Back in 2012 I worked as a nanny between undergrad and journalism school. It was a pretty simple job; the kids were 10, 12, and 14, so I was more like a chauffeur/cook/homework helper than anything else.
The family I worked for lived in the Boston suburbs, and like most people in Massachusetts, loathed Mitt Romney, voting enthusiastically for President Obama. My boss came home early on election day so she could pick her kids up and take them with her to vote, even though everyone knew Massachusetts’ 11 electoral votes would be awarded to the president, and it wouldn’t be close.
As much as I appreciated the lesson in civic duty the mother imparted by carting her tweens off to the voting booth, the more interesting instruction came the next morning.
Of course, President Obama won comfortably, and the front page of the newspaper displayed the electoral map. But in contrast to the maps used by cable news on election night, this one was broken down by counties rather than states.
The ten-year-old was confused.
“Dad,” he asked, “Why is it so red? I thought Obama won?”
His father held up the paper with a gleeful grin. “Well, if you look at the blue spots you can see where all the people live.”
In the few minutes that followed before I had to shuffle everyone out the door in time for school, we discussed population density, distribution of electoral votes, and the fact that land masses don’t vote ― people do.
By the time we were in the car for the commute to this child’s day in the fifth grade, he completely understood why the map looked so red even though a majority of votes (both electoral and popular) were cast for President Obama.
I bring up this story because it’s painfully obvious that the current president of the United States is having a much more difficult time grasping this concept than that Wellesley fifth grader.
The consequence of the archaic electoral college system is an assault on our civil liberties every single day.
Yes, this president is so overcome with (reasonable) fear of illegitimacy that he is incapable of letting go of his (small) electoral victory. So much so that he’s literally going to hang the above map somewhere in the West Wing of the White House.
No one in the West Wing (or indeed, the entire world) is in danger of forgetting that Donald Trump won the 2016 election. We can’t go 24 hours without some terrible news directly related to his arrogance, incompetence, or some combination of the two.
(For a single example, just look to the Executive Order signed Thursday, ostensibly to investigate the non-existent voter fraud that the Mango in Chief is convinced caused him to lose the popular vote by a margin of over three million. The commission it created appoints as vice chair Kris Kobach, “whom the American Civil Liberties Union has successfully sued numerous times over voter suppression policies.”)
And yet despite his constant executive overreach, this president can’t seem to overcome his feelings of inadequacy, satisfying his ego by hanging this poor symbol of his “great” victory in the White House where he can look at it every day.
If he were willing to face reality, he might want to commission a three dimensional version of the map, one that illustrates the concept that my charge’s father explained to him over breakfast half a decade ago. Perhaps, something like this:
But the larger problem with the president’s obsession with election results isn’t that he doesn’t understand simple concepts like population density, it’s that he doesn’t even care enough to pretend to be a president for all Americans, not just those who voted for him.
I may live in one of those tall blue columns now, but I was born and raised in the short red area of northern New Hampshire. Certainly, I believe that rural Americans, regardless of who they voted for, deserve to have their needs and concerns addressed just as much as those who live in cities and suburbs.
But this president has no interest in that. (If we’re being realistic, I don’t think he particularly cares about the concerns of anyone outside his family, but he at least pretends to care about his own voters when convenient for him.)
This spray-tanned kleptocrat is obsessed with those wide open red spaces on a map. Months after the election, he rehashes it over and over, handing out maps to reporters and now hanging one in the White House, not understanding or caring that what it illustrates is how thinly spread his supporters are.
The consequence of the archaic electoral college system is an assault on our civil liberties every single day ― we hardly need a map of “where all the people live” hanging in the West Wing to remind us of what we have lost as a result of Trump’s victory.