2020-08-04 23:34:34 UTC
By Jamelle Bouie
Aug. 4, 2020
Nearly everyone involved in reporting on, analyzing or forecasting the
upcoming presidential election agrees that Donald Trump could win another
term in office. But no one save his most dedicated sycophants thinks he
could do so with a majority of the public on his side. We have accepted, as
a matter of course, that Trump could be constitutionally re-elected through
the Electoral College, but not democratically selected by the voting public.
That’s how he won in 2016, and the reason is straightforward. Enough of the
president’s base is concentrated in swing states like Florida, Michigan,
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Because of that fact, he can lose by as many as
five million votes and still win an Electoral College majority.
As much as this contradicts our democratic expectations, you can imagine a
scenario where, aware of his minority position, Trump governed with an eye
toward consensus and popular legitimacy. The Electoral College misfire
would have been a problem, but not a dangerous one. Instead, President
Trump and his allies embraced this plainly anti-democratic feature of our
political system to liberate themselves from majoritarian politics and
coalition building. It’s not just that they can win with a plurality, but
that they intend to, with no interest in persuading the majority of
American voters and no concern for the consequences of that choice.
It was clear from the start of his administration that Trump saw his
Electoral College advantage as license for an intentionally divisive style
of politics, stoking anger and racial prejudice whenever it seemed
politically advantageous. He bases key governing decisions on whether he
won a state or group of states in the previous election. If the United
States does not have a national strategy for the pandemic, it is at least
in part because — as a report in Vanity Fair suggests — the administration
originally believed the problem was restricted to “blue” states.
This is one reason among many why the electoral college is a white
supremacy-driven atrocity that should be abolished.