Don’t Eliminate the Institution, Fix It

The United States Congress convenes during the 112th session in 2012 ( Image )

The United States Congress convenes during the 112th session in 2012 (Image)

 

Recently, the 2020 Democratic field of candidates has been flooded with calls to end the filibuster and eliminate the Electoral College. These calls for radical changes to the institutions that have defined our Republic do derive from legitimate complaints. From presidents losing the popular vote to vital reforms being held up in the Senate, these institutions have been stifling needed change in our political, social, and economic systems. While it’s easy to recognize the many faults in these systems, though, the calls for outright eliminating these systems are a dangerous solution. These institutions are vital for the protection of minority right, and their removal would create the potential for a tyrannical majority. Instead of eliminating these establishments, the United States needs to reform them. Small reforms to the system will allow necessary reforms through while at the same time ensuring that minority opinions are still taken into account. Still, there is a surefire fix that would involve vital reform without jeopardizing the state of our government.

First, instead of eliminating the filibuster, why not lower the threshold for a cloture to 55 votes? The filibuster has been a procedure throughout the history of the Senate that has been vital in ensuring the minority voice is heard. However, it has stifled many bills, and today, it is more often employed as an instrument of obstruction by the minority party. The current requirement of 60 votes to end the filibuster is much too high for today’s highly partisan Senate. Yet, eliminating the filibuster would merely reverse the issue, meaning that the majority would be able to act tyrannically, forcing legislation through both the House and Senate with little input from the minority party. It is vital to protect in order to ensure the minority party has a say in the policies being made. Therefore, lowering the threshold to 55 votes would mean that the majority party would still require some support from the minority party, but it would make it easier for bills to get through the Senate that make vital but controversial reforms.

Then, instead of eliminating the Electoral College, why not allocate electors proportionally? One of the main complaints concerning the Electoral College is that a candidate can win all of the electors in a state by only a razor-thin margin. The radical answer to this flaw in the system is to eliminate the electoral system as a whole. While this would ensure those with the most votes win the election, it would also mean that smaller states and rural areas would receive less attention as candidates would center focus on coastal urban areas. This would mean presidential candidates would often fail to address the needs of states with smaller populations. Therefore, to find a middle ground, allocating electors proportionally would ensure that the Electoral College still be representative of the popular vote, while ensuring that smaller and more rural states still hold some voting power and receive attention in campaigns.

Ultimately, reforming these institutions such as the filibuster and the Electoral College is a far better solution than outright eliminating them. This would guarantee that important issues from healthcare to income inequality can be addressed, while still ensuring that those in the minority opinion continue to receive a voice in the process. Eliminating these institutions, even if intended for the best of reasons, could threaten our democracy and usher in periods of authoritative majorities and the destruction of the minority voice. It is vital to make these smaller changes so that real policy change can be made without destroying our democracy.