Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Response to Entirely Expected Hopelessness

(See: Just Above sunset: Entirely Expected Hopelessness)

According to Politico's Darren Samuelsohn, it's probably not too early to be talking about this:
“Impeachment” is already on the lips of pundits, newspaper editorials, constitutional scholars, and even a few members of Congress. From the right, Washington attorney Bruce Fein puts the odds at 50/50 that a President Trump commits impeachable offenses as president.
Maybe this means it's about the right time to unveil the bumper sticker I've been thinking of marketing:
Impeach President Trump!
The cool part is, I could post ads for it on both conservative and liberal websites!

But back to that assault on political law and order by plain old-fashioned down-home horse sense that's going on over on the Republican side -- here described by Brian Beutler in the New Republic:
No matter how short of 1,237 Trump falls, his argument at the convention will be simple, and completely intuitive: I might not have won in a way that requires the Republican Party to give me the nomination – but I won a moral victory. It’s in your power to deny me the nomination, but woe betide the GOP if you do. 
This will ring true both to his own supporters, and to GOP voters who perhaps supported a different candidate but are amenable to Trump and believe instinctually that in an election, the person with the most votes should win.
Yes but, in the same way a drunk might celebrate his staying sober for a month by spending the week on a binge, abandoning the principle of majority rule is just another symptom that the Republican Party has completely collapsed and has lost control over itself. Still, I suppose if you're a political  party on the verge of giving your nomination to Bozo the Clown, there's no additional harm in abandoning all pretense of decorum.

The truth is, the presidential nominating process of both political parties was intentionally designed to emulate the general election process itself, as we all know. But what most of us may not realize is, never in the 226-year history of the American Republic has any of its presidents been elected by a plurality of the vote. Not a one!

And before you give me that business of, for just one example, Abraham Lincoln winning with only 39.9% of the vote in 1860, we shouldn't forget that that was the popular vote, whereas in the Electoral College, which is where we find the votes that actually elect presidents, Lincoln scored 180 out of 303 -- or a 59.4% majority.

But yes, there were presidential elections in which no candidate received more than 50% of the Electoral College vote, a good example being 1824, an election very similar to what the Republicans are going through right now in their primary season.

Andrew Jackson had the most electoral votes -- 99 of them, a 37.9% plurality -- with John Quincy Adams coming in second with 84 electors (32.2%). William Crawford had 41 electors (15.7%) and Henry Clay had 37 (14.2%).

So had the Trump rule ("He with the most votes, even if not a majority, wins") prevailed, Andrew Jackson would have won the presidency that year. That may sound fair, except when you figure that maybe all those who voted for the other three really didn't like Jackson, in which case, a "minority candidate" would have won the day, and the principle of "majority rule" would have been negated.

In that case, the U.S. Constitution allowed for (and still does) a do-over by throwing the election into the House of Representatives, where John Quincy Adams won, probably by bribing Henry Clay for his votes in exchange for being named Secretary of State.

That outcome, by the way, pissed off somebody no end, that person being Andrew Jackson (a man who might remind us today of Donald Trump), who came back four years later to blow Adams away, 178 electors (68.2%) to 83 (31.8%).

Yeah, there's this complicated bureaucratic mechanism, found in both the Constitution and Republican rules, that strikes people who don't think about it as more than a little undemocratic, but to those who do think about it, they realize that, even with all that horse trading, it is designed to better approximate democracy's majority rule that can be found anywhere in your so-called "horse sense".

And so, if the people who don't give any of this much thought get their way, convincing the rest of the Republicans to just abandon the rules that were designed to govern this sort of thing, it may not really matter -- especially if the Republican nominee, after all the showy political folderol of the past several years, ends up getting shot down in flames -- since it's been pretty evident that that party is falling apart anyway.

But if you think this has been one of the most interesting presidential elections in American history, you're probably right, but just wait until after the Republicans are gone, in 2020!

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