We are in a moment of reckoning over racism, not only taking down Confederate statues to eradicate these lingering odes to white supremacy but also examining how deeply our society has been shaped by slavery and its aftermath. Last year, the New York Times’ 1619 Project traced the influence of slavery on everything from American capitalism to the American diet. Today, individuals, brands, and lawmakers are taking stock. In this reappraisal, the Electoral College is likewise due for a second look.
In the last five elections, the Electoral College has handed the presidency to two Republicans who lost the popular vote: George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016. Looking ahead to the election this November, Democrats harbor a very realistic fear that Trump will again prevail without winning the popular vote. The political divisions and demographics of the 21st century have highlighted the undemocratic Electoral College system. But the fact that we have an election system that privileges a minority white party over a diverse majority is not a quirk of the system. That has been its purpose all along.