By Cesar Fernando Lumba
We have a president-elect. And he shares our vision of manufacturing jobs returning to America. But wait, he has his own strategy. Unlike our strategy, his is to bully China, Mexico and other countries into complete surrender.
Mr. Trump is a danger. We don’t want to expand the trade war with China. (Yes, we are already in a trade war with China.) We want to keep it at minimum and controllable. No earth-shaking flare-ups, Mr. Trump.
Donald Trump wants to tariff goods coming from China and Mexico, and presumably from other countries a flat rate of 35 percent, or 45 percent, depending on which Trump statement is du jour. That would be suicidal, because those countries would most certainly retaliate and our exports will be stuck at the piers, with nowhere to go.
Our approach, which is to serve notice to China and others that they must manufacture in the U.S. 51% of the products they sell in the U.S. market and giving them 5, 7 or 10 years to comply is the better approach. It will also give us time to spread the 51% gospel to other countries and if other countries adopt the 51% solution, China, Mexico and others will not be able to retaliate against us, since they would have to retaliate against the whole industrialized world.
How did we end up with Mr. Trump as our president? The magic of the Electoral College system. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, leads Mr. Trump by more than one million votes nationwide and the final tally is projected at more than two million votes more for Hillary than for Donald.
Here’s an article that I sent to two major newspapers but was rejected. Too controversial? The newspapers’ editors did not say.
I WANT TO LIVE IN A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY
When I immigrated to the U.S. in 1967, I assumed that I was moving from one purely democratic country – the Philippines – to another that was as purely democratic. The U.S., after all, was the author of the Philippine version of democracy – a democracy so pure that its press is arguably the most licentious in the world.
I had heard vaguely about the Electoral College system of electing the U.S. president and vice-president in schools I had attended in the Philippines, but the concept of the E.C. was so foreign to me I never really understood what it was.
When I finally gained my citizenship in 1974 and started voting in presidential elections, I learned that I was not really electing the president and vice-president. The electors were the ones who elected our president. I did not know then who the electors were. I still don’t know who they are in Nevada, which is my home state.
Why do we have electors? Isn’t the U.S. supposed to be a democratic country where the people vote for its president and the candidate who gets the most votes wins and becomes president?
Obviously not. If that were the case, Al Gore would have become president and Hillary Clinton would now be the president-elect. She, after all, leads Trump by more than 1 million votes and is projected to win by more than 2 million votes when all is said and done.
Why do we have a system that ignores the will of the people and goes instead with an artificially created “majority,” that is, the majority in an Electoral College? I have learned over the years – in the course, The Legal Environment of Business, at Seattle University where I got my MBA, and from pundits on TV and newspapers – that the Electoral College is intentionally unfair and racist because long ago the southern states insisted in bias in their favor to level the playing field in their contest with the northern states for supremacy. The southern states wanted the assurance that they would get to keep their slaves by making sure that they could elect southern slave-owners as president of the Union.
Apologists for the Electoral College system understandably have explained away the existence of the monster as a way to make sure that states’ rights were not completely annihilated by the sheer power of the Federal government. It was also a way, according to the same apologists, to assure that smaller states would have a chance to elect their own.
There was another very important consideration at the time, advanced by the proponents of the Electoral College system and that was the widely held belief that the American people were not adequately prepared by either education or experience to make the right selections of their president and vice-president. And, most important, many of the Founding Fathers believed that democracy was synonymous to mob rule.
Whatever the origins of the Electoral College system might have been, it quickly became a convenient way for the smaller states in the South to assure themselves of leadership at the highest levels that would favor the retention of slavery.
The southern states did this by overstating their populations and thereby assuring themselves of artificially high numbers of congressional districts. The number of congressional districts was the basis for assigning electors to each of the states.
Though slaves were considered property and therefore should not have been counted as part of the populations of the southern states, the idea that they would be counted won the day in the young republic’s deliberations. The way the southern states pulled this off was brilliant. First, the southern states insisted that properties should be counted as population, which meant that slaves could be counted, along with cattle, horses, houses, etc. The northern delegates thought the southerners were joking.
After much deliberation, James Wilson from Pennsylvania came up with a compromise that would prove acceptable to everyone. The slaves would be counted as population, but at a reduced value. A slave would be worth 3/5 of a free person.
To further boost the chances of electing southern slave-owning presidents, the southern state delegates insisted on adding the two electors to each state’s slate to account for its two senators.
Fast forward to the elections last November 8. Nevada has 4 congressional districts but has 6 electors because it has two U.S. senators.
The addition of the two senators to Nevada’s congressional districts meant that the state’s electors increased by 1/3 or 33 percent. For larger states, the addition of two senators to the number of congressional districts did not substantially increase the number of their electors. New York, for example, increased its electors from 27 – the number of congressional districts – to 29 with the addition of the state’s U.S. senators. Percentage-wise, the effect of the two senators was only plus 7.4 percent (2/27).
Another way of looking at today’s Electoral College is by taking a sample of large states and comparing this sample to a sample of smaller states. I combined populations of California, New York and New Jersey and came up with 65,570,545 (as of 2015). Those three states have yielded a total of 98 electors.
Then I combined the populations of 20 smaller states (Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming) and came up with 40,247,406. The 20 states have 97 electors.
The picture that emerges is stark and hugely disappointing. The average elector in the California-New York-New Jersey tandem is supported by 669,087 residents. The average elector in the 20 states is supported by 414,922. Stated differently, it takes 1.6 persons in the California-New York-New Jersey tandem to equal the voting power of 1 person in the 20 smaller states.
What this ultimately means is that the voting power of an average person in California-New York-New Jersey is .62 of the voting power of an average person in the 20 smaller states.
Does .62 have a special meaning? Well, yes. It is about 3/5, the value of a slave in the founding days of our republic. This is socially significant because of the relative racial compositions of the two groups of states. California-New York-New Jersey has a lot of non-white minorities (African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Muslims and native Americans). in contrast, most residents of the 20 smaller states are non-Hispanic whites, though states such as Alaska, Mississippi and South Carolina have significant non-white populations.
It is a well-kept secret that states with high non-white minority populations are being discriminated against by the Electoral College system. It is time for America to know this.
The Electoral College system may in fact be unconstitutional because it violates the principle of equal protection before the law. Clearly, the residents of big states such as California and New York are not getting equal protection.
One may ask: if it is in the Constitution, how can it be unconstitutional? Well, for one thing some of the Founding Fathers might have been geniuses, but being a genius does not mean that one cannot make a mistake. Just ask Thomas Edison when you pass on into the next world. He famously made 999 mistakes before he found the one way to build an incandescent light bulb.
Clearly, the Electoral College system is an illustration of the Founding Fathers’ right hand not knowing what their left hand was doing.
To reform the Electoral College system, it will be necessary to make very complicated adjustments. To force the fair distribution of electors across the country, the reformers will have to go through hoops and jump over loops. The end product will be so complicated the new and improved Electoral College system would probably look like a Rube Goldberg contraption. Rather than reform the Electoral College system, we should just scrap it.
The country cannot afford to continue using a racist and unfair Electoral College system. It’s time to scrap it and replace it with direct voting.
I join my soul brothers in California and other western states in calling for the direct vote for president and vice-president. Direct one-person, one-vote systems are the only truly democratic systems.
If we had the popular vote (democratic one-person, one-vote system) we would not have ended up with Mr. Trump as our president-elect. And we would not be sitting on pins and needles, waiting for an out-of-control trade war to decimate the gains in manufacturing and exports that we have achieved in recent years despite the ill effects of an out-of-control globalization.
One might say, “but Trump did not really mean that he would unilaterally tariff imports from China, Mexico and other countries 35% or 45%. Well, what else that he said in his campaign does he not mean? And what has he not said in his campaign that he will end up doing?
(You may contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.)