Will Trump the populist advocate for electoral reform?

Jack Bernard is a retired SVP with a national firm. He is also the former Chair of the Jasper County Commission and Republican Party.

It’s election time once again and an amazing 71 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with their government (Gallup, 2016). As recently as 2001, this figure was 28 percent! Much of this dissatisfaction is due to partisan politics.
In this vein, the GOP insistence that the Electoral College is serving us well is unfounded and entirely partisan. The GOP feels this way only because Bush and Trump would have lost without it.
“We are not a democracy” is a phrase I often hear when discussing this past election with pro-Trump Americans. However, that is not what we constantly preach to other nations.
I completely agree that we were not originally set up to be a democracy by our Founding Fathers way back in the late 18th century. Yes, we do have a “republican” form of government.
Why? Because our Founding Fathers had little faith in the average American voter (all men at the time), we were founded as a republic, dependent on a vestige of feudal system thinking known as the Electoral College.
In 1776 we also had institutionalized slavery, anti-female voter discrimination, and a series of other egregious ills corrected via numerous amendments to the Constitution. The Constitution has been, should be, and is a living document, to be amended as the times dictate. That is the beauty of our form of government.
Once again, here is the real issue. The Republicans (my party) have lost the popular vote twice in the last thirty years, but won the Presidency anyway via the undemocratic, unrepresentative, antiquated Electoral College. So, party big wigs, as well as much of the loyal rank and file who have been brainwashed, do not want the problem fixed.
They give transparent excuses such as using the popular vote would cause domination of the Presidency by a few big states. The implication is that big state citizens are not fully part of America and, therefore, their votes should count less than people from smaller states. Thus, you hear usually intelligent people repeating undemocratic Fox News dribble like the inane “why should California and New York get to decide who is President?” and “why should the big cities decide who is President?”
Of course, the corollary to this statement is that the current system provides for unfair domination by smaller states, devaluing the votes of our fellow Americans in those larger states. Is an unrepresentative dictatorship of smaller states better than one person one vote?
Conservatives rail against what they say are undemocratic methods employed by Democrats to change the Electoral College. The real reason for self-professed advocates of democracy abroad to rebuff electoral change here at home is clearly that they do not want a Democrat elected as President.
That is very short sighted thinking indeed. The next time it could be a GOP nominee for President denied by the Electoral College. That may be why a minority of GOP legislators (RINOs according to some biased viewpoints) favor reform.
If he so chooses, Trump can use this as a talking point and push true bi-partisan reform, the way he is doing with DACA (dreamers). Yes, electoral reform has been tried many times before and there is substantial resistance by entrenched special interests. With bi-partisan support driven from the bully pulpit, an amendment can at least get through Congress and be sent to the states for ratification.
And, while we are at it, let’s fix a few of our other undemocratic ills related to turn-out in our national, state and local elections. Most democracies encourage full participation by citizens and voter turnout is reasonable.
On the other hand, our elections are currently decided by a ridiculously small proportion of the voters, a national disgrace. This sorry state of affairs can be corrected by state and federal legislation, as well as Constitutional amendments:
1. Mandating early voting and absentee provisions in every state
2. Changing the voting days to a Saturday and Sunday or, as an alternative, establishing our national election day as a holiday
3. Ending discrimination against minorities. Specifically, do not require a photo id as the only means of identification, stop creating artificial lines in minority districts by not having enough polling places and workers, and reverse the practice of removing voting privileges for felons who have completed their prison terms
4. Instituting automatic registration of Americans at birth
5. Allowing phone, email or mail registration of any taxpayer if they declare that they are citizens, with immediate deportation for any illegal immigrants fraudulently claiming citizenship
6. Halting the inherently unfair gerrymandering process on the local, state and federal levels. Gerrymandering is undemocratic, depressing the vote, while denying the will of the people and insulating existing politicians from challengers
These are just a few of the many electoral reforms which can increase the representative nature of our government. The only question is whether our supposedly populist President will ever advocate for them and return our government to the people. Knowing his self-serving record, I would not place any bets on the Donald doing what is right…unless he personally profits from it.

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