In Distress

After doing some of my own fact checking, I’ve concluded that not one of us really knows what we’re talking about.  You may disagree. In any event, this post has two links and some crap added since it was posted a couple of hours ago.

Anyone with good sense is in distress right now.  For a few people, meditation or something less healthy will ease the anxiety, but a lot of us are badly shaken right now.

Between the Russian government’s alleged hacking of the election, FBI Director James Comey’s partisan pre-election “investigation” and The Donald’s loose cannon decision-making habits, we’re in deep shit.  Out of ignorance and narcissism, the President-elect has already created one international incident by accepting a telephone call from Taiwan’s head of state.

Donald Trump has a reputation for wanting information condensed before he’s briefed.  He conducts business that way, and there are reports that he’s behaving impatiently with the people who must educate him on how to lead the Executive Branch.  According to a statement made by a news anchor on this morning’s NPR broadcast, he has told those people he already knows that stuff.

There are other issues, but if we’ve been paying attention it shouldn’t be necessary to provide an itemized list here.

In six days, the Electoral College is scheduled to hold a vote.  Electors aren’t compelled to vote for the candidate who won in their state (Note: The law varies between states, which I learned after posting this blog piece.  Oops.  Please refer to the links at the end of this post for information).

The Electoral College was never intended as a rubber stamp body.  When there is serious concern about a President-elect’s fitness, electors must take that into consideration — if they’re doing their job.

In 2000, the Electoral College could have seated Al Gore in the White House, but they didn’t.  They rubber stamped George W. Bush’s dubious victory, leading to war, torture and a crisis with the economy.  The Supreme Court’s role in the 2000 election was pretty weird, too.

But I digress.

It’s possible the December 19 Electoral College vote will be postponed so the allegation of hacking by the Russian government can be investigated.  However, at this time we have enough information to recognize that the character of each elector will be tested when the vote is held.  It’s a secret ballot, so in theory each individual can vote his or her conscience.  That’s no guarantee of anything, though.  Remember Dubya.

(Note: The term “Secret Ballot” may be little more than just talk.  At the end of this post, you’ll find a link to a short explanation on the Slate website.)  

One of the purposes of the College is to make it possible to reject a President-elect who is blatantly unfit for the job.  If Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate break-in had been established shortly after the November 1972 election, it could have been treated as grounds to prevent him from being seated for a second term.  We’ll never know whether the College would have done its job, but theoretically…

Where the popular vote is concerned, there’s also a cheerleading approach which works with larger numbers of Republicans than Democrats.  During the campaign, Hillary Clinton may have drawn crowds every bit as big as Donald Trump’s, but even after winning the popular vote on the national level Hillary Clinton couldn’t claim individual votes in enough swing states to earn the electoral vote.

Republicans get more excited about actually showing up at the polling place than a lot of us.  They’re more likely to hire babysitters, take time off from work or walk through a blizzard to cast votes.

Most of us didn’t think that would be a factor in this election because Trump had made himself unappealing to so many people.  It was assumed that the Libertarian candidate would serve as a default vote for GOP voters who found The Donald too obnoxious, and Hillary would take the swing states.  No one was sure whether Jill Stein would take many votes from Hillary.

It’s still possible Hillary did win in a few states where the numbers suggest something else.  We don’t know.  Try asking Vladimir Putin.

This blog post is commentary only, and I’ve already demonstrated that I may have dropped the ball with the Secret Ballot thing.  A link appears below, to an official government site explaining how the system works.  You may also find other sources which will help you avoid embarrassing yourself with an ill-informed opinion.  Don’t count on every reputable history site or textbook agreeing on the details, though.  I believe that’s where I ran into trouble.

http://history.house.gov/Institution/Electoral-College/Electoral-College/

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2000/12/do_the_electors_vote_by_secret_ballot.html

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