Trump won thanks to flawed, archaic American electoral system

Winner-takes-all does not reflect democracy.

 |  5-minute read |   14-11-2016
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Those who believe America has a credible democratic electoral system should have a rethink.

The point is not that a system that elects Trump is a travesty, but that the system itself is archaic and absurd.

In the Constitution of 1789, Article II created a collegium with a vote-value equal to the elected members in Congress (Senate and Representatives) of a state.

The votes of each state collegium were counted in proportion to the whole. It was State law that was to decide the manner and process of the election.

Disenfranchisement

Of course, the Supreme Court did monitor and strike down extended residence requirements (Dunn's case 1972), allowing in two later cases of 1973 a 20-day residence period.

Again in Carrington (1975) the Supreme Court struck down Texas provisions against soldiers voting.

But the Supreme Court did not strike down literacy requirements (Guinn (1915), Lassiter (1959)).

Disenfranchisement due to inability to interpret the Constitution was also struck down (Davis (1949)). The US Civil Rights Acts (1957-60) was upheld in Katzenbach (1966).

The point was that elections including those of the president were in the hands of the States.

download_111416101212.jpg The States follow different systems. Some follow "winner takes all". (Photo credit: Reuters) 

The most startling example of the failure of the system was Bush versus Gore (2000) when Bush had an edge of 527 votes.

There was a final date for results to be declared, but it was clear that Gore would have won if all legitimate votes were counted.

Presidential electoral democracy was thwarted because the State controlled elections. A biased Supreme Court used this excuse to declare that Bush won.

The dissents of Ginsburg and Stevens in the Supreme Court speak volumes, and exposes all that is rotten in America's system of presidential elections.

But look at the process as it has evolved: elections with fanfare for the Republic and Democratic Party nominees (takes over a year).

Then another four months till the selection between party nominees. The States follow different systems. Some follow "winner takes all".

So theoretically a higher vote of 49 per cent vote would triumph over a 48 per cent loser, making the entire 48 per cent vote of that candidate irrelevant to the final result. Some states take into account the popular votes.

Some distribute the vote to the county or district. What an absolutely, disjointed, absurd farce.

Clinton had won the popular vote with 47.64 per cent vote (59,132,664 total votes against Trump, who had 47.54 per cent vote share (59,007,205 total votes) but lost the electoral college by 218 against 276.

This shows systemic failure. The attack on her began from her own competing colleague in the Democratic Party (Bernie Sanders) who called her a liar and trickster raising the question of her official mails from the Clinton Foundation's server.

Caricature

Trump picked on this even though just before the election ended, the CBI cleared Hilary in this regard.

This attack, "Tricky Hilary", came to stick. And she huffed and she puffed but this charge did not come crashing down.

But she had one advantage: she had policies on health, foreign affairs, antiracism, pro-women and children, supporting homosexuality and the disadvantaged and a liberal grant of citizenship to those in America and those entitled to come in.

She was steadfast in the election on these issues. But there was something in her overgrown smile, and academic approach which did not connect with audiences including her own supporters who were fuelled by their enthusiasm.

Trump was a joker to be laughed at: his utter lack of experience, bawdy remarks about touching women's bottoms, cluelessness on policies and programmes.

But yet his stupidity, cluelessness and bawdiness touched people who found he spoke the language of many Americans with ineffable charm.

Obviously, a large number of Americans like these sort of things.

His only declared policy was to make a wall to keep Mexicans out, from his own money and to end terrorism by targeting all Muslims.

He was a real life caricature, discarded by some prominent members of his own party.

Propaganda

Americans have a way of propagating that what was terrible was really good, even a triumph of democracy.

Till the eve of the elections, it was thought that the elections were meaningless and the worst ever. Charlatan versus Crooked.

After the election, the result was proclaimed as the triumph of American democracy which allowed those outside mainstream parties to win the crown.

Trump was now a hero. He had appealed to the blue collar workers who took to his brief on immigrants, increasing jobs by bringing back outsourcing and propagating religion based racism.

Was, this a triumph of democracy and the will of the people? Hardly. Hilary had won, albeit barely, the popular vote but lost the collegiate vote.

The entire collegium system foolishly allowed each State in America to follow its own inconsistent methods of democracy.

Winner-takes-all does not reflect democracy. It converts a closely contested vote for the loser to be reduced to zero in the final counting.

The triumph of populism by undemocratic machinery is the negation of democracy. We are witness to the rise of authoritarianism.

Trump, Putin, the dictators of the South and South East, the RSS supported Narendra Modi, and the fascist skinhead "national" parties in England and Europe.

Israel's militarised democracy is fascist to the core. The Spring revolutions of the Middle East have surrendered their cause. Where are we heading? To Trumpistan, "the new, dystopian reality".

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read - Astrologer who predicted Trump winning says he is about to shock the world

Writer

Rajeev Dhavan Rajeev Dhavan

Supreme Court lawyer.

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