20 December 2016

Flunking out of the Electoral College

The chances that the Electoral College would reject Trump were always pretty remote, but in confirming his election yesterday, the institution has finally proven that it serves no purpose.  As Hamilton explained in the 68th Federalist paper, the Electoral College was meant to serve as a sort of last-ditch emergency brake in case the voters chose a candidate who was under foreign influence or otherwise grossly unfit for the Presidency.  It's hard to imagine a more clear-cut case of this scenario than Trump, yet the Electors did not act as Hamilton described.

So the Electoral College doesn't serve as a safeguard.  All it does, by way of the peculiarities of the way Electoral votes are allocated, is to introduce random variables into the process so that the loser of the popular vote sometimes claims the Presidency.  It institutionalizes intermittent minority rule.

The National Popular Vote initiative is a plan for reforming the Electoral College to guarantee victory to the winner of the popular vote in future elections without needing to amend the Constitution.  It is endorsed by the ACLU.  If you live in one of the 12 states which have partially enacted it or in one of the 27 states which have not yet acted on it at all, please consider contacting your state legislators and urging them to get it passed in your state.

As for this election, our best hope now is that enough Congressional Republicans will favor impeachment to get it done in combination with the Democrats.  Elizabeth Warren is working to force the issue (found via Politics Plus).

Yesterday I read about yet another example of the kind of element which has become emboldened by Trump's "win".  The Daily Stormer, an "alt-right" website, has begun publishing personal information about Jews in the town of Whitefish, Montana and encouraging readers to harass them.  (The reason for singling out that town has to do with the fact that the mother of Richard Spencer lives there.)  This action needs the broadest possible publicity and condemnation, and the same is true of the other attacks on various groups which have become more common since the election and will doubtless continue to happen.  The worst people among us are convinced that Trump's elevation means their warped beliefs are now more accepted and respectable and can be acted on more openly.  We need to show them they're wrong.

[Image at top found via Yikes]


Blogger Woody said...

You know I like your blog, Infidel. You also know that my political views are more conservative than yours. We've played the game and swapped views and agreed to disagree before. But as you are an affirmed Liberal, please answer me this question.
Electoral College/Comey/Russian 'Hacking' aside, can you see no conclusive reason why Hillary lost the election, why the majority of American voters saw more value in the change and business acumen on offer from Trump.
Hell, I don't like him either (not as a reality show host or political candidate). I'm not even an American, so the whole play probably means a lot less to me than many others, but what has the last eight years taught you, once the immediate thrill of some wonderful progressive actions has passed, compared to the well-being and lifestyle of so many blue-collar workers in America (of any colour, religion, sexual disposition or fucking sensitivity to brainless comments.

I didn't start following your blog because I think you're and idiot, I started following it because I sensed in you the skeptic, like me, who likes to look at ALL of the data, before trying to reach and then publicise an objective and fair conclusion which is based ONLY on the evidence, never on what we would would really like to believe.
Knowing the strength of your liberal and progressive views, I beg you, digital friend, to meet me evenly on this subject.

I'm keen to know what you think, Infidel.

All the best,

20 December, 2016 05:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It's not true that "the majority of American voters" preferred Trump. Hillary got almost three million more votes than he did. All that happened here was that our archaic electoral system allowed the loser of the popular vote to become President. It doesn't reveal anything profound about the direction of the country. What does reveal that is the fact that the electorate preferred Hillary.

There's also no evidence that Trump has any "business acumen". He inherited his main property-development business from his father. Most of his own initiatives failed. It doesn't take much acumen to make more money when you start out with as much as he did, and we now know he probably isn't anything like as rich as he claims.

Those "wonderful progressive actions", such as opening up marriage to gays, were not just an "immediate thrill". They made a huge difference to the "well-being and lifestyle" of millions of people. Then there's Obamacare, which brought health insurance to 20 million people who didn't previously have it. Employment and the economy in general improved under Obama after the crash caused by Bush and his policies. All these gains are now threatened by the Republican ascendancy. The loss of high-paying industrial jobs has been mostly caused by automation and would have happened regardless of who was in power. Trump can't do anything about that and he's barely pretending to try.

It's right-wingers who ignore all this evidence and reach conclusions by being very selective in what they allow themselves to notice or take into account. Saying something like "Electoral College/Comey/Russian 'Hacking' aside" is an example -- those things were decisive in the outcome, not side issues. Without any one of them, Hillary would have become President.

Finally, I don't know whether you've read the comments policy, but this is a blog and not a debating forum. I responded to your comment here even though it was rather off-topic, but I'm not interested in interminable back-and-forth arguments. There are plenty of other places on the net where that is welcome.

20 December, 2016 06:03  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I just read about the Whitefish, Montana, story this AM, and I posted on it as well.

As far as I know, Trump has given only a weak response to the neo-Nazis who've become emboldened with his E.C. win. If he were a real leader, he would hold a press conference (he hasn't since July) and unequivocally denounce the anti-Semite Nazis.

I assume he'll hold a press conference as soon as he's finished denouncing Alec Baldwin and Saturday Night Live. He's gotta take care of important things first.

20 December, 2016 09:05  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

The worst people among us are convinced that Trump's elevation means their warped beliefs are now more accepted and respectable and can be acted on more openly. We need to show them they're wrong.

THIS. They are the minority--Trump did not win the majority of votes, Hillary did. Trump and the GOP do not have a mandate to do anything--but they are delusional enough to think they do, thanks in large part to a quisling/scaredy-cat mainstream media that refuses to hold their feet to the fire--but sure as hell ran after those "emails" a lot, to the exclusion of all else.

20 December, 2016 10:26  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: Well, obviously Alec Baldwin is worse than The Daily Stormer or those Austrian neo-Nazis mentioned in your post. After all, he makes fun of Trump, which neither of those others do.

Marc: Exactly. This is minority rule and Trump is not at all what the greater part of the electorate chose. We need to keep hammering away at that. And the media have a lot to answer for. They were so fixated on appearing even-handed that reporting what was actually going on went right out the window.

Great to see the new drawing on your tumblr a couple days ago! She looks fierce (as we should all be).

20 December, 2016 19:30  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

@Infidel--Agreed! That point must be hammered home, and Keith Olbermann has made that the focal point of his recent YouTube video. And I am pretty much disgusted with the media (with a few honorable exceptions--those journalists who actually did their jobs). They are going to be very surprised at what Trump has in store for them, and no amount of kissing up to him is going to help.

And I'm glad you like the new drawing--thank you so much! Yeah, it took me long enough! I've posted another one that was finished in November. I will be back to posting stuff on Deviant soon.

20 December, 2016 19:59  
Blogger Rosa Rubicondior said...

Woody. To say that Clinton 'lost' is a strange way to describe getting more votes than any other candidate and the candidate who received more votes than ever before recorded in US politics, save only for Obama's vote in 2008.

Presumably, you were using a private definition of the term 'lost'.

21 December, 2016 01:53  
Blogger Woody said...

Hi Rosa,
If Clinton didn't loose, why then is she not the President elect?
Details of the 'archaic' election system in America are new to me, but then again, considering the amount we constantly hear about the American constitution, even here on the other side of the planet, 'archaic' may be a distinctly American style.

It seems that I did need reminding of Infidel's comment policies. The fact that he has still never deleted any of my comments (despite their occasionally argumentative nature), may show that he feels that I will benefit greater from guidance than from being ignored. I appreciate his indulgence.

My conservative leanings will not let me weep for a liberal who won the popular vote but still managed to loose the election and my previous career in government record security will not let me respect a Secretary of State with seemingly so little strict regard for it.

You support the candidate who gained more votes but still lost the election. May I fairly assume that no-one has ever won the popular vote but lost the election in the past? The keen, sharp and condescending flavour of message I receive from liberals would certainly indicate that that is the case.


22 December, 2016 02:57  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: The media seem to be discovering, just too late, that they actually need to do their jobs. Too bad it didn't happen before the election.

Rosa: The meanings of "won" and "lost" seem to fluctuate according to the needs of the moment.

22 December, 2016 03:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Woody: Gore won the popular vote in 2000 yet was robbed of the Presidency by the Electoral College. This has been alluded to repeatedly in the MSM and on blogs (including mine) over the last month or so.

My emphasis on winning the popular vote was in response to your false claim that Trump winning the election (in the sense of being President-elect) said something about the mood of the country; the fact that Hillary won the popular vote shows that that is not the case, since the greater number of voters chose her, not him. The electoral system thwarted what the country actually wanted.

Your first comment claimed that you reach conclusions based on ALL the data and ONLY the evidence, whereas in fact almost the whole comment was a collage of factual errors, dismissal of important facts, and disparagement of the important accomplishments of the last eight years. I was not being "condescending" by pointing this out.

Again, this is a blog and not a debating forum. There are other places on the net where interminable back-and-forth bickering are welcome.

22 December, 2016 03:57  

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