EDITORIAL: Protest process, but respect its results
Reality of new President-elect is one we must work with
Out of the United States’ period of existence, there have only been a total of five instances of mismatches between the popular and electoral votes, including the recent election when the winner of the presidential election lost the popular vote. Such incongruences are rare, but when they happen, the United States and the rest of the world feel the magnitude of its political cleavages, since these presidential races are often so close in results and narrow in margin. Constituents losing the popular vote feel legitimized by the results of the electoral votes, and the other half feel disempowered and alienated by the election process. Many wonder if the formality of the Electoral College is anachronistic or even brings value to the modern-day election process.
In a tweet, the recent beneficiary of the Electoral College, President-elect Donald Trump, has said himself that “the electoral college is a disaster for democracy.” When citizens vote in the presidential election, they’re not voting for the president but for the electors who vote for the president. But this complicated process was not imposed by the architects of the Constitution without reason: Those who drafted the Constitution were wary of pure or direct democracy.
The Electoral College is a safeguard to prevent unqualified candidates from taking office, arguably attempting to protect it from someone like Donald Trump who lacks political expertise or experience, and was buoyed to power by populist support. Alexander Hamilton writes in The Federalist Papers that the Constitution is designed to ensure “that the office of the President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” But ironically, someone like Trump was not only able to come into power despite this safeguard, he came into power because of it.
But more than protecting the presidency and ensuring it was bestowed to a highly skilled and highly judicious candidate, the Electoral College was to make sure that the voices of the rural states were not drowned out by the heavily populated metropolitan cities. The Electoral College was intended to protect the minority, from the tyranny of the majority, but it could also be conversely argued that the voices of the minority have overpowered the will of the majority when Hillary Clinton is projected to gain 2 million more votes than Donald Trump, which are 2 million more people who wanted the country to go another direction.
The Electoral College certainly has its advantages and disadvantages, but regardless of this elections outcome, the result of the election must be respected. This election cycle was fraught with polarization, with one party harboring deep enmity for the other party’s presidential candidate. Any which way the election unfolded, outrage and protests on either sides of the isle was inevitable, with a former-Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) who said that if Trump loses he’s grabbing his musket and election outcomes and Clinton’s loss inciting protests that continued for at least five days straight and protest leaders saying they’re prepared for a “long fight.” The country expected a protest, and anyone is free to do so because it’s the constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen. People are able to express their discontent and unhappiness so long as it’s within reasonable bounds, and people should go out into the streets to express themselves if they want to.
Yet during a political climate full of distrust, trust for the election process must be the bare minimum. The President-elect was unabashed in proclaiming that elections are rigged and he won’t accept election results during his campaigns, however, accepting the results of the election and a peaceful transition of power is a defining characteristic of a democracy that everyone must work to uphold, regardless of who wins. But it also doesn't mean that the election process doesn't need some improvements, to say the least.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 148th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.