Ever since their stunning upset defeat on Tuesday, in lieu of any actual introspection or lesson-learning, the Democrats have fixed their sights on what they now see as the real problem: the electoral college system that we have successfully used to elect presidents for the last 240 years.
Of course before Tuesday, there was nary a word spoken about the effectiveness of the system. Old wounds from the letdown of 2000 had healed, and in the wake of Donald Trump’s non-commitment to honoring the results of the election, with pearls firmly clutched and outrage teeming from every pore, the left was quick to declare that any objection to our fair electoral system was irresponsible at best, treasonous at worst.
Why shouldn’t they? Most analysts and forecasters agree that the map is quite favorable for any Democratic candidate. After all, Hillary Clinton needed only to maintain the “blue wall,” that bloc of light blue, upper Midwestern, Rust Belt states, to put herself in a position of near certainty to win.
But that didn’t happen and, in light of Clinton’s win in the popular vote, everyone from Slate Magazine to Captain America himself decided that the system was a very undemocratic way of conducting an election in our non-democracy and that it needed to be scrapped.
There’s just one big problem: when something only becomes a major issue when it’s sour grapes following an election defeat, it becomes very difficult to actually do anything about it. Or, to put it another way, support for abolishing the electoral college is almost always directly inverse to the amount of power yielded by the side calling for its abolition.
The Republican wave will not last forever. The pendulum will eventually swing its way back in the other direction. When that day comes, don’t expect to see many Democrats still waving the flag for changing the way we choose our president. When the system serves your ends, it’s difficult to get people to continue being upset with it. This is perhaps the most brilliant thing about our electoral system: it has an inborn defense mechanism that shields it from tantrum-throwing and hissy fits. If you want to change it, fine, but you’re going to have to do it when the American people actually want you running the show.
And with the presidency, both houses of Congress, and the majority of governorships and state legislatures belonging to the Republicans, I would say now is not that time.