National party control
To the editor:
In 2016, the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee BOTH failed the country in the presidential election. We, the people, were completely fed up with business as usual in Washington. A large and widely dispersed cross-section of voters felt ignored by the elite Washington insiders. Neither party managed to respond effectively.
The Washington-power Democrats chose the ultimate insider as their candidate, who won the popular vote, winning more of the big cities and more heavily populated states, but lost in the Electoral College, failing to appeal to a broad enough segment of the country — an important thing in a democracy.
The Republicans completely lost all control of the nomination process to a “reality” showman completely independent of the elitist political machine (but not independent of 1% self-interest, Wall Street bankers or corporate good-old-boys). At the moment, the Republican Party has been gutted of all it once stood for and is left with no platform or goals beyond the erratic whims of the moment of their candidate.
The Founding Fathers believed that leading the newborn nation required men of high character and wisdom who were concerned foremost with the long-term best interest of the nation as a whole. Our first several presidents had all played a part in winning our independence from England and creating this system. They varied in their views on many issues but were devoted to serving the nation as a whole to the best of their ability. The primacy of that goal has fallen very far since, obviously.
The outcome of the 2016 election is exactly the mess the Electoral College was intended to prevent — the national parties’ control our national elections. They control the money, advertising and the election process. The members of the college are required to vote for the party’s candidate and are not allowed to exercise independent judgment, overriding their whole purpose. Out of 50 states, 48 have winner-takes-all rather than proportional electoral rules. The safeguards our Founding Fathers struggled to build have been wiped out, and this is the result.
This entire process is not working. Similar problems can easily arise again. This situation is a very serious danger to the high principles of justice, equality and freedom our country was built on. Evidence of the damage is everywhere we look. How are we to ever get back to our foundation as a nation of united people?
The original purpose of the Electoral College remains valid, to protect the rights of all, to give a voice to all. Scrapping it won’t fix this. The answer will require great and careful thought, not sound-bite thinking. Are we even capable of that anymore?