Does the title I gave this blog post sound crazy? I’ll attempt in this post (Part 1) and my next post (Part 2) to make it sound not only NOT crazy but perfectly sensible in the context of making an informed decision about “who” [or more importantly, “what”] to vote for in this election [or whether to vote at all].
First, if you think it’s possible that on November 8 [election day] any candidate other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will get the 270 electoral votes required to make him/her our next president, all I can do is ask you to study the matter further. If you do that, you will find that you are wrong [almost any credible source of information on election history and the current mechanism in place to elect a president will help you get to that point, including my past blog posts and several of the pages on this web site].
I often hear remarks like “I can’t bring myself to vote for ‘that man’ / ‘that woman’ “, and there is frequent reference in the media to Never Trump and Never Hillary constituencies and the historically record-setting unpopularity of both of these candidates. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that people in these camps need to realize that this election is not about them and how they feel — it’s about the future of America.
Let’s look at all situations that could even theoretically exist on November 9 [or a few days / weeks later if there is a 2000-like situation, but in any event, fairly soon after November 9], and what the ultimate outcome would be in each situation. The possible situations are the following:
- Hillary Clinton won 270 or more electoral votes, regardless of whether or not she won the popular vote. She will be sworn in as POTUS at noon on January 20.
- Donald Trump won 270 or more electoral votes, regardless of whether or not he won the popular vote. He will be sworn in as POTUS at noon on January 20.
- Neither Clinton nor Trump won 270 or more electoral votes. This is extremely unlikely, but not impossible. It has not occurred in the last 192 years, and has occurred only twice in our entire 240 year history [1800 and 1824]. There was controversy around the electoral vote counts the 1876 election, too, but the process for resolving that controversy was not the same. In this situation #3, the responsibility of selecting our next POTUS falls on the House of Representatives, and the responsibility of selecting our next VPOTUS falls on the Senate. The details of this outcome will be covered in Part 2 under the heading A Closer Look At Outcome #3.
If either #1 or #2 is the outcome, we will have made a choice between two diametrically opposed ideologies, the tenets of which are expressed in the platforms of the Democrat and Republican parties. As I said above, it is extremely unlikely that situation #3 will be the outcome — but since it’s not impossible, I’ll take a closer look at it in Part 2. I’ll proceed at this point, however, under the assumption that the outcome is either #1 or #2, because the ultimate result of outcome #3 will not be appreciably different from either outcome #1 or #2 — i.e., people who vote for anyone other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton — or who don’t vote — will have unwittingly voted for one of these two candidates. So when the polls close on November 8, we still will have made a choice between two ideological extremes, the tenets of which are expressed in the platforms of the Democrat and Republican parties.
In Part 2 of this post, I will include a simple table that boils the “planks” from the platforms of the two parties down to their positions on about ten issues that I think most people would agree highlight the extremes of the two ideologies. Every citizen of this country should become familiar with these party platforms, because in this election, we will be deciding which of these two platforms we align with as a country, and therefore what direction we want to take going forward.
If the candidate you voted for is elected on November 8, you can be happy that our chosen path aligns with his/her [and one would think, your] party’s platform. If you unwittingly [see A Closer Look At Outcome #3 in Part 2] voted for the candidate that was elected but do not align with his/her party’s platform, you were among those who caused that candidate’s party to prevail, so you bear part of the responsibility for that outcome and will need to live with it even though it was not your preference.
If the candidate you voted for is not elected, you will need to live with movement in the direction of the winning candidate’s party’s platform even though you [one would think] disagree with it. If this is the outcome, it would behoove all who fit in this category to do everything they can to make the next president a one-term president. In at least one respect [composition of the Supreme Court], the potential impact of the 2020 election outcome will be much less significant than the outcome on 11/8/16. By 2020, composition of the Court will definitely have shifted considerably in the direction that is in alignment with the 2016 winning party’s ideology, and it’s quite possible that it could already be set in that direction for a generation [thereby making the 2020 election ineffective from this perspective]. Nonetheless, at least you could say that limiting his/her term to one would be better than acquiescing to eight more years [from now] of current policies and direction.
So the question I would ask is “Why would any citizen of this country take an action [or refrain from taking an action available to them] that they know in advance might actually throw their support toward an election outcome they don’t want?”. I’ll get into that in more depth in Part 2, and I’ll also get to the expanded description of Situation #3 I promised above. For now, I’ll close this post with what mathematicians write when they have demonstrated a hypothesis to be correct — Q.E.D. [an abbreviation for the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum, which means “That which was to be proven”].
Charles M. Jones