In Oregon, two Portlanders have submitted a ballot proposal to have Oregon secede from the Union — although they say it’s only “partially” a response to Trump’s election, because they feel much of the United States no longer subscribes to “Oregon values” of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equality. Groups in California also are talking about secession.
And, because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, people are asking questions — which get raised after every close presidential election — about whether we should abolish the Electoral College and just elect our President through a simple national referendum.
I’ve got no problem with any of these developments. In America, people have the right to protest thanks to the First Amendment, and we’ve also got the right to take a fresh look at our constitutional institutions and decide whether to change or reject them through the constitutional amendment process. I’m not in favor of the states along the west coast, where we have lots of friends and family, actually seceding from the United States, of course, but I also have no problem with people seriously discussing the disconnect between the perspective on the coast, where voters gave huge majorities to Hillary Clinton, and the results found in the interior, where Donald Trump racked up huge vote totals.
I think all of these developments are signs of a healthy, functioning democracy, and they also convey an extremely important message: elections have consequences, and voting is the way to produce the consequences you favor. In 2016, tens of millions of Americans didn’t vote at all. Hillary Clinton got about 6 million fewer votes than Barack Obama did in 2012, and early indications are that certain groups — like “Millennials” — didn’t turn out to vote in the same way they did in 2008 and 2012. We’ll never know what the election results would have been if all of those eligible voters had exercised the most basic democratic right of all, but it sure isn’t a bad thing if the people who didn’t vote now feel remorse and resolve that it will never happen again.
Wouldn’t you like to know whether all of the people out protesting Trump’s election actually voted on Election Day?