by Evan Edwards
Before getting to the argument for why the electoral college should reject Donald Trump on December 19th, let me begin with that which now seems to be more and more dangerous to risk: a bit of reasoning. What I want to establish, right off the bat, is why it is right to at least consider the possibility of putting someone else in the Oval Office; only after that can we begin to consider why it is right to actually do so.
We begin with two options with respect to the authority of the electoral college: either we accept it or reject it. If we reject it, then Clinton wins the election. By a long shot. The latest tally puts her ahead of Trump by at least 2.8 million votes, which makes this year’s outcome “the biggest gap between the popular vote and the electoral college in almost a century and a half.” As Atlantic author Ronald Brownstein put it, Trump “is on track to lose the popular vote by more than any successfully elected president ever.” But the question of whether or not we should change the way that elections work is one that we need to return to down the road. There is no reasonable situation in which between now and January 20th, the electoral college is be abolished and popular sovereignty is established through direct election. Since that is the case, let us, like Socrates in the Crito, “honor the decisions the polis makes,” and also its laws.
If we accept that the electoral college is what ultimately decides the highest office, then we have two further options: the college either votes with the dictates of tradition, choosing Trump, or it chooses otherwise, and rejects him in favor of someone else. There’s no reason not to do the latter, since there is no provision or law requiring that voters in the electoral college vote the way that their states did. It is, as I just said, simply traditional to do so. Trump’s campaign, and his followers, argue that to do so would be to “reject the will of the people.” But what “people” are they talking about? Does “the people” mean everyone in the nation or just a select subset? If it is the former, then to accept Trump would, in fact, be against the will of the people, since he did not win the vote of most actual people. They must mean, then, some other kind of “people.” We’ll come back to this.
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by Akim Reinhardt
In the 150 years since the end of the U.S. Civil War, the Republicans and Democrats have maintained a relentless stranglehold on every level of American politics nearly everywhere at all times. While a handful of upstart third parties and independent candidates have periodically made waves, none has ever come close to capturing the White House, or earned more than a brief smattering of Congressional seats. Likewise, nearly ever state and local government has remained under the duopoly's exclusive domain.
Why a duopoly? Probably because of they way the U.S. electoral system is structured. Duverger's Law tells us that a two-party duopoly is the very likely outcome when each voter gets one vote and can cast it for just one candidate to determine a single legislative seat.
However, in order to maintain absolute control of American politics and fend off challenges from pesky third parties, the Democrats and Republicans needed to remain somewhat agile. The times change, and in the endless quest to crest 50%, the parties must change with them.
Since the Civil War, both parties have shown themselves flexible enough to roll with the changes. The Civil War, the Great Depression, and Civil Rights era each upended the political landscape, leading political constituencies to shift, and forcing the Democrats and Republicans to substantially and permanently reorient themselves.
Now, several decades removed from the last major reshuffling of the two major parties, we may be witnessing yet another major transformation of the duopoly as the elephant and the donkey struggle to remain relevant amid important social changes. The convulsions of such a shift are reflected in the tumultuous spectacle of the parties' presidential nomination processes.
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by Akim Reinhardt
I've lost track already. During the past month, too many people to keep count of, each with a look of bemused panic in their eye, has asked me if I think Donald Trump has a chance. Knocked back on their heels by the frenzy surrounding Trump's recent surge, they implore me to tell them what I think.
Is it possible that this crude, bombastic display of runaway hair known as The Donald will actually succeed Barack Obama in the White House?
Alas, it's hard to blame these worry warts. Of late, the press marvels at Trump's soaring poll numbers, and ruminates endlessly on his success in spite of his obvious shortcomings and endless string of outrages, and what it says about American society and its broken political system.
From NPR to Ezra Klein, there's no shortage of media mavens trumpeting Trump and theorizing what his success means. Everyone seems to have an opinion. Or if they don't, they're desperate to find one. Confused by it all, The Atlantic went so far as to simply ask people why, oh why, do you support this man? Then, sans analysis, the magazine simply threw up its hands and published the responses.
Why, oh why indeed. Why is this barbarian at the gate? Why is this roaring, fatuous pig of a man on the verge of undressing our republic and claiming its highest office?
In looking for an answer, I believe we should not dig too deep. After all, Donald Trump doesn't seem to over think much, so we probably shouldn't over think him.
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