On Election Night in 2012, Donald Trump said perhaps the wisest thing he has ever said.
“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,” he wrote. How very right he was.
When Trump tweeted his wise words, it looked like Mitt Romney might win the popular vote but lose the electoral college vote to President Obama. (In the end, Obama won both.) It looked like a potential repeat of the 2000 election, in which Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral count to George W. Bush.
And now it has happened again. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost to Trump because of the electoral college.
As our new president, Trump has a chance to do something truly great: Get rid of a “disaster for democracy” that the founders only enacted in the first place because of slavery. From the New York Times:
Southern delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, most prominently James Madison of Virginia, were concerned that their constituents would be outnumbered by Northerners. The Three-Fifths Compromise, however, allowed states to count each slave as three-fifths of a person — enough, at the time, to ensure a Southern majority in presidential races.
In our national elections, we don’t practice pure democracy, in which one person has one vote. Instead, we choose intermediaries, or “electors,” who are apportioned based on the size of their populations.
During the campaign, Trump struck a nerve by pledging to “drain the swamp” in Washington and to end the “rigged” system. He can start by repairing the system our founders rigged as a concession to slaveholders.
It will likely take a new law or Constitutional amendment, and Trump will face opposition from his Republican Congress — because the the current system has denied victories to Democrats who won the popular vote twice in the last 16 years.
But this is bigger than parties, and the time will someday come that a Republican — maybe even Trump — will win the popular vote and lose the electoral college. That would also be a disaster for democracy, because every vote should count.
Trump has proudly stood up to his fellow Republicans before, on issues he hasn’t called disasters. So surely he’ll fight this fundamental affront to democracy.
Unless he’s a giant hypocrite or something.