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Another election year is rolling around and people of color, and other voters who have been de facto disenfranchised since the birth of this nation, face the quadrennial dilemma of having to hold our noses and cast a vote for the lesser of two evils.

For me, having to vote for Joe Biden is as grating as hearing fingernails being drawn across a blackboard, but I am out of options. The nation is at a point where it seems inescapable that either Joe Biden or Donald Trump will win the next presidential election. Another Trump presidency would be a waking nightmare for most Americans.

Few informed observers doubt that most votes cast in the 2024 presidential election will be against Trump, but history has shown us that, for some years, America has been a nation where the principle of “majority rule” has been relegated to the dustbin of politics.

In 2016, the will of most American voters was subverted by our antiquated Electoral College system when Trump gained access to the White House despite losing to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes. This was an exponentially greater disaster than what happened 16 years earlier when George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election after receiving half a million fewer votes than Al Gore.

While political pundits shake their heads and cluck their tongues over this perversion of democracy, they cannot honestly say they did not see it coming.

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison defeated Grover Cleveland although Harrison received 90,000 fewer popular votes. But most famously, in 1872, the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, won the presidency with a quarter of a million fewer popular votes than his Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden. The 1872 election was hotly contested because of several significant irregularities and complications. It resulted in Congress creating an electoral commission to declare a winner. Hayes managed to secure the support of southern Democrats in Congress by promising an end to Reconstruction and the removal of federal troops from the South.

One month after Hayes took office, the last of the federal troops left the southern states, ushering in the era of Jim Crow terrorism that lasted for almost a century.

The Electoral College was created more than two centuries ago with the design of keeping powerful white men in power. And it has worked effectively ever since, and it will be in place when we vote in November 2024. While we cannot redesign America’s political DNA in the next 14 months, we can begin work to bring about that change in future years. No other free democracy in the world has a system that allows the loser of the popular vote to win the election. It was designed to protect elitism and, as a result, it gave us Donald Trump.

So, the deck has been stacked against most American citizens from this country’s inception. Women, people of color, the poor and anyone else who does not fit the mold of the landed male gentry was never intended to wield real power under our Constitution. To make matters worse, species of politicians and political activists have arisen in this country who have no interest in sharing the benefits of a commonwealth with anyone they deem unworthy. And to them, the “unworthy” is anyone who does not project a mirror reflection of themselves. These species of politicians and political activists will cheat, lie and steal to gain their political objectives. Operating on the local, state and federal levels, their driving principles are “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.” These people are uncompromising and are without any recognizable empathy. They commit all manner of transgressions while accusing their victims of being the perpetrators instead. They accuse the “radical left” of instigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. They accuse Democrats of weaponizing the U.S. Department of Justice while promising to do just that when they return to power. Every trespass on justice they commit they ascribe to their perceived enemies.

Our Constitution has provided us with a leaky ship of state and a minority of our crew has mutinied and is running amuck, determined to destroy the rudder and sails in their misguided belief that they are charting a course to a mythical nirvana of white supremacy. And now we must pull behind Joe Biden, a captain who engenders little confidence or respect.

We find ourselves in this position because we have not done anything about the Electoral College before now. But that does not mean that we cannot start now to fix what is wrong with America and its Constitution. But to be able to do this, we must now hold our collective noses and vote for someone who gives us great pause. We must do this because the alternative is so much worse. Another Trump presidency could very well mean the end of democracy in this country.

It stinks, but we are stuck. And we have no one to blame but ourselves. We have ignored the responsibilities of self-governance. We lose ourselves in “reality TV,” preferring to follow the antics of celebrity housewives rather than the voting patterns of our elected officials. But now is the time to begin to fix this.

We must first protect ourselves from another Trump presidency, and then we must begin to work to right our ship of state. We must become informed about every level of government, and then we must engage. We must cast our ballots with a clear vision of desired outcomes. And when possible, we must engage with our politicians and work for them or against them, as the need arises.

If the system stinks, it is because we, as citizens, let it stink. It is time we fix that.

Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia. His earlier commentaries may be found at


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