According to the Pew Research Center’s “Fact Tank,” no other democratic nation elects its President quite the way the U.S. does, and only a handful are even similar.
Besides the U.S, the only other democracies that indirectly elect a leader who combines the roles of head of state and head of government (as the U.S. president does) are Botswana, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, South Africa and Suriname. (The Swiss collective presidency also is elected indirectly, by that country’s parliament.)
At this writing, Hillary Clinton looks likely to win the popular vote by over two million; Donald Trump won the electoral votes of the so-called “swing states” by the thinnest of margins– a collective hundred and seven thousand votes.
The dictionary definition of “democracy” is “rule by the majority.” Although it is certainly true that America’s system was not originally intended to operate by majority rule (it was instead conceived of as a representative democracy), and it (thankfully!) remains true that our Bill of Rights limits what government can do even with the support of popular majorities, we have changed our electoral system over the years, and we have done so in the name of increasing popular democracy.
In two of the last four national elections, the candidate clearly preferred by a majority of citizens has not become President.
We need to ask ourselves whether America truly wants to move in the direction of genuine democracy, or whether we want to continue a system that privileges the votes of more rural citizens over the votes of urban Americans– a system that decides who will win based not upon the larger number of votes cast, but upon where a candidate’s voters happen to live.
I fully expect that the elevation of a mentally unstable and monumentally unfit man to the Presidency of the most powerful nation on earth will usher in an era of chaos and social upheaval. I have no idea what will emerge in the aftermath–assuming that there is an aftermath, and that a thin-skinned and vengeful ignoramus in possession of the nuclear codes doesn’t destroy the planet.
If and when we do emerge, we need to decide whether we are committed to democratic decision-making or not. If we are, we have a lot of housekeeping to do.