3.2.19 Is the Electoral College Undermining Democracy?

Is the Electoral College Undermining Democracy?

“If direct election of the president would give equal weight to all votes, then the Electoral College works to give outsize weight to a narrow group of voters in a handful of states. That bias is why Donald Trump is president,” writes columnist Jamelle Bouie in The New York TimesBouie refers to a 2018 report (co-authored by PRRI) that outlines the conditions under which Trump could be reelected in 2020 while losing the popular vote. Bouie argues that because of these forces, the current electoral system continues to undermine democracy. In the article, Bouie quotes former Attorney General Eric Holder, who tweeted earlier this week, “Time to make Electoral College a vestige of the past. It’s undemocratic, forces candidates to ignore majority of the voters and campaign in a small number of states. The presidency is our one national office and should be decided – directly – by the voters.” After describing the history of the Electoral College, Bouie cites PRRI data, pointing out: “In a 2018 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, 65 percent said presidents should be elected by popular vote.”
Michael Cohen’s Testimony

“On Wednesday, Donald Trump’s former attorney and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. With his seven hours of testimony another chapter has been added to what feels like a badly written movie but is instead all too real. This new chapter in the TrumpWorld melodrama does nothing to alter the overall story,” opines Chauncey Devega in Salon. Devega argues that the hearing was mostly political theater but also gave us important insights into the health of American democracy, with different lines of questioning from Republicans and Democrats on the committee reflecting broader divisions in the country. Devega cites PRRI data, writing, “New research from PRRI shows that the American people are highly polarized and extremely divided. Trump’s support may be softening among some key voters, including the ‘white working class’ in the Rust Belt states.”
Baby Boomers Destabilize Workforce for Last Time

“The youngest baby boomers are around 55 years old. The oldest are in their 70s. Most Americans don’t remember a workforce without the largest generation. And yet, as boomers enter their final years in the workforce, their retirements are taking companies by surprise,” notes Andrew Van Dam in The Washington PostAccording to a survey done by Willis Towers Watson, an insurance and risk-management company, almost 75 percent of companies surveyed expect to have to deal with “significant or moderate” challenges related to late retirements. This is due to the disproportionate share of workers who are part of the Baby Boom generation. Because of changes in how retirements are funded (with responsibility shifting from employer to worker), more people are working later in their lives to sustain themselves, contributing to broader problems with income inequality. Technology also plays a role. “As technology progresses, it’s feasible that a robot or computer program could take on some of a worker’s responsibilities when he or she is ready to retire. That means employers’ succession strategies will evolve alongside technology. And because boomers are the first generation to face the task of passing on their knowledge to machines and computer programs — as well as to apprentices and junior employees — setbacks and tensions are bound to arise,” Van Dam notes. According to PRRI polling, 15 percent of California workers between 50 and 64, and 15 percent of those 65 or older say they don’t plan to retire because they can’t afford it.