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Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College

by Jesse Wegman

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1117247,566 (4.21)6
"A radical spirit of change has overtaken American politics, making once-unthinkable reforms-like abolishing the Electoral College-seem possible. Two of the last five elections were won by candidates who lost the popular vote, calling the integrity of the entire electoral system into question. Political passions are already high, and they will reach a boiling point as we enter the 2020 race. The message from the American people is clear: we need major reform, and we need it now. In Let the People Pick the President, New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman makes a powerful case for abolishing the antiquated and antidemocratic Electoral College, and choosing presidents based on a national popular vote. He uncovers the Electoral College's controversial origins, profiles the many attempts to reform it over the years, and explains why it is now essential for us to remove this obsolete system and finally make every citizen's vote matter. Wegman addresses objections from both sides of the aisle and presents an airtight argument that moving toward a national popular vote would reduce voter apathy and political polarization, increase voter turnout, and restore belief in our democratic system. Abolishing the Electoral College is the keystone reform that must be accomplished to improve our politics; Wegman shows that this once-lofty goal can be achieved, and charts a path to accomplishing it"--… (more)
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An excellent overview of the history and mechanics of the electoral college that highlights the flaws and aberrations of this bizarre system. Throughout, the author makes cogent arguments for a national popular vote in a way that's conversational yet compelling. ( )
  Autolycus21 | Oct 10, 2023 |
Jesse Wegman takes a journalistic look at the US election process, showing why the Electoral College is outdated and ineffective. In particular, he takes issue with the “winner take all” method of awarding electoral votes to the winner of a state’s popular vote, which currently occurs in all states except two. This method tends to skew the results and occasionally the winner of the national popular vote does not win in the Electoral College. This has happened five times in our nation’s history, most recently in 2016.

Wegman takes the arguments often put forth in support of the electoral college and takes them apart one by one. He notes the ways the world has changed since it was originally conceived and, even then, it was controversial. In addition to the analysis of the Electoral College, he offers a history of the US Constitution, voting rights, and related Supreme Court decisions. The author clearly and cogently states his rationale. It offers food for thought. It will appeal to those interested in US history and politics.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Note: I accessed digital review copies of this book through Edelweiss and NetGalley.
  fernandie | Sep 15, 2022 |
nonfiction; electoral college reform
the absurdity of our electoral college is by now somewhat familiar to everyone, but Wegman gives the topic a complete review and outlines a way to fix it without having to amend the constitution. Further, he systematically dismantles arguments against reform (from both parties), demonstrating that the current system benefits and disadvantages BOTH parties and that it is in everyone's interests (except for maybe voters in the odd few swing states) to make every vote count equally--i.e., not just the ones in the swing states. Lots more to it than that, but I can't sum it all up as eloquently as he.

Even if you don't want to read the whole thing, I recommend picking out a couple chapters--whether you're interested in the history of how the system was designed (slaveholders vs nonslaveholders had to reach a compromise somehow), or how the system has panned out over time (losses for both Reps and Dems), or how to conduct an argument to try to change someone's mind. I listened to the whole book, but didn't fully absorb all of it, and I still learned a whole LOT.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this will happen soon enough for the Fall election, with all of the other important issues currently taking center stage, but you never know. The least we can do is educate ourselves. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
I think Wegman is on to something…lol.

America is not a true democracy when the person who wins the popular vote can still loose. It’s a very strange democracy the one the US has, though with the Electoral College being the prize to aim for. One person one vote and that’s all would have seen Hilary Clinton win, it would see Biden win. The origins of the Electoral College are rather murky, the Southern slave holding states insisted all of those living in the state he counted to give the bigger Electoral College vote, black people of course didn’t get to vote. There have been moves to shift away from the Electoral College system. The Southern states with large Electoral College votes have continually vetoed any move. I don’t understand that as democracy. I understand one person one vote counted nationally. Those Founding Fathers didn’t trust the common person, might elect someone ‘unsuitable’. If one bothers to read the history of the thoughts in the 1780s, we will see that the slave holding states insisted on counting all people’s living in the state; in Virginia it was estimated that slaves made up 60% of the populace. The white vote, the only people allowed to vote, would have returned much less votes compared to the allocation of the Electoral College votes. There was a ‘three fifths’ compromise where black people were counted as only three fifths of a white resident in the state. Of course the American system is theirs to change, I am merely commenting which is allowed. There have been moves over the years in America to throw out the system as it no longer serves its original intent. Why can't the US get rid of the Electoral College? This is how Trump won in 2016 with less number of votes than Clinton, but more support from the Electoral College. As it is and in this day and age it’s a stupid system. The government of the US is incapable of carrying out the wishes of the majority, due to the corrupted and corruptible electoral system, and this has been the case for some time. That is an abject failure of democracy, especially when it is backed by state sanctioned violence and misinformation. It’s very worrying that 40 odd percent want to vote for that, no matter what the majority thinks, that condemns the country to end its days as a major power in violence. Major issue here is the US claiming to be the oldest/biggest/bestest democracy in the world, while in reality it's barely a democracy to begin with. Never has been an actual properly functioning democracy. Almost as big an issue is that the rest of the world never really offers any serious push back - often quite the opposite in fact - and the entire world suffers because of it (global commentary is slowly, finally, changing though. Europe could try a little harder says little me).

The USA was never a democracy - it was designed by the founders to be a republic, with patrician leaders in charge of the unwashed masses. It's also been obvious that "United States" has always been an oxymoron. They always need enemies - either internal or external. True democracy is one person-one vote...with the make-up of the government reflecting the vote percentages of the electorate. In its current state, it's a corrupted and a gerrymandered version of it.

I am waiting to see if Trump hunkered down in the Whitehouse bunker will have to be extricated in a way reminiscent of the Waco siege, after which he will be brought out in cuffs, minus his wig (of course, it's not a wig, it's a combover, reportedly three feet long when soaking wet and hanging to one side).

Forget the Supreme Court; it's full of wackaroonies, like him and thanks to him.



NB: Why is the healthcare system free in Europe and not in the US? Because the US healthcare system is based on profits and not on the needs of the people. Stupid ah? ( )
  antao | Nov 4, 2020 |
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"A radical spirit of change has overtaken American politics, making once-unthinkable reforms-like abolishing the Electoral College-seem possible. Two of the last five elections were won by candidates who lost the popular vote, calling the integrity of the entire electoral system into question. Political passions are already high, and they will reach a boiling point as we enter the 2020 race. The message from the American people is clear: we need major reform, and we need it now. In Let the People Pick the President, New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman makes a powerful case for abolishing the antiquated and antidemocratic Electoral College, and choosing presidents based on a national popular vote. He uncovers the Electoral College's controversial origins, profiles the many attempts to reform it over the years, and explains why it is now essential for us to remove this obsolete system and finally make every citizen's vote matter. Wegman addresses objections from both sides of the aisle and presents an airtight argument that moving toward a national popular vote would reduce voter apathy and political polarization, increase voter turnout, and restore belief in our democratic system. Abolishing the Electoral College is the keystone reform that must be accomplished to improve our politics; Wegman shows that this once-lofty goal can be achieved, and charts a path to accomplishing it"--

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