Edward Norton speaking his mind isn’t exactly surprising. The actor has a reputation for doing things his own way, attempting to take creative control on films he’s worked on and making political statements. Now, he’s ruffled a few feathers on Twitter after a tweet in which he promoted an article by The New York Times titled “How Has the Electoral College Survived for This Long.”
Here’s what he had to say:
“All Americans should read this & understand how deeply rooted the antiquated Electoral College system is in racism & slavery. We should have moved to a national popular vote 200 years ago. And we should have it now.”
In the article, Alexander Keyssar, professor of history and social policy at Harvard, explains the origins of the Electoral College. It arose when politicians had to devise an electoral system that needed to account for one-third of people living in the South being enslaved and thus unable to vote. If they had instituted a national popular vote, the South would have had much less political say in national politics as fewer people living there could vote.
As such, they invented what’s known as the “three-fifths compromise,” in which the weighting of congressional seats would take slavery into account. The upshot was that the states that owned the most slaves benefited the most from it.
So, what does this mean for us in 2020? Well, the Electoral College has an objectively adverse effect on black voters living in the South. The preferred Presidential candidate among Southern black voters is almost certain to lose their home state’s electoral votes, meaning millions of black voters are unable to influence who’s elected President. This system currently works to the benefit of Republicans, meaning there’s little chance of it being reformed anytime soon.
So, basically, Edward Norton is completely correct to say that the Electoral College system is “deeply rooted” in racism and slavery – which is a historical fact and cannot really be argued with. He was also a pretty good Incredible Hulk, and I wish we’d seen him get to smash more stuff.