Not My President?January 17, 2017
Contrary to popular hashtags, “Not My President” has been a rallying cry at least five times in American history. As President-Elect Trump is sworn-in to office this week, millions of Americans are dissatisfied with the election outcome and rekindle an old post-election sentiment from the past. It happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and last year. The election of Donald Trump was not the first time in our history that the Electoral College has secured the White House for a candidate.
In 1824, the top contenders in the presidential election were John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William Crawford. Jackson was the favored of the four, leading in popular votes, but none of the candidates had enough Electoral College votes to win. In the end, John Quincy Adams would be the winner. I wonder if “Not My President” was screamed by the thousands who voted?
In 1876, the presidential contest was between Samuel J. Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden was ahead in the popular vote. However, it would be a last minute switch among electors is South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida which would prompt a Supreme Court decision to hand off those electoral college votes to Hayes. Of course someone probably said “Not My President” in that year.
In 1888, the presidential contest was between Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland. Cleveland won the popular vote of 5,534,488 to Harrison’s 5,443,892. Harrison won the Electoral College vote with 233 to 168 votes. Again, there were probably many in America that screamed “Not My President.”
In 2001, thousands took to the street on Inauguration Day protesting the election of George W. Bush after he lost the popular vote against Al Gore. 50,996,582 Americans voted for Al Gore. 50,456,062 Americans voted for George W. Bush. It would be the Electoral College that would be the determining factor. Gore had 267 to Bush’s 246 Electoral College votes. Similarly, as to the election of 1876, the Supreme Court would play a role in naming the winner with a vote granting Florida’s contested 25 electoral votes to Bush. As the inauguration proceeded in January of 2001, “Not My President” was a major cry.
Fifteen years later, Donald Trump campaigned against Hillary Clinton. Clinton won the popular vote. She carried the popular vote by over two million votes. However, Donald Trump’s Electoral College votes went well over 300 making him the winner of the election. Certainly, “Not My President” is back again. As history speaks for America, this won’t be the last time.
The Electoral College system may seem to be unfair, but it is very fair. The popular vote is representative of a democracy…of which type of government America is not. The majority does not rule. The Electoral College system ensures that all 50 states have a voice in the outcome of the Presidential election. If we went by popular votes alone the states where there are millions of Americans in concentrated areas would always dominate the White House. Trump vociferously campaigned in states that had electoral college votes which would outnumber those of the major states. These states were those often overlooked by Clinton, but they include Americans too. For the fifth time in our history, the Electoral College has ensured that the President of the United States is the President of ALL Americans, not just the popular ones. So really, if one is an American, Donald Trump is OUR president.