In Part 1, I outlined the only three possible situations that could even theoretically exist on 11/9/16: 1) Hillary Clinton won 270 or more electoral votes and is President Elect, 2) Donald Trump won 270 or more electoral votes and is President Elect, or 3) neither Clinton nor Trump won 270 or more electoral votes, which according to the Twelfth Amendment, has moved responsibility for selecting our next President and Vice President to the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively. I also pointed out why regardless of which of these is the outcome, the ultimate result will be the same — i.e., we will have made a choice between two ideological extremes, the tenets of which are expressed in the platforms of the Democrat and Republican parties. Furthermore, I outlined why 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.
Also in Part 1 of this post, I said I would include in this Part 2 a simple table that boils the “planks” from the platforms of the two parties down to their ideological/philosophical positions on ten issues that I think most people would agree highlight the extremes of their two ideologies. Click on this link to display that table: Party Philosophy Comparison. To access the full party platforms themselves [which I suggest in the table that you also read], follow these links: Democrat Party Platform; Republican Party Platform.
In this Part 2, I will provide more detail on Situation #3, which is unlikely but not impossible, and also consider in more depth the question I posed at the end of Part 1: “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?”.
Situation #3 is described in more depth in the section A Closer Look At Outcome #3 below. The significance of this scenario, however, in this election, is simply that 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 [see links referenced above].
So What Influence Can Non-Trump / Non-Clinton Votes, or Not Voting, Have?
The only possible influence either voting for anybody other than Clinton or Trump, or not voting, could have is to throw the election to the House of Representatives [Situation #3 above]. If these votes are insufficient to produce that outcome, those casting them [or refraining from voting] will have essentially voted for either Clinton or Trump, and there is no way they can predict in advance which one they will have unwittingly voted for.
So back to the question “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 can think of no other reasons than these: 1) not understanding the current process for electing a president [what we would like that process to be is irrelevant for this election]; or 2) allowing how he/she “feels” about voting for Clinton or voting for Trump to govern his/her voting decision, rather than choosing between ideologies that will determine what kind of country we will be a generation from now. Before moving on to an expanded description of situation #3 [see opening paragraph of this post], I would like to suggest consideration of the following facts I gleaned from a recent article in USA Today [original sources, which I consider credible, were quoted within the article]:
- More than 92 million Americans who were eligible to vote four years ago didn’t vote. This is more than eighteen times Barack Obama’s margin of victory over Mitt Romney. The highest rate of voter turnout since World War II was 63.8% in 1960. It spiked again to 61.6% in 2008.
- More than eight in ten say they are following news about the candidates closely [the highest level of interest in a quarter century]. Eight in ten say they have thought “quite a lot” about the election. Three of four say it “really matters” who wins.
- Two-thirds call the tone of the campaign too negative, and only four in ten are satisfied with their choices [the lowest level in two decades]. Just one in ten say either candidate would make a good president. Four in ten say neither would. “It’s not: ‘How much do I like these people?'” says Jan Leighley, an American University professor and co-author of Who Votes Now? Demographics, Issues, Inequality and Turnout in the United States. “It’s: ‘Does it make a difference between this person I do not like as opposed to that person I do not like?'”
And by the way, for anybody who thinks there are no dishonest practices involved in our elections, consider at least these two recent revelations: 1) a recent Washington Post article revealed that a World War II veteran who died in Virginia in 2014 registered to vote in September 2016; and 2) there is a huge drive underway in Arizona to get masses of Latinos registered to vote.
A Closer Look At Outcome #3
I said above that I would get into a little more depth as to why the ultimate result of outcome #3 would not be appreciably different from either outcome #1 or #2 — i.e., we still 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. First, let’s look at the process itself.
As outlined in the Twelfth Amendment, if no candidate receives a majority of Electoral votes, the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. The Senate would elect the Vice President from the 2 Vice Presidential candidates with the most Electoral votes. Each Senator would cast one vote for Vice President. If the House of Representatives fails to elect a President by Inauguration Day, the Vice-President Elect serves as acting President until the deadlock is resolved in the House [Source: Archives.gov].
So back to what outcome #3 actually means in the context of the decision that we will have made after the above process has been followed. … If the outcome on November 8 is #3, it will be because of one or more unusual factors in this election. Those factors are numerous, and are reasons for doubting “tradtional” ways of predicting election outcomes, but the bottom line is that either a Democrat or a Republican will be POTUS, more than likely a Republican.
If this situation occurs, a very interesting choice will have to be made by each of our Representatives and Senators — to cast their vote for either: 1) the person scores of millions of people in their party voted for; or 2) another person a majority of the politicians in the Legislature feel they can align with.
Unless this election also results in a huge shift in the percentage of Democrats in the House [which even Democrats aren’t predicting], the next POTUS, under situation #3, will be Donald Trump unless Democrats can convince 30 Republicans to join with them to elect Hillary Clinton. Despite the rhetoric among some Republicans and the number of them who are distancing themselves from Trump, it is highly unlikely that they would go so far under these circumstances as to actually cast this vote for Hillary Clinton. I suppose it is also remotely possible that the POTUS elected under this scenario could be Gary Johnson — assuming he receives at least one more electoral vote than Jill Stein — but it is difficult for me to imagine a House majority going in that direction.
In the highly politicized and polarized environment that exists today, there is some possibility that “back-office, smoke-filled room” bargaining among Representatives and Senators [e.g., in “gaming” quorum rules applicable to this process] could produce some other outcome. The probability of that scenario unfolding is extremely remote in my opinion — almost nil — so I’m not “fleshing it out” as I did situation #3.
Overall Conclusion for Parts 1 and 2
Bottom line: 1) this election is a clear choice between two ideological extremes, the tenets of which are expressed in the platforms of the Democrat and Republican parties; and 2) if votes for candidates other than Trump or Clinton are insufficient to result in a Twelfth Amendment process for selecting the President and Vice President, those casting them [or refraining from voting] will have essentially voted for either Clinton or Trump, and there is no way they can predict in advance which one they will have unwittingly voted for. Never in my lifetime has an election had this much weight in determining what America will be a generation into the future.
Charles M. Jones