Last Thoughts on Election 2016: Hypocrisy Ain’t Helping

I voted for Bernie in the primary. I voted for Hillary in the general election. They both lost. I’m unhappy and don’t expect anyone to just “get over it”. I am, however, often critical of hypocrisy and propaganda spreading by liberals because it hurts the furthering of our cause. I’ve seen far too much of it throughout the campaign and even after the election. So here are my last thoughts on Election 2016 and perhaps a vain attempt at putting some things to rest.

Hillary cheated! We should’ve had Bernie!

It’s true that DNC leadership did not like Bernie Sanders and didn’t want him to win the nomination. I was always disdainful of the “rigging” idea, however, because it implies Democratic voters are mindless sheep casting their ballots according to the wishes of party leaders. Bernie Sanders received 43% of the vote in primaries. Hillary Clinton received a greater proportion of votes and pledged delegates than Barack Obama did in 2008 (see note 1). In fact, her pledged delegates alone represented almost 97% of the minimum needed to secure the nomination.

Bernie Sanders could’ve run as an independent which is what he has done his entire political career (see note 2). Instead, he accepted his defeat graciously and endorsed Hillary Clinton, not Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or anyone else. He didn’t campaign for write-in votes. He made his wishes clear and that was for people to vote HRC. He knew that was the best option for furthering a progressive agenda.

Where did all this Trump support come from?

A political science professor of mine (see note 3) used to say, “In case of low turnout, bet on the Republican.” It was estimated that 200 million people were registered to vote for this election. For 2012, that number was 146.3 million, growth easily in excess of 30%. Despite that huge increase, Donald Trump failed to reach Mitt Romney’s vote total. Trump’s win was clearly more a product of apathy than popularity.

Third-party candidates cost Hillary the election!

Some state results could’ve changed based on third-party votes. However, it’s impossible to say for sure which way those voters would’ve gone given only the two options. Libertarians typically lean Republican (see note 4) while the Green Party is definitely liberal. Trump did underperform in the same election that Gary Johnson had by far the best-ever showing for a Libertarian. Only Michigan and Wisconsin could’ve had a different winner had Jill Stein’s voters chosen Hillary Clinton instead. That still would’ve left her short of 270 electoral votes.

So why didn’t people vote for Hillary?

There are several potential reasons, and the answer is likely a combination of those. The one thing I most feared going into this election was excessive negative attention for Donald Trump and far too little promotion of Hillary Clinton. While #anyonebutTrump might make a clever hashtag, it’s not a ballot option. Focusing on voting against one candidate does not encourage people to vote for another in particular. In fact, it may have motivated people not to vote at all.

An estimated 90 million eligible voters did not vote for President this year. The reason my old professor said to bet on the Republican in case of low turnout is because (in her words), “Republicans always vote.”

Maybe we can flip the Electoral College!

Change.org has a petition to ask electors to vote for Hillary Clinton. Many electors are required by law to vote for the candidate who was awarded that state’s electoral votes (see note 5). Furthermore, the electors are not chosen at random. They are chosen by the winner’s party, usually longtime members with a history of loyal service. Republican electors are not going to vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter how many signatures you get on a petition (see note 6). Besides, electors are just as likely, if not more so, to break their pledge to Hillary Clinton as they are to Donald Trump (see the next thought).

It’s still possible!

It is theoretically possible but has never happened. For a more realistic sense of possibility, let’s examine “faithless electors” in modern history (see note 7). Since World War II, there have been nine, six of them pledged to the loser. The three pledged to the winner all voted for third-place candidates (see note 8). One pledged to a loser likely made a mistake on their ballot (see note 9). The rest of the broken pledges for losing candidates were done as protests: One cast no vote (see note 10). Three cast votes within their party. One Republican voted for a (notably conservative) Democrat who was not running for President (see note 11).

Should there be some shocking revolt among electors, they will elect a different Republican or fail to achieve a majority. In the case of no majority, the President is chosen by the House of Representatives, which is presently dominated by Republicans. They will not be electing Hillary Clinton.

Down with the Electoral College!

Abolishing the Electoral College will require a Constitutional amendment. That would require a two-thirds majority of Congress with three-quarters of states ratifying. In recent years we have not been electing Congresses that seem too interested in doing that. Even if such an amendment does pass Congress (see note 12), 13 states wanting to keep the Electoral College is all that is required to block ratification.

Let’s wrap this up.

Complaining of rigged elections and refusing to accept results are Trump tactics. They wouldn’t have worked for him. They won’t work for us.

The result of this election will not change. We need to move forward and do what we can to keep each other safe and make things better in the future. There is another election in November 2018. Every single seat in the House and at least 33 in the Senate will be contested. We can keep repeating this sort of result or work toward a different one. That means we have to turn out the vote, not by complaining about who we don’t want but promoting who we do.

It’s too late to change the result of this election. We could’ve had a different one, but we let this happen. Now we have to deal with it.

 

Notes

  1. Hillary Clinton might’ve actually won the popular vote in the 2008 Democratic primaries.
  2. While Bernie Sanders has caucused with the Democrats since joining Congress in 1991, he never identified as a Democrat until running for President. He has said that he would be running as a Democrat in the future. (UPDATE: He has since announced he will finish his current term, which expires January 2019, as an independent.)
  3. She was very much a liberal.
  4. Gary Johnson was a Republican until 2011. His running mate William Weld was a Republican until 2016. Ron Paul, perhaps the Libertarian Party’s most famous leader and Presidential candidate, was a longtime Republican Congressman who twice ran for President as a Republican. The only electoral vote ever cast for a Libertarian came from a Republican.
  5. Notice there is no explicit offer to pay fines for electors changing their vote. There’s a legal term for that: bribery.
  6. Change.org has said they need 60 million signatures. Hillary Clinton received more than 60 million votes already, and that didn’t win her the electoral vote. Repeating those votes will not change the result.
  7. There was only one instance from 1900 through World War II when pledged electors chose not to vote for a Vice Presidential candidate who had died.
  8. One of those third-place candidates received no other electoral votes. The other two were Strom Thurmond and George Wallace who both ran on segregationist platforms.
  9. Someone voted John Edwards both for President and Vice President in 2004.
  10. An elector pledged to Al Gore in 2000 cast no vote.
  11. That was Harry Byrd, a traditional southern Democrat who supported segregation.
  12. Amendments to abolish the Electoral College have been proposed at least 700 times since the beginning of the republic. None have achieved a two-thirds majority in Congress.
  13. Bonus: Three “faithless electors” broke their pledge to Richard Nixon, once each time he ran for President. One of those was the one mentioned in note 8, and another was the one who voted for George Wallace mentioned in note 5. His successor, Gerald Ford, lost an electoral vote when someone broke their pledge and voted for Ronald Reagan.
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