Sunday, November 27, 2016

Electoral Myths

Now that things are heating up once again on the electoral front -- partly because of the inherent chaos in the process of electing presidents and such -- we're likely to be treated to another few months of... erm.... entertainment over who actually won the presidential election and possibly others.

Entertainment and lies.

The myths abound. For example, that the popular vote doesn't matter in presidential elections. If that were so, why do we bother with elections for the presidency? Of course we know from bitter experience that if the popular vote in particular "battleground" states goes the "wrong" way, the vote can be  -- indeed will be -- canceled, adjusted or revised until it produces the "correct" result. Because of the arcane, anachronistic Electoral College, only the popular votes in the individual states matter in presidential elections, not the overall popular vote nationally. A minority vote getter nationally can be elected to the presidency by the Electoral College -- as it looks like it will be the case with Mr. Trump, as it was the case with Mr. Bush2 and as has been the case previously (too lazy to research it right now) -- if enough voters in enough states vote for him or her, regardless of the total popular vote in all states.

That can happen, but it doesn't have to happen. The Electoral College is actually free to elect anyone they want -- or no one. The Electoral College could deadlock. It could refuse all the candidates before it. It could select someone the People did not have the opportunity to choose themselves. At least in theory, it doesn't even have to take a vote.

Hillary's national popular vote lead continues to grow. Right now it's edging up on 3 million and could conceivably better that. It's actually quite stunning. Despite all the yabbering and narrative creation about the election and the irrelevance of the popular vote, Mrs. Clinton is bidding fair to achieve one of the highest popular vote margins in recent history. That ain't nothin'. Far from it.

Thus there is a myth that once she conceded, the "election was over." Not so fast, Sparky. A concession is a courtesy, it's not a legally binding capitulation. On the other hand, there is every sign that Mrs. Clinton intended her concession as a capitulation, and that until recent events intervened, she had no intention of contesting the election outcome.

Those recent events include Dr. Stein's efforts to fund and undertake recounts in three  "battleground" states where the results are... questionable.We know that our elections are ridiculously opaque and arcane, and that the results can be jiggered pretty much any way by forces inside or outside of the electoral process. Even a recount -- when they are possible at all -- can't necessarily clarify and verify what happened. This is, I'm convinced, a deliberate design flaw to thwart the People's will, the People being so mercurial and untrustworthy and all.

What Emma Goldman said so long ago still obtains:
If elections changed anything, they'd be illegal.

But they are entertaining, so there is that.

Dr. Stein threw a spanner in the works  by funding and calling for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania where the popular vote margin for Trump was slight and there are... anomalies in the vote and the result.

The fact that she could raise millions of dollars in a few days to undertake these recounts shocked the complacent political class who were all in for Trumpian Things To Come, settling in to their "peaceful transition of power," and normalizing Trumpism as if it were just the coolest thing in school.

Back in my day, monkeywrenching on this scale -- the scale that Stein did it -- was not uncommon at all, and many of those in the political class as well as among the resistant public engaged in it routinely. Every president since Kennedy has been monkeywrenched when you get down to it.

The issue here is that without a recount, the public can't be sure that the outcome in these three states reflects the actual will of the voters in these three states. The margins are so close, and any number of questionable acts and omissions have already come to light. Better to be sure, no?

Well for some in the political class, the answer is clearly NO!!!!! They've been running around with their hair on fire demanding that this effort not take place, and insisting without evidence that Dr. Stein is scamming the public and somehow will not go through with the recounts.

The "scam" accusation became ingrained in the mythos of this election's monkeywrenching first on the Democratic side and then picked up yesterday and blared forth by Trump hisownself.

Ah yes. Dems in high office and low said "Just accept it," and appeared to do nothing whatever to interfere with the "peaceful transition of power" to Trump and his cronies. Obama himself has been extremely accommodating and determined to "help (Trump) succeed." He has validated the election results in his own mind and has repeatedly said that he supports the announced outcome. Hillary has said much the same thing.  And essentially all of the Democratic establishment concurs. The media as a whole is fully on board with the Trump Transition, as if nothing at all were questionable about it.

As I've said many times, the winning side in our elections doesn't care how they achieve that victory, just that they win. In this case, the "winning side" appears to be the political class in general; ie: Dems and Reps together. Clinton, Obama and Trump as a unified voice against the People.


Not surprising, though.

It took an outsider -- with Standing -- to make the Political Class as a whole pay at least some attention to the People this time. The recounts -- so far -- are going forward, and who knows what will be found?

The Clinton campaign belatedly entered the Wisconsin recount effort when Dr. Stein filed for and was granted a recount on Friday. They said they did so "in the interests of fairness for 'all sides.'" Interesting indeed. One would expect the Trump campaign to do likewise in the by and bye. 'All sides" indeed. After all, who knows what they might find? Eek.

No, I'd say it's an obvious attempt by the Clinton campaign -- joined soon by the Trump campaign? -- to thwart the recount in every way possible. Why? Well, why not? The Clintons have already pledged their fealty and been given provisional absolution from criminal complaints against them. Key word, "provisional." What they had to agree to do in exchange is anyone's guess, but I'll bet it included such things as denouncing and/or thwarting the recount efforts.

And so it has been.

When Trump came out with his statement about it on Saturday, it strangely echoed the statements of certain Clintonite element on TV and in the media generally that insisted that Dr. Stein was "scamming" people, and that there was no merit in doing a recount at all because... "the election is over."

The myth that the election was "over" the minute the media called Mr. Trump the "winner" on November 9 is one of the more pernicious ones that has been retailed to the public. That's not how our (s)elections work as anyone who has even a casual familiarity with the process understands.

All the results are subject to review and adjustment following the election night scramble to get the tallies to the media. It doesn't take a recount, though that can happen too. As we've seen, the totals are constantly being supplemented and adjusted even now. This is how Mrs. Clinton has been gaining a substantial lead in the popular vote. More votes are being counted and tallied each and every day.

The numbers change, day by day, hour by hour. And in the battleground states, Mr. Trump's lead has shrunk as more votes are counted, more adjustments made. In Wisconsin there were incidents that appeared to be "vote padding" wherein thousands more votes for Mr. Trump were recorded than were cast. And so it goes. The (s)election is not "over" when a news network "calls" the election, nor when a candidate concedes.

The Electoral College doesn't meet until December 19, and their vote -- if they ultimately have one -- isn't official until certified by Congress in January.

Ah, the Majesty of it All!

A whole lot can happen between now and then, but the fact is that the media have no legal standing or authority to declare a winner, and a concession is not a legally binding contract.

In this case, the entire process of choosing a candidate for the presidency has been chaos. Deliberately induced and maintained chaos in my view, but there you are.

So let the Chaos continue and let it settle out in its own way in its own time.

I'm no fan of Mrs. Clinton, let me tell you, and if I had my druthers, there's no way she would be allowed to run things from the White House, but I'm not in a position to do anything about that. I voted for Bernie and Stein, but my vote didn't matter in the end.

I would not, however, under ANY circumstances, vote for or support Mr. Trump and his band of thieves and mountebanks. Never. Much as I don't want Mrs. Clinton in the White House  (again), I don't want him anywhere near it.

What I've seen is that the Democratic nomenklatura has almost all lined up in support of Trump's ascendancy. They have made their peace with what is to come and appear to be looking forward to another four years of bashing away at their political rivals. It's what they do. It's essentially all they do: hold the Rs up to ridicule and promote fear. They have shown that they have little or no interest in serving the People. They are instead the Peanut Gallery, booing the Bad Guys. That's where they want to be. That's where they are comfortable.

At the present time, they seem to have no interest in winning elections, either.

If I had my druthers, I'd RICO both major parties into oblivion. But that's not my choice to have, and we live with what we've got.

That's a mess.

One of the clarifying factors to emerge from the chaos so far is that all the hooey from both Trump and Clinton about "rigged elections" and "foreign interference" prior to Nov 8 has suddenly become "inoperative." They now both deny there is any evidence of rigging or foreign interference, despite their absolute certainty of it prior to Election Day. For a good long time after Election Day, there was no mention of it at all. As if, with a wave of the hand, all these accusations of electoral fraud and foreign interference made by both candidates could be made to go away as if by magic.

Well no. What they did was open a Pandora's Box which cannot be shut again -- though they are trying like mad to do so. What they did was expose how screwed up and vulnerable our electoral process is. People can't unhear or unsee it. And what Dr. Stein has done is open it to view by anyone who cares to look... Ooops. Maybe the candidates should have been a little more careful in what they said, but it's too late now, isn't it? I've said that Trump sowed the wind and will reap the whirlwind, but I think that goes for Mrs. Clinton as well. Indeed, we could witness something much more profound than the routine delegitimization of the Other Party's rule.



  1. Che,

    You write: "One of the clarifying factors to emerge from the chaos so far is that all the hooey from both Trump and Clinton about 'rigged elections' and 'foreign interference' prior to Nov 8 has suddenly become 'inoperative.' They now both deny there is any evidence of rigging or foreign interference, despite their absolute certainty of it prior to Election Day."

    Well, perhaps Clinton isn't specifying rigging or foreign interference; she isn't speaking about anything at all right now. All statements from the Clinton side, such as admitting they are now joining in the recount effort, are coming from surrogates.

    However, Jill Stein gave as one of her primary reasons in asking for a recount the "influence and meddling of a foreign government in our electoral process", and she specifically and unequivocally stated that Russia was the culprit. It was right there on her website in the section dealing with the recount demand, with details of the "proof" (some professor from some right-wing publication made some wild-ass assertions which she quoted as her proof), and she repeated the accusation of "foreign interference from Russia" in an interview immediately after she began petitioning for a recount.

    I was shocked and dismayed to read this anti-Russia propaganda shit from her, and it makes me question her motives, quite frankly. I voted for her, too.

    And Trump has just made the claim that the reason Clinton is ahead in the popular vote is because "millions of people voted illegally". So he is asserting voter fraud and vote rigging now, too. Of course, he's too stupid to see that his own claim that millions voted illegally is ipso facto grounds for a recount, but you'll never hear me accuse him of higher intelligence.

    Anyway, just sayin'. Rest of your article is bang-on.


    1. It is quite an "interesting" situation, isn't it? Whether he realizes it or not, Trump (or his surrogate -- Kellyanne?) actually are calling for a nationwide recount, because there is no other way to come close to resolving the questions -- no matter who is asking them. Both major candidates made a huge Thing of foreign interference and/or election rigging during the campaign. He and She both made this bed. Jill is merely making them lie in it.

      I don't know what to make of Jill's Russian interference claims, except she might be throwing it right back at Hillary -- put up or shut up. I don't personally believe there was any more than the usual interference from abroad, and I never put any credence in Hillary's (and the "17 Security Agency") claims about it. It was such an exact replay of the lies leading up to the Iraq invasion.

      But whatever the case about any of that, it looks like at least one of the three recounts Jill called for are going to go ahead, even if the whole thing becomes a chaotic shit-show, pardon my French. You can bet Trump's people will be throwing grenades the while.

      Strap in for a rough ride.