02 November 2022

Popular Vote Election

As I see it, we in the US will never return to the kind of acceptance of the electoral process as fully legitimate we once enjoyed until we adopt some form of the National Popular Vote for president. In case you are not aware of it, google this phrase and read about how this could be accomplished without a Constitutional Amendment. Clearly there is spillover: people (of both parties) feel (as opposed to rationally conclude) that the vote is unfair, and I think it's largely because it is inherently unfair. The majority does not elect the president. And this affects their view of all elections. It even has an effect in other countries (Jair Bolsonaro apparently is accepting defeat in Brazil, but he has not conceded or congratulated his opponent; the parallel with Trump is all too clear). Ironically, since the late 19th century this has only happened in the presidential election twice. And both times it was the Democrat who won the popular vote but was not the winner in the Electoral College. In 2020 Biden won the popular vote (it wasn't even particularly close), and the electoral college. But Trump fairly won the electoral college in 2016 despite losing the popular vote by more than 3 million votes, many in California. (The second time was 2000; Al Gore won the popular vote handily but lost the Electoral College). This wholesale illegitimacy affects the psychology of the minority party, too, and, ironically, it is they who seem to be rejecting the very idea of democracy by and large. 

The National Popular Vote Compact would go a long way to fixing this, on the presidential level. The inequity of Senatorial elections will have to wait until some fine future day when beneficial amendments to the Constitution again become possible. And then, an even better fix to the presidential electoral process is obvious:  At the quadrennial election, the candidate who receives 50% +1 vote nationally is elected. State boundaries have no bearing; the Electoral College is abolished. If no candidate receives this margin, a runoff occurs two weeks later between the top 2. (Alternatively, there could be ranked choice). 

If this were adopted, I believe the faith and credit the people put in elections in general would also be restored. 

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