A debut author makes the case for getting rid of the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote.
After the 2016 election, in which Donald Trump lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College, there were renewed calls to examine the country’s electoral system, with numerous impassioned pleas about how the EC system no longer works and that we need to institute a simple popular vote. “The Electoral College,” writes Wegman, a member of the New York Times editorial board and former legal news editor at Reuters, “has almost never operated as Alexander Hamilton pictured it would.” Rather, our electors have always been “obedient partisan hacks, rubber stamps for the party’s candidate.” As with almost anything in the U.S., if it can be made political, it will be; our voting system is no different. Beginning with a detailed history of the Electoral College, the author examines the compromises and consequences that have always been present in our voting system. Wegman truly believes that the situation can change. Myths abound about the EC, and it’s well within our interests—both Democrat and Republican alike—to transition to a popular voting system. Throughout, the author’s confidence in his argument shines through. Wegman can be forgiven for his overly optimistic approach, but if there’s anything to be learned from the long history of American politics, it’s that nothing is predictable. While the facts and logic of his argument are mostly sound, we know that the pillars of democracy are not as stable as anyone once thought. One measure in particular—the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact—is gaining traction, but as the author himself observes, it’s not a binding agreement. A simple shift in demographics or political leanings could quickly throw that compact out the door.
An illuminating history and analysis but it remains unlikely that Wegman’s desired audience will be swayed.