Yep, it’s my old Tennessee buddy*, Al Gore.
But in fairness, he says this is a new position for him. He notes that after he won the popular vote but lost the election in 2000 (and yes, my Democratic friends, he did lose; it was not “handed to Bush” illegitimately by the Court), he still supported keeping the Electoral College.
Now, he makes these points along the way to explaining his change of mind (not all of these points are relevant; I just found them interesting):
- He recognizes that such a move is “not without peril,” and there are good arguments both ways. He says it’s “a balancing act,” but the balance has changed in favor of popular election.
- He says “I think it would stimulate public participation in the democratic process like nothing else we could possibly do.”
- He uses the cliche, “the wisdom of crowds” — which seems ironic, given what just happened. Even if the election had been by popular vote, the number of people who voted for Trump would have been scary.
- Acknowledges that “the Internet age is filled with all this junk,” which is fun to hear given the popular meme that follows him.
- He sees popular election as one of “three or four things” — another is getting money out of the process — that could revitalize our democracy.
* No, he’s not really my buddy, but we did know each other when he was a senator and I was an editor at the paper in Jackson, TN. Given the season, here’s a favorite story related to that. Al’s uncle or cousin (I was never clear on the relationship) lived down the street from us in Jackson. He was older, shorter and rounder than Al. One Christmas Eve (having checked with us first), he came to our house in his Santa costume to chat briefly with our kids. They were about 7, 5 and 3 at the time, and it totally blew their minds. He was, needless to say, a more gregarious guy than his famous kinsman. He also used to host an annual game supper/political gathering that I attended once, and it was the only time I ever tasted venison.