Votegate: On Thwarting the Popular Vote

Thursday, November 10, 2016

VOTEGATE: On Thwarting the Popular Vote

So, what went wrong? I take you back to the election of 2000, during which I remember a brief interview with a voter in Florida who expressed her disdain for Al Gore by saying, “He acts as if he’s smarter than me.” Her objection to his social graces was legitimate, but hiding behind her complaint was the petulant whine of those who were popular when they were young, but have lost ground to hard-working nerds. Being an athlete of the mind is resented, even though it requires as much discipline as the career of any figure in sports.

As returns came in on election night in 2000, especially from Florida, I kept thinking of that voter, and how her disdain of Al Gore was probably the tipping point of that election. The intellectual contrast between the candidates in the presidential election of 2016 was even greater than the Gore-Bush divide. Astonishingly greater. Hillary Clinton was obviously so much more qualified in knowledge and intelligence than Donald J. Trump that even stalwart Republican newspapers withdrew their support of Trump. In point of fact, if it had not been for the extraordinarily dubious interference of the FBI in this election, Trump would have lost the popular vote by a much greater margin than Bush lost to Gore.

I had predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote by 5,000,000 votes. Obviously, I was wrong. In fact, she received over 6,000,000 less votes than President Obama received in 2012. Despite massive amounts of money contributed to Clinton’s campaign, the vaunted “ground game” of the Democratic party proved to be a pathetic operation.

Trump’s supporters cannot claim, however, that these voters represent a massive number of citizens rejecting Obama’s legacy and choosing an ignorant, amateur politician instead. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by well over 200,000 votes, so one can hardly propose that professional politicians have lost their credibility.

In fact, what I have not seen any account of this election mention so far is that Trump received one million fewer votes than Mitt Romney. If Romney had run against Hillary Clinton this year, and the same number of people had voted for him in 2016 as voted in 2012, he would have won the popular vote by a margin of more than 1,000,000 votes, and no doubt handily won the electoral college.

If anyone should be shaking his head and thinking “What if…,” it’s Mitt Romney. To say that tens of millions of people in this country would lose less sleep with Mitt Romney in the White House, in late January, 2017, is to understate the case.

Instead, the denial of the principle of “one person, one vote” has happened yet once again. For every woman, in particular, who voted for Hillary Clinton, the failure of the popular vote to yield a political victory shows that indeed the system was rigged by the Founding Fathers, and will only serve as yet more hard evidence of the evil power grasping inclinations of patriarchal society.

George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, and still ended up being inaugurated as President of the United States. Bush lost the popular vote because more people respected the thoughtful knowledge of Al Gore; Bush won the electoral college because more people such as the woman in Florida who resented intellectual acuity could not overcome their inferiority complex.

We know how badly George W. Bush’s regime turned out, and this time will be even worse. There is no use pretending otherwise. This next time, however, there may not be a politician able to replicate Obama’s success in defusing the anger of those who have been exploited and betrayed by their government. The famous anecdote in the election of 2008 is that Obama appeared before a large contingent of Wall Street figures and bluntly told them, “I am the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks.”

When the next collapse comes, the question of whether it will be a non-violent revolution or a violent revolution will be the unavoidable issue confronting those who believe in democracy as the rule of the popular vote. I would hope that my fellow citizens would join me in again rejecting pitchforks, but the brutal retaliation of the police state that Trump will soon set in motion, under the covert direction of his blatant FBI allies, might well cause protestors to decide that they have a legitimate right to defend themselves. I truly fear for this country and its young people, especially young women, who deserve so much better than this desultory future.

I should emphasize that I am not predicting an immediate economic implosion. Trump no doubt will launch the infrastructure repair program that the GOP congress denied to President Obama, and the benefits of this program will largely accrue to the states in the Electoral College that voted for Trump. He will most likely retain his initial popularity in those regions of the United States for the next two years or so.

A knowledge economy, however, depends on an economy of the daily goods we consume in international trade. Trump has no idea of how to generate a more equitable outcome to the integration of the knowledge economy and international trade in material goods. In the long run, his inability to coordinate the domestic, as well as international, knowledge economy and the international manufacturing economy will result in an unfathomably sad predicament. I profoundly wish I could say otherwise, but I cannot.