The New York Times editorial board called for the end to the Electoral College following Donald Trump’s presidential win, describing the system carefully set up by the founders as something most Americans no longer “prefer.”
Most Americans would “prefer” to do away with the Electoral College, the editorial board notes as justification for getting rid of the system set up to empower less populated states. Trump played by the rules, the board acknowledges, but it’s not fair because the rules allowed him to win the election without winning the popular vote.
“By overwhelming majorities, Americans would prefer to elect the president by direct popular vote, not filtered through the antiquated mechanism of the Electoral College,” the board wrote in the editorial Tuesday. “They understand, on a gut level, the basic fairness of awarding the nation’s highest office on the same basis as every other elected office — to the person who gets the most votes.”
The piece links back to two other editorials criticizing the electoral college as evidence the board has opposed the system for at least 80 years — since Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt beat Republican Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. That position has remained constant regardless of the political outcome, the board says, noting an editorial on the system in 2012 that states it “needs to be abolished.”
This new editorial, however, is the strongest call yet with the headline: “Time to End the Electoral College.”
Dismissing the founder’s logic that less-populated states should be empowered against a popular vote that would heavily favor urban centers and big states, The New York Times says the first intent of the system was to protect slavery and therefore the system itself is compromised.
“The Electoral College, which is written into the Constitution, is more than just a vestige of the founding era; it is a living symbol of America’s original sin,” the editorial board writes. “When slavery was the law of the land, a direct popular vote would have disadvantaged the Southern states, with their large disenfranchised populations.”
The system doesn’t represent the diversity of the country, the board goes on to argue. “Conservative opponents of a direct vote say it would give an unfair edge to large, heavily Democratic cities and states. But why should the votes of Americans in California or New York count for less than those in Idaho or Texas? A direct popular vote would treat all Americans equally, no matter where they live — including, by the way, Republicans in San Francisco and Democrats in Corpus Christi, whose votes are currently worthless.”
And the conclusion: “For most reasonable people, it’s hard to understand why the loser of the popular vote should wind up running the country.”