BERNARD COLUMN: The person getting the most votes should be President

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, January 25, 2022

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By Jack Bernard
Bernard is a retired corporate executive

If we were a real democracy, the person getting the most votes would be elected President of the US. But, despite what our politicians of both parties constantly state, we are not a democracy. Not by a long shot. We are a very flawed Republic which moves sporadically toward democracy. And, away from it … as the events of 2020 and 2021 prove.

The Founding Fathers were very progressive for their time- the 1700s. They formed a Republic to break away from a monarchy. We must all recognize their invaluable contribution to humankind. 

But that does not mean that the Constitution that they wrote over 200 years ago is divine or that it should never be modified.

The problem is that the Founding Fathers had little faith in the masses and, therefore, made it extremely difficult to modify that Constitution, even when amendments are needed to further democracy.

One major area that should have been modified long ago is the selection process for President. He/she is not elected by the voters. As things now stand, the President is the elected leader of 50 states, not the elected leader of the people of the USA. I will explain.

In a clearly outdated and obtuse process, our President is elected by electors from each state rather than the people. That vote is then confirmed by Congress, with the Vice President convening them.

There are many problems with this process.

Number one, it does not represent the will of the people of the USA as signified by their votes. Number two, it is very susceptible to both unethical (but still legal) maneuvering as well as clearly illegal actions. 

Let’s get into specifics regarding the will of the people. In the past few decades, there has been a clear tendency to elect Presidents who have lost the popular vote. In 2000, George W. Bush got 233 of 401 electoral votes. But Al Gore received 543,895 more votes from US voters versus W. In 2016, Trump got 304 of 538 electoral votes. However, he got 2,868,686 fewer votes from the American people versus Hillary.

Using common sense, this process is clearly unfair to the majority of our voters. The person that they voted for did not become the leader of our nation. It’s obviously undemocratic.

A 2021 poll (shows the extent to which our population is alienated. Amazingly, 85% of Americans believe that our system either needs to be completely reformed (42%) or have major changes (43%). For comparison, only 8% of Canadians and 14% of UK residents want complete reformation of their systems.

Other nations have recognized that our supposed “democracy” is problematic. Pew Research did an international survey (16 nations) and found that only 19% of those surveyed believed that the US was a good example for others to follow.

Only half believed that our system worked well. And they are correct, as noted above.

As a start toward long overdue reform, both parties must sit down and make a good faith attempt to reform our outdated [residential elections system. (And then tackle the equally undemocratic gerrymandering, a topic I will cover in a future column.) The main obstacle to this reform is the current leadership of the GOP, which wants to maintain power regardless of its effects on democracy. This abysmal situation will not change until GOP voters let their wishes be known through the voting process.