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Time to abolish the Electoral College

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader 

It is time to abolish the archaic Electoral College, being blamed for handing Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump the White House, though Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, according to Reverend Jesse Jackson.

“It’s fight back time,” Jackson said during a diverse meeting with a number of community leaders at a press conference over the weekend.

Jackson also discussed Trump’s win on his Up Front TV show with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mudlyne Ihejirika; Jane Ramsey, adjunct professor, University of Chicago; Darryl Dennard, host of Chicago Speaks, and Reverend Tyrone McGowan, National Youth Director, Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

With the November 8 ballots still being counted, Jackson said Clinton is winning the popular vote like Al Gore in 2000, but lost the presidential election for failure to reach the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes.

Ralph Martiere
Ralph Martiere

According to the Associated Press, CNN and Political Report, Clinton is leading Trump by more than 990,000 popular votes. That is why Jackson and others want to abolish the Electoral College system which overrides the one man, one vote system.

Jackson and other leaders spoke out on the way Trump won.

“The very right wing funded by the Koch brothers and Rauner bought the Illinois news network; so all news feeds, all radio stations in Illinois come from this right wing ideological group. That’s how ingrained they are. That is really their strategy,” said Ralph Martiere, executive director for the Bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

“Blue collar whites honestly believe that anything that moves from a social or civil rights standpoint that benefits minorities, is something that necessarily takes away from blue collar whites. They’ve been convinced of this through the constant right wing sort of efforts to get that kind of message out, because it’s what has supported Republican candidates and it’s wrong,” Martiere told the Chicago Crusader.

“There has to be an outreach by progressives to blue collar whites, to get them on board as part of the movement towards sound progressive policies which are evidenced–based and help everyone. It creates a better economy for everyone. That is not what blue collar whites think. That is why they are voting the way they are voting and we need to get them aboard,” Martiere said.

Agreeing with Reverend Jackson, that it is fight back time, Dr. Michael Seng said the Electoral College needs to be abolished. “That was one of the problems after the Bush/Gore election. I think it was a big mistake for the American people to let that go. I think there should have been a movement to abolish the Electoral College at that time, in 2000.

“It is unrepresentative and nobody understands it,” Seng said of the Electoral College. “Perhaps that’s the biggest reason of getting rid of it because people don’t understand it. In a democracy, we should not have a procedure that people don’t understand” he said.

According to attorney Jeanette Foreman “it’s the way Hitler did it, by ravaging our minds with repetitive messages that are very emotional, very galvanizing…but using it in a way to actually change and guide your mind like they did with Trump…. We know that repetition is the key to being able to have an idea stick in a person’s mind and eventually the person will repeat it.”

Attorney Jeanette Foreman
Attorney Jeanette Foreman

Repetition “is the secret of how 40 percent or more of Americans have been persuaded by Trump to believe his lies even though they are blatantly not true. Like Obama not being born in this country, for instance,” Foreman said.

Natalie Howse, president of the Cook County Bar Association, said, “we did not protest the Electoral College and its process in 2008 and 2012 because Barack Obama won decisively.” Howse added that “President-elect Trump has advocated for some things I don’t think would be very good for the Black community, like stop and frisk.”

N’Digo Publisher Hermene Hartman said that on December 19, 2016, the Electoral College has to certify the votes for president and vice president. In Illinois, there are 20 electors. She said there is still time for Clinton to win, by asking the electors to abstain their votes.

Several leaders said there is a petition being circulated to abolish the Electoral College. A strong proponent of this movement is Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). “The Electoral College has outlasted its usefulness. It is part of the Constitution written when communication was by pony express,” she said.

However, a strong setback to the proposed legislation is that it has to be approved by three-quarters of all states within seven years after passage by Congress. It’s questionable whether or not this will happen.

Keena Carson, Push-Minister Zacharry Taylor and Don Terry, Press Secretary to Jackson
Keena Carson, Push-Minister Zacharry Taylor and Don Terry, Press Secretary to Jackson

Millennial Keena Carson, founder of Project M.A.R.C.H., said the election of Trump is “unfortunate” and that too many people didn’t take the election seriously, like the rumored stories of the “15 thousand who voted for Harambe, the gorilla who was shot dead at a Cincinnati zoo after a child had fallen into an enclosed area.”

This is the second time in 16-years that Democrats (Al Gore and now Clinton) won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote.

“It’s fight back time,” Jackson said, urging unity among civil rights groups, and organizing for social justice.

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