How the System is Broken

The last two days, I have been looking at common objections to voting for Hillary in the general despite (because of?) firmly supporting Bernie in the primaries.  The ones I have seen/heard break down into three lines of attack, which I generalized thus:

1. That’s not how democracy works!  I can vote however I want!

2. We “deserve” a Republican president because we’re such sheep and this is the only way to shock us back into awareness.

3. The system is broken; this is why Bernie is not winning the nomination.

With the results of the "Acela Primary" yesterday, this now seems all the more relevant and urgent.  Monday, I answered #1, and yesterday I took on #2.  My response to #3 is brief:

Yes, the system is broken.  No, electing a Plutocrat (Trump) or a Dominionist (Cruz) is not going to fix it.  It should be obvious that this is an anti-progressive system, and it should be obvious that it's going to take pushing from progressives to change it.

The chief defect in "the system" is not even the primaries, it's the Electoral College.  This instrument designed to maintain the delicate balance between slave states and civilized has now outlived its intended purpose by at least 150 years.  Every time I hear Bernie-Bros whining about superdelegates, I think, can they spare a thought for the fact that Wyoming has three electoral votes, or three times as many as the national average?  It takes seven New Yorker votes to matter as much as two Wyoming votes.

And if I understand some of the more frothing-at-the-mouth leftish Bernie supporters correctly, they think that the way -- the only way -- to make this happen is to foment an actual Revolution, knock down whatever the heck stands in now for the Bastille and install a row of guillotines on the Mall.  As for me, I don't despair of the country to that extent yet.

Eliminating the electoral college could open the possibility of a Presidential election campaign by third-party candidates being truly meaningful, especially since a simple majority should be required to win.  Electoral coalitions would actually matter.  What coalitions do now is add verbiage to party platforms.  These are essentially toilet paper by Thanksgiving of every election year.  In order for that even to be under consideration, though, we need Democrats in the White House and in the Congress, and we need the next few Supreme Court appointments to be made by a Democrat.

Getting Trump or Cruz elected is betraying the possible in favor of an ideal, and creating suffering for others in service of your own ideological purity.  And as I said when this all started, I am all out of patience for it.

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F