Let's talk. It's better than fighting or rioting. The election of 2016 has raised an issue and given us a perfect example to compare the Electoral College system of selecting a President vs a popular vote. Neither candidate this year, Hillary nor Donald, is popular, so we needn't be distracted by personalities. No one can predict how either might perform as President or what challenges they will face, so let's not allow ourselves to be distracted by hysterical premonitions. Also, don't be distracted by the fact that one camp is celebrating and the other rioting. There are always winners and losers in Presidential elections. We can't simply give both sides participation trophies and call it a draw. Let's just focus on the voting system.
Clearly, one candidate won a simple majority of the popular vote and the other won a vast majority of the majorities in the separate voting districts. However, because of the uneven distribution of the American population, the resulting Electoral vote count resulted in a simple majority for one over the other. Those are the facts bearing on the issue.
I'm writing this a the ballots are being cast. I have no clue as to whom will be the victor: Hillary or Donald. However, I know with great certainty, regardless of who wins, who will be the loser: We the People. In fact, we've already lost. Can you argue? Look at the choices.
I know. You're ready to stop reading. You're tired of this election. Well, so am I. Really tired. I voted already and I don't want to hear any more about it. However, if we look away and lose ourselves in other problems, we're going to face another election just like it, maybe worse, four years from now.
Politicians of every stripe are so focused on becoming and remaining incumbents, that they have little time to worry over the consequences of their actions and decisions. It's easy to see that the economic abyss into which we are descending is the unintended consequence of allowing them to extend their sphere of influence into every aspect of our lives
It can be argued that the ten plagues visited upon the Egyptians were the unintended consequences of Pharaoh's refusal to let Moses' people go. Even so, unintended consequences didn't receive serious study until Adam Smith introduced consequentialism during the Scottish Enlightenment, then languished in obscurity. The study of unintended consequences returned to public attention in the 20th Century with the publication of “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action”, a paper written by sociologist Robert Merton in 1936. Even so, awareness has brought scant relief.
I bet you trust a lot more people than you've ever thought about.
Do you drive? You wouldn't unless you trusted other drivers to obey the law and handle their vehicles somewhat competently. You couldn't unless you trusted the people who designed and built the roads and bridges to have built them well.
Do you ride in elevators? Attend public events? Eat out? There are countless activities that require trust.
Whom do your trust for advice? There are professionals who dispense advice on health, finance, relationships, and countless other subjects. Have you ever availed yourself of their services?
In many cases you carefully consider whom you're going to trust. In others, you throw caution to the wind and trust anonymously.
Then we come to politics. Whom do you trust? Who will influence your voting decisions and who won't? Family and friends? Some yes. Some no. Generally, I trust those whom I respect, but not always because sometimes the people we trust disagree with us.
Let me tell you a story...
Metaphorically speaking, a contest in which no one wins is a “tie”, “draw”, “dead heat”, “wash”, “standoff”, “Mexican standoff”. However, a contest in which everyone loses is a different matter.
Once upon a time, a contest in which everyone loses was known as a “train wreck”. Sadly, few alive today remember that metaphor unless they're really old or are model railroad hobbyists. For most, a train wreck is just another day of operations at Amtrac.
Train wrecks were spectacular. Carney men even staged train wrecks as public entertainment. Two engineers set their beasts in motion and jumped clear. The crowd held its breath in anticipation as the two locomotives gathered way and then unleashed a roar of appreciation at witnessing their mutual destruction. There seems to have been something cathartic at witnessing a staged “accident”, an opportunity to see an event recreated in which many had died. It was a precursor to “rubber necking” motorists passing an accident scene on the highway.
Sadly, we are not mere witnesses to this year's train wreck. We are passengers and yet we all have had a hand on the throttle. We the People selected the candidates and now stand aside helplessly as one of them becomes the next President.
No matter who enters the White House, neither will win. They won't have the support of their political party or Congress. They won't have the support of a majority of the constituency. They will only have an empty title. And what will We the People win? We are fighting among ourselves as though either of these candidates actually represent US. Neither is Right nor Left, Conservative nor Liberal, Progressive nor Constitutionalist.
No rational person expects either to be a good leader or even a satisfactory leader. At a time when the tempest is upon the nation, we will be a ship without a rudder. If we are to survive, We the People will have to step up and save ourselves. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, is it?
I'm guilty. I voted for Perot. I've regretted that decision ever since. If I and others who voted for Perot hadn't we might not have ever suffered through the embarrassment of the Bill Clinton Administration and the threat of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Imagine that. Now that we are faced with two unqualified candidates for President, I am once again tempted to cast my ballot for the third party choice, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. Dare I?
The election of '92 was a crazy affair. George H. W. Bush should have won. Few imagined that he wouldn't. Teddy Kennedy didn't believe he could be beaten. That's why Kennedy refrained from throwing his hat into the ring. He was going to wait for the end of Bush's second term when he'd have a chance of winning. Yes, Bush was that popular. His coalition of nations had not only chased Saddam Hussein and his minions scurrying back into Iraq, but also reminded the world of America's supremacy. The Pax Americana established by this nation's ascendancy over the evil empire of the Soviet Union was reaffirmed. No other President had such high approval ratings at the end of his first term.
Traditionally, Presidents enjoy a brief period following their election and inauguration during which they get a pass. No one complains. Criticism is held in abeyance. Why? Probably because we're exhausted. The campaigns are over. Everyone is tired of arguing. The loser has conceded. We give politics a rest. Not for long. Just a while. When has any honeymoon lasted more than a couple of weeks?
Normally, that happens. Sadly George W. Bush didn't get one. Instead of throwing rice, the opposition threw hanging chads and went to court (and I don't mean courtship). The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and even their wisdom couldn't put the conflict to rest. Indeed, the wrath of the opposition fell on their heads as Candidate Gore and his followers accused the Justices of playing politics. Thus, even before his inauguration, Bush was named the “President-Select”, and the acrimony never ended, even after he was sworn in.
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