NYT editorial board member Jesse Wegman joined The Common Good for a conversation as we discussed his book and possible reforms of the presidential vote and the Electoral College. The way we vote for the only official whose job it is to represent all Americans is neither fair nor just. Major reform is needed―now. Isn’t it time to let the people pick the president?

Twice in the last five elections, the Electoral College has overridden the popular vote, calling the integrity of the entire system into question―and creating a false picture of a country divided into bright red and blue blocks when in fact we are purple from coast to coast. Even when the popular-vote winner becomes president, tens of millions of Americans―Republicans and Democrats alike―find that their votes didn’t matter. And, with statewide winner-take-all rules, only a handful of battleground states ultimately decide who will become president. Jesse Wegman draws upon the history of the founding era, as well as information gleaned from campaign managers, field directors, and other officials from twenty-first-century Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, to make a powerful case for abolishing the antiquated and antidemocratic Electoral College.

Watch the video below:


Jesse Wegman serves on the editorial board for The New York Times where he has written about the Supreme Court and legal affairs since 2013. He was previously a senior editor at The Daily Beast and Newsweek, a legal news editor at Reuters, and the managing editor of The New York Observer.

His recent book has been heavily praised with Publishers Weekly saying “Wegman combines in-depth historical analysis and insight into contemporary politics to present a cogent argument that the Electoral College violates America’s ‘core democratic principles’ and should be done away with…” The New York Times wrote, “People have been arguing against the Electoral College from the beginning. But no one… has laid out the case as comprehensively and as readably as Jesse Wegman does.”

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Rick Hertzberg is an award-winning journalist, best known as the principal political commentator for The New Yorker magazine. He is credited with helping to redesign and revitalize the magazine. He is an accomplished writer and believes that America’s system of winner-take-all elections, federalism, and separation of powers is out of date and damaging to political responsibility and democratic accountability.

 He previously served as the editor of The New Republic where under his editorship magazine twice won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence, the magazine world’s highest honor. He went on to serve as the chief speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter where he wrote speeches that at one point increased the presidents approval rating by 11 points. Forbes credited Hertzberg as ” one of the “25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media.” 

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