2016’s presidential election has brought the fissures of American politics inside the political parties, and some are speculating on the possibility of an eventual independent run by either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, or both, should they not receive their respective party nominations. That would certainly make things interesting from the spectator standpoint, but would not likely have the result that many anticipate. In fact, should such a thing happen, the result would most certainly be a victory for the Republican candidate.
Sanders and Trump have demonstrated such levels of popularity that either of those men could, if they ran as independents, prevent any presidential candidate from winning a majority of the Electoral College. If that were to happen, the election would be decided by the House of Representatives, and the entire delegation from each state would have one collective vote.
Now it would be reasonable to expect that the vote would follow party lines. For example, the State of Michigan has fourteen representatives. Nine of them are Republicans, and five are Democrats. Since the Republicans would outnumber the Democrats, the Michigan delegation would cast its vote for the Republican candidate.
As it stands now, thirty-three states have majority Republican delegations, fourteen are majority Democrat, and three are evenly split. So Republicans have a clear majority in terms of state delegations, and the Republican candidate can be expected to win if the 2016 presidential election ends up with the House of Representatives.
Here we may have arrived at some insight as to why Bernie Sanders has dismissed the idea of running as an independent if he doesn’t get the Democratic nomination. If he has a relatively successful independent campaign, he will likely only succeed in sending the election to the House of Representatives, which will result in the Republican candidate being elected. Here, also, is some insight into why Trump is less reticent about an independent run. His success would also result in the election of the Republican candidate.
This might also be why we hear rumblings of the Republican establishment running an independent candidate if Trump wins the nomination. They might be calculating that the Republican members of the House of Representatives would decline to resist the party leadership and would, therefore, vote for the establishment candidate. Now it doesn’t seem likely that members of the House of Representatives, who have to run for office every two years, would act contrary to the expressed will of their constituencies in this particular matter. But the limits to the hubris of people in power have yet to be discovered.
A source for the strength of the two-party system is here discovered. In any presidential election where there are more than two strong candidates, the president being chosen by the House of Representatives is a likely outcome. But the gasps of displeasure being voiced nationwide about the strong possibility of a general election with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the major candidates show that the two-party system inadequately reflects the sentiments of the electorate.
A better solution would be a nationwide primary election in, say, June of every presidential election year. Every state would vote on the same day. Candidates would run as non-partisans, and electoral votes would be awarded in the same manner as the general election (this is not about abolishing the Electoral College, which is an entirely different discussion). If a candidate were somehow to get a majority of the electoral votes, then he or she would be elected president. If no candidate received a majority of the electoral votes in the primary, which would be, by far, the most likely result, then the two candidates receiving the most votes would run against each other in the general election in November.
In any event, the method of selecting a president by a vote in the House of Representatives needs to be replaced. It is an antiquated system, developed in a time when there were far fewer resources in terms of travel and information. Moreover, it entrenches the two-party system, which, it ought to be plain by now, places an unwarranted barrier between the people and those they elect to office.