U.S. elec­tion Tech­ni­cally, it’s still not over for Hil­lary un­til the Elec­toral Col­lege votes

The U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion isn’t re­ally over un­til the Elec­toral Col­lege votes De­cem­ber 19

NOW Magazine - - CONTENTS - By GARY FREE­MAN news@now­toronto.com | @now­toronto.com

Cana­di­ans may know Drake, but many might not know that with­out Gil Scott-Heron, the god­fa­ther of rap, there’d be no Drake.

Around the time of the Water­gate scan­dal, Heron wrote some­thing called H2O Gate Blues, in which he rapped that “…Amer­ica’s faith is drown­ing be­neath that cesspool.”

Today Amer­i­cans’ and Cana­di­ans’ faith is drown­ing be­neath a new cesspool. Protests have raged across the U.S. ev­ery day since Don­ald Trump be­came pres­i­dent-elect. There is no sugar-coated nar­ra­tive to tell chil­dren how a per­son like Trump achieved such a re­ward.

And now that it’s been widely re­ported that the Krem­lin was in­deed in con­tact with the Trump cam­paign in the lead-up to the Novem­ber 8 vote – and that Rus­sian hack­ers may have had some­thing to do with leak­ing Clin­ton’s emails to Wik­ileaks – the vic­tory of Trump reeks of some­thing un­demo­cratic.

Don­ald Trump said the elec­tion would be “rigged,” but few took that to mean in his favour.

In­stances of bla­tant and hos­tile in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion from out­side forces – not to men­tion, al­le­ga­tions of Black voter sup­pres­sion in key Demo­cratic bat­tle­grounds like North Carolina – have led to calls for an im­me­di­ate in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But all three branches of gov­ern­ment in the United States will be un­der the con­trol of the Repub­li­cans, as will the Supreme Court af­ter Trump makes his se­lec­tion to fill the seat left va­cant by the death of Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia and the im­mi­nent re­tire­ment of Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg.

So who will au­tho­rize an in­ves­ti­ga­tion? Is there a way for peo­ple to fight back?

A Change.org pe­ti­tion, Elec­toral Col­lege: Make Hil­lary Clin­ton Pres­i­dent On De­cem­ber 19, is rapidly get­ting sig­na­tures on­line – at last count, more than 4.5 mil­lion. The pe­ti­tion ad­dresses an as­pect of U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tions that is con­found­ing to many: the Elec­toral Col­lege.

As the pe­ti­tion rightly points out, the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion of 2016 isn’t re­ally over un­til the Elec­toral Col­lege votes. Es­tab­lished by Ar­ti­cle Two of the Con­sti­tu­tion, the sys­tem was put in place so that, as Alexan­der Hamil­ton, James Madison and John Jay write in The Fed­er­al­ist Pa­pers, “the of­fice of Pres­i­dent will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an em­i­nent de­gree en­dowed with the req­ui­site qual­i­fi­ca­tions.” In other words, some­one like Trump.

Tech­ni­cally, the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion does not di­rectly elect the pres­i­dent. Un­elected “elec­tors” in each state do. They are obliged to vote as their states have in the gen­eral elec­tion – there are laws in 29 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia re­quir­ing elec­tors to vote as their states have in pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

But the Change.org pe­ti­tion is calling on the Elec­toral Col­lege to vote for Clin­ton when it meets on De­cem­ber 19 to for­mally cast its bal­lots and make the elec­tion re­sults of­fi­cial. The pe­ti­tion ar­gues that Trump is “un­fit to serve” and notes that “Sec­re­tary Clin­ton won the pop­u­lar vote,” by more than 2 mil­lion votes and climb­ing. Trump him­self called the Elec­toral Col­lege “a dis­as­ter” in 2012. He’s since changed his tune.

Though some states hold elec­tions to choose elec­tors, they mostly serve at the plea­sure of state party of­fi­cials. They exist solely to cast a vote as they are di­rected.

Why was the Elec­toral Col­lege cre­ated? Os­ten­si­bly, it was to count the pop­u­la­tion for rea­sons of tax­a­tion, seats in House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and al­lot­ment of the num­ber elec­tors each state would have.

It’s never men­tioned specif­i­cally in the Con­sti­tu­tion, but the main mo­ti­va­tion be­hind the sys­tem was the white male elite’s mis­trust of or­di­nary peo­ple. As his­to­rian Ray Raphael has pointed out, the founders “wanted gov­ern­ment by the peo­ple, but not the peo­ple rul­ing on a daily ba­sis.” In­deed, from the first Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 1789 to that held in 1820, there is no record of what the pop­u­lar vote was – only the Elec­toral Col­lege vote.

The no­tion of un­elected of­fi­cials hav­ing a ma­jor im­pact on the pre­cious ma­chin­ery of democ­racy is not com­pletely for­eign to Cana­di­ans. Ac­cord­ing to a May 2016 An­gus Reid poll, “Two in three Cana­di­ans say the Se­nate is ‘too dam­aged’ to ever earn their good­will.”

A true democ­racy that trusts the peo­ple and does not exist for a white male elite would never have cre­ated an Elec­toral Col­lege. This is not to sug­gest that these un­elected in­di­vid­u­als are not ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vants with a com­mit­ment to pre­serv­ing and up­hold­ing the in­tegrity of the elec­toral sys­tem.

Trump’s ex­tremely negative words and be­hav­iour have gen­er­ated strong anti-Trump feel­ings. He con­tin­ues his un­prece­dented as­sault on women by vow­ing to ap­point very pro-life Supreme Court jus­tices who would over­turn the iconic 1973 Supreme Court de­ci­sion Roe v Wade that de­crim­i­nal­ized abor­tion and gave women the right to choose to end a preg­nancy. Democ­racy is sup­posed to be the po­lit­i­cal will of the peo­ple ex­pressed through suf­frage and man­i­fested in the agen­das, poli­cies and leg­is­la­tion prof­fered by those who get elected. In­stances of bla­tant and hos­tile in­ter­fer­ence from out­side forces in ca­hoots with the Trump cam­paign mean the elec­tion can­not re­tain its aura of pi­ous le­git­i­macy. In H20 Gate Blues, Heron of­fers a sim­ple so­lu­tion: “How much more ev­i­dence do the ci­ti­zens need / That the elec­tion was sab­o­taged by trick­ery and greed? / And if this is so and who we got didn’t win / Let’s do the whole god­damn elec­tion over again!”

Scenes from anti-Trump protest in Toronto Satur­day, Novem­ber 19.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.