I'm about at the end of my rope, regarding Trump and his use of "free media". Trump (or whoever the guy behind the curtain is) has truly mastered the art of the feeding frenzy and the art of keeping his "brand" in front of the public at all times.
I'm really surprised that responsible news organizations have not seen through this.
What I find extremely offensive is these crackpots potential Trump appointees the media digs up who repeat the same inflammatory words, like "the cancer" of Islamic terrorism - but who cannot manage to pronounce "metastacize" correctly.
So, tomorrow is the big day -- the real presidential election by the electoral college. Only one member has announced that he plans to vote in opposition to his state's results. This system has been in place since 1787, so I guess everybody is satisfied with it, just as the United States constitution has never been updated to divest itself of a useless list of amendments that could be incorporated into a modern 21st century text. (Of course, the French consitution for the "5th republic" is now 58 years old, so there is a lot of room for improvement there, too, and demand for the "6th republic" is growing, because things have changed quite a bit since 1958.)
The doctrine of "one man, one vote" in the United States applies only to drawing up congressional districts, so I guess most people are happy. Or maybe they just weren't paying attention.
There's a lot of unhappy people in the US of A lately, in case you haven't noticed. But changes to rules that benefit the party in power just aren't likely to make it through congress, and the Senate has arcane rules that require 60 votes to move legislation to a vote, so without bipartisanship, nothing can happen. We're f*cked.
You know what galls the hell out of me? There is so much hand-wringing and finger-pointing and tongue-tutting over the antics of that frigging buffoon who is being "elected" by a stupid and outmoded system designed to protect slaveholders*. Ditto the hand-wringing etc. over the existence of that system. But where is the concerted effort to throw this election out completely? It has been so thoroughly compromised with hacking, with lies, with election day mishaps that those things alone should damn it. Furthermore, and even more damning, the actions of the purported winner of that compromised election should have every member of both parties scrambling to find a legal means to oust him before he begins.
Now that the electoral college has (not) done its job,our next hope is impeachment. Though I suspect Trump may resign after he's been anointed the winner.
Either way we end up with a reactionary conservative VP as President. Not looking forward to the next 4 years. It does give both parties time to find good candidates for 2020. Assuming elections ARE held in 2020.
The only US election bumper stickers I saw up here were for Bernie. They were either from Vermont (natch) or New York State. There are two Vermont cars often parked along my (long) street between here and Jean-Talon Market (about three long Montréal blocks). They still sport their Bernie stickers. Perhaps their owners are studying here?
I didn't think enough Electors would bolt, but did any of them?
In French, an "électeur" usually just means a voter, but there is the historical meaning of Elector of the so-called Holy Roman Empire...
(CNN) — More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than any other losing presidential candidate in US history.
The Democrat outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In Montana we "benefit" disproportionately in the electoral college as we have 3 electors, but only one congressional district based on population. (However, our one congressman covers the largest district by population, and 2nd largest by area.)
This EC advantage doesn't mean much, though, since it is generally accepted that MT will go for the Republican candidate, with the result that no candidates traipse through our state on the campaign trail.
This could change - without a constitutional amendment - if states would vote to apportion their electors' votes, either by congressional district, or by % of votes cast for each candidate. Maine and Nebraska are already doing this. Time for a change. Past time.
Here where I am in Washington State, our individual votes for President are meaningless and have been for ages as the state always votes Democrat. It literally doesn't matter who we vote for, it will have no effect on the outcome. The upside is we never see campaign commercials for those races except on the rare occasion where the campaigns have done a national buy.
Every time I have criticised the "American way of doing things" over the last 30 or 40 years -- things like the electoral college -- I have been attacked as being "anti-American." Perhaps I have a chance of being rehabilitated some day.
I have heard of two, possibly three, "good reasons" for the existence of this blight on pure democracy.
With each state's election being "compartmentalized," election irregularities requiring a recount can be sequestered to the affected states. (Not sure why they think we couldn't just recount the votes from that state WITHOUT having an EC.)
With the US population being increasingly concentrated in urbanized areas, the voice of rural states and regions - where our food is grown, and our forest products and minerals come from - would go unheard, overwhelmed by city dwellers. (Though this is true, how did "The Founders" know this would happen? Or was it strictly to mollify slave-holding states?)
And finally, and most importantly, the role of the EC in overturning the election of a demagogue, a person lacking the qualifications to do the job of POTUS, or being under the influence of foreign powers. Since Trump fits all 3 of these disqualifying characteristics and yet the electors rubber-stamped his election, this raison d'etre (sp?) isn't valid.
So why do we need it at all? Individual states' voters can vote by referendum to change how their state's electoral votes are apportioned, WITHOUT requiring a constitutional amendment. Maine and Nebraska already apportion their votes by district or by percentage of the total vote for each candidate. Other states could start doing this as soon as their voters enact such a referendum.
In a nod to the rural & sparsely populated states, the two bonus Electoral votes (for two senators who are voted at-large from every state vs varying numbers of representatives who are elected from districts based on population), could still go to the candidate who "won" the state.
Yes, and the reason for delaying the inauguration for more than two months is because that's how long it takes to ride a horse from the outlying states to attend the event. Oddly enough, other countries put new presidents and legislatures in place within a week of the election.
Now how in the hell is Trump going to divest himself of his worldwide holdings? That's what I'd like to know.
The Trump Foundation is being investigated in the State of New York, and has been ordered to stop fundraising, since it has never been registered legally to do so. Of course, other states may follow, since he hasn't seen fit to release his tax records.
Impeachment's too good for him. I'm for stringing him up...
I'm perhaps less afraid of a Trump presidency than most on the left because I have no illusions about how awful, corrupt, dangerously bellicose, and reactionary the current Democratic Party is. It isn't a good vs. evil scenario; it's evil vs. evil. All that's left is arguing greater and lesser evils between them. The prospect of four years of a Trump administration should terrify everyone no doubt, but I find the billionaire puppet mainstream Democrats plenty terrifying as well.
This article from June 20 nailed it. (Wall Street Journal, I think, the author's name got separated from the article when I copied & pasted into Notes, sorry.)
"It’s 2020, four years from now. The campaign is under way to succeed the president, who is retiring after a single wretched term. Voters are angrier than ever—at politicians, at compromisers, at the establishment. Congress and the White House seem incapable of working together on anything, even when their interests align. With lawmaking at a standstill, the president’s use of executive orders and regulatory discretion has reached a level that Congress views as dictatorial—not that Congress can do anything about it, except file lawsuits that the divided Supreme Court, its three vacancies unfilled, has been unable to resolve.
On Capitol Hill, Speaker Paul Ryan resigned after proving unable to pass a budget, or much else. The House burned through two more speakers and one “acting” speaker, a job invented following four speakerless months. The Senate, meanwhile, is tied in knots by wannabe presidents and aspiring talk-show hosts, who use the chamber as a social-media platform to build their brands by obstructing—well, everything. The Defense Department is among hundreds of agencies that have not been reauthorized, the government has shut down three times, and, yes, it finally happened: The United States briefly defaulted on the national debt, precipitating a market collapse and an economic downturn. No one wanted that outcome, but no one was able to prevent it.
As the presidential primaries unfold, Kanye West is leading a fractured field of Democrats. The Republican front-runner is Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame. Elected governor of Louisiana only a few months ago, he is promising to defy the Washington establishment by never trimming his beard. Party elders have given up all pretense of being more than spectators, and most of the candidates have given up all pretense of party loyalty. On the debate stages, and everywhere else, anything goes.
I could continue, but you get the gist. Yes, the political future I’ve described is unreal. But it is also a linear extrapolation of several trends on vivid display right now. Astonishingly, the 2016 Republican presidential race has been dominated by a candidate who is not, in any meaningful sense, a Republican. According to registration records, since 1987 Donald Trump has been a Republican, then an independent, then a Democrat, then a Republican, then “I do not wish to enroll in a party,” then a Republican; he has donated to both parties; he has shown loyalty to and affinity for neither. The second-place candidate, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, built his brand by tearing down his party’s: slurring the Senate Republican leader, railing against the Republican establishment, and closing the government as a career move.
The Republicans’ noisy breakdown has been echoed eerily, albeit less loudly, on the Democratic side, where, after the early primaries, one of the two remaining contestants for the nomination was not, in any meaningful sense, a Democrat. Senator Bernie Sanders was an independent who switched to nominal Democratic affiliation on the day he filed for the New Hampshire primary, only three months before that election. He surged into second place by winning independents while losing Democrats. If it had been up to Democrats to choose their party’s nominee, Sanders’s bid would have collapsed after Super Tuesday. In their various ways, Trump, Cruz, and Sanders are demonstrating a new principle: The political parties no longer have either intelligible boundaries or enforceable norms, and, as a result, renegade political behavior pays.
Political disintegration plagues Congress, too. House Republicans barely managed to elect a speaker last year. Congress did agree in the fall on a budget framework intended to keep the government open through the election—a signal accomplishment, by today’s low standards—but by April, hard-line conservatives had revoked the deal, thereby humiliating the new speaker and potentially causing another shutdown crisis this fall. As of this writing, it’s not clear whether the hard-liners will push to the brink, but the bigger point is this: If they do, there is not much that party leaders can do about it.
And here is the still bigger point: The very term party leaders has become an anachronism. Although Capitol Hill and the campaign trail are miles apart, the breakdown in order in both places reflects the underlying reality that there no longer is any such thing as a party leader. There are only individual actors, pursuing their own political interests and ideological missions willy-nilly, like excited gas molecules in an overheated balloon.
No wonder Paul Ryan, taking the gavel as the new (and reluctant) House speaker in October, complained that the American people “look at Washington, and all they see is chaos. What a relief to them it would be if we finally got our act together.” No one seemed inclined to disagree. Nor was there much argument two months later when Jeb Bush, his presidential campaign sinking, used the c-word in a different but equally apt context. Donald Trump, he said, is “a chaos candidate, and he’d be a chaos president.” Unfortunately for Bush, Trump’s supporters didn’t mind. They liked that about him.
Trump, however, didn’t cause the chaos. The chaos caused Trump. What we are seeing is not a temporary spasm of chaos but a chaos syndrome.
Chaos syndrome is a chronic decline in the political system’s capacity for self-organization. It begins with the weakening of the institutions and brokers—political parties, career politicians, and congressional leaders and committees—that have historically held politicians accountable to one another and prevented everyone in the system from pursuing naked self-interest all the time. As these intermediaries’ influence fades, politicians, activists, and voters all become more individualistic and unaccountable. The system atomizes. Chaos becomes the new normal—both in campaigns and in the government itself.
Our intricate, informal system of political intermediation, which took many decades to build, did not commit suicide or die of old age; we reformed it to death. For decades, well-meaning political reformers have attacked intermediaries as corrupt, undemocratic, unnecessary, or (usually) all of the above. Americans have been busy demonizing and disempowering political professionals and parties, which is like spending decades abusing and attacking your own immune system. Eventually, you will get sick.
The disorder has other causes, too: developments such as ideological polarization, the rise of social media, and the radicalization of the Republican base. But chaos syndrome compounds the effects of those developments, by impeding the task of organizing to counteract them. Insurgencies in presidential races and on Capitol Hill are nothing new, and they are not necessarily bad, as long as the governing process can accommodate them. Years before the Senate had to cope with Ted Cruz, it had to cope with Jesse Helms. The difference is that Cruz shut down the government, which Helms could not have done had he even imagined trying.
Like many disorders, chaos syndrome is self-reinforcing. It causes governmental dysfunction, which fuels public anger, which incites political disruption, which causes yet more governmental dysfunction. Reversing the spiral will require understanding it. Consider, then, the etiology of a political disease: the immune system that defended the body politic for two centuries; the gradual dismantling of that immune system; the emergence of pathogens capable of exploiting the new vulnerability; the symptoms of the disorder; and, finally, its prognosis and treatment.
1. Immunity Why the political class is a good thing
The Founders knew all too well about chaos. It was the condition that brought them together in 1787 under the Articles of Confederation. The central government had too few powers and powers of the wrong kinds, so they gave it more powers, and also multiple power centers. The core idea of the Constitution was to restrain ambition and excess by forcing competing powers and factions to bargain and compromise.
The Framers worried about demagogic excess and populist caprice, so they created buffers and gatekeepers between voters and the government. Only one chamber, the House of Representatives, would be directly elected. A radical who wanted to get into the Senate would need to get past the state legislature, which selected senators; a usurper who wanted to seize the presidency would need to get past the Electoral College, a convocation of elders who chose the president; and so on.
They were visionaries, those men in Philadelphia, but they could not foresee everything, and they made a serious omission. Unlike the British parliamentary system, the Constitution makes no provision for holding politicians accountable to one another. A rogue member of Congress can’t be “fired” by his party leaders, as a member of Parliament can; a renegade president cannot be evicted in a vote of no confidence, as a British prime minister can. By and large, American politicians are independent operators, and they became even more independent when later reforms, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, neutered the Electoral College and established direct election to the Senate.
The Constitution makes no mention of many of the essential political structures that we take for granted, such as political parties and congressional committees. If the Constitution were all we had, politicians would be incapable of getting organized to accomplish even routine tasks. Every day, for every bill or compromise, they would have to start from scratch, rounding up hundreds of individual politicians and answering to thousands of squabbling constituencies and millions of voters. By itself, the Constitution is a recipe for chaos.
So Americans developed a second, unwritten constitution. Beginning in the 1790s, politicians sorted themselves into parties. In the 1830s, under Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, the parties established patronage machines and grass-roots bases. The machines and parties used rewards and the occasional punishment to encourage politicians to work together. Meanwhile, Congress developed its seniority and committee systems, rewarding reliability and establishing cooperative routines. Parties, leaders, machines, and congressional hierarchies built densely woven incentive structures that bound politicians into coherent teams. Personal alliances, financial contributions, promotions and prestige, political perks, pork-barrel spending, endorsements, and sometimes a trip to the woodshed or the wilderness: All of those incentives and others, including some of dubious respectability, came into play. If the Constitution was the system’s DNA, the parties and machines and political brokers were its RNA, translating the Founders’ bare-bones framework into dynamic organizations and thus converting conflict into action.