Trump and George W. Bush. And, if you're of my political persuasion, that's more than enough to convince you the Electoral College needs to go.
But if you still need more reasons, here goes. Part of the Electoral College's original purpose was to keep southern states relevant despite their built-in disadvantage of a disproportionate number of 3/5's of human beings (slaves, in other words) in their populations.
So it helped slave states, and now it benefits lightly populated, largely rural states that are predominately white. Think, Wyoming. So as the nation becomes ever more diverse and urban, we will continue to elect Presidents by a method that strengthens the vote of the minority at the expense of the majority. This is not one person/one vote. It's not majority rule.
If your city privileged a mostly white conservative neighborhood by giving their votes more weight, regardless of our political persuasion, we'd all be outraged, but that is exactly what happens with the Electoral College. Wyomingites have 3.6 times the voting power of Californians. The Electoral College is a radically undemocratic anachronism that virtually guarantees we'll have more Presidents who represent the minority of voters, not the majority. It needs to be abolished. Period.
That can either be done by a constitutional amendment or by the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), which is an agreement among states that the popular vote winner will be elected President. Over the years, upwards of 700 amendments have been introduced in Congress to reform or abolish the Electoral College. It's time we finally got the job done.
In 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto won by two-and-a-half million votes to become President of Mexico. In 2017, Emmanuel Macron won by 10 million votes in France. In neither country, in fact, in no other country does the second-place vote-getter win. Our presidential elections should be no different. Just as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida should be the last school to face a mass shooting, Donald J. Trump should be the last second-place voter-getter to become President.