The Electoral College Is An Impediment To A President’s Ability To Govern

For the second time in just the past 16 years, the person elected president did not win the national popular vote. In the wake of Hillary Clinton amassing nearly three million more actual supporters than Donald Trump, it might be time to finally rethink the long outdated Electoral College system.

Despite winning the Electoral College by a sizable margin, Trump will enter office with more Americans who voted against him than for him. That is a really difficult position to govern from, particularly with how politically divided our country has become. At this point in our history, it might be best to elect presidents without the existence of any potential pretexts or incongruity. Based on all his talk of a “rigged” system, I’m guessing Mr. Trump would have had something to say about this very same topic, if Mrs. Clinton had won the Electoral College easily, yet he had garnered more overall votes.

Allowing for the continual possibility of this scenario is bad for our democracy. This country of 330 million people needs one clear and concise number when arguing the strength of a president’s governing position. Without having one all powerful number that everyone can point to, it seems a near certainty that the next four years will be spent with Trump and the GOP speaking of mandates and the will of the people, with the Democrats always firing back with the same simply response, “ you didn’t win the popular vote.” 

From a voter’s standpoint, why should one American’s vote count less than someone else’s, simply based on where they choose to live? Here’s a good example of the imbalances of the current system. The swing states of North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin (which all went for Trump) have the same combined population as just the state of California. Yet, those four states together possess 61 electoral votes, while California only holds 55.  Drilling deeper into the numbers, in the five states mentioned above, Clinton garnered four million more total votes than Trump, but was credited with six less total electoral votes. Simply stated, my vote here in Los Angeles counts less than someone living in either the big cities or smaller towns in all of the above swing states. It is really a big state vs. smaller state situation, when considering that someone voting in one of the many California small towns also owns a less impactful vote than someone living in say Philadelphia or Detroit. 

It should be noted that this situation goes both ways. There are literally millions of Republican leaning voters in California who always feel like their presidential vote is meaningless, cause of the virtual guarantee that the Democrat will win the state. In fact, Trump’s 4.5 million votes in the Golden State places the “liberal bastion” only behind Texas, when factoring in which state turned out the most for Trump. This also goes for Republicans in places like New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland. If there were no electoral college, many blue state GOP voters would be far more motivated to make their voice heard. 

The reverse obviously exists for Democratic voters living in the vast red areas located throughout the South and Great Plains. Having a popular vote would provide everyone with an equal stake in the game. 

Besides a presidential election, every single other form of electing someone to office is determined via popular vote. If we elect senators, congressional reps, governors, mayors, city council, school board members and even high school team captains courtesy of majority rule, why would we operate the most consequential election of them all in this incredibly arcane and unrepresentative manner? 

If you think that I am the only big state voter who feels this way, I would like to point you to a lifelong New Yorker, who just so happens to wholeheartedly agree with my position. Here is what this prominent Manhattan resident had to say just four short years ago.

 Donald J. Trump  @realDonaldTrump

“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”