It’s one thing if a president initiates extraordinary change, by controversial executive or judicial appointments and executive actions, including reversing our nation’s participation in current/future international organizations ― if that president was chosen by a greater number of Americans.
Ronald Reagan was such a president. I was shaken by his overwhelming support, but Americans wanted him.
Donald Trump isn’t such a president. He wasn’t elected by voters. He was selected by a constitutionally sanctioned undemocratic and outmoded relic with questionable virtues when it was created 230 years ago.
That mindset perceived most Americans couldn't be trusted to directly elect presidents, given their lack of education and susceptibility to populist influence. That sensibility equated Negro slaves to 3/5 of white men to increase southern states' congressional representation. Women couldn't vote. Nor could white men without property until mid-1800s.
Our citizenry has changed. Most are literate and familiar with major issues. Newspapers are available. Radio emerged, later TV and the Internet. There's no excuse for continuing a process which five times kept the voters' choice from entering the White House (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, 2016). That two of these circumstances occurred recently with no remedied fix is an outrage.
It's inexplicable politicians, government officials and major news commentators say little or nothing about the question, something arguably made easier by Trump the Pretender, whose unseemly unpleasant and prejudicial statements have been criticized by most of his supporters, not to mention self-promoting tweets characterizing himself as “a very stable genius.” That his deeds cause international concern in addition to domestic tumult and haven't added fuel for talk of change is disgraceful.
Instead, GOP cohorts like Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate leader Mitch McConnell, no fans of Trump, based upon past statements, are so hungry to retain power they showered Trump with praise after passage of the controversial tax bill. "Exquisite presidential leadership" (Ryan), "Extraordinary accomplishment" (McConnell), followed by "You're one heck of a leader" (Orrin Hatch, R-Utah). This, in spite of a tax bill considerably watered down with inducements to hold-out Republicans after their failure to kill Obamacare.
Commentators, too, refer to Trump's "significant accomplishments." Even those who regularly condemn Trump's actions bend over backwards to find something positive to say about a man they loathe -- perhaps to appear objective, though Trump acolytes rarely are.
If Trump delivers a speech from a teleprompter without stumbling, opponents are complimentary, in spite of text they oppose. However, even when these broadcasters and officeholders decry Trump, countering Trumpophile assertions "The people voted for him to do this," with the reality that the "people" by almost 3 million more certainly did not, they fall short. Instead of continuing the debate with "It's time to change the system," they stop, unwilling to suggest the people must elect our president, not states with disproportionate power.
There's a reluctance to effect change, as if the Electoral College is sacrosanct, immune to dissolution, even as formerly sanctioned slavery was ended, women got the vote, state enforced segregation was ended, gays were permitted in the military and to marry. Why? Perhaps some believe it works to protect minorities. To them, I say we have the U.S. Senate. To additionally give Wyoming much more power than California is absurd. As a further affront, should the election be tossed into the House (like in 1800 and 1824) each state votes as one. Alaska’s lone representative casts the same vote as California's 53.
Millions more Americans chose Hillary Clinton and her policies over Donald Trump. In the main, they not only preferred her personally, but also stances on immigration, the environment, health care and many other items. This, in spite of James Comey's intrusion ten days before the election with a revival of the email controversy, which he shortly thereafter recanted, an issue which, whether you object to her home server or not, never demonstrated anything adverse to our security.
However, because of the Electoral College millions more Americans than those who supported Trump are impacted by an administration and actions they voted against, including a right-wing Supreme Court justice, only there, not as a Trump triumph, but due to Mitch McConnell's unseemly refusal to allow President Obama, with almost a year left in his term, consideration of his appointment.
An amendment to abolish the Electoral College is improbable, but, as states control their electoral votes, there's a solution underway. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, ongoing since 2007, with current support of ten states plus D.C. (totaling 165), gives its votes to the national winner, regardless of state tallies. It doesn't take effect until ratified by states with a cumulative 270. It’s currently stalled, probably because almost no one with a major platform is talking about it. Generally progressive states such as Connecticut, Oregon, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania haven't yet passed it. Nor have purple states Colorado and New Mexico.
Why isn't Tom Steyer lobbying for that or Michael Bloomberg? Impeachment is pie in the sky unless Mueller's investigation leads to something incriminating against Trump. Why aren't prominent leaders even discussing it? I don't watch TV 24/7 or read every newspaper article, but I sense I'd know if it were apparent.
This is an issue whose time has come, but it won't unless there's a movement with marches and TV/newspaper/magazine ads. That way we'd elect legislatures and governors to get this reform enacted, so our national leader is supported by most Americans. What's happening now is tragic, because Americans knew better yet their voices were ignored. Sadly, few consequential people care enough about it to make the change.
Were it so, there’d be no Trump.
Michael Russnow’s website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com
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