And Repudiate Trump at the Same Time?
Two of our last three presidents lost the popular vote, but the Electoral College put them in the White House anyway. That can’t happen in any other democracy.
Two of our last three presidents lost the popular vote, but the Electoral College (EC) put them in the White House anyway. That can’t happen in any other democracy. A little research reveals that the EC is probably the single most powerful institution of white supremacy. It can go dormant for decades, but when it comes into play it’s like rush of Confederate cavalry — or perhaps a tidal wave of slave-owning zombies — but on a national scale with effects lasting many generations.
When you think about it, if the Electoral College (EC) didn’t already exist, the racists would want to invent it. (Wait a minute — they did invent it!) Below are a just a very few highlights of the EC’s impact, on African-Americans specifically and working Americans generally:
2016: EC puts Trump in power so he can appoint a conservative Supreme Court justice as well as appoint segregationist Jesse Helm’s protégé Thomas Farr to a lifetime judgeship, among other racist acts.
2000: EC puts George W. Bush in a position to appoint two conservative Supreme Court justices who then form the majority that votes for Citizens United and guts the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates to Jim Crow 2.0 (voter suppression, gerry-rigged districts, etc.).
1876: EC puts Rutherford B. Hayes in power in exchange for a secret Republican agreement to prematurely end Reconstruction. Jim Crow 1.0 and the KKK rush to fill the void.
1800: EC puts slaveholder Thomas Jefferson in power over slavery-opponent John Adams by virtue of 19 EC delegates who “represent” nearly 1 million non-voting blacks in the south (gleaned this from historian Garry Wills). This might also explain why 5 of our first 6 presidents were slave-holding Virginians.
Given this history, what could 2020 or 2024 bring us?
With the EC in place, Bernie Sanders could beat Trump (or Mike Pence) by millions of votes and still lose the White House. Or Elizabeth Warren could beat Nikki Haley by millions of votes and still lose the election. Will you sit still for that?
Fortunately we don’t need a constitutional amendment (requiring 2/3 of Congress and ¾ of states) to defang the venomous Electoral College. Any state government can instruct their EC delegates to vote for the winner of the popular vote and 11 of them already have. Details at www.nationalpopularvote.com.
We are 60% of the way there. Support from another 9 or 10 states with a cumulative total of 270 electoral votes will render the white supremacist Electoral College meaningless. We can win on this. We have to win on this and tear this monument down.
Frank Hyman has held two local elected offices in Durham, NC and authored the first living wage ordinance in the southeast while serving on Durham City Council. In 1984 he served as a delegate delivering South Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign. He is the policy analyst for Blue Collar Comeback.