So much for the will of the people…

Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote, Donald Trump wins the presidency due to the electoral college. For a country that prides itself on wanting to govern by the people and for the people, it sure has a strange way of showing it, at least from where I stand. Due to the electoral college, if you are a Republican living in a Democrat state your vote is useless. If you are a Democrat living in a Republican state your vote is useless. So, to me basically it seems like the only votes that really count are the votes in swing states. That can’t be right, can it?

we-the-electoral-college-cartoon

Maybe I shouldn’t be so critical of an electoral system in a country I have only visited 4 times. And really, what system is perfect? Every system has its pros and cons, including the one in my own country. However, I do believe that in a democracy a one-person-one-vote principle should be the basis for everything and with this electoral college system I just don’t see that. The reason this upsets me is that a US election result has a huge effect on the whole world and with that it hugely influences my world as well… I almost wish I had a vote as well for this! For such an important election, I would so want the result to feel fair, whether I agree or disagree with the results. And Hillary Clinton winning the election by popular vote (even by a small margin of 200.000 votes) but not getting the presidency does not feel fair.

The American people have spoken, the electoral college has spoken… and as much as I hate this election result, it is what it is and I do accept it. I also feel the need to move forward and make the best of this but it would be a little easier to accept this result if the popular vote had gone Trump’s way as well, because then the election result would at least have been 100% clear. Now the election result feels extra dubious to me… Had the result been the other way around (Clinton winning electoral votes, Trump winning popular vote) I would have felt dubious about the result as well, even though I would have also felt stupidly relieved and happy. In any case, maybe it’s time to think again about this electoral college thing, athough I’m sure it’s a more complicated issue than I can even envision. Maybe Donald Trump could even tackle the electoral college issue as he himself in a tweet 4 years ago said he didn’t like it either… Maybe that could become a bonding moment…

trump-electoral-college-tweet

Electoral college criticism aside, I just hope so fervently that President Donald Trump will be very different from Election Campaign Donald Trump. His first speech was somewhat conciliatory, that’s something, right? I am still holding my breath to see what comes next… OK, I’ll shut up now… I need to go nurse this headache I have…

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29 thoughts on “So much for the will of the people…

  1. I hate the result, too, but I don’t think the Electoral College is the reason for it except in a formal sense. I’m a mild fan of the EC because it protects rural areas against urban ones and the little guy against the big guy. Any voting system is going to involve prioritizing some concerns over others (e.g., “one person one vote” without regard to all kinds of other things allows people with Alzheimer’s to vote! Seriously. Their kids get absentee ballots and vote for them, so get two votes).

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    • Yeah, I get the protection of rural areas thing, but even so… most of the time the popular vote wins anyhow. Maybe if the electoral college didn’t have this ‘winner takes all’ principle, it would feel fairer to me.

      The one person one vote thing can be organized well; I think it is organized well here, but maybe that is only possible because we aren’t such a large country. Here everyone can vote, whether they are prisoners or have Alzheimer’s, unless a judge decides they are not capable or for a prisoner that their crime is too great (i.e. a crime against the state). They do have to authorize someone else (including showing that person’s passport) to vote for them and if someone with Alzeheimer’s is not able to do that, then they don’t vote. No one registers to vote here, if you are legally in the Netherlands you are registered in your town and that registry is very precise and up to date and is used when you go to vote.

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      • I think that the NL are so comparatively homogeneous that it’s hard to understand fully as an outsider how different the interests might be between a rural area and an urban area in the US. Rural in the US can mean someone living on an Indian Reservation with no water, no electricity, no computer access, sporadic access to school and they get their mail once a month if they drive to town. I think those interests are worth protecting — perhaps now more than ever, with one of the biggest cronyist fat cats ever to be President in the history of the U.S. One of the biggest sources of tension in those areas is federal intervention / regulation. I’m not saying that the federal dictates are necessarily wrong, but I do think that people who live in those places should have some say, some mechanism for legally influencing policy. Otherwise urban elites would turn those places into their own playgrounds.

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    • Why should people in rural areas have more power than people in urban areas? Who will protect the rights of Alzheimer’s patients if they can’t vote? (As if they could.) Either you believe in democracy or you believe in aristocracy. There’s no middle. One person, one vote.

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      • Actually, there are many middles… Here in The Netherlands, for instance, we have an aristocracy/monarchy (we have a King!) AND a democracy! I think it works quite well!
        I’m not a fan of the electoral college myself, I can think of more reasons to do away with it than keep it, but it is another form of democracy and doing away with it does need to be considered with some thought. This is just not a black and white issue. Thoughts of fairness in representation went into it when the electoral college was established. Should it ever be de-established, thoughts of how to make a new system fair should be foremost again. And what works in one country just may not work in another. As far as I can tell every form of democracy (including the one in my own country but also the one in the US) has it’s pros and cons.

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    • We shall soon see the EC took an oath to :
      stop a tyrant.
      stop someone who is unfit and or unqualified.
      stop someone who has financial ties to foreign countries.
      So if they take their jobs seriously they can not in good conscious vote Trump.

      For my kids & grand kids I have a lot of hope for this day to come.
      If the outcome is one we do not want, then we can expect Trump to be Impeached. Proceedings will most likely start by the time he takes his First bite at the Inaugural dinner.
      Yes,
      Pence is a Bible beater nut case but he is a controllable Bible beater nut case.
      Half the cabinet will get tossed out on their ass.

      Even lifelong R’s know this is VERY Dangerous with Trump they know he has got to go, or they LOSE all they have built over the last 50 years.

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  2. Yes, all this is easily system inducing. The Uk has a similar system, it has it’s advantages and disadvantages. But here it is used to determine the parliamentary representatives. In terms of presidents i feel like you, i would always prefer direct votes, eliminates these kind of controversies. But i think in the US states are very strong and feel very independent about setting their policies and so on, i think this is part of it.

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    • I would be okay with direct votes if there were (a) a competency test, i.e., people were not allowed to vote on behalf of elderly / dementia-suffering parents and (b) there were better and uniform systems regarding the readmission of former criminals / felons to the vote so that huge crowds of people were not restricted from voting because they stole a computer thirty years ago; and (c) everyone were required to vote. Insofar as the situation for direct votes in the US is already very unfair, at present, it wouldn’t solve anything here.

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      • you mean when prisoners finish their sentences their civil rights, inducing voting are not reinstated? i wasn’t aware of that 😦 And yes i am also for forcing people to take part in democracy through voting. I mean ‘forcing’ mildly, ie for example in fines if you don’t and some such. Democracy should come with duties, not just benefits.

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        • it depends on the state, but generally, no, their rights are not reinstated. (In Florida, for instance, that is a MILLION people who are o/s of jail but can’t vote.)

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          • Oh, that’s very very sad. It never occurred to me 😦 And it’s not fair either as they have been already punished for whatever they did 😦 So much work to do, i mean so many things to improve and such. It’s so depressing instead of making better lives for people around us we focus on walls and such. I mean we generically, just feeling a bit deflated and depressed about the egoism of the wold these days. It seems to be all about me, me me and if i’m warm and safe and fed (or think i am safe) may the whole wold go to hell in a basket.

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            • I’m only aware of it b/c of working in academic advising — it’s a question you have to ask, are you an adjudicated felon? Because certain careers are not open to those people at all. It’s frustrating because the boundary to felony in Florida is $1k. You could steal a laptop and thus be an adjudicated felon these days. So there’s a whole swathe of work and society that isn’t open to people who have committed certain crimes in Florida — sometimes probably with justification, but often not. (Should someone who stole a computer fifteen years ago and who has changed his/her life be prohibited from voting or teaching in a public school? FL says yes.)

              Then there were all the restrictions to voting that have passed in the last few years. Essentially (broad generalization) you have to have a birth certificate to vote now (to get the ID that lets you vote). However, many poor people and African Americans and elderly people never had birth certificates. In some counties in the south, the state did not issue birth certificates to black people / did not track black births. There’s no question that they are citizens but they are undocumented. And now they can’t vote. (Happens to poor whites, too.)

              In essence, even in fairer systems than the US, we all vote on behalf of others (our kids, for instance, or perhaps our undocumented relatives), not just ourselves. The electoral college undertakes a redistribution but I don’t know that it is a more unfair redistribution than other systems. No one think it’s unfair in the UK, for instance, that you don’t vote directly for the PM.

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              • The ID issue is serious as well, i was’t aware so many people were excluded from the process. After getting out of so many years of dictatorship i can’t imagine not being able to vote. No wonder people would feel excluded and forgotten, because they are and in big numbers. But numbers are not even an issue. Each person is a citizen of the state and should have equal rights a democracy 😦 We all live in a world that is much less fair and equal than we pretend it is. Eg when it became obvious, at least to me that politicians didn’t even think about an increase in the price of vegetables due to the exchange rate making it impossible for some mums to buy them for their kids. Helping out at the foodbank was a very stark reminder of what reality is really like. And it is these people who need a voice , need to be able to speak up and not just through others. And yes, voting is very complex even in established democracies…

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              • Wow, I had no idea the felony issue excluded so many voters and the birth certificate thing as well! See, our system here in NL only works because everyone is registered at birth (and has to register in their new town once they move). And every death is registered too. This has been the case since 1815…
                Yeah, we don’t quite directly vote for our PM here either. You vote for a political party program and its leader and the leader of the party that gets the most popular votes gets to be PM.

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          • Wow! That feels like a human rights violation to me.

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    • Yeah, parliamentay representation is a different thing as well, I think.

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  3. I’ve tried all day to come of for an answer for you and I wasn’t able to. I mean I was ABLE to, but it would be the size of a Manna chapter and I didn’t want to do that.

    I didn’t vote for either one. I don’t think either one is competent. But that’s me. Trump is a loudmouth and Hillary has no ethics and is greedy as he is. I’ve said it over and over – I weep for my country.

    But I came across this about 20 minutes ago. It’s a good read and I suspect very true. I know Europe can’t understand why we didn’t vote Hillary in. Well, that’s simple – we don’t want to be Europe.

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/

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    • Yes, this was such a difficult choice if you really could not support any of the candidates! Thanks for the link to the article, interesting read.
      As for the US becoming Europe – why be the same? The situation, scale, people and problems differ… I am all for diversity. 🙂

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      • Many of our left-wingers seem to think we need to be. They are all for the UN to dictate our laws, our economy. Personally, I wish they’d just pack the heckers up and find their own island. I’ve been stunned by the backlash and violence. Our country is very wounded and hurting right now. And rather than We as a People standing firm and attempting to put us back together, we have riots and demands for the Electoral College to change their votes – an unethical demand. I didn’t like Obama and have stated several times he wasn’t MY president. None of his decisions helped me in any way and in some ways hurt me. But I didn’t go out into the streets and throw trashcans and stop traffic. I did what I could to cope and prayed for a better tomorrow. We just seem to have a very entitled population who thinks their wants come first. It’s a sad, sad situation.

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        • Well, the differernce here is that, unlike with the Obama election, the popular vote went to Hillary… and when you have a controversial man like Trump winning – yeah, I get the protests! I don’t like the violence of some protests, I hate that even, but I get the feeling of discontent, I’m totally with that.

          As for the UN ‘dictating’ to the US (or the EU dictating rules to European countries) – it does not want to dictate for the sake of being difficult, it wants to make the countries of the world work together. It is basically a global peace initiative! Countries decide together, including the US (and the US have a huge say in the UN!), what is necessary for human rights and climate change and international security and many many more issues. Some decisions may not be popular but it’s not just about the good of the US, it’s about the good of the world! Organizations like the UN and the EU are basically peace-keeping initiatives. Are they flawed? Sure they are! But just because a marriage has some flaws, it doesn’t mean you have to divorce! Maybe you can work on things together to improve them! We are not islands that can exist without each other, we all need each other. The idea that the US can determine everything just for themselves is unrealistic because what is decided can and will affect the world! For instance, I’m thinking climate change here. The other day we were watching TV and we hear Trump saying he can decide for himself what climate change stuff should happen and what not. Huh? Even my 12 yo daughter laughed. Climate does not restrict itself to just one country, even if it is a huge country – climate is a global issue! You need to collaborate so that it can work for everyone! So yeah, treaties and rules by the UN are needed to benefit everyone and why the US should think they are better than everyone else is beyond me. It feels very much like arrogance to me… this idea that the US is better than everyone else, doesn’t need anyone else, is ‘the best country in the world’, ” the only truly free country in the world’, ‘the only real democracy with a bill of rights’. That is just false. This arrogance (an arrogance some of Britain shows too!) makes me feel sick and very seriously makes me fear for a World War III in the not too far future. No man is an island, no country is either…

          OK, sorry for the rant. I suspect we won’t agree on this at all, so feel free to skip… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  4. FWIW I’ve had those feelings of frustration before, sometimes wishing that in essence, my vote counted as much as the next person’s, no matter where they live. When you live in a state with low number of electoral votes, it feels like your vote means less to the overall outcome of the election than the citizen living in one of the high population states or one of the “swing states”. However, I have enormous respect for the framers of the Constitution, and without this system, I feel like the needs and concerns of a huge swath of states that don’t happen to have the enormous cities would be entirely marginalized. Can’t expect steel workers/farmers/ranchers/bankers of the various regions to necessarily all have the same concerns, and the electoral college system essentially empowers smaller states and incentivizes candidates to pay attention to the needs of everyone rather than only those in large population centers. This is I believe the 5th time the popular vote didn’t match the electoral outcome.

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  5. Thank you for this interesting “article”. Dieses ganze System ist sehr unübersichtich. Aber egal wie man es betrachtet, ungefähr die Hälfte der Menschen hat ihn gewählt, aus welchen Gründen auch immer und muss jetzt mit den Auswirkungen leben.

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  6. […] via So much for the will of the people… — The Book of Esther […]

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