Thursday, December 22, 2016

We're A Stew, Not A Smoothie

From the very beginning of the 2016 election cycle, the ultimate winner was labeled and continually ridiculed by progressives and conservatives alike as a clown, someone ideologically, historically, and temperamentally unfit to hold the office. It is unclear at this writing if he has any reverence for the office of the President at all.

And once again we get lessons in civics about how the political parties and our elections are supposed to work, and how they actually work. We learn again all about the Electoral College. We have to learn the lessons again, because it’s sort of boring and geeky, and we weren’t really paying attention the last time. It has to be told to us again how a candidate can receive the most Electoral votes and win the presidency in spite of not receiving more popular votes nation-wide.

Here, a distinction must be drawn between receiving more votes when all of the state election results are combined, and “winning” the popular vote. There IS no national popular vote to win or lose. There are only 51 state and district elections. Each of those state elections is assigned an Electoral value based on the number of legislative representatives (except for the pity case of the District of Columbia) and the winner of the combination of state elections that garners the majority of Electoral votes wins the presidency. It’s not that hard to understand. Many of us learned it in junior high school. Most no longer do.

This year a new twist has been added. A racist twist. Never heard before. The Electoral College, some now say, was created to increase and perpetuate the influence of the Southern, slave states. Reference is made in passing to the inhumanity of the 3/5ths rule as if this is somehow evidence of something. Of course no thought is given to the fact that the 3/5ths rule actually decreased the influence held by Southern, slave states, but this is of no matter, as it doesn’t help to advance the narrative.

And so the familiar lament rises on the howling wind…… “God damn it’s cold out here”…. No wait… that’s in North Dakota. And so the familiar lament rises again, “why doesn’t the United States have a democratic popular national election to select the chief executive like all of the other countries”? The answers that one receives to this question are varied, but most land on the fact that the writers of the Constitution didn’t trust pure democracy. This seems to hold up to scrutiny as there are several references in the literature to opposing the “tyranny of the majority”, and of the susceptibility of the general public to the con, and each time it is noted that we are MUCH more sophisticated now.

But the truth is simpler and can be summarized in that rebellious fraternal mantra “you can’t choose your family, but you get to pick your friends”. Bear with me on this.

The United States is unique among nations (truly unique) in that before its current government was formed, the country didn’t exist. The governments of virtually every other “developed” nation that has “democratic” elections existed before their current incarnation and variation on democracy as a monarchy, dictatorship, or oligarchy of some sort. Most of the Western democracies are smaller than the State of Texas. In those nations, the governmental bureaucracies already existed. To form them, it was only a matter of choosing how the bureaucracies would be staffed, and how representatives to legislative bodies would be selected. In the case of the United States, the task wasn’t to determine how the existing government would be operated, but how bring together the several sovereign former colonial governments that were to become the states in such a manner that would equitable and would not result in the domination of the small by the large.
(The tyranny of the majority). Large states versus small states. Could the small states trust that they would not be dominated by larger more populous states if they were to enter into this confederation? In the end, the compromise variously referred to as the “Great Compromise of 1787”, the “Connecticut Compromise”, or the “Sherman Compromise” provided for proportional representation to the House of Representatives for the general population, and equal representation in the upper house… the Senate, to provide for representation of the states to the federal government. This compromise carried over to the selection of the Chief Executive. An “Electoral College” was created where one elector is allowed for each member of a state’s legislative contingent. This simple method mirrors the way that the legislature is constituted.

We do not have national popular elections because we are not a homogeneous people. We are the small state and large. We are coastal and plain. We are desert and lake. We are bayou and prairie. We are Rocky Mountain and vast forests. We are farm and factory, urban and rural. We are light and dark, Asian, African and Euro. We are, and hopefully will remain the United States of America.

But that's just what an average guy thinks.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Little Election Fun

Having a bit of mental fun with the Clinton loss. It’s a situation rife with irony and contradiction. The Electoral College has now voted and the results are a step closer to being official. It has to be admitted that Trump’s victory was not the “landslide” that he has claimed. A point not lost on Bill Clinton, or Barack 0bama who truly did have landslide victories. But given the expectations, given the fact that the Clinton campaign outspent the Trump campaign by a factor of two, given the perceived existence of the Big Blue Electoral Wall across the rust belt, given the 240 Electoral vote starting advantage that Clinton supposedly had, and given the fact that Clinton campaign staff were opening celebratory Champagne early in the afternoon of the election it is understandable why someone might call it a “landslide” victory. The seemingly solid foundation that Clinton was resting on did liquefy and quickly moved downhill. That’s a pretty good description of what actually happens in a geographical landslide so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch.

And now the cleanup and post mortem. But it’s hardly necessary. Everyone knows already why Hillary Clinton lost. She lost because she wasn’t Barack 0bama and it’s just about as simple as that. Nearly 57% of Americans polled will tell you that the country is on the “wrong track” and all Hillary had to offer was more of the same only with more taxes, more regulation, more free stuff, more national debt, more corruption, and more economic stagnation.

An irony here is that during the mess that has been this election cycle, Barack 0bama has been able to keep his job approval ratings so high while support for his policies has been so low. It’s as if people are unable to actually make the connection between the smooth, black guy hurling awesome snark at his detractors and their opposition to the policies that vex them. The ever increasing insurance costs in the place of that two hundred and forty dollar per month savings they were promised. The Constant stories out of the executive agencies; the tragedy of the VA; the snarling disrespect and contempt from the IRS commissioner; the menacingly smooth demeanor of the EPA director as she promises and justifies increased regulation while dodging any responsibility for Gold King; the bald faced lies coming from the Director of National Intelligence; the relentless pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran regardless of the cost or result, and the obvious corruption of the former Secretary of State. All of these things may help to explain why during his eight years as president Barack 0balma has presided over the loss by his party of eleven Senate seats, 63 seats in the House of Representatives, 12 state Governorships, and over 800 state legislative seats leaving republicans in a dominant governing position not seen since the nineteen twenties. Apparently America LUVs it some Barack 0bama, but not enough to vote in support of any of his policies.

Maybe America loves Barack 0bama for the glam parties he throws at the white house, for the avant guarde way he decked out the White House in an all-inclusive rainbow, for the edgy way he supported all comers against the “stupid” police, the endearing way he mocks the traditions of his office, the easy way the 77% of women, or the 97% of scientists lies flow from his lips. Maybe it’s the easy way he lays down a red line, or issues an ultimatum, or the clever way he spent $11.2 Billion in taxpayer money to “save” GM without actually helping the company in the long term, or the seemingly coincidental way the unemployment numbers seem to go down at about the same rate as the Labor Participation Rate. Or perhaps it’s the sum of all of those things.

Whatever it was, at least three things will be true come January 20th; 1) Hillary Clinton will never be President Of The United States; 2) Barack 0bama will never again be President Of The United States, 3) Bill Clinton has tapped his last piece of strange in the White House and one has to expect that’s what’s eating him.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.