Whacked by a 2×4, out like a light, and waking up in a strange place wondering what happened. That is what the most bizarre presidential election in U.S. history felt like to tens of millions of Americans. Nearly three weeks later, many of us are wondering not only how we managed to fall through another rabbit hole, but also how Wonderland can possibly have become even curiouser than it was the last time we visited.
The whacking was not actually the election result as it was reported late into November 8 and early November 9. That was a shock and sudden loss. Most of us reacted normally to that. As with other types of devastating loss, there was the initial astonished paralysis immediately followed by anguish – much of it intense – and then the resolve to go on, somehow.
Trump cast aside established campaign traditions, releasing income tax records among them. A card that was frequently played by Donald Trump was the rigging card. If he did not win, here, there, and everywhere, it would be because the election was rigged. Near the end, he resisted a promise to accept the result. Hillary Clinton supporters rose in outrage. Our democratic tradition demanded that the vanquished accept the outcome. The acceptance card was to become Trump’s trump card.
Crying foul at Trump’s failure to agree to accept the election result has proven a pitfall for those of us in the Hillary camp as the actual election results continue to roll out. The reason for this is twofold: 1) Except for the 2000 election when there was no clear winner immediately projected, elections tend to be conceded within a 24-hour period. And then we move on. 2) Concessions are based, not on the actual vote, but upon projections with some percentage of the vote “in.” What comprises “in” is far from clear.
Here we are three weeks later. The election is history. Hillary Clinton’s concession is history and has been reaffirmed by her one post-election speech so far. Trump is not only the acknowledged victor, he has been awarded the title of President-elect and has begun, after a delayed start – hobbled by not actually having expected to win and therefore not having planned for it – the transition process in the murkiest, stickiest, sketchiest manner in recent memory. It would never do, at this point, for Hillary Clinton’s camp to challenge an already accepted result. So proceeds the oddest election aftermath of the oddest election ever where the most prepared and qualified candidate (her femininity aside – or perhaps not) v. the least prepared and qualified candidate ever.
The votes, however, are still being counted. The actual (as opposed to the projected) vote count is shaping up to manifest the largest gap between the popular and electoral vote in our history. The popular vote for Hillary Clinton is the second highest in our history. As the days go by, the dramatic gap between the popular and electoral vote grows and with it questions.
More overwhelmingly now than in 2000, we see a clear difference between who Americans voted for and who was elected – or will be on December 19 when the electors vote. The implications are discouraging for Hillary Clinton supporters, certainly, but more importantly for our country.
The Orwellian landscape that is our two-tiered general election system proposes that some votes, those of the electors, are more informed and decisive, i.e. better, than others – those of the general electorate, the populace. This is not the real picture, though. At the basis, the votes of people in some states count more than the votes of people in other states. It is unlikely that electors will vote in opposition to outcomes in their respective states. The fault is not so much in the existence of the Electoral College as in the apportionment of the votes. If it takes 3.5 Californians to equal one Wyoming voter, something is wrong.
The more dramatic the gap between the popular and electoral votes, the more troubling, and it is growing by the day. That some people’s votes count more heavily than others is a real problem in a democracy.
The Electoral College, as we know it today was established by the 12th Amendment and ratified by ¾ of state legislatures in 1804. It superseded the original design in Article II, Section 1.
The irony is that the same party that has spent the past almost eight years refusing to compromise touts the “wisdom of the Founders” in establishing the College while failing to note that it was the result of compromise. Not all compromises set up by the Founders have endured. The Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787 was superseded by the 13th Amendment.
While it is certain that we have all heard our share of arguments about the “wisdom of the Founders” in the past two weeks, we can argue that it should not take multiple votes from some states to equal a single vote from another in the electoral system. That concept is as outdated, outrageous, unfair, and duplicitous as counting slaves as property in one regard and people in another. Not everything the Founders laid out was wise and set in stone.
After elections, the custom is to say, “The people have spoken.” It is fair when all have been given an equal voice, not when some and not others have been provided a megaphone.
While we are on the subject of fairness, this arises.
These are the fishiest election results ever. We will keep watch till the last vote is counted! That CNN page gets updated pretty regularly.
This is just a snapshot as of 11/25, but eloquent.
There remain these issues. Hope everyone is recovering.