Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Some Electoral College Knowledge

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the number one blog read by Glow Clouds. I'm Dave-El and I never go to the dog park.

Yes, it's been 24 hours since the last post. Yep, no more two a day posts for awhile. The plan was I was going to spend part of Sunday afternoon the day after I returned from Disney World to write up the Disney posts to go live at 5 AM. Then I would only worry about the 2nd posts of the day that went live at 5 PM. But the cold that hit me that afternoon put the kibosh on that plan. However, I had foresworn that I would produce 2 posts a day and by the Hoary Hosts of Harry Hamlin, I would.

I hope you appreciated the effort and if you didn't, I'm so glad my suffering amuses you.


Yesterday, December 19th, the President of the United States of America was elected. You might think we did that back on November 8th but no. The vote back in November was to determine the winner of the Electoral College which is comprised of Electors who actually have the job of electing the President.

You might think that doesn’t sound very democratic but remember the Electoral College was a developed by one of our country’s Founding Fathers who could do no wrong. And yes, I’m being sarcastic here. The men who helped to piece together our method of governance and the constitution that guides that governance were remarkably intelligent men but they were ultimately just men and the works of men, even when good, can always be improved upon.

The Electoral College was the brainchild of one particular Founder, a Founder who was a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence,  impoverished, in squalor. 

And what’s his name?

Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton’s rep is riding a bit high thanks to the super successful Broadway musical bearing his name but it’s also taking a bit of a beating because of one Hamilton’s most significant creations for the nascent American government, the Electoral College.

Twice in the last 16 years, the Electoral College has denied the Presidency to the person who won the most votes, Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The upset between popular vote and the Electoral College is particularly troublesome this year. The margin of victory for Hillary Clinton in the popular vote is nearly 3 million votes; that’s no small amount. So Alexander Hamilton’s creation is not very beloved by a lot of people who are on the plus side of that popular vote.

On the other hand, if you voted for Donald Trump (and seriously, what is wrong with you?), you probably are perfectly fine with the Electoral College. Which is ironic given that Trump himself spoke out against the institution  in 2012 after Barack Obama won re-election through the EC. (To be fair, Obama also won the popular vote.)  In fact, Trump was not a big fan of the EC earlier in 2016 when it looked like Clinton was going to win. 

But as much as we don’t like what we’re getting out of the Electoral College unless you voted for Donald Trump (and seriously, what is wrong with you?), is the Electoral College inherently a bad idea?

To address that, think about this: if winning the Presidency was based on a national popular vote, all I have to do is run up the numbers in major population centers. So I would spend a LOT of time in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, places like that. You can ignore whole swaths of the nation in order to run up the popular vote total.  But if competing campaigns did have to cover the entire nation for the biggest popular vote total, the campaign with the most money and resources would be favored to win. The Electoral College forces a Presidential candidate to consider the whole country but in sections to target resources.

But it’s another function of the Electoral College that has come under scrutiny of late. Hamilton considered the institution of the Electoral College as a bulwark to protect the country from candidates fundamentally unfit to serve as President. But over the last 200 years plus, the Electoral College has been more and more considered a rubber stamp on the choices of Election Day. It’s not really been much of a problem. More often than not, the popular vote and the electoral totals have pretty well matched up and when they didn’t, there wasn’t a pervasive feeling that person who won the election was a more or less a danger than the other person. Until this year.

Even before taking the oath of office, Donald Trump has continued to display at lack of understanding and skill as this role he has sought for himself. He’s caused an international incident with China, appears to be compromised by his blind support of the Russians, has stacked his cabinet with unqualified cronies and still behaves like an disciplined child with this ceaseless rants on irrelevant topics on Twitter.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why Alexander Hamilton created the Electoral College. The electors have a duty to not rubber stamp a selection for President that is continually demonstrated his unfitness to serve. 

As I write this on December 19th, the Electors are meeting in their respective states. The full expectation is that electors will vote as determined by the voters of their state and Donald Trump is firmly on the path to being sworn in as President a month later.

There are a number of states that make it illegal for Electors to vote for anyone other than the winner of their respective state. And even if enough Electors take the risk and overturn Trump’s victory, the Presidential election gets tossed to the House of Representatives. The Republican controlled House of Representatives. Keep an out eye on their constituencies back home, I think it would be expected and inevitable even to see Trump ascend to the Oval Office.

And I’m so glad my suffering still amuses you.


Coming up tomorrow and Thursday, a two part Star Wars post.

Wednesday: Did Star Wars save Marvel Comics? My encounter with Star Wars comics!

Thursday: A review of Rogue One.

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.

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