It’s no secret that this upcoming presidential election is certainly the worst in recent history. Politicians may have already had a reputation for dishonesty, inefficiency, and downright incompetency, but a race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is what many would consider the worst case scenario.
Both Clinton and Trump are hated more so than practically every candidate before them. Both have disapproval ratings greater than 50%, and polls consistently show that the top reason given for supporting either candidate is to prevent the other from obtaining the presidency. By and large, the people hate their options and all but the die-hard Clinton and Trump supporters are dreading this upcoming November.
As unpleasant as this election cycle may be, there is a silver lining for all those who truly value the democratic process and believe the voice of the people should be heard. This election may set events in motion that could very well end the Electoral College. It might be worth enduring four years of a Clinton or Trump presidency in exchange for the elimination of this electoral system.
Now why is this such a big deal? Well, the answer first requires an explanation of what the Electoral College is.
When a US citizen casts their vote during a presidential election, they do not directly vote for the President. Instead, they vote for who is going to represent their state in the Electoral College, with the number of representatives determined by the proportion of state population to national population. This system means that first and foremost, winning the popular vote is not a guarantee to become the President of the United States, as directly evidenced by the Bush vs. Gore race in which Gore won the popular vote while Bush won the Electoral College and became the President.
I’m sure the problems in the system are self-evident. The people do not directly choose their President. Instead, they give that responsibility to a group of people based on their party affiliations and hope that their election reflects the will of those who appointed them. But that still begs the question as to how the Clinton vs. Trump race can threaten this system.
Firstly, consider the fact that Clinton and Trump both have almost unprecedented opposition from within their own parties. Politicians have a reputation for blind partisanship, but there has been a notable trend of Democrats refusing to endorse Clinton and Republicans refusing to endorse Trump. Secondly, consider that the members of the Electoral College have no obligation to vote for their party members. In fact, they have no guidelines or restrictions as to who they can vote for at all. Suppose hypothetically that Donald Trump wins the popular vote in every US state and territory, which results in the Electoral College being comprised solely of Republicans. Despite the overwhelming popular decision, the College could easily appoint Hillary Clinton, or Ted Cruz, or anybody else as long as they fit the legal requirements for the job. In the grand scheme of things, the votes of the people mean nothing.
Nobody really pays the Electoral College much mind, and efforts to actively remove or reform it have been both scarce and weak, and for good reason. To date, the results of the College’s votes have not once been different from what they would have been had their votes been bound to their party. That could very well change this November. The massive opposition to both Clinton and Trump has already lead to established politicians straying from the party lines and the rise of third party candidates such as Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and to a lesser extent, Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein. It’s not particularly unlikely that this interparty division would exist not only in the DNC and RNC, but in the members of the Electoral College, be they Democrats or Republicans. If enough of them alter their votes resulting in a President who would not have mathematically won the College, the voters will be mad. At that moment, they will see that their vote ultimately meant nothing. The results of the election will not have reflected the will of the people, and if the people get mad enough and loud enough, it may be just what we need to finally, once and for all eliminate what is possibly the most undemocratic part of a political system which prides itself on democracy.
So before you proceed with your nervous breakdown over the upcoming election, stop and think. There may just be a diamond in this turd of an election. We may be facing four years of hell, but that’s more than worth it for a lifetime of true political freedom.
* Andrew Rotolo is 20 years old and is currently pursuing a writing degree. He is a staunch advocate of free speech, individual freedoms, and small government.