Michael Dukakis says abolishing the Electoral College should be Democrats’ top priority

Brookline ,Ma- 11/05/2016- Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis (cq)  was at a event in Brookline to kick off  a day of canvassing against  Question 2. The ballot  question if passed, would allow unlimited expansion of privately run charter schools.. Boston Globe (Jonathan Wiggs /GlobeStaff Reporter:Topic
Former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, pictured in Brookline earlier this month. –Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis thinks the United States should have rid itself of the Electoral College in the 1800s.

“Hillary won this election, and when the votes are all counted, by what will likely be more than a million votes,” the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee told Politico in an email Sunday.

“So how come she isn’t going to the White House in January? Because of an anachronistic Electoral College system which should have been abolished 150 years ago,” he said.

The outcry from Dukakis—himself a victim of both the Electoral College and the popular vote—comes less than a week after Republican nominee Donald Trump won Tuesday’s general election, despite the fact that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is on track to win the popular vote.

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The former governor said abolishing the body “should be at the top of the Democratic priority list while we wait to see what a Trump administration has in store for us.”

“So far, all we know is that dozens of lobbyists are all over the Trump transition — a strange way to drain the swamp,” he added, referring to Trump’s in-limbo campaign pledge to rid the federal government of political insiders and lobbyists.

Since Dukakis’s loss to George H.W. Bush in 1988, six of seven Democratic nominees have won the popular vote. However, 2000 nominee Al Gore and now Clinton lost in the Electoral College, and hence the presidency, despite winning a plurality of total votes cast.

Supporters of the Electoral College, which gives disproportionate power to less populous states, argue the system forces candidates to campaign across the country and have “transregional appeal,” rather than simply targeting population centers.

Ironically, as Politico noted, both Clinton and Trump have also expressed support in the past for abolishing the Electoral College.

“We are a very different country than we were 200 years ago,” Clinton said in 2000 with the outcome of the election still undecided.

“I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president,” she added.

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In 2012, Trump called the electoral body a “disaster for democracy,” even though President Barack Obama was re-elected with a majority in both the Electoral College and the popular vote.

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