My man James Madison explained in 1787 why we’ve got an Electoral College:
The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.
In twentieth century English, Madison meant to say that to counter the majority of Northern votes the South had to count its slaves as part of its total population, hence the origin of the Constitution’s Three-Fifths Blight, er, Clause.
Scott Lemieux joins the growing list of intellectuals (I remember Hendrik Hertzberg as a loud partisan) who over the years have called for an amendment that eliminates the Electoral College and leaves the popular vote count as the only legitimate means of tabulating winners in presidential elections. “There is a certain dark irony to the fact that a system designed to prevent the people from choosing an unqualified demagogue has resulted in the election of an unqualified demagogue not chosen by the people,” Lemieux writes. The trouble is, since 2000 the Democrats have lost two of the last five electoral counts; it would take a GOP defeat for any serious discussion about reform to start, let alone to propose any constitutional amendment. I’ve cooled off on the grumbling at friends who hang on to Hillary Clinton’s considerable popular vote lead as a, ahem, mandate to oppose Trumpism. This presidential election was no “referendum” on liberalism; forty-five percent of voters said in exit polls that they wanted the next president to be as or more liberal than Barack Obama. The election is a hockey stick across the face of complacent Democratic leaders who have had no interest in shoring up candidates at the state level.
In the meantime, the Democrats need to emphasize that Donald Trump was not the people’s choice. Paul Ryan has already claimed a mandate for a radical and deeply unpopular policy agenda. More people voted for Clinton’s agenda, which should be a good reason for Democrats to unite in opposition to put pressure on wavering Republicans in the Senate. The Democratic Party cannot normalize the Trump administration.
I trust Chuck Schumer like I do myself around Hendrick’s Gin, but yesterday he sounded like had some fight in him. Here’s how I know the next four years will be difficult: I have to keep my own party in line.