Monday, November 14, 2016

Why Usurping the Electoral College Results is Dangerous

Look, anyone with half a brain knows that Donald Trump is an embarrassment to this country and his upcoming administration poses a grave threat to American democracy. Know what else poses a grave threat American democracy? Two hair-brain schemes: one being concocted by a couple of Republican electors; the other involving a petition being circulated by supporters of Hillary Clinton that supposedly has 4 million signatures. The former is trying to persuade enough electors to switch their votes so the election would be thrown to the House of Representatives; the latter wants the electors in the swing states that Trump won to switch their votes to the winner of the popular vote, which just happens to be Clinton. In other words, deny Trump the presidency.

First of all, regarding scheme one: no way the House of Representatives would not elect Trump, given that he was the GOP nominee and Republicans currently hold a huge majority there. Second of all, either of these schemes, were they to be successful, would result in the worst Constitutional crisis this country has seen since the Civil War. If you think the electorate is polarized now, just go ahead and deny the presidency to the candidate that millions of people voted for and who won the election fair and square. The uproar over such a scenario could destroy the Republic; and if not destroy it, damage it to such an extent it might take decades to repair.

I agree the electoral college has to go. It is a relic from our founding years that has outlived its usefulness. The United States is the only democracy in the world where the candidate who gets the most votes can still lose the presidency. That in and of itself is an embarrassment. By all accounts Hillary Clinton should be assembling a transition team for her new administration. Certainly, if she had run for president in France or Britain, that would be happening as we speak.

But she didn’t run in those countries; she ran in this one. And, however difficult it might be for those of us who were shocked by what happened November 8 to accept, the electoral college has the last word. The fact is, Clinton didn’t get enough votes in the states that mattered to win the presidency. Trump beat her. It sucks to admit it, but the alternative isn’t just sour grapes, it would set a dangerous precedent that future losers of the electoral college could use to challenge the results. If you think the world is shaking its head at what happened last Tuesday, try imagining what the reaction would be if Trump had the election stolen from him. Our prestige might never recover. We would be a laughing stock.

It's time for Democrats and progressives to put in place a plan to retake the White House legitimately in 2020. The party desperately needs a transfusion of new blood if it hopes to capture the hearts of minds of the people. However qualified Hillary Clinton may have been, she did not have a message that resonated with enough voters to put her over the top. The fact that her supposedly impervious blue wall was reduced to rubble proves that. Rebuilding that wall must be priority one on their to do list.

The first step on the road to recovery is to acknowledge you have a problem. And Democrats have a pretty big problem on their hands. How they go about dealing with it will determine their viability as a major political party now and in the future.

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