Problems with presidency: an incomplete list

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Leah Carrier

In 8th grade, I thought the Constitution was pretty cool. How smart it was, I thought, to have three different sections of government to distribute power. How sensible it was, I thought, to use competition to inspire passion and drive in presidential hopefuls. How lucky I was, I thought, to live in a democracy where the leader is determined by the vote of the people. Unfortunately, such naïve perceptions of a functional government couldn’t last more than a few seconds, after which I remembered the hot mess some people like to call the ‘president’. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t intend to discredit the Founding Fathers and their idea of separation of powers and checks and balances. I understand that the Constitution is the law of the land and that its binding qualities are vital to the unity of the 50 states. But I couldn’t honestly give a good reason as to why we still trust a group of slave-owning white men to write a document that upholds the values and rights of the diverse population of today’s America. 

Theoretically, the pressure to outdo an opponent would ensure that the best of the best would come out on top. Obviously, something went wrong. 

One main factor is that the drive to win and achieve superiority while motivating in some cases, is often abused in the spotlight. During presidential debates and public appearances, candidates shoot down each others’ ideas, apparently disregarding the chance that their point may be valid. The fundamental goal of a president should be to represent the beliefs and values of the country as a whole. Yes, it’s as impossible as it sounds. But even a mere attempt at considering all sides of an issue should be seen as a sign of strength and character, not weakness. When politicians on stage show little attempt to find middle ground with their competitors regardless of party, they eliminate the possibility of compromise. Is this the type of behavior we want Americans to emulate?

Another more controversial issue is the institution of the electoral college. In essence, the electoral college gives states a certain number of electors, or ‘votes’, based on the number of representatives they have in Congress. Victoria Kelley, an American University Law student teaching Constitutional Law at Wilson High School, explains the situation. Her home state, Missouri, has 10 electors. The candidate who wins more than 50 percent of the votes in Missouri during the general elections receives its 10 votes in the electoral college. While this may seem like an efficient and logical process, Kelley asserts that “it’s very anti-democratic.” She explains, “…the electoral college originally was designed to disperse power so that … the smaller states could have the same amount of power as larger states.” But for a system that was created to give voices to populations that might feel underrepresented due to size, it’s certainly not solving the problem. 

Why? Take the Missouri example. If the Republican candidate won 60 percent Missouri’s votes and the Democrat candidate won 40%, it would make sense that the Republican would receive 6 of Missouri’s electors and the Democrat would receive 4. Haha, tricked you! Instead, the Republican would proceed to win all 10 of Missouri’s electors, effectively silencing Missouri’s entire Democrat population. 

Clearly, the current election procedures are a mess. What was once a process for finding a leader has now become a public display of political discord. I’m not asking you to agree with me, but I do hope that I’ve opened your mind at least a little bit wider to the possibility that maybe the real problem with this democracy is the system itself, and the election of Trump is merely the painful side-effect. •