Trump, the Electoral College and Governing: Is There a “Better” System? How Will Trump Manage the Transition from Candidate to President?

Pursuant to law promulgated by Congress and regulations by the Federal Electronic Election Commission (FEEC) presidential elections will take place as follows:

* Ten days prior to the constitutionally required election date the FEEC will provide each appropriate registered voter, as determined by federal and state law, with a unique identifying code, the voter shall cast his/her ballot online and receive a vote verification code.

* The FEC will declare a winner one hour after the closing of the voting window.

Maybe in a few years, a decade, all voting will be online. Yes, I know the cyber world is capturing our lives, too many of us live online. How many times have you looked over a group of people and most, all, were staring at their phone and tapping away. According to Moore’s Law computing power doubles every two years – change is inexorable.

A friend, only half jokingly, said, “Pretty soon they’ll be stapling a chip into everyone’s earlobe.” A colleague responded, “I’ll never allow them to do that to me.” My friend: “Are you kidding, in six months you’ll be begging for the upgrade.”

How long before artificial intelligence (AI) catches up to human intelligence, then again, is our president-elect the first example?

Voting electronically will make voting easier and quicker; however, will not change the current constitutionally mandated electoral college.

Article II

Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows 

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not trust the masses, the “mad cry of the crowd,” as Abigail Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in her January, 1787 letter.  The founders feared a chief executive who would morph into George III, a king called a president. The electors, selected by the states, were intermediaries to protect the embryonic nation from the masses and to empower states. The delegates were seeking an alternative to the Articles of Confederation, our first government that created a weak central government; in fact, the new nation for virtually all services, was made up of thirteen separate nations, our name, the United States of America, was more hopeful than real.

In four previous instances candidates were elected who lost the popular vote.  John Quincy Adams won the electoral college vote in 1824 but lost the popular vote to Andrew Jackson, who won the next two elections. Rutherford B. Hayes was elected in the infamous 1876 election although Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote. The election was decided by an electoral commission that included a “deal,” the commission would declare Hayes the victor in exchange for the end of Reconstruction and the removal of federal troops from the former confederate states. Benjamin Harrison was the electoral vote winner in 1888 versus Grover Cleveland, who was the only president to serve non-consecutive terms. George Bush was the electoral college winner in an election determined by the Supreme Court, Al Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 votes.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 2.6 million votes, and lost the electoral votes 306 – 232; however, if we remove California, Trump won the popular vote in the total of the other 49 states.

Calls for recounts in a few states have stumbled, and calls for changes in the constitution are futile. An amendment to the constitution requires a 2/3 vote in each house of the Congress and approval by the legislatures of 3/4 of the states. All states have winner-take-all elections with the exception of Maine and Nebraska who use a combination of at-large electors bound to the popular vote and district-specific electors bound to the outcome in their respective districts.

All states have the option of adopting iterations of the Maine and Nebraska systems. Each congressional district would, in effect, select an elector. Instead of the current fifty state elections we would have 436 elections – one in each congressional district plus the District of Columbia.

Each congressional district has about 711,000 residents, the number that registers and votes varies widely from district to district. The number of congressional districts in each state is determined by the census – the next census – 2020.

Congressional boundaries are set by state legislatures pursuant to standards that are determined by federal statues and court decisions.

The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear over the past quarter century that racial gerrymandering is an unconstitutional no-no, but partisan gerrymandering is still permissible. The question is: How do you tell the difference? Especially when the Voting Rights Act allows for some consideration of race to ensure minority representation, and when party affiliation often correlates with race.

Is there a “better” system? How would you define “better?”

Would a popular vote system benefit large cities and disadvantage smaller towns?

About 1/6 of Americans live in large cites, 1/6 in rural areas and 2/3 in suburban and exurban areas. On the other hand large cities tend to include more Democratic voters, although voter turnouts are lower in large cities.

The Democrats did gain two seats in the Senate and six seats in the House. The Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, the Vice President breaks ties. Under Senate rules 60 votes are necessary to bring a bill to the floor – the cloture rule; however, presidential nominees only require a majority votes. Barring Republican votes the Trump nominees will be confirmed.

The bottom line: It is unlikely that any change will be made in the electoral college, Trump will get his cabinet level nominees appointed and the Democrats can block bills in the Senate.

The first domestic crisis may be the federal debt ceiling.

The federal debt limit, which was suspended by Congress and the president in November 2015, is set to be reinstated on March 16, 2017. At that point, the government’s outstanding debt would immediately bump up against the new debt limit of about $20.1 trillion, and the Treasury Department would be forced to take “extraordinary measures” to ensure the smooth functioning of the federal government’s finances.

…  extraordinary measures would allow Treasury to continue meeting its financial obligations for a limited amount of time, at least until mid-summer of 2017.

Will President Trump allow the nation to default?

Snarky early morning tweets are a lot different than actually running the nation.

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3 responses to “Trump, the Electoral College and Governing: Is There a “Better” System? How Will Trump Manage the Transition from Candidate to President?

  1. No…..Unless you redistribute the population centers of CA; and NY….In this election and The Gore election as well, the Dem party made huge strategic errors in judgement. The party can no longer take The African American Community as a solid unwavering voting bloc. The solid Dem South is no longer that solid….GA, NC, Fla, W Va…Also, it wrongly assumed that every border state and southern gulf state would see their latino communities vote Dem. Stupid. The only latino community that didn’t vote for Trump were of Mexican and to a lesser degree Hondurans, Nicaraguans, etc. Little Havana in Fla and the Puerto Rican community at large loved Trump, and Hillary arrogantly was in denial to that dynamic. Castro to exiled Cubans living in this country was as Hitler to Jews who managed to escape Germany.He brainwashed whoever was left, and killed thousands and arrested thousands of others, and almost baited a young Amer Pres into WWiii. Yet the Dem party declared him a hero, because he improved literacy and upgraded their hospital care. And maybe that explains in some way why Hillary felt no remorse about murdering our men in Benghazi…She now knows the answer to her question, to wit: “what difference does it make anyway?”..Apparently a great deal of difference, I would say. And BTW, please know that over my years, I voted for JFK .LBJ, Humprey, Mondale, Carter and Obama 2x. So don’t go crazy left on me. Also, I marched during MLK’s march to Wash..With that said, I also found room in my credo to keep hope alive, and to know that when it comes to me and mine, then they lile America must come first, and if that means by “Any Means Necessary”, then so be it.

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  2. With Trump’s business history of bankruptcy and coming out wealthier in the end while everyone else walks away a loser, and, correct me if I’m wrong, during the campaign he said he was willing to default and refuse to honor or pay back holders of the national debt, there is a very real possibility that Trump will not only allow the nation to default on the national debt but he will encourage it and somehow come out wealthier for it.

    Maybe his children will place bets on global betting sites through sock puppet proxies using anonymous offshore accounts knowing what their father intends to do.

    If Trump does this, who will lose the most — the American people will because most of the national debt is owed to U.S. workign class citizens, not China that holds about 7 percent of the national debt.

    By defaulting on the National Debt, the GOP would also achieve another goal they have wanted since FDR, getting rid of Social Security without having to do it through legislation. Overnight, the poverty rate would soar along with homelessness, starvation, and shorter lifespans.

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  3. Lloyd
    You underestimate Trump – he will use the debt ceiling crisis to renegotiate the terms of Social Security and Medicare – decreasing the costs to the federal government and enriching the medical providers and investment houses who will gain further control over both systems. We, the people, will end up with fewer dollars and more “choice.”

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