Let’s begin with some historical perspective. The electoral college served a purpose at the time it was created. The average American was simply not well enough informed to elect the president, so what they literally did was chose representatives to meet and choose for them. We have since developed public education, compulsory attendance, a literacy rate of 98% and instant access to more information than we know what to do with. There’s a lot of talk on Facebook and Twitter about stolen elections, in which the winner of 270 electors did not win the popular vote. At this time all the votes have not been counted, so stolen election talk may be premature. The popular vote is certainly close. There would be issues with direct election of the president based on popular vote as well. My preference would be to reform the electoral process. The reason the system does not change it that it would take a Constitutional amendment. We are more divided as a nation than ever before; it’s hard to get a majority on a bill, much less get an amendment through.
It is not easy to defeat an incumbent president. This does not spell doom for Republicans everywhere, and I’m not moving to Canada. George H.W. Bush lost his re-election bid in ’92 after his “Read my lips” speech played endlessly during the campaign. (He raised taxes during his first term after a very memorable campaign speech in 1988 not to do so.) We were in a recession, and the conventional wisdom since 1932 has been elect a Democrat in that situation. Having said that, we’re still hovering around 8% unemployment. Challenging a sitting president is an uphill battle from the start. Odds are always in his favor. Romney did far better in 2012 than Dole in 1996. Bob Dole? John McCain? I’m glad Republicans nominated a candidate less than 100. Mitt Romney is younger than those guys and
more intelligent better spoken than George W. Bush.
So what now? President Obama has been elected to a second term, but he does not have both houses of Congress like he did in 2008. The Senate remains Democratic, the House remains Republican, as they have been since 2010. Look at not only the popular vote but at states Romney won in last night. Florida, Virginia and Ohio are incredibly close. Obama did not win some of the states he did four years ago. He does not have the support he did when elected to his first term, and I hope he leads with that in mind. Hopefully he and Congress can find enough common ground to get some things done. Democrats got their guy re-elected. Republicans may find solace in the fact that with a divided Congress he will have his legislative hands tied. There is no victory in handicapping the government in such a way that it cannot function. That’s an ideological viewpoint, but you have to remember I believe the system still works.
We live in the greatest nation in the world. The very fact we had an election is evidence of that. The reason you should vote is because you can.