Two Million Disenfranchised (aka “Illegal”) Voters: the 36th Largest State

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Two Million Nasty Voters: the 36th Largest State

The best comment I’ve read so far about the tendencies of the electorate, in November, 2016, was made by one of my favorite contemporary poets, Michael Lally: “Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, but every racist voted for Trump.” As perceptive as Lally’s chiastic analysis is, it occurred to me shortly after I read it to offer a friendly amendment: “Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, but every racist who voted voted for Trump.” I offer that amendment because not every racist voted. That’s obvious, isn’t it? After all, if every racist in this country had voted, would Donald Trump have lost the popular vote by an astonishing and unprecedented margin of 2,300,000 votes?

On the other hand, even if every racist had voted, maybe Trump still would have lost by a half-million votes. Regardless of the margin of Trump’s defeat in the popular vote, however, the fact that he lost the popular vote confirms a gap of public confidence that raises serious questions about his assumption of power. How appropriate is it to have the quality of life of tens of millions of people in this country determined by a man whose idea of political success is pandering to the wealthy? All one has to do to understand the oncoming catastrophe is look at the people Trump has nominated to serve in his cabinet.

At this point, though, we have learned the answer to one theoretical question about the outcome of the election. Should Trump have lost the electoral college vote, as well as the popular vote, and Hillary Clinton was about to become the next president, what would he be doing? The same thing he is doing now: He would be fomenting the public sphere, claiming that her victory was the outcome of millions of voters who marked ballots “illegally.” It would be non-stop fulmination, and as with many of his pronouncements in the past year and a year he would offer no evidence to back it up. That Trump won the Electoral College and feels compelled to assault the integrity of the election tell those who voted for Clinton how little he respects them. “Nasty voters are illegal voters,” seems to be his mantra.

Clinton is the second Democratic presidential candidate in the past two decades to win the popular vote and lose the electoral college. One difference between Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, however, is that the popular vote in 2000 was basically a statistical tie. There is no statistical tie in 2016’s presidential election. The gap between Clinton and Trump rounds off to two percent, which effectively means that “Disenfranchised” become the 36th largest state in the United States, larger than eight other states that voted for Trump.

I have heard a rumor that Trump is threatening the citizenship status of anyone who burns the American flag. As offensive as I find the burning of the flag, it is far more offensive to find our nation in a situation in which over 2,000,000 votes are for all intents and purposes put in an incinerator.

I predicted that Clinton would win the popular vote by 5,000,000. I was off in that estimate by over 50 percent, but she nevertheless won the popular vote. If Trump can’t bring himself to admit in a public statement that a woman candidate got millions of votes more than he did, then he is not worthy of taking the oath of office in January. Losing the popular vote is a minor crisis, relatively speaking, to the kinds of emergencies that Trump will face in the next four years. No president can ever hope to escape the crisis mode, and if he can’t handle this minor crisis, how can he ever hope to govern?

If President-Elect Catasterisk (Catastrophic Asterisk) wants to show leadership, then he should make the abolition of the Electoral College one of his immediate priorities. However, he is caught in a bind in doing so, for such leadership will only remind people of how he has benefited from a political arrangement that grew out of this nation’s racist history.