Thursday, December 08, 2016

Sorry Democrats, election victories are for closers.

For years now we have been hearing about the need for campaign finance reform, and how campaign finance laws are distorting elections. Funny how that has stopped being an issue what with Hillary! raising over $1,000,000,000 mostly from megadonorr giving to superPACs (where was Colbert's snarky attack on that?)

No, instead the new Dem talking point is the Electoral College, and how it doesn't reflect the "popular vote." Here are some results to consider:

In eight battleground states, the winner received less than 50% of the vote.  Hillary! got all electoral votes from Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Virginia despite not winning the majority of the popular vote in those states. In Maine, Hillary! got 3 of the state's 4 electoral votes despite getting only 47.9% of the vote to Trump's 45.2%.  Hillary! is not claiming, surely, that she should not get those electoral votes.

The idea that the 'popular' vote is better than the 'electoral vote' is belied by the fact that Nixon and Warren Harding were both popular vote winners, while neither Lincoln nor Kennedy won the popular vote by a majority.  The idea that the Founding Fathers wanted free electors rather than electors bound by popular vote in their state or district was roundly rejected by those same Founding Fathers just after the Constitution was ratified, as the Founders began passing laws to bind electors to the popular vote.

The Electoral College also had nothing to do with the Dems being unable to pick up more than the 2 seats they gained this election; the Republicans had 10 first-term Senators up for re-election, and held 24 of the 34 seats being elected. The Dems successfully challenged two of those. That's not the fault of the Electoral College. That's the fault of Dems sitting at home rather than voting, and the Dems failing to support down-ballot candidates. A greater focus on the Senate might have helped put a Dem majority in place there to serve as a roadblock for Trump's Supreme Court justices and the dismantling of Medicare. As it is, Dems lost that opportunity, and choose to blame the Electoral College for it.

There are many reasons why Democrats don't vote. But there is only one reason why Democrats lose elections, and that is because Democrats don't vote.


Andrew Leon said...

I don't think the popular vote is better than the EC.
What I believe is that the EC is there specifically to keep people like Trump from being President, and I think they should do their job since that's what it was created for.
The difference between Trump and any "bad" President we've had in the past is that those other men were actually qualified for the job in some, even Bush II, one of the top 3 worst presidents ever. However, Trump is in NO way qualified to be President. He has no experience, no knowledge of the law and how it works, and no knowledge of the Constitution other than that it exists.
As I said in my last comment on my blog, perhaps what we need are actual minimum qualifications to be the President beyond age and born-in-the-US citizenship.

Briane Pagel said...

Without defending Trump, though, I think we'd have to lay out what qualifications those are. A knowledge of the Constitution and its history? Supreme Court precedent? Detailed understanding of federal laws?

I never like to think that anyone who has achieved success is an idiot; I know that people can achieve success through a variety of means, but staying there requires some sort of knowledge or ability. I don't know whether Trump is in some way knowledgeable, or simply lucky beyond belief. I certainly think that in a head-to-head intellectual battle, W. Bush would lose to Trump. But intelligence alone isn't enough to merit being President.

In the end, I don't think you can isolate the office of the president from bad people -- 'bad' meaning "dumb" or "evil" or "incompetent" or "selfish" or any combination of those, plus all the other possible bad things. In part that's because "bad" is too generalized. Obama, who I generally think is a competent, smart guy -- probably one of the more competent, smart presidents -- has made some missteps, hasn't seemed to fully exercise the power of his office, and has done some terrible things (like use drones to execute US citizens.) Clinton helped make it easier for people to be put to death and slashed welfare. LBJ used misinformation to escalate the Vietnam War. Truman dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. These were all smart men generally regarded as good presidents; Nixon was generally regarded as a terrible president, at least until he died, but his presidency saw the establishment of the EPA and passage of the Clean Air Act and other environmental regulations. Nixon insisted on broadening civil rights to include Title IX, which protects against sex and gender discrimination.

One thing that helps us is the modern presidency is essentially a giant corporation, filled with hundreds (if not thousands) of federal employees who help mediate the decisions made by the President. Another thing that helps is that when a political party gains power, it often times begins to infight, and we're seeing some of that already: Congresspeople who aren't crazy about taking on Medicare and the like.

The things we on a personal level have to ask ourselves include "how much bad am I willing to tolerate to get the good?" For me I kept asking "What if Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders ran on the Democratic ticket, but one stance they took I found abhorrent?" There are stances they could take that would make me not vote for them -- for example, wanting to ban Muslims. But if they took other stances, I might have to vote for them the way I voted for Hillary! -- not happy about it, but hoping for the best.

The things we on a national level have to ask is: What is the real failure in the system? The real failure is that people are uninformed, and politicians hope to keep it that way. We focus on surface issues and easy fixes: 'fake news!' "Trump is sexist!" and never get any deeper than that. The coverage of Trump's presidency so far makes me sick: even 'hard-hitting' news sources focus on superficial junk and don't ask any questions that matter. We are a nation of idiots, and we elected one of our own.

Andrew Leon said...

I don't disagree with you about people.
My wife says I'm being unfair when I say people are stupid. She says people are average. My take on that tends to be that average is stupid. For the average person, average is a choice. That's what I find stupid.

However, I think Trump is going to wreck the world. I mean that in a literal sense. His stance on the environment (and his EPA choice) is dangerous. Trump is full of all kinds of horrible things, any one of which should have made people, if they were decent human beings, shun him, but this one thing, this thing with the environment, is going to wreck the world.

But people don't see that, because, again, they are stupid and selfish and shortsighted.