South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg stated that if he was elected as president of the United States, he would try to heal the divide in the country and reassure Americans about the voting process in part by abolishing the Electoral College.
“I think the work that has to go on right away is to make sure our institutions actually reflect us,” Buttigieg replied, when asked, what he would do to reinforce the legitimacy of the election system. “Not that we have majority popular rule on every decision, but there should at least be some resemblance between the decisions that are being made and what the American people want.”
“You can see this across various issues, but the issue behind every issue is democracy,” he continued. “The fact that districts are drawn where politicians effectively choose their voters, certainly the rule of money in politics, and I would argue the existence fo the Electoral College itself.”
While speaking at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, Buttigieg explained to interviewer David Axelrod, who famously served as the chief of staff to former President Barack Obama, that many “anti-democratic” qualities of the American voting, such as the Electoral College, have ground the system’s responsiveness to a halt and therefore need to be fixed immediately.
“The process stuff is never sexy, but that’s got to be done right alongside dealing with climate, and wages, and racial inequity, and healthcare if we want to advance as a country in our lifetime,” the Democratic presidential hopeful continued.
“So, you think you would restore unity by moving to eliminate the Electoral College?” Axelrod pressed for clarification.
“I think that it’s one example — no, this is important,” Buttigieg said amid laughter from the crowd. “Think about this, if we had a national popular vote we’d all actually be participating in the same election for president, which is actually not true right now.”
The South Bend, Indiana mayor further contended that while the American democratic structures are failing to adequately function, President Donald Trump has been making the system even worse off since he was elected to the presidency.
“I think that Trump’s arrival largely reflects a sense of frustration about those structures,” Buttigieg said. “For example, in his campaign he said the elections are rigged. Now in one sense that was a lie because he was saying that it was undocumented immigrants by the busload showing up at precincts … But in another sense, if the outcome of a congressional race is effectively predetermined by gerrymandering, then in a certain very transparent, naked, and real way that’s true.”
“So the things that he was saying that weren’t true often rhymed with something that was true and tapped into this more general desire, I think, to burn the house down,” he continued. “Which is why all of the racism, and the misogyny, and the xenophobia in his campaign found such fertile ground.”
Buttigieg noted that while he is not under the impression that overhauling the American election system to favor the national popular vote will be a quick and easy process, it is important to “elevate our ambition” because, he argues, American democratic structures do not currently work.
“If our institutions continue to be this encrusted and non-functional, then I really think no matter how clever the policies we come up with on health, or climate, or wages, or whatever, we’ll continue to see this disconnect that will empower whoever is the loudest and promises most convincingly that they’re going to burn the house down,” he added.