PCP – ForDavid Park - 4A ECE
Posted on: November 22, 2016
“Democracy died today,” I told my friends soon after I learned that Mr. Trump won the US election. It was a fine day, but all turned upside down at that very second.
I thought Clinton would win for sure. Who in their right mind votes for Trump? Apparently, many people did so. Slightly less than half of the country voted for Trump. Trump is sexist, racist, criminal (he did not pay his taxes), and cynically populist.
There was the problem with his campaign slogan too: “Make America great again.” America grew by drinking blood from others. Isn’t it due to western imperialism that the world is in this mess? Trump is suggesting to go back to the times where America manipulated the world for their own benefit. The slogan is the pinnacle of selfishness, and people voted for it.
Sadly, this trend of being selfish is not limited to the US. Look at Britain, for example. Earlier this year, the UK decided to leave EU. Behind the Brexit movement was a racist, white supremacist group. It is not just Britain. Right-wing extreme groups are gaining power in Europe, including countries such as Sweden, Germany, and France. In the Middle East, there is the problem of Daesh, and Asian countries suffer the similar problem. The Chinese government oppresses Tibet. In South Korea, more than 30 percent of the people voted for the ruling party who are continuingly led by the daughter of a strongman.
Here is the conclusion: The public is not always just.
Not only people are always not just, but they are also easily misled. In psychology, there are phenomena called blame validation and excuse validation. In essence, people perceive evidence as they see fit: They will use a piece of evidence to blame someone if they do not like a person. They will also excuse people they like, no matter how much evidence shows up against that person, by saying that their actions are not blameworthy.
It is what happened in the election: People have excused Trump for his misdeeds and blamed the Obama and Clinton administration for every unfortunate outcome.
Let’s start with Trump’s mishaps. Remember the “locker room talk”? Trump was openly acknowledging and boasting about his “ability” to grope women and mistreat them. Numerous accounts and witnesses all condemned Trump, yet his supporters did not seem to care. Rather, they all defended Trump’s action, and some of them even said that his past actions are not related to his ability to lead the country.
Now, let’s talk about blame validation. Trump claimed that Daesh was established due to Obama withdrawing the troops that were stationed in Iraq. However, how many know that Obama was merely following the agreement negotiated between Bush administration and Iraqi government? People refused to acknowledge the facts with Trump. Not only that, there is the whole issue of Clinton’s email scandal. The justice department and the FBI announced numerous times that although it was a mistake on Clinton’s part, the actions were not serious enough to press charges. However, people seemed to take it as a world ending event.
All these indicate that the rule by the public is not always a good option. Plato seemed to have a good idea on the matter. Plato was devastated when his teacher, Socrates, was sentenced to death. Plato dreamed of a state ruled by a philosopher king. The philosopher king is in love with wisdom, prudent in rule, and sophisticated enough to care for the other people. He saw the flaws of both democracy and oligarchy, and dreamed of a new system that is beneficial to all.
The founding fathers of US had a similar idea. They had a distaste for a mob ruling a country, so they insisted on a system called “Electoral College” to safeguard against the mob-politics. In US, people vote for electors when they vote for the president. Then, the electors, representing STATES, gather together in District of Columbia (also known as Washington, D.C) later in the election year to vote for the next president. What is interesting about the system is that the electors can vote for a candidate that are not selected by the public. By going against the choice of the public, the electors can negate the negative effect of mob ruling.
Of course, the current Electoral College is broken. It inherits the problem with the first-past-the-post system. Except for a few states, the winner takes all the electors. By doing so, it does not properly represent the public, nor does it protects the country from mob rule. It seems that Trump will take the Oval Office. The electors, it seems, will not go against the people’s choice in each state, but conform to the people in each state. There is the possibility of faithless electors, who vote for the candidates they did not pledge to vote. However, they have never turned the outcome of an election. In the end, the current Electoral College system neither properly represents the public nor corrects the people’s wrong choice.
However, when it is fixed, it can be of great advantage. Remember, Hitler was elected. Duterte was elected (and his extrajudicial killings cannot be justified). The current South Korean president, who handed the power to a mere civilian, was elected with the help from “concrete supporters”. (30% of the total population supports the president whatever the circumstances are.) In France, a right-wing extremist was almost elected to be president. Are we safe from our choice? Are we safe from our actions? Do we not need the guidance of philosophical kings?
Of course, had it not been for the Electoral College, Trump would have not won. Hillary still won the popular vote. However, the problem remains: What would happen if more people fall for the propaganda?
I used to believe democracy is the most just form of government. Now, with the victory of an unsophisticated, sexist, and racist president, I am not sure. The public made an unjust choice. Now hate crimes are on the rise. Democracy is dead, and maybe it is time to accept that the public is not always just, that we may need a working Electoral College system to safeguard against our actions.