Following last week’s elections in which Donald Trump became the president-elect by defeating Hillary Clinton, we have seen a number of protests take place all across the country from Portland to New York City in which voters are expressing their displeasure with the results of the election.
Thankfully, we live in a country in which we are granted a right to freely express ourselves and to protest peacefully. However, in places such as Portland two nights ago, protestors unfortunately became violent as 71 of them were arrested. Breaking the law because you are unsatisfied with the result of a peaceful, democratic election is not only counterintuitive to the opposition of Trump stemming from the fact that you believe he is dividing the country, but it is also counterproductive and just as disruptive towards progress as Republicans in Congress who have been blockading any legislation that President Obama has tried to pass.
Doing things such as calling for the sudden dismantling of the system we have been using to elect our presidents since 1787 just because your candidate of choice lost the election is unproductive. The electoral college was established because the founding fathers were not sure if an election determined by the popular vote would be wise due to the fact that some voters may not be qualified to participate due to their lack of knowledge on the issues. The electoral college is a compromise between a truly popular vote and a vote by more qualified citizens. Nowadays, some of the benefits of using the electoral college are:
- The President must appeal to more than just one region of the country in order to get elected into office. A President who only appeals to southern states will not win the presidency. He must win other states in order to get the necessary amount of electoral votes to win the election.
- Candidates must campaign in smaller states and different areas of the country in order to win the electorate. If the electoral college was not in existence, you would likely never see a candidate campaigning in states such as Wisconsin, New Hampshire or Michigan. They would likely stick to campaigning in big cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Fransisco and Miami which has more voters than cities in smaller states.
- There are no run-off elections in the electoral college system. Run-off elections occur when in a popular vote, no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. As a result, only the top two candidates from the first round of voting advance which forces one to receive at least 50% to come out on top.
In regards to the online petition that is circulating which calls on members of the electoral college to ignore their states’ vote and to elect Hillary instead: it is a pointless exercise as well as undemocratic. Although technically the electoral college members can go against the wishes of their states’ residents, it is unlikely considering most of these people are loyal to their party. Petitioning for the reversal of an election result in a democratic system goes against the principles we pride ourselves on as a country. We cannot try to bend the Constitution in our favor whenever something does not go our way.
Instead of pointing fingers and blaming the other side for all the problems in this country, or complaining and trying to change a mechanism in government that simply cannot be changed overnight, why don’t we use our time more productively and try to reason with our ideological counterparts and move this country forward instead of keeping it in a standstill or using violence to express our displeasure?
Instead of protesting and spreading a petition online while asking all your friends to sign it, wouldn’t it be a more effective exercise to get a group of people in your area to write to your local representative which is supposed to act as your voice in Congress?
Instead of complaining about the lack of values and morals shared by your political opponents by way of protest, wouldn’t it be more effective to try to sit down with these people and try to work out your differences?
One of the reasons why the subject of politics is so polarized in this country and why politicians are not willing to negotiate or even sit down with members of the opposing party is because many Americans succumb to partisan politics (only acting in the interests of your party), which forces their elected officials to act as such.
If we were less willing to be so quick to label people who ideologically identify themselves to a different side than we do and were more willing to listen to the perspectives of those people, and come to an understanding of their thoughts and where they are coming from, perhaps we would see more progress in our country.
Daniel Alonso is the founder and contributor of Politicsay. Daniel graduated from Florida International University with a double major in Political Science and International Relations, as well as a certificate in National Security Studies. Daniel focuses on American Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and Human Rights Issues.