Donald Trump thinks that he won the popular vote, or that he would have "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he tweeted Sunday. Since then he's gone on to attack CNN for pointing out there's literally no evidence to support his claims, retweeting Twitter hacks and tweeting himself that the network is worse now than before the election. But forget the Trump haze of confusion: the numbers show that Trump lost not only the popular vote, but he didn't have a majority in the GOP primary either. According to Nate Silver's latest tweet, Trump's vote totals aren't looking good, so why again is he president?
Silver pointed out on Twitter that Trump "will soon become the first president who failed to win a majority of the vote either in the general election or in his primary." That's right. He's going to be the president when he wasn't supported by a majority of voters in his party or in the country. There's the caveat of primaries before 1972 being even less Democratic than they are now, but still this is worth considering. He will have gotten just 46.5 percent of the GOP primary votes (among the top four candidates) and also just 46.5 percent of the popular vote in the general election.
But as this election has shown the nation, getting 46.5 percent in two races can put you in the White House in the United States. Our system failed us twice thanks to this wimpy plurality of a percentage. Trump will be president not because a majority of GOP or general election voters are white supremacists, sexists, Islamophobes, or other deplorable Trump voting types (although some definitely are). It will be because of our failed primary and Electoral College systems.
Don't get me wrong. He still had a racist, divisive campaign and the media had an early obsession with his candidacy, etc. He never should have reached vote totals as high as he did. The fact that 62 million Americans voted for him is a national disgrace — but if our systems worked correctly, the will of the people would be respected and he would not be president. The #NotMyPresident hashtag might seem defiant — but he literally isn't the chosen president for a majority of the country (and that's just counting the people who can and did vote).
So when you're thinking to yourself, gosh, I really thought the United States was better than this, guess what: it is better than this. It's better than Trump — or at least America's people are. What is not "better than this" are the institutions that are propelling Trump to victory. For example, the GOP's win-at-all-costs primary model with winner-takes-all delegate distribution ultimately pushed him over the top at the convention. And not to mention, it's the Electoral College, an early 1800s system aimed at diminishing the voting power of free black people, that won him the presidency.
In my opinion, it doesn't make sense to get down on the country itself. It's still the same great place — or at least really good with some definite room for improvement. This would be one of those areas to improve. On Dec. 19, the Electoral College could still redeem itself, but I'm not holding my breath. And that's all the more reason to make your voice heard if you believe the American election process could be updated, to say the least.
It's going to be an intense four years, but we're stronger together, and you can make sure that next time, 46.5 percent isn't treated like a majority.