As of now, there are 18 Democrats running for the primaries in the 2020 election. Furthermore, Bill Weld has announced that he will challenge Trump in 2020. Although it’s early, it appears that the big candidates for the election are Donald Trump for the Republicans and Bernie Sanders for the Democrats. Both Trump and Sanders have been labeled as “radical” and “anti-establishment” by many in the “establishment”. The establishment, which, is dying. The old politics of neoliberalism and neoconservatism are being replaced by a new generation. This generation is embracing a new ideology-populism. This is happening on both the left and right sides of the political spectrum.
Jack Shields | United States
The 2016 election was a showdown between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. The fact that the leader of the free world was going to be one of these individuals, both of whom were under FBI investigation, shows that our electoral system is in need of reform. Further compounding this need is the fact that Donald Trump received 2.8 million votes fewer than the loser, Hillary Clinton. The Electoral College is clearly a disaster which does not do an adequate job in achieving any of the noble goals presented by its supporters. However, the solution of going to a popular vote, by far the most popular idea, would be even worse. The Electoral College must be repealed and replaced with a ranked choice voting system, rather than relying on the popular vote.
The Failure of the Electoral College
The Electoral College was a disaster from the start. The system went unnoticed during the first two elections as George Washington was running, so it was really more of a formality than an actual election. Its flaws, however, became apparent in the election of 1796 between Federalist John Adams and Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson. At the time, the Electoral College operated under the rules prescribed in Article II Section 1 Clause 3, which gave each elector two votes for President. Whoever had the majority of votes became President, and whoever had the second most became Vice President. Adams won, becoming President, but rather than fellow Federalist, Thomas Pinckney, receiving the second most to become Vice President, Jefferson of the opposite party did. This made the Executive branch split ideologically for the only time in American history, causing tension and inefficiency. Problems continued in the election of 1800 when Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes and the outcome of the election went to the House of Representatives. It was a brutal political battle that took 35 deadlocked votes before Alexander Hamilton convinced a minority of Federalist Representatives to back Jefferson in the 36th vote, making him the third President of the United States (a decision that would help lead to Burr killing Hamilton in a duel). Both sides understood our electoral system was a mess, so to remedy this the Twelfth Amendment was ratified in 1804, making each elector now have only one vote for President and one for Vice President.
While certainly an improvement, ratifying Twelfth Amendment was like applying a band-aid when surgery is required. Many more problems have surfaced since regarding Presidential elections and more and more band-aids have been added.
With electoral votes being what matters and not the votes of the people, the right to vote in a Presidential election was not and is still not guaranteed. The Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments had to be ratified, along with the passage of countless laws, to at least clarify which characteristics can’t be used to prevent Americans from voting.
The Twenty-third Amendment was ratified in order to actually let American citizens in our country’s capital have any say in who would be running the nation. For 172 years they were spectators in their own country. Today, millions of Americans are unable to vote for who should be their Commander in Chief simply due to the fact they live in territories rather than states.
There have been five elections in which the winner of the popular vote was defeated. Additionally, small states are disproportionately represented in the Electoral College. Both of these are hailed by supporters of the Electoral College as its benefits. Small states should be represented and the tyranny of the majority should be kept at bay. The problem is that neither of those has really happened. When is the last time you saw a presidential candidate visit Wyoming or Vermont? Small states have not been represented, while swing states receive large amounts of media and campaign attention. Rather than a national election, the Presidential election is an election of Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. This is not how it should be. While power should be decentralized and overall, states should have more powers and influence in the lives of the American people, when we are holding an election for the head of the national executive the entire nation should be involved. The idea that we need a system that checks the tyranny of the majority is absolutely true. The Electoral College just isn’t the way to do it. Checks and balances, a small list of enumerated federal powers, decentralization of power, and state legislatures picking Senators were effective ways to check the majority. We have abandoned many of these ideas as government has grown bigger while our rights have shrunk, and the Electoral College hasn’t been able to stop any of this. The way to change course and keep small states powerful and the tyranny of the majority in check is to stick to checks and balances and decentralization of power, not have a terrible electoral system where someone can become President with only 27% of the popular vote. We should keep powers limited to protect the states. We should keep the amount of positions people get to elect limited to check the tyranny of the majority. But once we’ve decided to allow the people to vote, as we should do when deciding who gets to be the powerful man in the world, we should treat it as any other vote: winning 51% of the vote means winning the election.
The final supposed benefit of the Electoral College was it would protect us from the ignorance of the masses. It did this through the Electors, which are in no way constitutionally bound to vote for who the people of their state picked, although many states have laws requiring them too. But has it at all checked the people’s ignorance? The reality TV star who cheated on his wife with a porn star is President right now. President Wilson (re-segregated the federal government), President Roosevelt (put Japanese people in camps and appointed a former KKK member to the Supreme Court), and President Johnson (helped filibuster civil rights legislation) all were elected without any opposition from Electors. In fact, the only time the Electors have had any significant impact was during the election of 1872 when the Democratic nominee for President, Horace Greeley, died after the popular vote but before the electors cast their votes, causing them to split their votes between four other Democrats. Just like the tyranny of the majority, the ignorance of the majority should not be checked by the way we hold our elections. The way to check it is to limit the power of the federal government and what positions we get to vote for.
With the Electoral College being the disaster it is, many have proposed we move to a popular vote. In this system, whichever candidate receives the most votes becomes the next President. But this cure is worse than the disease. There have been eight elections in which the winner won with a plurality of votes, and this system exasperates this problem. It requires there to always only be two candidates, stifling many viewpoints and competition. The clearest example is with Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. Clinton won with an electoral landslide despite winning only 43.01% of the vote. This was because the third-party candidate, Ross Perot split President George H. W. Bush’s base. A Democrat won the election despite the fact that 56.36% of the electorate chose a conservative-leaning candidate. This is a problem that will continue to occur with a popular vote. A different solution is clearly needed.
Ranked Choice Voting
A Ranked Choice Voting System is the best way to elect the President. In this system, rather than picking just one candidate, a voter ranks his or her favorite candidate 1st, the second 2nd, and so on. If when the votes are tallied in the first round, none of the candidates received above 50% of the popular vote, then the candidate in last place is eliminated and the votes for those who voted for the now-eliminated candidate go to their highest ranked, non-eliminated choice. This process continues until one candidate has above 50% of the vote, making them the next President of the United States. President Bush would’ve been able to win in dominant fashion in the second round of the election under this system; giving the American people a President most closely aligned to the wishes of the electorate. That should be the most important goal of any electoral system, and none do it better than ranked choice voting.
While ensuring the majority of the American people actually voted for the next President is the most important goal, there are many other goals that are achieved by Ranked Choice Voting.
The candidates will be less radical. Primaries allow radical bases to select candidates not in line with mainstream America, causing most Americans to choose between the lesser of two evils as seen best by the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Under this system primaries are weakened and may even become totally irrelevant and eliminated as multiple people from each party would be able to run without destroying any chance of victory as with the elections of 1912 and 1992.
With more candidates being viable the American people will have more options and more opinions will be represented. With votes transferring, the idea of ‘wasting your vote’ will be a thing of the past. All voters will get to vote with their conscience for the candidate most representative of their values without having to pick the least worst option.
The presidential candidates will have to campaign everywhere. Democrats in Texas and Republicans in California will finally have their votes matter and the need to campaign nationwide rather than Florida-wide will be the new path to victory.
Millions of American citizens living in territories such as Puerto Rico will be able to have a say in who their President will be. All Americans will have their votes matter now that we will have a system which ensures citizens do get to vote for President and there is no Elector who can go against the will of the people.
Lastly, this system has the potential to make elections more civil and unifying, something badly needed in this country. Most Americans disapprove of negative campaign ads, but their use is increasing. It is much easier to prove someone else wrong than to prove yourself right. A ranked-choice system creates negative consequences for disparaging your opponent and incentives to be civil; voters aren’t just voting once, they are now ranking candidates, so every detail of a campaign matters. And while not everyone is going to make a candidate their first choice, the candidate will want them to rank him or her second. A voter is not likely to rank a candidate anywhere on their list if the candidate is in a calling the other candidate’s supporters deplorables who are racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, and xenophobic. Candidates will now have to play nice if they hope to stand a chance should the election go to round two.
With an electoral system that has failed us from the beginning, many Americans are turning away from the Electoral College and looking for alternatives. While this is a necessary first step we must be careful not to stumble upon the first alternative and end up with an even worse electoral system. Ranked Choice Voting is by far the most efficient and beneficial system, making it the obvious choice for the Presidential electoral system of the future.
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By Ian Brzeski | United States
Post Malone is a rapper, singer, and songwriter who recently blew up in the past few years. His song “Rockstar,” released in 2017, marked his first number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 as a solo artist. The song is considered his most successful song, but he also has numerous other songs that have been just as successful, such as “Congratulations” or “Psycho.” The album which “Rockstar” featured in, “Beerbongs & Bentleys,” broke several records on its way to the Billboard 200 and went platinum in just four days after the album’s release which is a massive achievement in the world of music.
Despite Post Malone being on record that he supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election, the gun-loving government skeptic makes it reasonably safe to say that he is a libertarian. During his time in Canada, he sat down for an interview. The interview was light-hearted in the sense that the questions were about his favorite video games or his plans for the future. However, when asked about what the biggest lie in the world was he said, “The biggest lie in the world the U.S. government.” He does not believe that the government is the same as it used to be in the sense that it is not about freedom anymore and that it has become some massive reality show. The questioning of the government in the way portrayed by Post Malone here really encapsulates the libertarian view on the role of government.
He also believes that the United States government killed president John F. Kennedy for telling the truth. He reasons that just days before Kennedy died, Kennedy had a grand speech explaining how our government focuses solely on being corrupt instead of going around trying to find the truth in all things. Post, who has a JFK tattoo on his arm, is a big fan of his and states that he was “the only President to speak out against the crazy corruption stuff that’s going on in our government nowadays.”
Although he says how the United States government is practically a giant screw-up, he has not once said where he exactly falls on the political spectrum. He did go on to say that he did support Bernie Sanders for president as he was “the realest one.” It is interesting that a man with such a distrust of the United States government would be an advocate for Bernie, as his policies suggest a stronger and more powerful government. One could infer that the reason as to why he would support Bernie is not because of his policies but because he believed that he cared about the country and wanted the best for the people of the United States, unlike Trump and Clinton.
In another interview after the election, he stated that he would not mind performing at Donald Trump’s inauguration for a fixed amount of money despite not supporting Trump and not voting in the election at all. Because he said this, he got much hate from the fans and later said that he was kidding. However, he still didn’t understand why he got so much stick for saying that. He feels that at the end of the day he would just be doing the same job he has always been doing regardless of he was to perform at Trump’s inauguration or any other venue or concert.
“If I do his show, does that mean I’m a supporter of him?” -Post Malone
To answer the question as to why he did not vote in the presidential election is that he feels our votes do not count and are just suggestions to the electoral college. According to Malone, the Electoral College could practically vote for whomever they want, and there is nothing that we [the people] can do about it. It is unclear to say if Post would have voted for Bernie if Bernie did win the primary, but it is safe to say that he would have supported and backed him throughout the entirety of the election process.
On the issue of guns, Post Malone is entirely pro 2nd amendment. He believes that it is an American’s right to own a gun and he is indeed taking advantage of that right. He owns:
- an M14 – used by the Navy SEALs
- “James Bond’s gun.”
- a .44 Desert Eagle hand cannon
- an M1911 pistol
- two gold-plated Glocks -used for decoration, not for shooting
- a Cobalt AR-15 -modified to pass California regulations, his most prized possession
- a pump-action Mossberg shotgun -“great for home defense.”
- an FN Five-Seven pistol with a laser sight -to disorient home invaders
- a Glock 19
He has these because “They’re fun, they’re practical, and bad sh*t happens. If you hurt me, I’m gonna hurt you back.” He has a lot of valuable items, and he wants to protect those along with his friends and family. He acknowledges that it is dreadful that people have to be fearful of going to a concert, but he maintains that there will always be sick people, and if they want to go shoot-up a concert, then they will get the weapons necessary to shoot-up that concert no matter what. He also admits that he does not have all the solutions went it comes to these horrible mass shootings, but that he just believes in what he thinks is right.
“The world is going to shit. They’re taking away a lot of our rights.” -Post Malone
This quote suggests that Post believes we are continuously falling deeper into a tyrannical state, which is another reason as to why he maintains the right to bear arms is just as a necessity now as it ever was. He does not believe that Trump is solely the reason as to why we are going deeper into a tyrannical state, but that there is a much bigger problem going on behind the scenes of our government. Post thinks that the worst of the United States government is yet to come and that it is going to arise after Trump.
From his extensive gun collection to his complete and intrinsic distrust of the government, Post Malone could be a man easily converted to the libertarian movement.
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