Does The Popular Vote Matter? Hillary Clinton's Victory Offers Unexpected Glimmers Of Hope

Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking to supportersat the New Yorker Hotel after her defeat last night in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

"Dejected." "Dispirited." "Despairing." The list of words that my friends and I have used to try and describe this gnawing, damp feeling in our guts and hearts in the wake of Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory is long. People are coping in different ways. But sifting through the debris of Tuesday’s election, I think it’s important for all of us who voted for her to recognize that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. And that matters.

Some may feel like this is a consolation prize barely worth the name, but I think there are several valuable, meaningful conclusions we can make from this result.

First, more people voted against Donald Trump than voted for him. According to the latest presidential tabulations by the Associated Press, 66.2 million people chose someone other than the candidate who openly and unapologetically spewed racist, sexist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant rhetoric, compared to the 59.8 million who voted for him. That means there were 6.4 million more people who voted against Trump than who voted for him.

Second, more people voted for our first major-party female candidate for president than for her opponent. True, it is dispiriting that Clinton wasn't able to soundly defeat him, especially given his strong record of misogyny and sexism.

Third, while it’s far too high a price to pay, this is a valuable reminder of how antiquated and undemocratic our method for electing a president is, and it should renew our urgency for getting it fixed. While an outright fix in the Constitution is probably not going to happen anytime soon, novel solutions like the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could provide a workaround so that this kind of (ahem) bullsh*t doesn’t happen again. 

[Twitter Embed: https://twitter.com/sjbwrite/status/796582385001369600]

Currently, only deep-blue states have signed on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, accounting for 30 percent of the Electoral College. Getting to 50 percent (which is required to activate the Compact) might require the cooperation of some red states, but a few well-placed ballot measures could change the tide.

Finally, as someone who wasn’t just voting against Trump, but who actively admired Clinton — warts and all — I find it comforting to think that there are more Americans out there who value her experience, her strength in the face of adversity, and her determination to do the grinding hard work of politicking and governing, than who prioritize Trump’s slick promises and easy solutions. The world is a hard place, and governing can be a slog, but Clinton was up to it, and more people saw that. My prediction is that Trump will see that too, and sooner than he thinks.

I’m not trying to paper over what I believe has been a real and painful loss — for progress, for liberal ideas, for democracy — but despair is a toxic force. Yes, Trump may have won the presidency, and as Clinton said in her concession speech, “This is painful, and will be for a long time.” But in your darkest times, just remember: We outnumber them.

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