Former President Bill Clinton argued recently that we should abolish the Electoral College in favor of a direct election with a runoff.
President Clinton said: “If you did it, the first question you gotta ask is, would we have more three-party or four-party national elections? If so, would we have to have a runoff?”
We need to replace the Electoral College with a direct election, but we also need a minimum threshold of 50% to stop fringe candidates from taking office.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68:
Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.
According to historian Joseph Ellis:
The electoral college replicated the Great Compromise reached in July that gave the nationalists popular representation in the House, and the confederationists representation in the Senate. The disproportionate advantage that small states enjoyed in the Senate was thereby embedded in the electoral college.
In 1823, President Madison wrote a letter to George Hay. He believed that the Electoral College was “so great a departure from the republican principle of numerical equality.”
According to political consultant David Shor, a respected data analyst, “One underrated thing about the 2020 election is that the partisan bias of the electoral college, already at it's largest point in nearly a century, got substantially larger. Democrats now need 52% of the vote in order to have a 50/50 chance of winning the presidency.”
If a split in the popular vote and electoral college becomes more common, it will only make politics more polarized. We need to bring down the temperature in Washington.
I think we should adopt the French model where a candidate must receive more than 50% in the first round of voting to prevent fringe candidates from winning by a plurality. If no one gets more than 50% in the first round, then the top two contenders go to a second round.
In 2002, fringe candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen managed to get second place in the first round. Le Pen had a long history of anti-Semitic comments.
Chirac won the second round by 82 percent. This was the biggest landslide in the history of the Fifth Republic.
I think the Democrats have a good reason to be upset that they won the popular vote in 2000 and 2016, and still lost the White House. I think most Republicans would be just as angry if it happened to them.
I hope the Democrats can understand that the Republicans are justifiably upset that the intelligence community was weaponized against them in 2016 and 2020. If members of the intelligence community, and the Washington establishment, are not held accountable for their previous actions, they will interfere again in 2024.
I don’t think we can convince millions of Democrats to work with the Republicans to reform the intelligence community unless we work with them to abolish the Electoral College.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, governments derive their legitimacy “from the consent of the governed.” It would be easier to argue that a majority of voters should choose our president and not the FBI.
Although a constitutional amendment would be difficult, the states can adopt a majority-runoff system for members of House and Senate. Louisiana already has a majority-runoff system for Congressional and Senate elections.
Politicians cannot adequately govern this country unless they can acknowledge their mistakes and change course.
In his book Power Plays, author Dick Morris told President Clinton after the 1994 elections, “Do what Mitterrand did to Chirac.”
When Jacques Chirac’s Rally for the Republic (RPR) Party defeated the Socialists in 1986, President Francois Mitterrand allowed Chirac to be prime minister and implement his reforms. This marked the first period of “cohabitation” in France’s Fifth Republic where the president and prime minister were in different parties.
In France, the president oversees foreign affairs while the prime minister runs domestic policy. By the 1988 presidential election, Chirac lost because he completed his task.
Dick Morris told Clinton if he let the Republicans implement the popular aspects of their platform, the Republicans would have nothing to run on in 1996.
It was the political equivalent of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy. Chirac in 1988, and Dole in 1996, were much like George Foreman by the 8th round. They were out of gas and ready for a knock-out.
That’s how we can make Washington work again.
Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny's Reports — More Here.
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