Obviously, if you talk to most Republicans, they’re going to sing the praises of the electoral college. After all, this is a party that’s had its last two presidents elected to their first term in office despite losing the popular vote. A Republican hasn’t been elected to their first term in office after winning both the electoral college and popular vote since George H.W. Bush did it in 1988 — 28 years ago. So you can see why the GOP might be rather fond of the electoral college system.
However, the electoral college isn’t what most Republicans will claim it is. While giving some power to each state was part of the reason why our Founding Fathers decided on this system of electing our president, the true reason why it exists, to put it bluntly, is to prevent angry mobs of ignorant people from irrationally electing someone who was unfit to be our nation’s president.
In other words, the electoral college was put in place mostly to prevent someone like Donald Trump from becoming President of the United States.
What people tend not to realize is that our Founding Fathers weren’t big fans of straight-up democracy. To put it simply, these men basically built our government in such a way that it assumed most people wouldn’t be adequately informed enough to always know what they were doing. That’s a huge reason why Congress is constructed the way that it is as opposed to having Americans vote on things themselves.
The electoral college is part of the “fail safe” system our founders put into place to prevent someone who had no business being president from actually becoming president. It was a system that said, sure, the voters have most of the say — but if you all screw things up, here’s our “checks and balances” on the presidential election to make sure you all don’t destroy this country with one election.
However, this is where things get subjective. Now you get into the area of what is or isn’t the right set of circumstances for electors to go against the results of the electoral college. Obviously if that were to ever happen, there would be a whole lot of really ticked off people.
But that’s when simple common sense and logic should come into play.
Take for instance the 2000 election.
Did Al Gore receive more votes than George W. Bush? Yes, but by just over 500k votes. While that’s still a sizable win, it’s not that substantial. Ultimately, Gore won by 0.5% of the overall vote. As much as I thought Bush was an absolute moron, I would say that a less than 1% popular vote “victory” wouldn’t be enough to justify electors ignoring the rules of the electoral college.
That’s not the case this year.
As it stands now, with still a good chunk of votes left to come in, Hillary Clinton is up nearly 3 million votes, or 2.1% — and growing. By the time it’s all settled, she’s likely going to win the popular vote by over 3 million votes and closer to 3% of all votes cast.
Then when you actually look at the numbers, this election came down to around 100k votes spread throughout three states.
Let’s be clear here: In one way or another, over 54% of voters voted against Trump this election.
But then you have to factor in everything that surrounded this election, because it’s not just about votes.
We’ve witnessed an election where an American political party and presidential campaign was hacked, information that was then used by a foreign hacking organization (with a leader who’s wanted by the U.S. government) which was all part of a cyber attack our intelligence officials have said was ordered by the Russian government and Vladimir Putin. The very same Putin whom Donald Trump has heaped praised on for years and the very same Russia which Trump also goes out of his way to avoid saying anything negative about.
And even though the CIA and FBI have both said that Russia did launch a cyber attack against the United States, that very same Donald Trump, the man who’s supposed to be our next president, has basically said he believes Putin when he says Russia wasn’t behind it more than he believes U.S. national security experts.
Then there’s always the FBI’s letter to Congress sent shortly before the election. A move that clearly benefited one candidate while hurting the other even though, ultimately, it proved to be nothing.
It’s all been unprecedented — or should I say “unpresidented” as our illiterate president-elect thinks the word is spelled.
The truth is, while Republicans continue to sing the praises of the electoral college, they’re doing so by picking and choosing why it exists in the first place. It was a system put into place for exactly this type of an election. One where a presidential candidate:
- Defends a foreign government that attacked us while belittling our own intelligence officials.
- Is going to lose the popular vote by a fairly sizable margin.
- Had over 54% of Americans vote against him.
- Was seemingly helped by a foreign government led by a tyrant who calls himself a president but acts more like a dictator.
- Probably only won the electoral college victory because he got help from a Russian cyber attack and an oddly timed FBI letter that turned out to do nothing but confirm Clinton didn’t break the law with her private email server.
- Frequently attacked the freedom of the press.
- Singled out a union leader, causing him to receive death threats because he dared to fact-check the lies being told about a jobs deal with Carrier.
- Surrounded himself with several people who have had close ties to Russia — the same country that candidate defends and praises… that also just happened to launch a cyber attack against us to undermine our democracy.
If there was ever a time where these electors should’ve done what the Founding Fathers meant for them to do, it was this year.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
The bottom line is, the electoral college is extremely outdated in 2016 — proven by the fact that two of our last three presidents won their first term in office despite not winning the most votes. If it’s not going to be used to counter a presidential candidate as unfit as Trump is to be our nation’s leader, then the only purpose it’s serving is a big middle finger to the majority of the voting public by saying, basically, that geography matters more than actual votes.