No one, no matter your political affiliation, can deny we are living in a divisive time for American politics. There is not much we seem to agree on, and the fighting seems to never end. This would seem to be the worst time for this book to come out, but I would argue there is no greater time to advocate for the end of the electoral college. Jesse Wegman lays out a very succinct argument for ending this misunderstood process while providing well-researched historical context for this archaic and anti-democratic system. Every American citizen should read this book.
From Goodreads: The framers of the Constitution battled over it. Lawmakers have tried to amend or abolish it more than 700 times. To this day, millions of voters, and even members of Congress, misunderstand how it works. It deepens our national divide and distorts the core democratic principles of political equality and majority rule. How can we tolerate the Electoral College when every vote does not count the same, and the candidate who gets the most votes can lose? Twice in the last five elections, the Electoral College has overridden the popular vote, calling the integrity of the entire system into question—and creating a false picture of a country divided into bright red and blue blocks when in fact we are purple from coast to coast. Even when the popular-vote winner becomes president, tens of millions of Americans—Republicans and Democrats alike—find that their votes didn’t matter. And, with statewide winner-take-all rules, only a handful of battleground states ultimately decide who will become president. Now, as political passions reach a boiling point at the dawn of the 2020 race, the message from the American people is clear: The way we vote for the only official whose job it is to represent all Americans is neither fair nor just. Major reform is needed—now. Isn’t it time to let the people pick the president?
I’m sure there are people out there that will dismiss this book as “left leaning” or written because it’s been Democrats that have won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College in recent years and they are mad and are wanting to dismantle the system that seems to be keeping them from winning. However, Wegman’s argument is non-partisan at its core and he includes both Democrats and Republicans to bolster his case. He makes the point several times that the system we have in place right now is not democratic, that everyone’s vote does not count the same, and that everyone, regardless of your political party, should want a different system in place. The things I found most interesting about this book was the history of the Electoral College and the idea that the founding fathers really didn’t like it, but their hands were basically tied. The most effective part of this book, and the part that I would encourage everyone to read (even if they don’t read the entire book) is the section where Wegman takes common questions and talking points about the Electoral College and answers them with facts. After reading this section, I felt prepared to discuss this topic with people in a way I was not before. Towards the end of the book, he devotes a section of the book to the National Popular Vote Compact, something I had not heard of before, but should be talked about more. By the end of this book, I wanted everyone I know to read this book so we could discuss and debate this very important topic.
I think this is a book everyone should read if they want an overview of the history of this process and how we got to where we are right now, whether you think the Electoral College should be abolished or not. This doesn’t read like a textbook and the writing is accessible so I recommend this book for everyone, regardless of your political interest or background.
Author: Jesse Wegman
Published: March 17, 2020
Rating: 5 Stars