President Donald Trump’s first weeks as president seem to be centered around one strategy: Prove to the American people that he’s a man of his word and that unlike most politicians, he will actually keep his campaign promises. Despite the rocky start, he has mostly been successful in this endeavor.
Travel ban? Executive order signed. Border wall? In the works. Restrictions on lobbying? Done. Trump has shown voters he is indeed a man of his word with the stroke of a pen. In fact, according to Gallup, 62 percent of poll respondents believe he keeps his promises, and 59 percent characterize him as a “strong and decisive leader.”
Yet, there are plenty of people who are waiting for Trump to do something about what was arguably his biggest campaign rallying cry: fixing an election that he says is “rigged, disgusting [and] dirty.”
The 2016 presidential campaign showed many voters just how far the partisan elite in the Republican and Democratic parties will go to secure a victory for candidates who were loyal to party first. Running as an anti-establishment candidate, Trump went on the offensive against a system he believed was designed to keep candidates like him from getting anywhere.
In Virginia, for instance, the state Republican Party told voters they needed to sign a loyalty pledge or they wouldn’t get a primary ballot. By law, Virginia is supposed to be an open primary state where voters can choose between a Republican or Democratic ballot on primary election day. Still, the state’s election board was willing to enforce the pledge.
And that’s not all. Eric and Ivanka Trump were victims of a partisan system that is convoluted and at times confusing for voters. In New York, which uses a closed primary system, unaffiliated voters have to re-register with a party 6 months before primary election day to be able to vote. As a result, neither Eric nor Ivanka were able to vote for their father in the primary.
Some RNC leaders threatened to use party rules to take delegates away from Trump. Some delegates threatened to go against the will of the voters and cast their RNC vote for someone other than Trump. There was even talk of a potential electoral revolt after the November election.
Each time, Trump made it clear that he believed the system was rigged.
For the first time in U.S. presidential history, a candidate in one of the two major parties was challenging election rules that were explicitly put in place to serve the will of parties over the electorate. Many voters who felt disenchanted or disenfranchised by the election process took notice, and Trump’s appeal outside the major parties grew.
So why is Trump not even talking about the election system now that he’s in power? What happened to the calls for a fairer process?
Trump has he not even said anything about the Commission on Presidential Debates favoring the two major parties, whose 15% threshold rule he called “disgraceful” back in 2000. During the campaign, he implied that he might not show up for a future debate when it was discovered that Michael McCurry, then co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, worked for Bill Clinton as Clinton’s press secretary.
There are millions of voters who want to see significant reform to the two-party system. According to one survey, 70 percent of Americans support open primaries. Efforts to implement and expand reform like ranked choice voting have grown from Maine to Virginia, Missouri, Utah, and more. Partisan gerrymandering continues to be challenged in court and may go before the Supreme Court.
These efforts attempt to transform elections into a process that is open, more representative, and more accountable to voters. They would get a significant boost if they had the public support of the President of the United States, but Trump has been mostly silent on the current state of U.S. elections.
Trump won the election. He said after the election that during the campaign he talked frequently about the rigged election system, but he didn’t need to talk about it anymore after he won. Now that Trump is in the Oval Office, he seems to have lost all interest in taking on the political establishment and unrigging the system he helped expose.