Democracy Isn’t Always A Good Word
Like every democracy, the United States of America also underwent an electoral period, electing the populist businessman Donald J. Trump to be its 45th President through a democratic political process, and while under scrutiny for his highly divisive authoritarian agenda, Trump failed to form a majority in the popular vote. This might seem whimsical, what would a democracy be if it were not to elect the candidate who wins the largest number of votes given how democracy is literally, the rule by the majority.
The founding fathers of the country had a similar vein in regard to their attitude toward democracy or rather, how to prevent a tyrannical rule by the majority when the minority would be stamped out of a political process and it is in the right direction to prevent this mob rule that the ‘Electoral College’ was set up. Unfortunately, with Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote, there is a resurgence in support of the popular vote with people like Michael Moore saying the Electoral College is nothing but the remnant of an arcane political tool of the ancients. Under this direction, the USA would have had its first female president and while it does remain that she is more qualified, experienced, and more worthy a representative of the progressive moment than the alternative, it is also true that she failed to build a coalition.
A key problem of the popular vote is that it robs the states of their autonomy, contrary to the purpose of having a distinct state structure. While the presidential election might seem unified, it is in fact fifty-two separate elections in fifty-two places. This has radical implication for someone who had to tamper with the decision making process, making it impossible for a voter in a county to influence someone in another by the same degree. Doing so would require a statistical expert to remove the exact number of real ballots in one place and make them appear in another. With the popular vote, this could happen anywhere and change the outcome of the entire election making fraudulent terms very easy for somebody with the wrong intentions at heart.
Criticisms of the Electoral College exist – votes in sparsely populated places are more valuable than the ones in highly populated cities; but this rarely matters because votes from one state are driven only toward the winner in that particular state. The popular vote would also present another problem to the minorities inside the less populous states of the country, those outside of the scope of popular culture and the media – that a candidate would need to campaign only in the most populated of cities. Someone who is able to concentrate equestrian attention towards the coveted tracks of the race could concentrate attention toward the bigger cities and that would mean the end of any real communication between the big cities and the rural ones. To iterate, Donald Trump did not have to conduct campaigns in the more progressive states like New York or Boston and this resulted in him entirely cutting off from the reaches of many votes in the traditional incumbent Democrat states, the same way Hillary Clinton did not have to campaign in the Republican ones. This is because neither the elections nor the voters who take part in it have to be worried about the opposing candidate winning some excess in votes – those factors are inconsequential as long as the support a side can generate is consistent across the entire demographics.
The adamant divide between the elites and the common-folk was one of the most severe of reasons that led the populist revolution of the United States, when almost everyone decided they would rather be governed by a authoritarian than let an established status quo continue, and a popular vote would only make this divide grow larger. In any developing nation, with the rise of the industry there comes a rift away from the agrarian ways of living and that would naturally leave an unfortunate few in the rural regions with a majority shifting away toward the denser urban rifts.
The Electoral College was a monumental step in making sure this did not happen earlier and it is one of the many reasons the class warfare does not turn worse; it makes sure candidates do not centralize power and that the government stays responsible to all its citizens. With every generation, there comes a powerful realization that we are at the brim of modernity and are somehow better off than the attitudes and interests of yesterday, and that we know better than our gray haired past, but it is in the best of our collective interest that we let history be our teacher, lest we look helplessly as we repeat their mistakes; lest we criticize something before we understand it.