The Electoral College vote will be taken today and Joe Biden will officially be named President-elect. Eighty-one million voters will breathe a sigh of relief, and even reluctant Republicans like Mitch McConnell acknowledge they will recognize reality after today’s vote.

We’ve never had so much drama around the Electoral College vote in recent memory, but we’ve never had anyone quite like Donald Trump monkeying around in American politics before, seeking to upend the will of the people and asserting minority rule.

Trump lost by seven million votes. That ought to mean something. Thanks to the Electoral College, it barely does.

We’re against minority rule, right? Not exactly. Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six Presidential elections yet have only won the Presidency three of those times.

The roots of these unfair outcomes are found in a series of compromises made to appease slave states when the United States Constitution was being written. The Southern states feared Northern domination, so the infamous 3/5ths compromise was created to partially count enslaved people when determining congressional representation and Presidential electors. (There’s a reason so many early Presidents were from Virginia.)

Today’s double-talking politicians are the direct descendants of those who cried for fair representation of humans they considered sub-human. Inequity was baked into America from the beginning. The Civil War should have ended the Electoral College, but it didn’t. And really, there’s no mystery why it continues.

The Electoral College isn’t just a vestige of white supremacy, it is white supremacy in action. The votes of small populations of white people living in wide open spaces have equal impact as the votes of millions of people of color in urban centers. This has come into sharper focus over the past two decades, but it’s nothing new. American history is rife with examples of the disenfranchisement of people of color. In case you’re reluctant to admit this is still happening, dig into Trump’s cries of fraud in this election. Where is he saying it happened? Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Milwaukee — if you can’t suppress the vote, throw it out.

White people living in Blue states should realize the system works against them also. Imagine you are a Republican living in New York. Why even bother to vote in the Presidential election? Over 3 million New Yorkers voted for Donald Trump, yet all of New York’s 29 electoral votes will go to Biden. The amount of useless Trump votes in New York would easily have carried many states that Biden won. Where is the logic in that?

The sane move would be to abolish the Electoral College and let the majority rule. Every vote would matter, regardless of whether you live in a Red or Blue state. Candidates would be motivated to campaign everywhere, instead of endlessly harassing the populations of a few states. (I live in Michigan. It gets to me.) But common sense and sanity won’t easily happen.

Abolishing the Electoral College would take a constitutional amendment that two-thirds of the states would need to ratify. Some would vote no simply because the Electoral College is enshrined in the Constitution, which they mistake for sacred writ. Republicans won’t let it be abolished because it gave them the Presidency in 2000 and 2016. And then there’s the rest of white America, who, as I mentioned, keep it in place because it ensures white people can control people of color.

I’m surprised neither party has fully exploited the system. If I were a Democratic leader, I would pay Democrats who live in California to move to the Dakotas and Wyoming. Biden won California by 5 million votes. They could spare a few voters. Trump won the Dakotas and Wyoming by about 120,000 votes in each place. Move half a million California Democrats and that party would control the House, Senate, and Presidency. Seem ludicrous? It’s as ludicrous as our current system.

I long ago realized that Trump complains loudest about things he’s guilty of. It’s an evasion tactic. Yet in this case, as he keeps claiming the election was rigged, I have to agree. Every American Presidential election is rigged by the inane arcane Electoral College.

As for Trump’s claims about a vast conspiracy, have you stopped to calculate how many people would have to be in on it to pull it off? If not hundreds of thousands, at least tens of thousands of people would have had to knowingly cheat and then keep quiet about it. I’m sorry, but that many humans are simply not capable of that sort of duplicity. Conspiracies never work because people have consciences. Someone always talks. If thousands and thousands of people are in on it, the odds of someone coming forward and spilling the beans are astronomical. Only someone with no sense of morality could believe tens of thousands of people could cheat and keep quiet about it. Is anyone really surprised Trump is making these claims?

Yet there is a nugget of truth here, because there was a vast conspiracy. Eighty-one million people acted together to boot Trump out of office. They did it legally. They voted.

Trump exhausted America. I fully expect him to slink down to Florida soon after the vote today, where he will stew in his juices and nurse his grudges. His Presidency has been reduced to pardoning his cronies, executing people of color, and sending outrageous tweets. I can’t imagine him being anywhere near Washington on inauguration day. That would require a magnanimity he is incapable of.

Now that the Electoral College vote has arrived, January 20th can’t come fast enough. Trump’s exit is good for all Americans, but the great irony of the 2020 election is that the biggest winner is the Republican Party. With Trump gone, there’s an opportunity for the Party to recover its soul and let humanity, compassion, truth-telling, and decency guide its movements. I pray that may be so. They could start by rejecting white supremacy and working to dismantle the Electoral College.

Jeff Munroe

Jeff Munroe is a retired minister in the Reformed Church in America. He resides in Holland, Michigan.

14 Comments

  • Gary Hudson says:

    Thank you, Jeff.

  • Carla Capotosto says:

    From The Twelve’s “About” page: Perspectives‘ purpose is to express the Reformed faith theologically; to engage issues that Reformed Christians meet in personal, ecclesiastical, and societal life; and thus to contribute to the mission of the church of Jesus Christ.

    Exactly how does this post do that? Because I’m not seeing the connection.

  • Doug Vande Griend says:

    Yikes, I hope you are a better theologian than political scientist, Jeff. Just a few points in response.

    You seem to have a short memory, and partisan at that (“We’ve never had so much drama around the Electoral College vote in recent memory”). The last round of such drama was a mere four years ago, when Hillary Clinton and Dem supporters made a pitch to electors to vote for HR despite their having been appointed by their respective states to vote for Trump (see. eg., https://www.npr.org/2016/12/19/506188169/donald-trump-poised-to-secure-electoral-college-win-with-few-surprises).

    And you seem not to understand, or don’t want to, the original concept of a “federal republic,” that is, a union of states. The US never was a “pure democracy,” even as to the election of the president, nor as to the number of Senators from each state. Your revisionist history, even if recently quite popular with CRT fans these days, that asserts the electoral college to be mere “white supremacy in action” is not just hyperbole but flat out wrong. I’d note that the nation passed the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments after the Civil War. Had the nation considered its “federal republic” structure to be a mere manifestation of “white supremacy” I suspect it would have abandoned that structure, but it didn’t because it wasn’t. I suppose you think the structure of the Senate (two from each state) results from “white supremacy” as well, right? I for one appreciate the fact that the US is a federation of states. And I’m far from alone.

    You say, “I long ago realized that Trump complains loudest about things he’s guilty of. It’s an evasion tactic. ” That’s good. Now, get out a mirror. This partisan diatribe strikes me as something Trump could write. Neither he nor you can be accused of being a constitutional scholar.

    And I would echo Carla’s question.

    • David E Timmer says:

      You claim that “Hillary Clinton and Dem supporters” encouraged [Republican] electors to vote for her instead of Trump, and you embed a link to document your claim. I read the article, and it says nothing about HC being in any way involved with this effort. Do you have any actual evidence for your assertion?

  • Doug Vande Griend says:

    My prior post as deleted.

    So in this one I’ll just second Carla’s question, “Exactly how does this post do that? Because I’m not seeing the connection.”

    I tire of theologians playing the (partisan) role of uber-experts about matters of law and political science.

  • Tom Ackerman says:

    Thank you , Jeff. And while I am sure Jeff can speak for himself, please allow me to respond to the question posed by Carla. Isaiah 61:8, “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing” is just one of the many texts in the Bible that speaks to societal justice. The heart of the election issue today is justice. I was appalled that a majority of the Republican representatives in Congress signed on to support an attempt to overthrow the presidential election. Their case was not based on fact or law, as the results of more than 50 court cases have confirmed, nor was it just. As Christians in society, we are called to seek justice. Actually, we are commanded to seek justice.

    And while I rarely agree with Doug, I do agree with him. I also tire of lawyers, theologians, etc. playing the role of uber-experts in epidemiology and climate science.

    • Carla Capotosto says:

      The “other side” wants justice also and uses that same verse. Two sets of people absorbing different news sources. https://spectator.us/reasons-why-the-2020-presidential-election-is-deeply-puzzling/ According to a Rasmussen poll, 70% of Republicans and 30% of Democrats think the election was stolen. Then again, a Gallup poll in 2018 showed that 78% of Democrats literally thought Russia changed vote tallies in the 2016 election (the Sec of Homeland Security under Obama testified that Russian interference did not change the outcome of the election). I would just like to know what is true or not, and if the whole truth can come out about all these anomalies & reports of wrongdoing, then I will be satisfied, along with many conservatives. If it’s all shoved under the rug like we’re a bunch of crazies, [or suppressed via big tech] that’s not going to be good for anyone.

  • Doug Vande Griend says:

    Tom: The “majority of the Republican representatives in Congress” did NOT “sign[] on to support an attempt to overthrow the presidential election” but rather to indicate their view as to a case filed with the Supreme Court. I probably wouldn’t have but it is not an attempt to “OVERTHROW the presidential election,” which election is not completed until it is completed — and that is not yet, even if we are getting mighty close.

    The “heart of” the American legal system requires that someone in Trump’s shoes take his complaints, if he wishes, to the court, which Trump has done — as did Al Gore. Frankly, that Trump did that should be something we are all quite thankful for. Ironically, but perhaps escaping the attention of persons who viscerally dislike Trump so intensely as to pen an article like this one, the folks that will (have pretty much have already) say “no” to Trump are those who Trump appointed to the Supreme Court. Trump appointed them for the explicit (at least explicated) reason that they would “follow the law” (Constitution and otherwise) in their decisions and not decide by political considerations. And, at least it would seem to me, they have. In other words, Trump appointed persons who would disregard member of the House expressing an opinion about a case before the Supreme Court. Perhaps a thank you to Trump would be in order, perhaps in place of this article’s second to the last paragraph, which as hyperbolic as Trump himself.

    • Tom Ackerman says:

      Ah, legal sophistry at best, but perhaps better described as balderdash. Let’s first dump the false equivalence to the Gore-Bush case. That election hinged on the a 537 vote difference in one state with legitimate questions about how votes were tallied. The current situation is a difference of 70 electoral votes and based on imaginary claims.

      The Texas case is rooted in claims of voting fraud and election stealing. More than 50 similar cases have been filed, appealed, and lost because there is no evidence to support these claims. Donald Trump may have had the “right” to take this preposterous case to the Supreme Courts, where once again he lost. But none of this excuses Congressmen for signing onto a suit that they knew was based on lies and whose main purpose was indeed to overthrow a duly constituted and completed election. At the height of the absurd are congressmen such as Bill Huizinga from Michigan’s second who signed on saying that the presidential election in Michigan was so flawed that it needed to be tossed out, but his one election, on the very same ballot in the very same state, was just fine. Perhaps you are right and this is all legally just fine, but it is ethically corrupt. Where now do these Congressmen stand? Are they now going to continue to maintain that the Joe Biden was fraudulently elected? Do not we, as Christians, have a right and duty to ask for our elected officials to speak truth and act justly?

      • Doug Vande Griend says:

        But you avoid the point I made, Tom, which is that this was not an attempt to “OVERTHROW the presidential election.” How is my pointing that out “legal sophistry”? Your characterization was hyperbolic, the kind of hyperbole that I fault Trump for constantly engaging in. This article majors in the same kind of hyperbole.

  • Rowland Van Es, Jr. says:

    Instead of abolishing the electoral college (which would take a constitutional amendment) why can’t we make them all proportional instead of winner take all? It seems that would make it more democratic, but not just a popular vote for the president. Candidates would still have to campaign all over.

  • Doug Vande Griend says:

    Rowland: “We” can — that is, in the states have the ability to divide their electoral votes proportionally (and I believe Nebraska and Maine both do just that). A core question is whether the states or the federal government have the right to control the election rules in their state. I favor the states having that for a multiple reasons. Putting the federal government in charge of the elections in each state creates a scenario in which an incumbent party at the federal level has far too much power to “change the rules” nationally in a way that would keep their party in power. This is a problem of course at the state level — once instance of the problem is called gerrymandering. But at least that problem is diffused among 50 states.

  • Rodney Haveman says:

    A few comments on this article bother me. One suggests that it does not belong on the Twelve or it doesn’t engage issues in societal life. How are issues of elections, charges of fraud, or the structure of the life we live together not an engagement of issues of societal life? Politics comes from the Greek word, “Polis.” In simple terms it’s translated, “The life of the city.” If our theology or faith has nothing to say to the “life of the city,” how that life is constructed, or how we live together, then I think our faith and theology are pointless. What good is it to anyone, at least in the sense of how we actually live together?
    As for the conversation between Tom and Doug, it seems to be too complex an issue to engage in a comment section of back and forth paragraphs, but alas that seems to be the structures we are left with in the midst of a pandemic and the overarching structures of siloed groups. My curiosity lay in three areas.
    1. When speaking publicly about this election, those who have trouble with its results claim fraud or maleficence, but when they get into court, they say it’s not a fraud case. I wonder why public comments don’t seem to align with the claims within the courtroom. My guess is there are consequences in a courtroom that create guardrails for all of us.
    2. No one has addressed the fact in Jeff’s article that every claim of fraud or the stealing of the election focuses its energy on cities with larger populations of people of color. I know that must be a coincidence, but given our country’s history of discrimination, it feels just a bit too coincidental.
    3. I agree that condidates are afforded every legal course to ensure that an election was conducted fairly, and there is a history of candidates seeking their legal options (Gore was raised earlier in a bit of a different context, but “hanging chads” entered the American lexicon in a rather fascinating way as an actual question of election legitimacy). As this process makes its way through the courts, I still remain puzzled why the votes for President were fraudalent or “stolen” while the votes that elected other Republicans or Democrats were perfectly legitimate. I assume that none the elected Republicans from these contested states, who support the Texas case or other continued legal options, will not take their seat in congress if they remain convinced of the fraud perpetrated in their state election.
    One last thought, on December 13, 2000, Al Gore conceded the election (Hillary Clinton did so a few days after the 2016 election, though she pursued a recount in places like Wisconsin and some suggested a rather desperate nonsense with the Electoral College vote), as Gore’s legal options through the Supreme Court were exhausted. We have passed that date in 2020, and the Supreme Court has weighed in on the fundamental claims of fraud or an unfair election. I will not, however, be holding my breath for a gracious concession of the election by our current President.

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