Abolishing the Electoral College

They’re already talking about the possibility of President Trump winning a second term despite losing the popular vote; supposedly he could lose by as many as 5 million votes and still win the election. (That’s even more than Hilary Clinton’s 2016 margin of 3 million.) The explanation is that Trump’s “base” is concentrated in many small states, and small states receive disproportionate representation in the electoral college. That’s because the electoral college is apportioned based on combining the size of a state’s congressional delegation with its senators, and every state has two senators regardless of its population. Very Democratic California, with a population of about 40 million, has the same number of senators as very Republican Wyoming, with scarcely over half a million people.  So the problem isn’t only the electoral college, it’s the U.S. Senate—people living in the most populous states have proportionately less say in our national government.  And based on the existence of the electoral college, anyone who doesn’t reside in one of a small number of “swing states” is as good as disenfranchised when it comes to electing our president.

Like so many of our country’s problems, this injustice originates with America’s original sin—slavery (well, along with wiping out the American Indian en masse).  The only reason the senate was created was to help assure the Southern states, whose economies were based on the preservation and proliferation of slavery, that they could sign the constitution without having to worry that their “peculiar institution” would ever be abolished by the more populous North.  All that business about the senate being designed to make sure that small states received adequate representation is mostly bullshit.  Like so many of the mistakes the founding fathers made, the origin of the Senate is based on their need to preserve slavery on behalf of a wealthy Southern minority, a hateful constituency for which I and so many others would die for in the Civil War.

The electoral college should be abolished and the U.S. Senate should follow close behind.  But given that abolishing either one requires amending the constitution, and amendments require a two-thirds majority vote in BOTH houses of congress and ratification of three quarters of the states (many of which stand to lose a good deal of clout if they do so!), unfortunately that seems highly unlikely.

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