REPAIR OUR BROKEN DEMOCRACY
- INSTITUTE MAJORITY RULE PRESIDENTIAL VOTING BY 2024
What’s wrong with the Electoral College?
- It has handed the presidency to a candidate who got only 46% of the popular vote and trailed the winner by nearly 3 million votes, who then used his Presidential power to make policies opposed by a majority of Americans. So much for government “by the people.”
- Supporters claim that the Electoral College instead gives power to the states. How do they explain that the presidential candidates in 2016 made 94% of their appearances in just 12 states—the so-called “battleground states.” Voters in the other 38 states were ignored because they have zero impact on the outcome.
- The Electoral College doesn’t even give power to the people who happen to live in those lucky “battleground states!” A candidate received over 50% of the vote in only 2 or those 12 states. In the other 10, only a second-round vote between the top two finishers would have revealed whether a majority preferred Trump or Clinton.
In short, the Electoral College doesn’t represent the people and doesn’t represent the states. It plays a game of Russian Roulette with our democracy.
Unfortunately, the Colorado Democratic Party’s embrace of something called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an equally bad alternative. By seeking to award the presidency to whomever wins a plurality (not a majority) in the popular vote, it reproduces the current system’s risk of installing a President opposed by most voters.
There is no mystery about how to elect the one person designated by the Constitution to represent all of us equally. It’s called majority rule. In elections when no candidate gets 50% of the vote, we learn who the majority prefers by holding second rounds between the top two finishers. That’s how Denver just elected its mayor. That’s how countless other American voting districts and democracies around the world determine who should represent them.
A Constitutional Amendment instituting a national popular vote—with a second round when needed—was nearly adopted in 1969. It is high time to finish the job. When I join the Senate, I will relaunch the campaign to finally choose our Presidents based on the democratic principle of majority rule.
- REFORM THE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM
We send our representatives to Washington based on a primary system in which the only two viable nominees are chosen by a small fraction of the voting public. Only 11% of Election Day voters in 2016 voted for Trump in the primaries, while only 14% voted for Hillary Clinton. That means that most Democrats, most Republicans, and the 44% of Americans who declare themselves Independents, are not represented when it comes to selecting the only two finalists with a chance to win.
You may prefer a third-party candidate. But you will likely reason—correctly—that you had better vote for the best major party candidate, in order to avoid helping elect the major party candidate you dislike the most. That’s why 3rd party candidates rarely have a chance.
Here again, second round voting is the best answer. Everyone can now vote for their preferred candidate, since a second round will allow you to choose among the two finalists—assuming no one wins a first-round majority. Someone who is independent of both the major parties will finally have a chance to win.
Second round voting opens a path to victory for moderates rejected by more polarized major party base voters, just as it opens a path for more “radical” candidates—should they be more in tune with popular yearnings for change than the base voters of either of the two major parties. In either case, second round voting will enable the American majority to choose their representatives in Congress—and in the White House.
- PASS THE “FOR THE PEOPLE ACT”
This year, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed HR.1., a magnificent bill appropriately called the “For the People Act of 2019,” which comprehensively addresses the spectrum of Republican efforts to impose minority rule on the American people.
- It bans the voter suppression tactics Republicans use to disenfranchise African-American and Hispanic voters.
- It bans gerrymandering, the redrawing of Congressional districts to overrepresent one party. Colorado’s 2018 vote to create an independent redistricting commission is an important advance that can serve as a national model in this arena.
- It goes after Citizens United, implemented by a disastrous 2016 Supreme Court ruling. That decision holds that the ban on political spending by corporations and unions was unconstitutional. By defining money as speech, the Court in effect enabled the wealthy to translate their advantage in dollars into disproportionate influence on elections.
The “For the People Act” has no chance of passage until the Democrats regain the Presidency and the Senate. That’s one more reason for voters seeking to defend our democracy to turn out in record numbers in 2020.
- DEFEND THE 2020 ELECTION
H.R.1 also attempted to address the security of the 2020 election against Russian attacks. That won’t happen in time for the election, since Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell will join the President in blocking or gutting any legislation toward securing our vote.
That means that if the Senate fails to remove Trump, we will need civic activism in support of effective administration of our country’s more than 10,000 election jurisdictions. Citizens and the responsible free press will have to be vigilant in tracking changes in voter registration rolls, in observing polling places, and in combatting the Putin/Trump/Fox News disinformation campaign.