The sad saga of American representative democracy

People around the world cannot understand why the last American election could become the negation of basic rules in a representative democracy. But this is what the present chaos could mean, the failure of an old democracy to respect its representative nature. Representation works out when it recognizes that one party won and the other party, or parties, lost.
In the world at large, the first-past-the-post is the voting system used to elect the governments. If a party wins more than 50% of the seats, it can form a majority government. If no single party wins over 50% of the seats, then the party with the most seats can form a minority government or
it can form a coalition government with two or more of the other political parties who together have more than 50% of the seats. As basic as the principle of first-past-the-post can be, the system lends itself to a mess of complications when the plurality vote does not exceed the threshold of 50%. It is not an end all for all.
The United States uses the first-past-the-post system to elect its members of Congress and the so-called electors of each state in the Electoral College. As everybody knows, 270 votes – or shares -in the Electoral College elect the president. These shares, and not the sum of the individual votes in the nation, elect the president. Which leads one to wonder not only if the time has come to replace the archaic Electoral College, but
whether an electoral system that counts only the individual votes would not be a far better way to avoid the present uncompromising system where the vote in so many states is the target of passionate protests and fanatical denunciations by the disgruntled losers. Elections are the most vital infrastructure of democracy. Voting rights are severely hampered by the misinformation and baseless lies such as the
one that alleges widespread fraud in the vote by mail. Restoring ethics and accountability in elections is the one issue that has come prominently to the fore with the unprecedented litigation following the 2020 elections. Among all possible reforms that have been suggested, the most urgent is the one that replaces the role of the electors. When citizens cast their votes for the president in the popular vote, they elect a slate of electors. In turn, electors cast the votes that decide who becomes president of the United States. In reality, electoral votes reproduce the popular votes in the election. However, there is always the possibility that “faithless” electors may break ranks and vote for someone other – than – their candidate. It is even possible that the Electoral College could deadlock.
In short, the pitfalls of the Electoral College are all too obvious to the point that 61% of Americans favor getting rid of the Electoral College. To complicate the situation even further, many state legislatures around the country are contemplating changes to the way elections are administrated. They have become the focus of intense debate, particularly in the so-called battleground states. Of primary interest is the effort in
many states to make permanent the access to absentee and mail-in voting that were expanded during the pandemic. It is this model of voting that has supplied the ammunition to President Trump and his lawyers to fight the election of Joseph Biden by baselessly calling its integrity into question.
Not surprisingly, foreign observers are appalled when they read that the Arizona Republican Party has asked its followers if they are willing to die for the cause of overturning the electoral results. If an election can arise such inhumane rhetoric, a way must be found to restore integrity and reliability to the electoral system. Otherwise, as a justice in the Wisconsin Supreme Court warned, “the integrity of every election will be
tarnished by the public’s mistrust.” The Trump campaign had tried to throw out more than 200,000 votes in two counties, arguing that they were improperly cast under absentee voting procedures that had been in place for years. Luckily for representative democracy, Donald Trump’s perversion of the democratic process failed in every federal and state court that he impudently petitioned.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s