We have been focused on the wrong questions.
Yes, the problems surrounding Trump’s behavior and possible collusion with Russia are troubling and dangerous and may have affected the election outcome. However, as time passes, the facts pile up making it look more and more like we have been chasing our own Constitutional tail.
As a country in 2016, the majority of our population was sharply clear in voting for President; at the same time our system revealed a dangerous and colossal mistake in how we elected our President in 2016.
There were tons of evidence then, and we have seen much more since, and it did not take college-educated ‘geniuses’ to see what Trump was doing. He was playing largely to rural America and the tendency of rural voters to think with their guts about immigration, taxes, foreign agreements, American institutions, and a raft of cultural issues. And, relying heavily on guts to think likely produces what guts normally produce on a daily basis.
There was, in fact, more than sufficient evidence that a strong majority of voters (+/- 3,000,000) preferred a person who is not currently our President.
Russian meddling, with or without collusion, where many of our hopes for a quick resolution to the Trump presidency reside, was unable to shift the popular vote away from Clinton.
Mounting evidence, however, suggests that Russian meddling was influential in altering the results of the Electoral College, today a little-understood Constitutional compromise that, however well-intentioned originally, now poses a central threat to the foundational concept of majority rule.
The time has come to abandon this anachronism rooted in racism (incidentally as it appears to be again today) and now distorting the democratic process, with the likelihood of even greater consequences to come.
The Electoral College was ‘invented’ to get the votes of slave-holding states, as well as those with small populations, to ratify the Constitution.
What was not, and could not have been, foreseen at the time was the electoral map of the United States of the 2016 election in which all precincts were colored either red or blue depending on whether a majority voted for the Republican or Democrat. The New York Times recently displayed that amazing map. It appears to be geographically roughly 80% RED vs 20% BLUE.
Despite that, the aggregate precinct popular vote displayed in Red was about 3,000,000 fewer people than Blue.
And, that is today’s biggest problem, which will only get worse with time.
A recent study from the University of Virginia found that, by 2040, half of the country’s population will live in just eight states, and almost 70 percent will live in just sixteen states. Because Electoral College votes are based on the size of a state’s Congressional delegation, a minority of voters will increasingly have a disproportionately large voice in the outcome of Presidential elections.
Yes, we must try to be as pragmatic today as our fathers had to be around 1800.
We have to accept that smaller communities, including rural America, need to be protected from domination by the fewer, more populous communities. The Founders were able, in their time, to strike the right balance, preserving majority rule and protecting the minority from tyranny.
Geographic and demographic changes in our nation have distorted the effect of the great compromise. What we must do is restore a rational balance between the two.
That struggle in the modern era more properly should be between Congress and the Executive.
As a result, there is a very simple solution: we could amend the Constitution to elect the President by popular vote.
That would leave in place the Congress (with hopefully an improved method for allocation of the number and distribution of congressional seats) which would – with help from the Senate with 2 seats regardless of size or population – enable the smaller communities to protect their interests against the other, more populous States and the whole country at large.
The path we are now on is not sustainable.
A persistent thwarting of the majority of Americans at the highest level of our government will inevitably lead to a serious clash or authoritarianism.
We have had a history of a few outstanding ‘odd balls’ in Congress who have made a lot of noise. But, our President is more significant and powerful than the aggregate of all 535 members of both Houses of Congress and therefore we have to be very careful that person properly carries the real mantle of MAJORITY.
The Electoral College emerged from America’s original sin—slavery—and our democracy remains forever stained until we move past that morally compromised system to one that trusts the public at large to make its own majority decision about who our President should be.
This seemingly small, but critical, suggestion may not be fully sufficient to deal with all Constitutional problems sure to arise over the next 200 years. It would help protect us from outside influence which would be much defanged because the audience is so large. And, it should buy the country enough time to get there, and to fix a number of other flaws in our Constitution along the way.