Thursday, November 17, 2016

Shouting In The Casino: The Disingenuous Movement To Abolish The Electoral College

| | |
The Basics: The argument to abolish the electoral college in the United States might have merit, but the timing of it is an example of pettiness and entitlement that does not do justice to the American spirit.

In the week since Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential contest, the United States has been flooded with discontent. The major cities in the United States are abuzz with protest and online, the hashtag #notmypresident endures in a way that is troubling for those who respect the process of a Constitutional representative democracy. It seems all of a sudden, everyone is a Constitutional scholar with a strong opinion on the electoral college and suddenly, I find myself in disagreement with a number of my liberal peers. I have argued against the electoral college before and as a rhetorical argument, I tend to agree that it ought to be abolished. However, the time for electoral reform is before elections, not after the results have gone against the desires of the populous majority.

Once upon a time, I was part of a "not my President" movement. I had a good reason; the election was fraught with obvious corruption, the votes were being counted by people who were affiliated with one of the campaigns, voting machines were produced without quality controls and were made by companies that were affiliated with a campaign, and there were severe questions in multiple states about the legitimacy of the way voting was being handled. I am not a subscriber to the current "not my president" movement. For sure, I am not a supporter of Donald Trump - or the reactionary friends that he made in order to win the election - but the issues that plagued the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections did not exist in the 2016 election. Like it or not, Donald Trump was a candidate chosen by the people (registered Republicans who voted in the primary elections) and he was elected President in a fairly-counted election.

But, the argument goes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and the will of the people is not being represented by having Donald Trump win the presidency using the electoral college. While both points are rhetorically true, the "not my president" argument and arguments against the electoral college are more an example of a "sore loser" phenomenon than one coming from the moral high ground. There are two simple reasons for viewing outrage at the electoral college now from Clinton supporters as a bullshit argument: 1. The system was in place, unchallenged, before the election, and 2. Hillary Clinton's campaign was designed around betting on the electoral college as opposed to making an argument for Hillary Clinton for president. Allow me to simplify that second point in a way that makes it painfully clear:

Hillary Clinton did not want to be President Of The United States; she wanted to be President of the major industrial states.

Following the election, I wrote an article on Hillary Clinton's arrogance (check it out here!) based on the way she pursued her campaign. In researching for the article, I learned a number of things about the campaign that were troubling and very revealing of a severe tactical and political defect in the way Hillary Clinton approached her campaign for President.

Relevant to the electoral college, it is critical to note that the populist movement that would seek to abolish the electoral college is a movement that was never publicly supported by Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton has been in the public sphere for over forty years and I was unable to find a single public statement in which Clinton criticized the electoral college or called for its abolishment. As with any number of issues that have political controversy associated with them, Hillary Clinton remained silent about the issue of voting reform until she was asked about it. As near as I can find, no major publication ever asked Hillary Clinton about her opinion on the electoral college and/or abolishing it. Indeed, - a non-partisan website that collects political statements from candidates in an unbiased way - had only a handful of statements made by Hillary Clinton about voting reform and none of them are about the electoral college.

In short, to become President, Hillary Clinton knew that she had to win via a victory using the electoral college. She accepted that and her campaign was designed around such a victory.

Hillary Clinton's campaign was never designed as a campaign intended to become the President Of (All) The United States. Clinton wanted to be the President of the big states (except, perhaps, Texas). To make such an assertion, one need only look at Clinton's public statements and the way her campaign treated Mississippi. In public statements while she was campaigning to be Senator of New York, Hillary Clinton noted that larger states ought to get more Federal funding. States like California, New York, Texas and Florida contribute more to the Federal budget than other states, so in a capitalist model for unifying the nation, of course they ought to get more out of the budget (a socialist model would be that the richer states should help pool their funds to lift the poorer states out of poverty; contributing more to the Federal budget, but getting less value from their "investment" in the nation). That is a position Hillary Clinton publicly advocated for and never publicly recanted.

Then there is Mississippi. Hillary Clinton won Mississippi in the Democratic primary. In fact, it was a state where Clinton crushed Sanders in the primary (and shouldn't that have been an indication of what kind of Democrat Clinton was?!). In August, a national poll showed Hillary Clinton only three percentage points behind Donald Trump in Mississippi. What makes this so interesting was at around the same time, a local Mississippi newspaper did a poll of the race between Clinton and Trump only days after Trump actually visited Mississippi and they confirmed the same results. And Hillary Clinton did not visit Mississippi. To rephrase; Hillary Clinton won the primary election in Mississippi, indicating some people there were willing to vote Clinton for President, Trump visited the state and he was only ahead of Clinton by 3% . . . and Clinton did not visit the state to make her case to be President there.

Hillary Clinton did not want to be President of Mississippi.

As it turns out, she did not want to be President over Texas, either. Polls had Clinton in striking distance of Trump in Texas and rather than show up to make an appeal to voters there, Clinton did an ad buy and avoided stepping foot in the state. It wasn't so long ago that Texas had a female Democrat as its governor, so clearly Texans have no problem with voting for a woman to high office . . . but maybe they expect that woman to show up and say something to them!

A quick internet search while preparing for the other article, on Hillary Clinton's arrogance, easily found five states that Clinton did not step foot in during her campaign for President)and an additional one that she avoided after the primary. Rather than beat the dead horse with trying to find all of the states Hillary Clinton did not actually campaign in, it is reasonable to simply conclude that either Hillary Clinton did not actually care about all of the states she would have governed over as President or she did not care enough about campaigning in several states because she did not see the value in attempting to win their electoral college votes (which one might assume of states like Mississippi, as it only has 6 electoral college votes).

So, here's the point of this article and the original content that makes it worth sticking with: Hillary Clinton's supporters who are calling for the abolition of the electoral college are a troubling example of sore losers who care more about the fate of Hillary Clinton than Clinton cared about her own campaign.

Hillary Clinton is like a gambler who sits down at the roulette wheel and bets it all on red and her supporters are like onlookers who throw a temper tantrum when the ball lands on black. Hillary Clinton knew the rules when she sat down at the table and she could have put a little on 34, a little on 12, a little on 8 - spread around her bet to do all she could to guarantee the payoff. Instead, she bet it all on red. (One might wish for the analogy to hold better by noting that she bet everything on Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio, while largely neglecting the rest of the table, but the analogy holds best by approaching the dialectic, with third parties represented by "0" and "00" - green.) She bet and the ball didn't land where she expected. Clinton knew the rules, sat down at the table, placed her bet and lost; yelling about the results will not change them.

While there is merit in protest, protesting the results of a legally-cast and counted election is like shouting in the casino when the roulette wheel doesn't pay out the way you wish it had. Right now in America, we do not need protest against the way the roulette wheel works; we desperately need people to fight against the idea that public policy is dictated by those who have the ability to go to the casino, place massive bets and then rule over those who could never even make it to the casino in the first place.

For other political articles, please check out:
an Argument For The End Of Political Parties In The U.S.
An Open Letter To Donald Trump: You Won, Go Home
Fail Of The Superdelegates

For other political articles, please check out my Other Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment