By Zack Baer
When I was in college I took an American Politics course. I’ve always been interested in the subject and it turned out to be one of the best courses I took during college. The teacher was a middle-aged rocker who played in bands. He never disclosed his political leanings, but I have my suspicions they were similar to mine.
Anyway, the big project for that class was an essay answering the question “Is America a Democracy?” You were allowed to answer either way, yes or no; but you had to explain your answer in a convincing matter. If I remember correctly I argued that the US is a democracy and did a good enough job justifying my position to receive an A.
I no longer feel that way.
I’m not trying to be Mr. Whiney-Pinko-Snowflake here, I’m just stating something that has become painfully obvious in the wake of the 2016 election. I’ve read numerous essays and magazine articles examining the results and why the polls expected the opposite outcome. I believe I’ve read them in The Atlantic, Mother Jones, National Review and The Hill (That even led to an enlightening exchange with a Trumpkin).
I don’t want to add to the cacophony of voices lamenting, hand wringing and boohooing the election results. We’ve all read enough of that and quite frankly I’m sick of hearing about it, but all of these publications omit one very important fact in their examination of Trump’s victory… He lost the popular vote by three million votes.
Everybody’s writing about how the Democratic Party needs to rebrand itself and reach out to middle America.* I keep hearing about how Hillary Clinton, despite being one of the most qualified people ever to seek the presidency was regarded unfavorably by large portions of the population.
What I’m not hearing anyone, especially Trump, talk about is the fact that he won by −2,868,691 or about −2.10% of all votes. I’m not hearing anyone talk about how Democrats received more votes nationwide for the Senate than Republicans did, despite Republicans taking home more seats.^ I’m not hearing anyone talk about the gerrymandering that allows congressmen more unpopular than herpes or Nickelback to win reelection. I’m not hearing anyone propose methods by which we can remove someone who is quickly becoming the most corrupt and unpopular president in history from office before he does something we can’t recover from.
What I keep hearing about is ‘populism,’ but I don’t understand it. Shouldn’t someone who calls themselves a poopulist** at least win a plurality of the popular vote? I keep hearing about how we all knew the rules going into it and we should suck it up and accept the results. I’ve even heard about how the Electoral College was designed to protect us from the “Tyranny of the Majority,” which is the only time I’ve ever heard a derogatory euphemism used for democracy. (and doesn’t address the obvious issue of what do we have to protect us from the tyranny of the minority?)
But hey, I’m just an average Joe from middle America who was apparently feels so disenfranchised by the system that I turned to a demagogue who promised an economic recovery that an obvious phantasy and a way to stem the apparent scourge of illegal immigrants fleeing drug cartels and war that was even more ludicrous. And like I said, my intention was not to bitch about the election results.
I just want pundits to stop using the term ‘democracy’ when they talk about the American system of government. By definition, democracy is majority rule. At the very least it should be plurality rule, but we can’t even manage that.
Feel free to call us a republic if you like, but why? I think that’s being too generous. We’re an oligarchy. Or a plutarchy.
And we’re quickly becoming a kleptocracy.
So make your jokes at America’s expense; I’m comfortable with it. However, if I do travel abroad please don’t ask me to explain why we do things this way in America. Not even the writers for The Atlantic, Mother Jones or The Hill have been able to come up with a coherent explanation for it.
*Nobody seems to care that I was born, raised and currently reside in middle America.
**I couldn’t resist
Author Bio: Zack Baer lives and works in Ohio. He writes for a local weekly magazine and blogs at tomsin83.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tomsin83.