Donald Trump’s unfitness for public office is on display daily. So far, the lives of more than 128,000 Americans have been lost under his watch during the pandemic. His policies are destroying the environment, destabilizing world politics, and bringing unprecedented corruption and demagoguery to Washington. And he lost the popular vote in 2016 by a margin of nearly 3 million.
Though we profess pride in our democracy and the genius of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers’ fear of unchecked popular rule led them to create brakes on true democracy, such as the Electoral College and the US Senate. These institutions produced a system that permits a minority to run the country, with the support of less than half of the population. It installed in the White House a man whose policies threaten the whole world.
Why then don’t we hear more discussion of constitutional reform? Reform, especially of the way we elect presidents, will be difficult, maybe impossible. But if we ignore the inequities and antidemocratic consequences of the system, we are condemned to putting future Trumps in office.
It took many decades for abolitionists to secure freedom for the slaves and for suffragettes to secure the vote for women. It may take still longer to reform the Constitution in this way. But if we never talk about it, it will never happen.