Tuesday, December 20, 2016

An ongoing education of the American electorate in ways & means of voting

The 2000 election cycle is the one that taught us about the “hanging chad,” and gave us a crash course in just how subjective the process of counting votes can be, while this is the year we learn of the realities of the Electoral College.
BIDEN: Will confirm next month that Trump won

I’m all for anything that gives the public a better comprehension of the processes by which we elect people to public office. Yet it disturbs me that it takes instances of screw-ups for the bulk of us to show any instance in learning the lessons.

I BELIEVE WE’D be better as a society if we put some serious thought into who we choose to hold public office. Yet we don’t. In fact, some of us seriously resent the notion that public office even exists, and that people like me think they ought to be thinking about it.

Seriously, I suspect that most of us remember the term “Electoral College” as something that came up in a high school class taken long ago that they promptly let slip from their memories. I’m sure that upcoming party with a beer keg was more interesting, and the alcoholic consumption probably killed off the brain cells that once contained government details.

So it takes an instance where a presidential candidate takes nearly 2.9 million more votes than her opponent, yet loses under the rules we have in place, to get people to think seriously about the Electoral College – which personally is something I consider to be an obsolete concept.

It was created at a time when the Founding Fathers believed the public (or at least the white, male portion of it) would not know enough to properly pick a president. So they were supposed to pick learned people to represent them, and those people would pick the president.
TRUMP: He and Bush beneficiaries of quirks

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE process has evolved since then into one where the electors are supposed to represent the mood of the people of their state. The electors who gathered in Springfield on Monday were Democratic partisans who made sure Illinois will go into the history books as a sensible place that resisted the rancid rhetoric and twittish Tweets of one Donald J. Trump.

But no one seriously expected any significant numbers of electors to change their stances. I suspect those who were chosen to back Trump’s campaign are taking pride in being able to say they gave us “President Donald J. Trump,” and probably think it was a sense of cosmic justice that their guy “won” despite losing the popular vote!
BUSH: Is he embarrassed by any tie to Trump?

All of this means that come Jan. 6, when Congress holds its joint session to formally affirm the Electoral College count taken Monday, I suspect there will be at least one (probably more) political pundit eager to proclaim the look of depression on Joe Biden’s face (don’t forget, he serves as Senate president) when he has to formally announce that Trump really will be Number 45 in the line of men who served as U.S. president.

Anybody who was paying attention in school would have learned about this lengthy process that leads up to the naming of a new president – although I’m sure there are those for whom this is new.

AND ALSO SOME who are upset that the unofficial vote count from back on Nov. 8 didn’t just make the whole thing official.
CLINTON: How many non-voters overcome Trump?

Just as I’m sure there were people who back in 2000 couldn’t comprehend the need for another vote count to answer questions about the one in Florida that first gave the state’s electors to Al Gore, then to George W. Bush, and left enough questions in the public’s minds that there are people who will forevermore think we don’t know what it was that Florida voters intended to do. Because a ballot's intent isn't always blatantly obvious.

Of course, understanding the process is one thing. Actually getting off one’s duff and casting a ballot is all the more important. Because of the evidence that certain segments of the electorate that might have been disgusted by the concept of “President Trump” were too lazy to bother to vote at all.

As odd as it might sound that Clinton needed more than her 2.86 million lead in votes to actually win this election cycle, that is the reality of our current system. The sooner we all realize that, the better off we will be!


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