Friday, December 9, 2016

Lost in the counting




One of the problems with the recount taking place in Wisconsin is that many of the ballots are being run through the same computers as they were November 8, so major errors are not likely to be found.  The question all along has been whether the electronic voting machines were hacked, but it seems it will take a Congressional investigation to get to the bottom of this and that could be a very long time in the making.  Republican leaders are not in any hurry.

Even if they did, it is doubtful they would find anything as they would most likely look in all the wrong places.  If such ballot tampering took place, it probably occurred at the local level, which more likely than not would be connected to local RNC affiliates.  After all, these are the guys who stood the most to gain with a Trump victory, especially in Republican-led states like Wisconsin and Michigan.  North Carolina should also be questioned, as should Florida and Ohio for similar reasons.  It is highly doubtful this was a Kremlin-backed plot.

We simply can't bring ourselves to believe that our political parties would stoop this low, but after this ugly election cycle I wouldn't put anything past guys like Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, Pat McCrory, Rick Scott or even John Kasich.  These are governors who will do anything to win, and they all threw their support behind Trump, except for Kasich, who probably regrets that he didn't now.  He was evidently Trump's first choice for Vice-President.

Wisconsin is particularly suspect because here we get the nexus of Republican chicanery in Scott Walker, Paul Ryan and Reince Priebus, who somehow managed to turn a union blue-collar state into a right-to-work red state with the help of the Koch Brothers in eight short years.  It is really hard to believe Cheese-heads willingly submitted themselves to this, knowing the impact this would have on their state.  All the votes should be counted by hand, which is what Jill Stein tried to have done but failed.

We have deluded ourselves into thinking that the two parties play by the same rule book, when the Republicans threw the rule book out the window long before they found a straw man in Obama to attack.  The main aim had been to stifle voter turnout with voter ID laws and a smaller window of early voting, but this election had a very good turnout, second only to the 2008 election in recent election years.

Hillary amassed over 65 million votes, matching Obama's count in 2012.  She will finish close to 3 million votes better than Trump, yet find herself losing the electoral college because of three key states -- Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania -- all thought to have been solidly in her column before the election.  There was little reason to doubt this given that Obama had won Wisconsin by 200,000, Michigan by 450,000, and Pennsylvania by 310,000 votes in 2012.  If anything, the economic situation is better in these three states now than it was in 2012, yet magically they all turned for Trump.

All three states had slightly lower turnouts than in 2012, but not enough to account for this amazing turnaround, especially since none of these states had voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, and that included George W. Bush who won two terms in the White House.  So, why Trump?  Did these Upper Midwesterners truly believe Trump would bring their manufacturing jobs back?  Or, that Hillary was actually the devil in disguise?

The same people that believe nothing is out of the ordinary in the Upper Midwest believe that the only reason Hillary won the popular vote is because millions of illegal immigrants voted for her in California.  True there was a spike in voting in California this time around -- but only 500,000 votes.  Hillary's margin of popular victory was 2.65 million votes.  So, where did all these other mysterious votes come from since she lost Florida despite an influx of Puerto Rican voters this year?

One can't make the case that Democrats were less excited about Hillary than they were Obama, given she matched his 2012 popular vote total.  She just didn't get those votes in the right places, which is why scrutiny should be brought to bear on the states that voted for Obama in 2012 but against Hillary in 2016.  For all these states to go Republican this time around seems a bit incredulous to the say the least.

Yet, Obama himself is asking everyone to accept the results and move on.  For her part, Hillary has asked Americans to do the same.  It seems they would rather accept the questionable outcome than have our electoral process called into question.

It's not like this hasn't happened before.  Many persons still believe that Nixon lost the 1960 election thanks to the chicanery of Democratic political machines in Illinois, Texas and California.  Nixon was encouraged to dispute the outcome of the very close election but chose not to, presumably for the sake of the country.  The 2000 election similarly remains disputed given the Bush family connections in Florida.  It seems like an unwritten rule that both parties accept the results regardless of how dubious they might be.

Jill Stein has tried to challenge the system, but finds herself running up against a brick wall.  Wisconsin agreed to a recount but only doing so electronically.  Michigan has blocked her completely, and it is doubtful her petition will be accepted in Pennsylvania.  This means that once again state election officials are left off the hook.

Instead, some Democratic electors are trying to get Republican electors to deny Trump the presidency by being "unfaithful" to their states when the Electoral College meets later this month.  This so-called Electoral College Revolt is no more likely to happen than mysterious hacked ballot boxes are to turn up in Wisconsin.  Yet, many of us simply can't accept Trump won this election "fair and square."

We fool ourselves into thinking our vote is as valuable as everyone else's, when votes are still disproportionately weighted by the states we live in.  Even with the huge outpouring of votes for Hillary in California, these votes are worth less in the Electoral College than are votes from Michigan, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, when you divide the population of these states by their electoral votes.  She could have won 100 per cent of the California vote and she still wouldn't have won the electoral college.

This antiquated system was derived by our Founding Fathers as a compromise to the Southern states, which felt they would get trampled in national elections by the much more populous Northern states.  Southern legislators also pushed for the notorious 3/5s rule, allowing for slaves to be counted toward their electoral votes, even though they had no right to participate in the process.

The Founding Fathers were determined to move beyond a confederation of states and become a nation.  They tried hard for 12 years but the populist victory of Jefferson in 1800 and later Jackson in 1828 ended any dreams of Federalism.  The Electoral College is not so much an anachronism, as it is a reflection of this deeply divided nation.

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