The United States is in danger of losing its democracy to minority rule. The minority are Republicans who keep winning elections despite losing the popular vote.
The data demonstrates that the results of the 2016 presidential and congressional elections did not reflect the desire of voters. The “winner” Donald J. Trump (R-New York) received 46.6% of the national vote or around 62.985 million ballots, The Cook Political Report’s National Popular Vote Tracker indicates.
Republicans won the Presidency by winning 13 states
The “loser” Hillary R. Clinton (D-New York) received 48.2% of the popular vote or 65.853 million ballots. Trump won because he received a majority (48.3%) of the vote in 13 swing states.
Those swing states produced 46.03 million votes of the 136.640 million cast in 2016. For the record the swing states were Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Minnesota, Michigan, Maine, Iowa, Florida, Colorado, and Arizona.
Basically Republicans won the presidency by only winning elections in states that represent a little over one third of the national population. History buffs will be scared, because the situation bears a disturbing resemblance to the status quo right before the Civil War; when a few slave states dominated presidential elections.
The situation in Congress is a little better; Republicans did win a majority of the popular votes for the national legislature 49.9%, the Brookings Institution calculated. Problematically, the percentage of seats held by the GOP was 55.2%.
Democrats controlled 44.8% of seats in Congress, even though they received 47.3% of the vote. That’s problematic because, the number of seats a party holds is everything in Congress.
More bothersome is the situation in the Senate, where Democrats won a decisive popular majority of the votes cast; 45.2 million to 39.3 million, The Washington Post reported. Yet Republicans have a slight majority of the seats, 51 out of 100.
This gives the GOP the power to make important decisions; such as appointing judges and Supreme Court justices and approving treaties, against the popular will. It ominously parallels some of the political disputes that triggered the American Revolution.
One of the Founding Fathers’ best known rallying cries was “No Taxation without Representation” that seems to be what is happening under the Capitol Dome. The Senate in particular seems completely unrepresentative of the American people.
Will Minority Rule Lead to Civil War or Disobedience
The obvious danger here is that Americans feeling disenfranchised will follow the example of the founders and resort to violence. A more likely scenario would be civil disobedience like that successfully practiced by Dr. Martin Luther King II in the 1950s and 60s.
The historical precedent is for the disenfranchised to resort to civil disobedience followed by violence. That is what is the Founders did in the 1770s, Southern slave owners did in the 1860s, Suffragettes did in the early 1900s, and the Civil Rights movement did in the 1950s and 60s.
The good news is that in two of the four cases, the nation’s leaders averted violence by enfranchising the disenfranchised. Women were granted the right to vote by the 19th Amendment and the Federal government dismantled Jim Crow.
The bad news is that in two cases, the 1770s, and 1860s, the disenfranchised were ignored with catastrophic results. The British Crown refused to acknowledge the colonists’ complaints until a military defeat at Yorktown in 1781.
Tyranny of the Majority
The situation in the 1860s was more problematic because the disenfranchise; slave owners, were demanding concessions that were clearly against the popular will. The Civil War broke out partially because America elected a Congress and President that reflected popular sentiment (against slavery).
It was fear of tyranny of the majority that led the South to succeed. This should give those Americans that want a Congress or presidency that reflect the popular vote food for thought.
There is also reason to fear because changing demographics might give one Party a substantial majority and total control over the federal government in the near future. The Civil War broke out because the Republicans won control of both houses of Congress and the White House in 1860.
This situation might be repeated soon because population growth in the United States is concentrated in a few fast growing heavily Democratic states. This is problematic because states like California, are displaying vast cultural differences to Republican regions.
Particularly frightening are pundits like Steve Phillips; who predicts a Demographic Revolution that will favor left-wing Democrats. If Phillips is correct, we might soon have a situation like that in 1860, when one side gets an absolute majority in Washington.
Back in 1860 it was not minority rule that led to Civil War – it was the end of minority rule. The violence was triggered by the election of a President (Lincoln) and a Congress (Republicans) that represented the majority. The minority fearing they had no place in the new America revolted.
How Divided America can lead to Civil War
In today’s America the Republican states are disproportionately rural, white, Christian, and conservative.
The Democratic states are disproportionately urban, secular, multiracial, and liberal. They also have enough population to skew the electoral results terribly.
The Democrats’ disproportionate vote in the Senate popular vote comes from just two states California and New York. That number is likely to grow in future elections and generate resentment; particularly if Democrats can win Texas and Florida.
An obvious fear of Republicans; is total Democratic control of the House, which is elected by popular vote. The GOP fears a return to the 1960s when House Democrats simply ignored them when passing legislation.
Americans need to be concerned about minority rule. History teaches that its continuation will lead to civil unrest and demands for disruptive political fixes. Worse minority history demonstrates that minority rules collapse can trigger civil war. Violence is not inevitable, but civil disobedience of some sort is a certainty.