Sunday, November 13, 2016

Electoral College: Plutocracy in Action

Clinton's Popular Vote Will Grow and Grow and Grow:

Donald Trump didn’t actually flip many Democrats, the thinking goes. Instead, Hillary Clinton failed to turn out liberal voters who had previously voted for Barack Obama. It’s a tempting narrative for smarting progressives, as it maintains status quo thinking—Clinton’s unlikable!and removes any culpability on the part of the Democrats for missing a massive shift in the electorate. In other words, it’s Clinton’s fault, not theirs, that Trump won the presidency.

Unfortunately, that graph is missing something important. (And not just a properly scaled y-axis.) The numbers that came out on Election Night were enough to secure Trump the presidency, but they weren’t complete. State officials are still counting millions of provisional and absentee ballots, and within two weeks, Clinton will likely have another few million votes in the bank.

Most were cast in the Clinton-leaning states of California, Washington, and New York—not swing states—so they won’t change the Electoral College. But there’s a sufficient amount to put her within striking distance of Obama’s 2012 turnout, and help put an end to the argument that she simply didn’t work hard enough.
It also challenges all the other tropes coming from the disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters in the party that she was a "flawed candidate," that the "corrupt party establishment" was out of touch with the people, that "millennials, African-Americans" and other marginalized groups didn't turn out, and on and on (the black vote is close to what it was in 2012, and if you only counted 18-25 year old's votes, she would have won a 48 state landslide).

The problem, dear reader, is the antiquity known as the Electoral College. This will be twice in the last 16 years that the president-elect lost the popular vote to their opponent. Gore won the popular vote by around a half a million in 2000, and Clinton is expected to win by 2-3 million, an astonishing number of votes that have been systematically disenfranchised by virtue of the Electoral College.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why the anti-Trump protests, at first thought to be a day-after reaction to the election, are growing larger and larger by the day.

Keep in mind a few facts about the EC: 1. it was a compromise with slave-holding states to make their representation count more in a national election (along with the wretched "three-fifths Compromise" bone thrown to southern states); and 2. it was described by Madison, Hamilton and others in the Federalist Papers as being designed to specifically subvert the will of the "ignorant and uninformed masses" who might otherwise vote for some kind of charlatan, dictator, or other lunatic (insert your own ironic Trump/Clinton joke here). In other words we, the plutocracy ruling class of the country, will let you know if your candidate is up to snuff.

On the one hand, I can see a legitimate concern back in the 18th century, when there was no mass media, word traveled on horseback, there were no mandatory education laws, and no way to be 100% sure the people wouldn't fall for some sucker and end up destroying the republic.

On the other hand, since at least 150 years ago if not longer, we've had a mass media and, increasingly, a much faster spread of information via the web and 21st century technologies. The idea that a majority of the country would be clueless about the candidates they were voting for, today, is absurd.

Whether you agree with the outcome or not, the people voting for Trump knew exactly what and who they were voting for. And the fact that Clinton won the popular vote election by historic margins (her vote totals may end up near Obama's re-election numbers in 2012) is also incontrovertible.

It's true, America is not a "democracy" by definition (the word doesn't appear in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or the Bill of Rights), and some argue that the EC is a way for the rights of the minority to be protected from the will of the majority when its rights are indeed violated (fair point).

But America is also not a plutocracy either, and the ruling class has now subverted the will of the people in two of the last five presidential elections. It's a sentiment even the president-elect has said he agrees with.

Real reform comes at a price. And if the people are supposedly as "angry" for change as we keep hearing, then now's your chance, America, to scrap the antiquity known as the Electoral College.

1 comment:

MRMacrum said...

While I would say that Clinton supporters knew exactly who they were voting for and Trump voters knew exactly who they were voting against, I am not so sure Trump fans knew or know what they are in for with Donald in the White House. They will, as the rest of us will, find out in the next few years.

Playing devil's advocate and maybe shoring up your point,

"....some argue that the EC is a way for the rights of the minority to be protected from the will of the majority when its rights are indeed violated. ....."

The EC ensures a President is not elected based on the higher concentrated populations that exist in a minority of states.

That said, I am not a fan of the EC, even though I reside in a state that enjoys proportional equity above its means (population). The notion of popular vote is a sham as long as the final say rests in the hands of so few.