Five American Presidents have moved into the White House despite their losing the popular vote. Three of them were, or in the case of Donald Trump, promise to be, disasters.
He Gave Us “Jim Crow”
In 1876 Rutherford B. Hayes was beaten by Sam Tilden of New York by well over a quarter million votes. Undeterred, Hayes and his cronies cut a deal. In exchange for ending the enforcement of Reconstruction laws protecting newly freed slave in the defeated South, Hayes and his cronies miraculously received all of 20 “disputed” electoral votes, giving him a one vote electoral college “victory.” The country is still living down not only the shame of the“Jim Crow” era but the devastating effect of its still all too pervasive spirit on millions of our fellow citizens.
He Gave Us the Iraq War and the Great Recession
George W. Bush lost to Al Gore in 2000 by more than 540,000 votes. Bush’s “victory” gave us the Cheney Presidency, a White House occupant who admittedly ignored clear warnings of imminent attack by Bin-Laden’s Al-Quaeda, the disasterous Iraq war and the greatest economic crisis since the great depression.
And Then There was Donald
Donald Trump appears to have lost to Hillary Clinton by well over two million votes, a result he describes as a “mandate”
So far Trump has promised us a Breitbart White House, and, with a few rare exceptions, a singularly inauspicious gaggle of cabinet, department head and advisor nominees, most of whom appear to be, like the President-elect, unprepared for their office, inexperienced, inappropriate, tainted by conflicts of interest or worse.
Worse, they almost universally stand for ideas most Americans hold in contempt, as they did their President elect before they gave him his back-handed access to the oval office.
At press time Trump’s apparent nominee for Secretary of State, for example, has spent his entire professional life as an oil company executive, within a company noted for, among many other sketchy behaviors, cutting deals with Vladimir Putin and his corrupt pals, and secret funding of fake science for profit.
Treasury? Slated for control by a tax-cuts-for-the-rich advocate with a reputation for foreclosure on debts that should never have been contracted.
Justice? A Selma-born Alabama-brand “law and order” Senator, already turned down for a judgeship for racist remarks, but (surprise) extremely popular in the state that gave us George Wallace.
Labor? We get fries with that order, from the CEO of a fast food restaurant chain noted for not only bad food but low wages and what appear to be widespread and chronic violations of the laws the laws he will be charged with enforcing.
Health and Human Services? A Georgia Republican and vocal opponent of a woman’s right to chose, personally and totally devoted to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Environmental Protection? An Oklahoma oil-country lawyer who thinks himself qualified to deny climate change and seek the end of “burdensome” regulations on polluters and their pals.
We can do better than this and one big step would be to nullify the “Electoral College” and make sure the President was supported by more voters than his or her opponent.
The American “Electoral College” is itself is rooted in some of the worst of our founding founder’s anti-democratic biases: disdain for the very notion of one-man-one-vote, disdain for political parties in general, and a firm conviction that the President should be elected without national campaigns ever taking place.
The same founders, you will remember, allowed neither women nor slaves to vote, though, in their infinite wisdom, they allowed states that did allow slavery to count slaves as 60% of a “person” for purposes of determining how representation said state would receive in Congress, and thus how much “electoral college clout” each state was to receive.
The system they came up with, to this day, gives a Wyoming resident well over three times the “Electoral College Clout” more than a Pennsylvania resident.
In essence, the system gives more representation to empty space in some states than to people living in others.
What can be done about this anti-democratic anomaly?
Don’t even THINK about amending the Constitution. An amendment requires approval by three-fourths of the states, most of them over-represented.
The ONLY alternative, shocking as it may seem to our current President-Elect’s solid base of deplorables , depends on, of all things, “nullification” and “states’ rights.”
If enough states agree to something called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (the NPVIC) by the 2020 elections the winner of the popular vote will automatically become President.
States who are part of this compact agree to award ALL their electoral votes to whichever candidate for President wins the popular vote nationwide, even if that candidate did NOT win in all the states who are part of the compact.
Ten states and the District, together representing 165 Electoral votes of the 270 needed to elect a President, 31% of the entire Electoral College, and 61% of the votes necessary to make the compact binding, have already signed up.
Given our constitution and our history, the NPVIC seems the ONLY way we will ever be able to avoid another Trump trap.