‘The American people have spoken’
Well, no they haven’t, Mr. Pence
By Clay Parlette
We have officially entered post-election season—the time of supposed harmony that everyone was looking forward to so dearly as we begin preparing for the holidays with family and friends, and to forget the bruising election season that engulfed the news over the past 1.5 years. Donald Trump won the self-proclaimed “rigged” election fair and square. And, as Vice President-Elect Michael Pence pompously proclaimed to supporters, “The American people have spoken!” Have they though? Let’s take a look.
As it stands today as I write this column, the nationwide vote tally counts 60,981,111 votes for Hillary Clinton and 60,350,241 votes for Donald Trump. That’s a difference of over 600,000 votes. While not enormously large, Clinton has enough of a popular vote advantage to represent the entire city of Las Vegas—and then some. Yet, Trump’s decisive victory in the Electoral College makes this fact all but irrelevant. That’s some weird reality to explain to the already disillusioned average voter who mopes that their vote “doesn’t count” (an attitude that arguably lost Clinton the election). So why is it that we do it this way in the land of freedom and choice?
Rewind to the days of our founding when folks like Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson feared the “manipulation” of the people by tyrants or individuals severely unqualified for the presidency. Their solution was to create a buffer between the “uninformed” average voter and the most sacred office in our country by giving the real job of choosing the president to a select group of elites who could protect us from the sleazy frauds that may want to infiltrate our government. Given the situation of the time, having just recently declared independence from a tyrannical government, this was a legitimate concern. But recently, what benefit has this system given our country? Well, if you talk to darlings like Tomi Lahren, it’s gotten us brazen hombres like Rutherford B. Hayes, George W. Bush and now, sadly, Donald Trump—all of whom lost their respective popular votes. (They were also all Republicans, but that’s beside the point.) In total, it’s happened five times in our history that an individual has assumed the presidency despite losing the popular vote of that election. This trivia is notable, but I can’t help but shake my head when I register that Donald Trump won because of a system that is supposed to protect the presidency from the potential choice of a population that has been duped by some dangerous candidate. I hate to break it to you, Mr. Hamilton, but it seems you may have overthought this one.
And then there’s the whole meme-y breakdown-by-county map that your conservative uncle probably shared and tagged you in on Facebook. People like this
indignantly point out that most counties in the United States were red this election year. See?! We need the Electoral College to make sure our voice is heard! Well, when the fact is that a Wyoming electoral vote gets to represent 70,000 voters while a California electoral vote represents 179,000, we’re into territory where one state’s voters are more powerful than another state’s. In a nation that values equality of voice and individual, this kind of a system is misrepresentative no matter how you spin it. Yes, Uncle Bob, I see that your map has more red on it than blue, but that’s because the population is significantly higher in the cities as compared to the cornfields of Oklahoma. No matter where you’re from or where you live, your vote should count for just as much as everyone else’s, and that’s where the Electoral College significantly fails in function.
So no, Mr. Pence. Unless you mean to say that our disproportionate process has spoken once again by electing someone that received less votes than his opponent, your statement is inaccurate. The people chose Hillary; the system chose Trump. The fears of our forefathers have come full circle to really bite us all in the butt.