This isn't about who you wanted to win the last election, and it isn't about how you like the people now in power. It's for people on both sides, and it's about the constitutional crisis that threatens our way of life.

Donald Trump became president legally and constitutionally despite being rejected by the voters. As such, he has the right to pursue his goals and policies, BUT... he needs to face the reality that the voters rejected them. They made their decision clear: no border wall, no Muslim ban, no Obamacare repeal. No vast divestiture of public lands.

Republicans likewise control the senate, 51 votes to 49. BUT those 48 Democratic and independent senators actually represent almost 25 million MORE people than the 51 Republican senators do.

In the case of the White House, installing the loser is a failure of our ridiculous Electoral College system, and could be fixed before our next presidential election. In the case of the Senate, the issue comes from an unamendable clause in the constitution, giving each state two senators. As a result, Alaska, Wyoming, and Vermont among them get six senators out of the hundred, even though not one of those states has as many people as Monroe County, New York.

The crisis comes not because the president and members of Congress are legally using their power and authority. It comes because they are doing it in such a way as to run roughshod over the voters.

Trump, for instance, might have approached his new office by saying, “I recognize that most of you selected Clinton to be your president, but by our constitution the job goes to me. I am going to perform my job, and I hope to win your support. I'm not going to change my principles, but I realize that I have a lot of listening to do, and I want to work together with you.”

Had such an approach been taken, even opponents would have been cautiously willing to give him latitude. Instead, the president and Congressional leaders have chosen to govern as a minority regime, disdaining the voice of the people.

In time, of course, they must each again submit their performance to the voters, and abide by the results. The grave danger is that many voters will give up altogether, deciding that the American way just doesn't work, and democracy isn't worth the trouble. Three times in this century they've gotten the president they chose, and two times they've gotten the president they rejected. (This is just slightly better than a coin toss, which would cost a whale of a lot less.)

Recently Republican commentators and spokespeople have been chorusing, “Donald Trump was elected President to....” But that's the problem. Trump wasn't elected. He was rejected. He wasn't put into office to do any of those things. He CAN do many things, but we should all face the fact that he's doing them against the people's will.

Nor can we shrug it off by saying, “Well, that's how the Framers of the Constitution set things up.” They set up a truly deliberative Electoral College, whose members would select the gravest, wisest man in America to be President. That didn't happen.

Since then we've formed a gimcrack work-around, which make the electors USUALLY a rubber stamp for the voters. That didn't happen either. Instead, a glitch handed the job to the reject.

Our Constitutional Framers set up many measures to give PROTECTION to the minority. Not one measure was created to give RULERSHIP to the minority.

In 2001 and in 2017 the rejected presidents came in as conquerors, rather than coming in with humility. Voters are losing heart, concluding that our system actually works to thwart democracy. If they give up, then the American system that Lincoln and Washington struggled for has ended.

We can all work to forestall future failures by demanding that our states and our Congressional representatives abolish the Electoral College, and let democracy have its way for good or ill... AND by sticking with the democratic process, however frustrated we may be. But until then our leaders, representing a minority but serving on behalf of all, need to turn to the nation with open hearts, open ears, and open minds. Once they've done that, they can make the decisions they choose. UNTIL they've done that, they are battering the spirit of democracy out of our people.


Kirk House is a historian. He lives in Bath.