Looking at the video streams and photos of the marches around the country against the Trump Administration was like sex. There are only three kinds, good, better and best.
Seriously, I had many favorite photos of the marchers, but my absolute top favorite was of the D.C. police wearing pink caps loaned to them for the purpose taking the photo. It’s not the 19th century anymore. For the most part, police in major cities are educated professionals with working wives. They want Trump as little as the marchers do.
The truth of the matter is, no one wants Trump except that gerrymandered minority who for this brief instant in history control Republican primaries and the Electoral College. And a good chunk of that minority are orange-dog Republicans. The Republican Party doesn’t want him. The military doesn’t want him. The CIA doesn’t want him. The news media don’t want him. A majority of the people in the country voted against him and think him incompetent for the job. No country in the world save Russia wants him. Correction, China doesn’t really want him but knows that it will be the big winner if he manages to put his program through.
But no one is willing to even consider changing governments at this point. Except, that is, for a contingency supporting Trump, for whom violent regime change is a fondest dream.
In no other democracy in the history of humankind would the Trump government still be standing. Every other democracy has either been weak or a parliamentary system which produces multiple parties. In either case, the kind of protest we saw the day after the inaugural ceremonies would have toppled the government. In any parliamentary system, the marches would force the government to resign, something that Paul Krugman pointed out in the New York Times. In Turkey, the military might have taken over and immediately handed power to Hillary Clinton or Paul Ryan. Moreover, no other democracy has had an Electoral College to serve as an intermediary between voters and election results. In every other democracy, the candidate receiving 2.8 million more votes would have been declared the winner.
We may talk about Putin, Comey, voter suppression, the news media’s double standard and the GOP ending super delegates as proximate causes for the ascendancy of Donald Trump, but the structural causes are two: the Electoral College and the two-party system, two attributes of American government which are pretty much unique.
The problem with the Electoral College is the winner-take-all nature of the system, increasing the power of some states and the voters in those states. Winner-take-all is not in the constitution. States made it a winner-take-all system only in the 1880’s. In other words, we don’t have to attempt the near impossible task of amending the constitution to address the basic problem with the Electoral College. All we have to do is amend state laws to mandate that their electors divide their vote according to the popular vote. Democrats have won the popular vote in four out of five of the last elections but have assumed the presidency twice only. My conclusion: Democrats and progressives should begin a major campaign to either pass a federal law using the 14th amendment as a pretext for mandating states divide electoral votes to reflect popular vote totals. We could also attempt to change state laws, but that’s a little tricky. We would have to focus first on red states, because if only blue states changed the law, Democrats could see their margin of loss in the Electoral College grow at the same rate as their margin of victory in the popular vote increases.
Imagine if we had more than two parties as national and legislative force. Imagine if we had three, four or more parties. In election cycles of the 21st century, the Democrats and Greens would have formed alliances to rule the government, which would have moved the Democrats to the left. The demands of the Libertarians would have forced the Republicans to ditch Trump for someone real.
But let’s be realistic. We’re talking about the United States of America, the country founded on slavery and propelled by racism through its entire history. If we had multiple parties, they would without a doubt tend to break down along racial lines. And that could get ugly.
So we accept all the cheating that went on to elect Trump and let him serve. Everyone conveniently forgets that Republicans fixed the voting rules in many swing states. We conveniently forget that James Comey and Vladimir Putin broke the rules. We forget that the news media created different rules for the two candidates. And we overlook the hundreds of rules that the winning candidate broke in his professional career. But once this seeming ruleless election ends, we all follow the rules that dictate that the winner of the Electoral College, no matter how unqualified and unpopular, has the right to dramatically make disastrous and illogical changes in the direction of the country. The peaceful transfer of power matters more than the will of either the people or the ruling elite.
It’s what we in America like to call “stability.”