It’s hard not to wonder these days about the systemic problems—apart from Trump himself—which seem to be ripping the country apart.
I addressed this subject last December and stand by my thoughts at that time. As I think about it now again, the more I realize that there were/are dimensions of the subject that I had not then yet thought of.
As the cornerstone of Democracy—majority rule—when ignored and breached consistently shreds one of our society’s main suspenders.
We clearly have had a minority President since Election Day in 2016. Not only did Trump get 3,000,000+ fewer votes overall on that day, since then he has evidently lost the support of an additional 10,000,000 or so people, per all leading polls.
How did we get into this untenable situation and what could we have done to avoid it or let it happen again?
Our voting system is based on the popular notion from 1790 that each state could/should/would set the rules for voting—even for President (our only important nationally elected position). The result is a crazy quilt of rules that determine who wins each state, in closely contested elections particularly, when there are more than two candidates on the ballot.
The result in 2016 was that 13 states with a total of 98 electoral votes had no candidate who received the support of a majority of that state’s voters. And, in those states if there had been a run off between the top two candidates, it now appears very possible that if there had been a run-off requirement, the election result could have been VERY different.
Note that 98 electoral votes is approximately ONE FIFTH of all electoral votes and is 24 more than the number (74) that would have been required to have elected Clinton instead of Trump.
Indeed—if, if, if—but that is NOT the point.
The point is that to get a properly elected President with a majority of all electoral votes—as well as popular votes—it should be required to have a run-off in any state in which no candidate received 50% and the votes for the eliminated candidates could have put the losing candidate into the majority.
Obviously, retrospectively today it is completely speculative what might have happened in 2016 if there had been runoffs. Suffice it to say that there is a real possibility the election result would have been different.
Therefore, we should investigate carefully and consider requiring ALL states to have a run-off rule that IF no candidate received more than 50% and the total votes that went to other than the top two candidates were sufficient to put either of the top two candidates into the majority.
This could be accomplished by ALL states changing their rules, in this hopefully non-controversial way, so that we should always elect a President with a genuine majority of electoral and popular votes.
This suggestion may not be quite sufficient, but it surely would be a sound and rational step in the right direction.